Former President George W. Bush went viral for making an awful flub by accidentally condemning his own invasion of Iraq while blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
He was speaking to an audience at his presidential library in Dallas, Texas, during an event focused on boosting voters’ confidence in U.S. elections.
Bush eventually condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — but not before he condemned “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.”
“In contrast, Russian elections are rigged, political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process,” Bush said.
“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean of the Ukraine.”
He appeared to say under his breath “Iraq too, anyway,” which was met with laughter from the audience.
He then joked about his age reminding them he was 75.
Donald Trump Jr. said: “I wish he would have been this honest and critical of himself 20 years, countless lives, and trillions of dollars ago.”
I wish he would have been this honest and critical of himself 20 years, countless lives, and trillions of dollars ago. pic.twitter.com/d8nhcZ981d
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 19, 2022
And while Bush deserves the criticism, it is important to remember that he didn’t invade Iraq alone.
He had help from people like Joe Biden.
The simple truth is that Biden voted to give Bush broad power to go to war with Iraq.
He did so as a top-ranking Democrat in the Senate: the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And he did so at a time when the majority of Americans did not support taking immediate military action.
The Bush administration’s campaign for war powers began in the summer of 2002.
Vice President Dick Cheney declared definitively that Saddam Hussein was building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction — a claim echoed by American intelligence officers, who were called to Congress to detail those weapons, and by the media outlets who quoted them.
As we know now, those claims were based on flimsy evidence and turned out to be incorrect.
Bush also said he needed war authorization to add teeth to a diplomatic effort through the United Nations to get inspectors on the ground in Iraq.
But the administration wasn’t prioritizing diplomacy; they were asking for a broad war authorization that gave the White House immense freedom to use military force in Iraq.
Biden bought into the Bush administration’s argument.
He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press.
And in the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction.
“In my judgment, President Bush is right to be concerned about Saddam Hussein’s relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that he may use them or share them with terrorists,” Biden said at an August hearing.
“These weapons must be dislodged from Saddam Hussein, or Saddam Hussein must be dislodged from power,” he continued.
“President Bush has stated his determination to remove Saddam from power, a view many in Congress share.”
Those hearings have been characterized by his supporters as Biden’s attempt to seriously and methodically weigh the price of war.
And, to be sure, Biden did note: “If that course is pursued, in my view, it matters profoundly how we do it and what we do after we succeed.”