As if American political discourse could not plumb the depths of immorality and depravity any further, the original sinner of the 21st century — George W Bush — re-emerged to show that he remains, without a doubt, one the most morally bankrupt US presidents in recent memory.
While speaking at an event on Wednesday, the gaffe-prone former president was busy denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision to attack Ukraine in February. However, rather than engage in commentary about Putin, Bush engaged in the mother of all Freudian slips and said that the war was “the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.”
But this was no mere gaffe — rather, this was an insight into the troubled mind and soul of a liar and war monger who is arguably behind the root reasons behind much of the Middle East’s problems today.
Pot meets kettle
Many condemn Putin’s assault on Ukraine as an act of aggression, just as he had decided to wage war against the aspirations of the Syrian public who wanted freedom from the yoke of the Assad family’s decades-long reign of terror.
But there is a very exclusive club of people on this planet who would do well to stay out of the public discourse and never rear their heads again, as they are themselves not only advocates of, but primary antagonists behind, wars of aggression. This is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
While former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is definitely a lifelong member of that club, Bush is its president for life as there is no one alive today that can possibly match his record for the mass destruction and destabilisation of entire regions, particularly the Middle East. By invading first Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003, Bush presided over not only two failed wars, but also a chain reaction of events that has led to a devastated region today.
It is therefore rich indeed that someone like Bush now has the temerity to criticise Putin – only to bungle even that and instead implicate himself. Even Blair has come out to criticise Putin, decrying the humanitarian catastrophe and threat to the West, and Europe in particular, unleashed by the Kremlin’s faltering war machine. While Blair played second fiddle to Bush, he is still no less culpable.
The White House’s own war criminal
This is, of course, not to say that Putin is above reproach – neither he nor his top lieutenants are. Russia has itself been accused of engaging in numerous war crimes, whether in Chechnya or Syria.
But a war cannot be agreeable whenever the West engages in it, yet is now somehow a cardinal sin only when the West’s opponents engage in it. This level of sheer hypocrisy is reminiscent of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stating in 1996 that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children was “worth it”.
The level of inhumanity on display by the late Albright is almost matched by the callous indifference shown by Bush himself.
I would hazard a guess that Bush is well aware that his decision to invade Iraq was wholly unjustified and brutal. I am equally certain that he thinks about his legacy due to his Iraq policies every day, and thanks his lucky stars that he was the president of the most powerful nation on earth rather than the president of a third world country the International Criminal Court would not be afraid of prosecuting.
Yet, and precisely because of that, both he and the crowd that sat around him last Wednesday can simply and casually laugh off his subconscious trying to make itself heard, and the deaths and displacement of millions of Iraqis.
Apparently, it is funny that the US and its allies destroyed an entire nation and subjected it to occupation.
To US politicians and the wider public, Iraq was a “bad” chapter in American history they would all like to move away from. Bush may have since been slammed by many in American media, academic and policy circles. But he is criticised from a US-centric perspective rather than out of any pain felt at what the American Empire did to Iraq, damning the country and its people to decades more of war and suffering based on the whim of a liar who was hunting for any excuse to wage war.
While the US — and especially Bush — would rather forget what happened in Iraq, the screams and curses of millions of innocent Iraqi men, women and children will haunt their legacy for generations to come – and even that is no justice for what they have gone through.
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