(Illustration out front: ‘The Three Amigos,’ and found here).
An idiot remains an idiot despite the whitewash, and even with the incense burning tattering holes in history books.
When this blog first appeared 15 years ago last month — April 22, 2007 — (I forgot the anniversary until a few days later, but the past isn’t that smart and tidy), GW Bush was a major, important player in news events back then. Especially the terrible story then playing out in Iraq — Afghanistan was on the back burner, but still sinking — with daily horror stories of Iraqi death, destruction and how America was getting its military ass kicked.
In an uncalled-for, unjustifiable war, which GW and his bunch lied their asses off to okay the invasion in rebuke to the Twin Towers attack.
Even the US Senate Intelligence Committee concluded a year later (in a press release via the committee’s then-chairman John D. Rockefeller): ‘“In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”‘
And then jump forward to the now, I’m sure you heard and saw this from yesterday:
Former President George W. Bush: “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean of Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/UMwNMwMnmX
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 19, 2022
A few notes on the incident by Julian Borger at the Guardian‘s live blog this morning:
Sigmund Freud was unavailable for comment, but George W Bush saying Iraq instead of Ukraine when condemning “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” certainly suggests he still has a lot on his unconscious mind.
The former president jokingly attributed the slip to his 75 years, but there has always been a faulty connection between his brain and his tongue.
There are whole books full of “Bushisms,” like his boast that people “misunderestimated” him, and how much he felt for single mothers “working hard to put food on your family.”
There may have been something Freudian about his 2004 warning that America’s enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
And then there was the time he was thanking an army general for his service in 2008, telling him he “really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq.”
Bush has already told us that the fiasco of Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) still troubles him.
“No one was more shocked and angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons,” he wrote in his memoir, Decision Points.
“I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.”
But Bush sought to justify the 2003 invasion anyway, on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a vicious despot “pursuing” WMDs and therefore the US was safer without him in the world.
The 43rd president was making a similar argument to an audience at his presidential library in Dallas on Wednesday when he made his latest gaffe.
Bush was making a distinction between a democratically elected Volodymyr Zelenskiy, “the Churchill of the 21st century”, and the rigged elections and despotism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where the absence of checks and balances led to “the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq – I mean Ukraine”.
The audience laughed along, but the mistake was a reminder that the world is still living with the consequences of that invasion, which broke Iraq, set off a sectarian civil war, and left hundreds of thousands of people dead.
Nearly two decades on, it continues to weaken the US on the world stage, and is undoubtedly a factor in the ambivalence of countries in Africa and the Middle East over joining a decisive global response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Putin has cynically copied from the Iraq playbook the Bush administration left behind, with spurious claims of Ukrainian WMDs. The US’s refusal to prosecute war crimes by US troops and contractors, its use of torture in the “global war on terror” and Bush’s campaign to undermine the international criminal court, all contributed to a more permissive environment for the many crimes against humanity that have followed Iraq, from Syria to Ukraine and well beyond.
Wednesday’s Bushism was a reminder that for all the former president’s “aw shucks” self-deprecatory jokes about Iraq, it was never funny.
You got that right. GW is a twitch-nit, always. The Iraqi horror was a good example of why accountability of criminal, violent shit is unanswered to this very day. T-Rump will skate and GW Bush set the mark.
As was the deciding cry of self-centered bullshit:
A decade-and-a-half later, once again here we are…