An embarrassing slip of the tongue from former U.S. President George W. Bush may have made his American audience laugh, but it also angered Iraqis.
In a speech in Dallas on Wednesday evening about Russia’s war against Ukraine, Bush called the Iraq invasion, which he himself ordered, “unjust and brutal” – before quickly correcting himself.
The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and ushered in one of the bloodiest periods in the country’s modern history, marked by sectarian warfare and the rise of jihadists.
According to the Iraq Body Count Tracker, between 2003 and 2011, when the United States withdrew its troops, more than 100,000 civilians were killed. The aggression claimed the lives of about 4,500 Americans.
But on Wednesday, Bush spoke of the war in Ukraine at an event hosted by his foundation.
“One man’s decision to launch a completely unjust and brutal invasion of Iraq, I mean Ukraine,” he said in a speech, drawing the audience’s laughter.
“Anyway – 75,” he added, referring to his age, in another burst of laughter.
Gaff’s video footage has gone viral online ever since, with more than 14 million views in less than half a post on Twitter.
It was widely reported in the Arab media, which caused outrage among Iraqis.
Iraqi journalist Omar al-Janabi tweeted, “The ghost of Iraq’s aggression and destruction haunts Bush Jr. His subconscious reveals it when it grabs his tongue.”
“Yes it is a brutal and unjust aggression that will leave you with the worst nightmare,” he added.
Iraqis have taken to Facebook to criticize the former US president.
“The moment of truth has come – the invasion of Iraq is a lifelong nightmare that haunts your conscience,” wrote Hamza Qusai.
Nahid al-Tamimi added, “The crime of occupying Iraq and its destruction would have been a nightmare that would have put you to sleep and tormented your dead criminal conscience.”
The US-led invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003, after Saddam’s government was accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction. No one was found.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)