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20 years on, should George W. Bush be on trial for Iraq? | The Mehdi Hasan Show

Reexamining George W. Bushs Role in Iraq War: Remembering the Deadly Consequences of 2003 Invasion

  • 20 years ago, in February and March of 2003, hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets to protest the impending war with Iraq
  • Protests were on a scale not seen since the Vietnam War, with millions participating in global demonstrations against US plans for war in Iraq
  • President George W. Bush launched an illegal invasion, resulting in 4,000+ American service members and 400,000+ Iraqi civilian deaths
  • In recent years there has been a rehabilitation of President Bush’s legacy and he has been celebrated by many
  • However, this is not justified as one of the greatest crimes of the 21st century was committed under his leadership
  • Finally, it is important to remember that Donald Trump’s lies about 2020 election preceded those of George W. Bush regarding Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Bushs Bloodlust for Hussein Led to Early 2000s War Despite Ally Status

  • George W. Bush was determined to attack Iraq two decades after Saddam Hussein had been a U.S Ally
  • Bush’s hatred for Hussein seemed personal and his “bloodlust” was noted by religious leaders
  • Cheney’s energy task force had mapped Iraqi oil reserves before the war and created a list of potential oil investors
  • Bush cited unproven British intelligence about Iraq buying Uranium from Africa in his 2003 State of the Union address, which was not confirmed by US intelligence experts but acted upon anyway.

Bush Presidency Leaves Region in Chaos and U.S. Bankrupt After War Crimes, No Apology Offered

  • George W. Bush was responsible for war crimes involving the Iraq invasion, which involved manipulation of national security intelligence and a disregard for the United Nations
  • This war caused chaos in the region, led to thousands of civilian deaths, and depleted U.S coffers by trillions
  • Bush’s lack of apology or consequence for his actions led to further atrocities including torture, sexual abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison, use of white phosphorus, and massacres of ordinary Iraqis
  • When evidence showed Bush had lied about weapons of mass destruction, he responded with jokes and mockery instead of contrition.

Legal Implications of George W Bushs 2003 Invasion of Iraq Persist Today

  • George W Bush illegally invaded Iraq in 2003
  • An independent Dutch inquiry found that the invasion was a violation of U.N security council resolutions
  • Prominent human rights groups have called for Bush to be held accountable for war crimes committed during his watch
  • Millions of Americans are now waiting to see if former president Donald Trump will be indicted for multiple alleged crimes and civil suits
  • Bush has never expressed regret or remorse for his actions, instead continuing to express confidence that his decision was correct.

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what were you doing 20 years ago inFebruary and March of 2003 perhapsyou're at the movies enjoying part twoof the original Lord of the Ringstrilogy or watching the pre-tom BradyTampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl 37.maybe you were listening to 50 centschart topper in the clubfor me I was marching not in a band notin the Army no of course not I wasmarching against an impending war withIraq when hundreds of thousands took tothe Streets of London to protest I wasin that crowd and demonstrations like itwere happening everywhereprotesters came by the thousands fillingblock after block around the UnitedNations to make a single dramaticstatement against going to war theanti-war protests were on a scale notseen since the Vietnam War Millionsaround the globe marched this pastweekend more than a million peoplejammed into Trafalgar Square to protestU.S plans for war in Iraqthese were some of the biggest Globaldemonstrations in human history and inLondon we were marching against not justBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair whorallied the UK to join the American wareffort but against American PresidentGeorge W bush himself we were right toprotest then and we've been sadly provenright in the 20 years since 4 000 plusAmerican Service members and fourhundred thousand plus Iraqi civiliansdied as a result of the invasion anillegal Invasion launched by George Wbushwhich is what I want to talk about atlength today in fact devote the entireshow to on this 20th anniversary of theIraq War because I for one find itbizarre I'm actually appalled at the wayin which almost everyone seems to havemoved on from talking about PresidentBush and his responsibility for one ofthe great Crimes of the 21st Centurypeople in our politics in our media inour popular culture haven't just brushedIraq under the carpet and let Bush offthe hook they've rehabilitated himthey've begun to celebrate himthank youin the middle of a presidential campaignfilled with Rancor we were struck by avery different image over the weekendFirst Lady Michelle Obama embracingformer President George W bush so goodto see the two of them together I wishthe rest of our politicians could getalong as well as they do what led you topaintingyou know in retrospect it was uh longingfor learning that old boy can paint Ican paint that old boy can paint I canpaint a former president now a painterin his prime can you Enlighten us to thepainting okayGeorge W George W Rembrandt theportraits that you have done arebeautiful thank you you're reallytalented I can't believe you juststarted five years ago I painted theseare painted with a lot of passion youwere involved in many notable faux paswhich umaccomplisheda faux pashow is any of that okaysorry I don't care how good hisportraits are and I for one I'm notgoing to laugh and smile about GeorgeBush offering cough drops to MichelleObama he can offer up his old medicinecabinet as far as I care and I get thatthe rise of Donald J Trump has made someAmericans look back at George W bush andsay maybe he wasn't so bad I myselfwrote a snarky 2015 op-ed about how theanti-muslim rhetoric of the GOP of trumpof Ben Carson of Mike Huckabee made memiss George W and the fact is that theparty has certainly gotten more extremeand more bigoted since he left officebut I certainly don't look at Bush andwax nostalgic the way so many Americansand even so many Democrats now seem to Ihaven't forgotten about Iraq and I forone certainly didn't need the reminderthat SNL's President Bush AKA WillFerrell felt compelled to give duringthe Trump yearsso I just wanted to address my fellowAmericans tonight and remind you guysthat I was really badlike historically not goodforeignremember during his last year in officePresident Bush's approval rating was inthe 20s but by 2018 in the second yearof the Trump presidency was up to 61approval his support among Democrats hadQuinn topplednowadays Americans apparently see W as acuddly former president with some cuteHobbies who wasn't as bad as the Donaldso on today's show 20 years on we'remarking not just the deaths anddestruction inside of Iraq but the factthat former President Bush somehow justgot away with it all Collective Amnesiahas always been a problem in Americanpolitics and so two long decades hasallowed almost everyone to just forgetabout the long campaign of falsehoodswith which Bush kicked off his illegalbrutal and disastrous Middle East Warjust memory hold it and yet beforeDonald Trump's big lie about the 2020election there was George W Bush's biglie about Iraq's non-existent weapons ofmass destructionnow we all know Trump has yet to be heldto account for his lies but neither isBush and as I'll explain in a momentGeorge W Bush was a big reason for whywe would later get Donald J Trumpbut first let me take you back toWednesday September the 12th 2001 theday after the horrific 9 11 attacksRescuers at Ground Zero are searchingthe smoldering Rubble for survivorsfamilies are looking for thousands ofmissing people and authorities arematching the names of passengers onthose fated Jets to the names ofsuspected Al-Qaeda terroristsso what are President Bush and hisclosest advisors doing while gathered InThe West Wing of the White Housewhy they're talking about bombing Iraqyes Iraq something we would only learnlater from accounts of insiders likeRichard Clark the U.S counterterrorismsare under both Bill Clinton and George Wbush in fact when Clark sat with 60Minutes in 2004 to reveal what hadhappened you could really feel thepressure he'd been put under onSeptember the 12 2001 Clark said he hadbeen pulled into a room by PresidentBush who asked him if Iraq was to blameClark said no but the president insistedhe came back at me and said Iraq Saddamfind out if there's a connectionand in a very intimidating wayit was a current that ran through theWhite House all of that day according toClark that afternoon he says defensesecretary Donald Rumsfeld was talkingabout quote getting Iraq even though AlQaeda was in AfghanistanRumsfeld was saying that we needed tobomb Iraq and and we all said but no noAl Qaeda is in Afghanistan we need tobomb Afghanistan and Rumsfeld said therearen't any good Targets in Afghanistanand there are lots of good Targets inIraqwithin two months of that meeting Bushordered Rumsfeld to draft just such awar plan for Iraq as Bob Woodward firstreported in his book plan of attack butwhySaddam Hussein the country's longtimedictator played no role in the attack onAmerica in fact he had been a U.S Allyagainst Iran in the 1980s there he wasin 1983 shaking hands in Baghdad with aspecial White House Envoy named DonaldRumsfeld yes that Donald Rumsfeld sowhat made George W bush so determined toattack Iraq two decades later was it thepush by the so-called neo-conservativeHawks around him to Al Saddam evenbefore 9 11 and make Iraq a base forpacifying the whole Middle East andprotecting Israel perhaps it was Iraq'svast oil fields even before 9 11 a WhiteHouse energy task force set up by vicepresident and former oil executive DickCheney had mapped Iraqi oil reserves andmade a list of quote foreign suitors forIraqi oil contracts and I would notethat early in the war itself officiallycalled operation Iraqi Freedom a WhiteHouse spokesman got the name wrong hesaid operation Iraqi liberation or o i lwhoopslook maybe just getting Saddam waspersonal for Bush an extension of thefirst Persian Gulf War and the lingeringBad Blood between the Iraqi and Americanruling familiesbut there's no doubt his hatred ismainly directed at usthere's no doubt he can't stand us afterall this is the guy that tried to killmy dad at one timewhatever his reasoning George W Bush wasmad as journalist Robert Draper learnedfrom a religious leader who met withbush soon after 9 11.some religious leaders met with him inthe Oval Office and the presidentconfessed to them I'm having difficultycontaining my bloodlustBush seemed increasingly fixated onSaddam Hussein in March 2002 just sixmonths after 9 11 as National Securityadviser Condoleezza Rice met with threesenators in her office Time Magazinereported according to one participantthat bush poked his head into Rice'soffice and announced to them all Quote FSaddam we're taking him out those wordsfrom President Bush were first reportedin 2003 and haven't been publiclydisputed since now the best checkagainst the march to war might have beena press that asked tough questions thatacted as a true Watchdog but few in theAmerican mainstream media challenged theevidence-free claims over wmds at thattime or acknowledge the Deep cynicismand dishonesty of the man pushing themthe hardest the man who would talk aboutterrorism and violence in the MiddleEast like thiswe must stop the terror I call upon AllNations to do everything they can tostop these terrorist killersthank younow watch this driveoh the Gettysburg Address is great butis there anything more American thanGeorge W bush cheerleading a war onterror from the first green at the capeArundel Golf Clubhe had his War plans for Iraq he had acomplacent press all that was missingwas a pretext invadefour words weapons of mass destructiona massive stockpile of biologicalweapons Anthrax and botulism Toxin andpossibly small pox biological weaponsfactories on Wheels and on Rails VX andsaranin mustard gas attempts to acquireHigh specification aluminum tubes highquality aluminum tubes high strengthaluminum tubes suitable for nuclearweapons production nuclear weapons weknow he's out trying once again toproduce nuclear weapons we have solidevidence of the presence in Iraq of AlQaeda members various terrorist groupsincluding the al-Qaeda organization AlQaeda leaders have sought contacts inIraq who could help them acquirea weapon of weapons of mass destructionweapons of mass destruction it's weaponsof mass destruction we don't want theSmoking Gun to be a mushroom cloudfacing clear evidence apparelwe cannot wait for the final proofguess what there were no wmds we knowthat now but the key fact here is thatthey should have known that then theyhad almost no Intel to suggest Saddamhad actual wmd certainly not a massivestockpile to quote Bush or that Saddamplayed any role in 9 11 or had anyworking relationship with Al-Qaeda thesewere just wishes masquerading asevidence and the most egregious examplewas the claim that Saddam was developingnuclear weaponstake a moment and just listen to 16crucial words that help get the Americanpublic on board with going to war theline that scared the bejesus out of themthe British government has learned thatSaddam Hussein recently soughtsignificant quantities of uranium fromAfricaPresident Bush in his 2003 State of theUnion those 16 words reported on andrepeated uncritically by much of ourmedia at the time played a massive rolein convincing people in America andabroad that Saddam posed a nuclearthreat to all of us it was one thing ifIraq had biological or chemical weaponsbut the idea of the regime with anuclear weapon perhaps sharing it withterrorists was a whole other level ofimmediate danger and Bush claimed therewere receipts thing is those receiptsdid not stand up to even the latestscrutiny in 2001 the U.S receivedintelligence from Italy's governmentsuggesting that Saddam Hussein had triedin the 1990s to buy yellow cake uraniumpowder from Nisha yellow cake is usedfor nuclear energy production but alsofor nuclear weapons this intel wasflimsy to say the least it wasn'tcorroborated and the idea that Iraqwould buy 500 tons of this uraniumwithout the ability to process itwas pretty absurd but nonetheless theWhite House wanted any information toprove that Iraq had looked to buy yellowcake uranium so just months after 9 11the CIA sent someone to Niger to checkit out they sent the former U.Sambassador to that country Joseph Wilsonhe had plenty of contacts and wouldsurely be able to see if there was anytrace of such a salewhen Wilson got back to the U.S he toldthe CIA he could find no evidence thatIraq had tried to buy yellow cakeuranium powder and the CIA warned theWhite House don't say that they did inBush's speech the U.S intelligencedidn't support it so what then do you doif you're the bush White House and yourIntel Services won't confirm the storyyou want to tell well the bush WhiteHouse found a workaroundlet's play those 16 words again but thistime pay close attention to the sourceof that Intelligence on Iraq and uraniumthe British government has learned thatSaddam Hussein recently soughtsignificant quantities of uranium fromAfricathe British government has learned yeahBush cited another country's unprovenintelligence and acted like U.Sintelligence experts hadn't alreadydebunked it you can imagine Joe Wilson'ssurprise when he heard that speech inJanuary 2003 almost a year after histrip to Nigeryou actually don't have to imagineWilson wrote A New York Times op-edshortly after the Iraq invasion quote ifmy information was deemed inaccurate Iunderstand though I would be veryinterested to know why if however theinformation was ignored because it didnot fit certain preconceptions aboutIraq then a legitimate argument can bemade that we went to war under falsepretensesbut it wasn't just Wilson's RevelationsThat Shook the public Bush's case forwar had already begun to crumble evenbefore the first bomb dropped in earlyMarch 2003 the head of the internationalatomic energy agency told the UnitedNations that the document which appearedto show niger's government sellinguranium to Iraq were actually forgeriesover the next year the bushadministration's claims about nuclearweapons aluminum tubes chemical weaponsmobile bio Labs all fell apart thesourcing was a joke the CIA wasn't onboardmeanwhile remember there's an Insurgencyin Iraq the body count is mounting thewmds aren't thereand this is how the then presidentresponds to it all just one year afterthe invasion at a Gala with DCjournalists this is an actual gag thatthe bush White House came up with at thetime I kid you notI'm gonna do one of my slideshowsthese are actual unstaged photos pulledfrom the files of the White House photooffice those weapons of mass destructiongot to be somewherenothing but Lofts and jokes so whenpeople say oh look at Michelle and W andtheir friendship their sharing of coughdrops I think of that clip of bush thatwe just played having lied about wmdshaving got American soldiers killedalready thousands of Iraqis killed atthat point and laughing about it mockingthe whole thing not giving a damnbut hey all is forgotten All Is Forgiveneven thisSaddam Hussein and his sons must leaveIraq within 48 hourstheir refusal to do so will result inmilitary conflictcommenced at a time of our choosingfor George W bush the war was a story hethought he could spin a story with adefinite beginning and a definite end hechose the beginningthank youwith a shock and all spectacle on Marchthe 20th 2003 that captivated the mediaand he even tried to choose when itwould end just 43 days later with him ina flight suit swaggering onto the deckof an aircraft carrier framed bycheering troops and a banner readingmission accomplishedbut Bush knew it wasn't over the U.Soccupation had another 103 months to goand the U.S inflicted atrocities werejust beginningthe torture and sexual abuse ofdetainees at Abu ghraib prison the useof white phosphorus to firebomb Fallujaha major Iraqi city with a quartermillion residents and of course themassacres of ordinary Iraqis ordinarycivilians at haditha and mahmudi andhamdaniyaand in many of those atrocities the U.Smilitary's initial accounts theirinitial denials turned out to be flatfalse like when a U.S gunship killed atleast 40 Iraqis including dozens ofwomen and children at a wedding partynear the Syrian bordertop Coalition military officials are notdisputing the number of dead but aresuggesting these pictures may have beenstaged and don't match the facts on theground senior Pentagon officials tellNBC news that a specter gunship likethis one did launch an attack today noton a wedding party but on insurgents andwe are satisfied at this point that theintelligence that led us there wasvalidated by what we found on the groundand it was not that there was a weddingparty going oneven after video evidence and eyewitnesstestimony basically destroyed the entireU.S military narrative the Pentagonrefused to apologizeon a country of invasion and occupationby an Unapologetic heavily armedhigh-tech foreign armyyou may have been told of the costs hereat home in Blood and treasure4418 American Service members dead andnearly 32 000 woundedaccording to the Pentagon our coffersdepleted by around two to three trilliondollars our entire politics upended ourfaith in our media forever shaken butwhat of the cost to Iraqis between 275thousand and three hundred and sixthousand civilians died from directwar-related violence caused by the U.Sits allies the Iraqi military and policeaccording to Brown University's costs ofWar project as many as a third of amillion people but they add severaltimes as many Iraqi civilians may havedied as an indirect result of the wardue to damage to the systems thatprovide food health care and cleandrinking water and as a result illnessinfectious diseases and malnutritionthat could otherwise have been avoidedor treatedshockingly according to reporting by AlJazeera based on Iraqi government datachildhood Kansas increased 12-fold inthe six years after the U.S assault onFallujah which involved the use of whitephosphorus and depleted uranium weaponsand 15 percent of all babies there hadbirth defects a rate many times worsethan in the aftermath of the nuclearbombs dropped by the U.S on Japan duringWorld War IIand what do Iraqis have to show for thiswar and occupation of oursSaddam Hussein is gone a good thingbut the country remained plagued byviolence corruption and a lack of properdemocracyremember this wasn't just a tragicaccident it was a crime an illegal Warbuilt on blatant lies and waged sobrutally by George W bush thecommander-in-chiefa war which caused chaos in the regionand in The Wider World a war whoseperpetrators have never faced anyconsequences and again one man inparticularit's time for us to be honest as thepresident as the commander-in-chiefGeorge W Bush was responsible for warcrimes on multiple fronts as formerNixon lawyer John Dean who you oftenhear on cable news these days slammingTrump as he wrote just three monthsafter the Iraq invasion this is thefirst potential Scandal I have seen thatcould make Watergate pale by comparisonmanipulation or deliberate misuse ofNational Security intelligence data ifproven could be a high crime under theConstitution's impeachment Clause itwould also be a violation of federalcriminal lawthat's just domestic High crimes andmisdemeanors the Bush Administrationmisled the world and when the UnitedNations refused to back Bush'sunprovoked war of aggression he launchedIt Anyway back in 2004 the leader of theUnited Nations at the time the thenSecretary General Kofi Annan left nodoubt as to what that meantnow the U.N Secretary General has madehis strongest statement yet denouncingthe war it's not in Conformity with theUN Charter from our point of view fromthe chatter point of view it was illegalhe wasn't alone an independent inquiryby the Dutch government in 2010 alsoconcluded that the invasion was anillegal violation of U.N securityCouncil resolutions the U.N Charter ledby the U.Sand that's just a decision to go to warprominent human rights groups have saidBush and his allies should have beenheld to account for all of the tortureand alleged war crimes and crimesagainst humanity that occurred inside ofIraq on his watch at the hands of forceshe commandedand two such groups in New York andGeneva filed criminal complaints againstBush in 2011 for violating theInternational Convention on torture amove so serious that bush canceled aspeech he'd had planned in Switzerlandcited security concerns but one lawyerfor Human Rights Watch speculated to areporter quote he's avoiding thehandcuffsof course American presidents have neverbeen put in handcuffs right now in 2023millions of Americans for example arewaiting to see if former presidentDonald J Trump will be put in handcuffsif he will be indicted for multiplealleged crimes in multiple Americanjurisdictions KU plots hush moneypayments classified documents not tomention the civil lawsuits he facesso much of our discourse today and somuch of our country's future is bound upin these questions of whether Trump isgoing to be prosecuted whether a formerpresident for the first time could seethe inside of a prison if he's foundguilty of committing real crimes whetherhe could be held accountablemeanwhile George W bush is chilling inretirement painting up a storm whyaren't we having that debate about himas well if we can talk about criminalculpability in relation to Trump whycan't we talk about it in relation toBush why the double standard I mean noteven the worst of Trump's alleged crimesthe incitement of an armed Insurrectionat the Capitol come anywhere close tothe death and destruction that George Wbush brought to Iraq and I should alsopoint out many would argue there's apretty straight line between theimperial presidency of bush and the fauxpopulist autocracy of trumpwhere else did Trump get the idea that adisengaged Tycoon trading on a familynamed brand could attain the highestoffice in the country that he couldcover his bumbling mistakes andignorance with swagger and spin analternate reality based on fear andloathingremember Donald Trump was also able tobatter the Bush family both the Georgeand his brother Jeb who was running forpresident against Trump in 2016 byinvoking the catastrophe in Iraq a warweary GOP base responded positivelyobviously the war in Iraq was a big fatmistake all right George Bush made amistake we can make mistakes but thatone was a beauty we should have neverbeen in Iraq we have destabilized theMiddle EastIraq and Bush helped pave the way for2016 and the rise of trump Iraq and Bushalso helped pave the way for 2020 andthe big election lie don't take my wordfor it listen to author Robert Draperwho's written two books on Bush and oneon the Trump GOPwhat's the legacy of the war in Iraq forthe U.S for America's foreign policyyeah well so I in a way Steve I thinkthat the legacy is what we heard beforeI got on the air with people talkingabout uh you know with their conspiracytheories relating to mail and ballotingthat there has been a sort of War ontruth that was made possible by therecognition that the US government wasnot on the level with us after Iraq andit became possible then for a reality TVshow star with zero political experienceto say during the Republican primarieslook at all you guys with all of yourexperience what experience did that getusin the 20 years since the United Statesinvaded a country that had not attackedus to install a government that wasn'trepresentative on the basis of a threatthat did not exist there's been no realintrospection reflection or Reckoningwith how that disaster came about andhow to hold the architects of thatdisaster to account even as onesubsequent American leader through allof Bush's time-tested media manipulationtactics and then some into assaultingliterally and figuratively the veryFoundation of our democracy and there'sanother world leader on the other sideof the globe actively used our ownillegal invasion of Iraq to justify hisown illegal invasion of Ukraine yetanother geopolitical disaster andhumanitarian crisis built on Brazen liesand a total disregard for internationallawthanks to George W bush and thanks toour tolerance of our Indulgence ofGeorge W bush America has no realstanding or credibility when it comes tocalling out the crimes of Vladimir Putinin Ukraine todayand yet in the words of George W bushtoday Ukraine like Iraq has just becomeanother laugh linethe result is an absence of checks andbalances in Russiaand the decision of one manto launch a holy unjustified and brutalinvasion of Iraq I mean of Ukraineall right anywayIraq tooof course he doesn't really mean it thatwasn't a Freudian slip even now Bushdoesn't actually believe there wasanything wrong with his invasion of Iraqthe former president has had multipleopportunities over two decades to showregret remorse Contrition for what hedidbut he refuses toknowing what you know now about Iraq doyou still think it was a good idea to goin absolutely you still do oh absolutelyI really do I'm absolutely confidentthat uh that getting rid of SaddamHussein made our country safer and gavepeople a chance of Iraq of living in afree SocietyGeorge W bush is not a kind sweet man toquote Michelle Obama he's not a reallylovely man to quote Nancy Pelosi he'snot someone you brag about yourfriendship with as Ellen Degeneres andBill Clinton have done on this 20thanniversary of his greatest crime let usremember George W bush nothagiographically as the artist withpaint on his hands but more honestlymore bluntly as The Invader with bloodon his hands[Music]thank you