Former President George W. Bush unintentionally mixed “Ukraine” with “Iraq” in a sentence meant to denounce Vladimir Putin’s “wholly unjustifiable and violent invasion” during a speech at his presidential institute in Texas.
Bush’s humiliating slip of the tongue may have made his American audience giggle, but it enraged Iraqis.
The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and ushered in one of the bloodiest eras in the country’s modern history, marked by sectarianism and the global rise of terrorism.
According to the Iraq Body Count tracker, more than 100,000 civilians were killed between 2003 and 2011, when the US withdrew its forces. Nearly 4,500 Americans were killed in the invasion.
The US Former President said, “The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq, I mean of Ukraine,” he said in a speech, drawing laughter from the audience.
The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq, I mean of Ukraine,” the former US President stated in a speech that drew chuckles from the audience.
“Anyway — 75,” he said, referring to his own age, eliciting further laughs.
The gaffe was captured on video and has now gone viral online, with one tweet receiving over 14 million views in less than half a day.
Social media users took to Facebook to criticise the former US president.
“I was there Mr Bush, and I can tell you exactly how unjustified it was,” another Iraqi, Leena Majeed, said. “We the normal and innocent people were the only losers and all the criminals were celebrating that invasion.”
“George Bush and Tony Blair have much blood on their hands and blame for starting the Iraq war,” remarked Michael Warren of Ontario, Canada. Who are they to speak for?
“He told the truth about himself by accident,” Adrian Hill, an Australian, added.
The US-led invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003, on allegations that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. None were ever discovered. Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants who became the first Black secretary of state and a US military hero, had his legacy tarnished when he made the case for war in Iraq in 2003.
Ukraine was now “on the front lines” in “the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom,” as Biden characterized it in a significant address in Poland in March. Despite Ukraine’s military victory over Putin’s forces on the battlefield, the White House’s efforts to portray the conflict as a gigantic global battle between democracy and authoritarianism have failed miserably in recent months.
Much of the rest of the world, with the exception of Western European allies and long-standing US partners like Japan, is simply not on board. The first issue is that the majority of these countries are either not democracies or are democracies with so many flaws that the rhetoric fails to inspire them. Problem two: Much of the world views the preaching country, the United States, as a badly broken democracy that needs to be healed first.
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