Everyone has already heard about the latest gaffe of the former president of the United States and unconvicted war criminal George W. Bush, father of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and other fantastically bloody escapades.
in a recent speech at his own George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, Bush condemned the “absence of checks and balances” in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which had allowed “one man to launch a brutal and unwarranted invasion of Iraq.”
Quickly realizing that it wasn’t really a mistake, Bush corrected himself: “I mean, Ukraine,” but added slightly under his breath: “Iraq, too, anyway.” The spectacle elicited gleeful laughter from the audience, as did Bush’s later attribution of the Iraq-Ukraine mix-up to his age: “seventy-five.”
Of course, the language-challenged former head of state has long made people laugh with his so-called “bushisms,” which over the years have included the following quirky statements: “I know how hard it is for you to bring food to your family”. ”; “I know that human beings and fish can coexist in peace”; “They underestimated me”; and “The question is rarely asked: Are our children learning?”
But the effective annihilation of a nation is no laughing matter. The same goes for the reduction to a fraction of a second of “Iraq too, anyway” of hundreds of thousands of deaths, countless massacres of Iraqi civilians, the forced displacement of millions of people and the saturation of the country with toxic and radioactive munitions that continue to cause birth defects, cancer, and all manner of other diseases nearly two decades after the “totally unwarranted and brutal invasion” was launched.
One can imagine the horror that would ensue if a non-white non-Western made a joke about, say, the 9/11 attacks or some other event that pales in comparison, in terms of human and material destruction, to the war in Iraq. Bush and his audience, on the other hand, by virtue of imperial law, are allowed to snicker at a reference to the mass slaughter of non-white non-Westerns as if it were merely an example of self-deprecating humor on the part of ex-imperials. commander in chief.
Of course, this is not the first time that Bush has inadvertently said something deeply revealing about his own belligerence. There was that moment in 2006, for example, when he commented in an interview with the CBS Evening News: “You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is connecting Iraq to the war on terror.”
Nor, as it happens, is this the first time he’s joked about the entire premise of the Iraq war. In 2004, during the annual festival known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bush narrated a slide show with a photo of himself looking under furniture in the Oval Office: “Those weapons of mass destruction have to be here at somewhere”. , he joked between applause and laughter.
This, mind you, was just a year after the launch of a war that was supposedly meant to save the world from the apocalyptic threat of Iraq’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. In an April 2004 dispatch for The Nation titled Laughing With Bush, David Corn, then the magazine’s Washington editor, called out the president for his “performance” at the Correspondents’ Dinner and attendees for his flattering response. the.
In front of an “audience of people who supposedly spend their days searching for the truth,” Corn wrote, “Bush joked about misstatements (if not lies) that he had used to persuade (if not taunt) the American people and the media.”
In other words, the whole situation was itself a joke, though not entirely funny.
The Correspondents’ Dinner has also played host to other episodes of presidential humor that were not, including in 2010 when then-President Barack Obama promised to announce that members of the Jonas Brothers band attended the venue and that his daughters Sasha and Malia they were “big fans”.
Obama continued: “But guys, don’t get ideas. I have two words for you: predatory drones. You’ll never see it coming.” After a pause for laughter and applause, the president received even more laughter with the line: “You think I’m kidding.”
Never mind that US military drones were then, as now, notoriously associated with the indiscriminate killing of civilians in various foreign countries. In the end, these presidential jokes achieve the kind of barbarism disguised as banality that reflexively tickles America’s funny bone.
Meanwhile, despite the perennial buzz surrounding the threat of weapons of mass destruction, American leaders often seem to find the very concept of mass destruction downright hilarious. Remember that morning in August 1984 when Ronald Reagan went into mic check joke mode before his live radio broadcast: “My fellow citizens, I am pleased to tell you today that I signed a law that will make Russia illegal forever. We start bombing in five minutes.”
US allies also share a similar sense of humor and possible wit, not to mention microphone issues. In July 2006, during the G8 conference in none other than Russia, an unattended microphone captured banter between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his faithful accomplice in seeking to destroy Iraq.
It was less than a week since the latest effort by Israel, another imperial shill, to destroy Lebanon through a 34-day bombing campaign that finally killed about 1,200 peoplemainly civilians. Bush addressed his counterpart as: “I, Blair” and, according to the transcript of the conversation on the BBC website, the pair had a good laugh over the important matter of a sweater that Blair had given to Bush. :
Bush: “I know you chose it yourself.”
Blair: “Oh absolutely, in fact, I knitted it!”
The duo then proceeded to discuss the bloodshed in Lebanon, which, in Bush’s view, could be resolved not by stopping Israel from massacring people, but by having the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, which was naturally fighting back, “Stop doing this shit.” *”.
Fast-forward to the 2022 Iraq-I mean-Ukraine blunder at the George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, the “totally unwarranted and brutal” annihilation of a country condensed into a single imperial joke, and one finds oneself wishing that everything will pass. only for.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.