George W. Bush mistakenly condemned Putin's 'brutal, unjustified invasion of Iraq' instead of Ukraine, then blamed the slip-up on age

George W. Bush mistakenly condemned Putin's 'brutal, unjustified invasion of Iraq' instead of Ukraine, then blamed the slip-up on age
President George W. Bush gives a "thumbs-up" sign after declaring the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast.AP Images/J. Scott Applewhite
  • George W. Bush slipped up at an event, decrying the invasion of Iraq, instead of the war in Ukraine.
  • He paused for a moment, caught himself, and laughed at the blunder, blaming his age.

Former US President George W. Bush mistakenly denounced the "brutal, unjustified invasion of Iraq" at an event on Wednesday as he was offering a critique of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

The slip-up occurred during an event on election integrity at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas and was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.

"In contrast, Russian elections are rigged. Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the political process," Bush told the crowd. "The result is the 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," he said, pausing, then laughing. "Anyways, I'm 75," Bush added after the gaffe while the audience laughed.

Back in 2003, Bush announced an invasion of Iraq called "Operation Iraqi Freedom." In a televised address on March 19, 2003, Bush said the operation was meant to help the Iraqis "achieve a united, stable and free country."


"We have no ambition in Iraq except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people," Bush said at the time. "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly — yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

Bush also said in his 2002 State of the Union Address that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq were rogue states with "terrorist allies" that were part of an "axis of evil" that was armed to "threaten the peace of the world."

At the time, Bush justified military force against Iraq with claims that Iraq and its then-leader, Saddam Hussein, had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in the country. However, CNN reported in July 2003 that the intelligence reports that gave the invasion its basis were likely based on false information and forged documents.

A formal search after the invasion of Iraq did yield evidence of chemical and biological warfare research. However, US weapons expert David Kay admitted in a January 2004 Senate Hearing that "we were almost all wrong" about the possibility of Iraq possessing such weapons of mass destruction.

Bush was later widely criticized for having pushed the US into the "war on terror" and for whipping up the rhetoric to launch the invasion of Iraq. Bush's critics have also called for him to be charged with war crimes.


Bush's comments this week on Ukraine were among his first since Russia's invasion in late February. During the event, Bush also likened Zelenskyy to Winston Churchill, calling the Ukrainian president a "cool little guy."