How to Justify a Brutal Invasion.

“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 UKRAINE.”

 – George W. Bush

Does he, though?

(I wanted to write an article about my cat. I guess that will have to wait a week. That’s too bad it’s delightful. I cried a little while writing it. There were adorable pictures. It’s too bad, but I’ll post it next week.)

George W. Bush has made some of the most epic gaffes in the history of presidential politics and this week he made one boner to rule them all! A blunder so damaging that he tried to cover it by suggesting he was senile.

“I’m seventy-five!”

I’ve been thinking about our invasion of Iraq a lot since Russia invaded Ukraine. They attacked a country that had done nothing to them, under false pretenses, ascribing a group identity to them that had no basis in reality. How dare they! Who would do such a thing!

It’s incredible to see how we, from our high horses, have viewed Russia’s media cravenly falling in line, creating a unified narrative that justifies its leader’s lies. And it amazes us, how quickly its citizenry has gotten behind the absurd and destructive narrative, justifying the toppling of cities full of innocent civilians, while claiming to be liberators.

I’ve been waiting for the comparison between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and our Invasion of Iraq since it began. This week we finally got it, from the mouth of the man who ordered the invasion of Iraq. Is it better that he falsely accused Iraq of being a country of terrorists, instead of calling them Nazis? That he was pursuing control of natural resources, rather than political control of the population? I don’t think so. But now the comparison has been made and who would have guessed the source from which it came? “Fate,” as Morpheus once said, “is not without a sense of irony.”

Bush called these invasions “unjustified” but that didn’t stop him or Putin from justifying them and the way these conflicts were justified is eerily similar. When it comes to invading a country we want something from, we don’t even have to change the cover story. Countries from different eras and completely different ideologies can cut and paste with impunity. It’s as if all the ministers of propaganda went to the same school and cheated off one another’s exams.

When we fall for the stories we’re fed, the standards tend to get lower. Trump so successfully lowered the standards of political discourse, decorum, and fair play, history has started to view George W. Bush and his administration with kinder eyes. Compared to Trump’s tweets, Dubya’s gaffes look quaint. Trump’s negligent denialism of COVID makes Bush’s Katrina costly debacle seem less remarkable.

I still remember how George Bush manipulated us. He said you were either with him or with the terrorists and he called questions unpatriotic. He created a Terrorism Threat Advisory Scale during his campaign for reelection which always went to RED whenever his poll numbers dropped. We re-elected Bush while his lies were wearing thin because most Americans said they would rather have a beer with him than John Kerry. By the end of his 2nd term, George W. Bush was on track to be one of the most unpopular presidents in history. However, when compared to Trump’s undermining of our electoral process, his unwillingness to participate in the peaceful transition of power, and the creation of alternative facts George W. Bush comes off as kind of cuddly.

If there’s a benefit of living in these fucked up times, it is all the things it has made visible to us. We should help Ukraine in its fight for independence and when we watch the Russian propaganda machine do its work on its people, let’s see what we can learn about ourselves.

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