Former U.S. President George W Bush was filmed accidentally describing the invasion of Iraq as "brutal" and "unjustified" during a speech about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The incident occurred while he was speaking at an event in Dallas, Texas, on May 18, with a clip of the moment going viral on Twitter.
What exactly did he say?
Bush had been criticising the political system of Russia, saying that elections in the country are "rigged".
He further said that "political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process".
He then corrected himself, saying:
"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 Ukraine."
The gaffe drew laughter from the crowd.
Bush could then be heard chuckling slightly adding, "Iraq... anyway" before saying, "I'm 75."
Speaking in Dallas this afternoon, former President George. W Bush made a significant verbal slip-up while discussing the war in Ukraine.— Michael Williams (@michaeldamianw) May 19, 2022
He tried referencing what he described as the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” — but said Iraq, instead of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/tw0VNJzKmE
What were the consequences of the invasion of Iraq?
In 2003, when Bush was still president, the U.S. oversaw an invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.
These were never found.
It is estimated that at least 200,000 civilians died as a result of the invasion, according to The Washington Post.
During the U.S. presidential election in 2016, former President Donald Trump called the war a "big, fat mistake" on the part of Bush and alleged that the justification for the invasion was a lie.
As for Bush's brother Jeb, The Washington Post further reported that when asked by a debate moderator in 2015 if the invasion was a mistake, the then-presidential candidate had also acknowledged it was wrong and based on "faulty intelligence".
Slip of the tongue draws backlash
Bush's slip of the tongue subsequently drew backlash online from both ends of the political spectrum in the U.S.
A former state senator for Ohio with the Democratic party, Nina Turner, described his speech as "sickening" as he laughed after having "admitted to being a war criminal".
George W. Bush is a war criminal.— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) May 19, 2022
George W. Bush just admitted to being a war criminal of the likes of Vladimir Putin, then laughed.— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) May 19, 2022
Mehdi Hasan, a news host and liberal commentator on MSNBC described Bush's slip-up as "one of the biggest Freudian slips of all time", and said that he did not find it funny, given the casualties involved.
"I'm not laughing & I am guessing nor are the families of the 1000s of American troops & the 100s of 1000s of Iraqis who died in that war."— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 19, 2022
My response to George W. Bush's bizarre Freudian slip, confusing Ukraine & Iraq, while hosting #MSNBCPrime tonight:pic.twitter.com/tijp5QVvWY
Meanwhile, Tim Young, a columnist from the conservative media outlet The Washington Times described Bush as "trash" after he allegedly "joked" about the invasion of Iraq, given the number of Americans who were "sent to die by him for a lie".
George W. Bush joked about invading Iraq tonight... what a trash person.— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 19, 2022
How many Americans were sent to die by him for a lie? Disgusting.
Prior to his slip-up, Bush likened Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to a 21st century Winston Churchill.
Bush is also known for his verbal faux pas throughout his career. His slip-ups have even resulted in the coining of the term "Bushisms", which encompass the various malapropisms and Freudian slips that he made publicly.
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Top screenshot via Michael Williams/Twitter