An embarrassing slip of the tongue by former US President George W. Bush may have drawn laughter from his American audience, but it drew ire from Iraqis.
In a speech Wednesday night in Dallas on Russia’s war against Ukraine, Bush called the invasion of Iraq, which he ordered, “unwarranted and brutal,” before quickly correcting himself.
The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 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.
Between 2003 and 2011, when the United States withdrew its troops, more than 100,000 civilians were killed, according to the Iraq Body Count tracker. The invasion cost the lives of nearly 4,500 Americans.
But on Wednesday it was the war in Ukraine that Bush spoke about during an event organized by his foundation.
“One man’s decision to launch a totally unwarranted and brutal invasion of Iraq, I mean Ukraine,” he said in a speech, drawing laughter from the audience.
“75 anyway,” he added, referring to his own age, in another burst of laughter.
Since then, video footage of the bug has gone viral online, with one Twitter post being viewed more than 14 million times in less than half a day.
It was also widely reported in the Arab media, fueling anger among Iraqis.
“The specter of the invasion and destruction of Iraq haunts Bush Jr. His subconscious exposed him when he took over his tongue,” Iraqi journalist Omar al-Janabi tweeted.
“Yes, it is a brutal and unwarranted invasion that will continue to be your worst nightmare,” he added.
Iraqis also took to Facebook to criticize the former US president.
“The moment of truth has arrived: the invasion of Iraq is a lifelong nightmare that haunts your conscience,” wrote Hamza Qusai.
“The crime of their occupation of Iraq and its destruction will remain a nightmare that will haunt them and haunt their dead criminal consciences,” added Nahedh al-Tamimi.
The US-led invasion of Iraq was launched on March 20, 2003 after allegations that Saddam’s regime had weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)