George W Bush is not funny

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Everyone has by present heard astir the latest gaffe by erstwhile United States president and unconvicted warfare criminal George W Bush, begetter of the 2003 US penetration of Iraq and different fantastically bloody escapades.

In a recent speech astatine his precise ain George W Bush Presidential Centre successful Dallas, Texas, Bush condemned the “absence of checks and balances” successful Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which had enabled “one antheral to motorboat a wholly unjustified and brutal penetration of Iraq”.

Quickly realising his not-really-mistake, Bush corrected himself: “I mean, of Ukraine” – but added somewhat nether his breath: “Iraq, too, anyway”. The spectacle elicited gleeful laughter from the audience, arsenic did Bush’s consequent attribution of the Iraq-Ukraine mix-up to his age: “Seventy-five”.

Granted, the linguistically challenged ex-head of authorities has agelong made radical chuckle with his alleged “Bushisms”, which person implicit the years included the pursuing peculiar utterances: “I cognize however hard it is for you to enactment nutrient connected your family”; “I cognize the quality being and food tin coexist peacefully”; “They misunderestimated me”; and “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

But the effectual annihilation of a federation is hardly a laughing matter. Ditto for the simplification to a split-second “Iraq, too, anyway” of hundreds of thousands of deaths, countless massacres of Iraqi civilians, the forcible displacement of millions of people, and the saturation of the state with toxic and radioactive munitions that proceed to origin congenital commencement defects, cancer, and each mode of different maladies astir 2 decades aft the motorboat of the “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion”.

One tin ideate the fearfulness that would ensue were a nonwhite non-Westerner to ace a gag about, say, the September 11 attacks, oregon immoderate different lawsuit paling successful examination – successful presumption of quality and worldly demolition – to the warfare connected Iraq. Bush and his audience, connected the different hand, are by virtuousness of imperial entitlement permitted to snicker astatine a notation to the wide slaughter of nonwhite non-Westerners arsenic though it were simply an lawsuit of self-deprecating humour connected the portion of the erstwhile imperial commander-in-chief.

Of course, this is not the archetypal clip Bush has unintentionally said thing profoundly revealing astir his ain belligerence. There was that clip successful 2006, for example, erstwhile helium remarked successful an interrogation with CBS Evening News: “You know, 1 of the hardest parts of my occupation is to link Iraq to the warfare connected terror”.

Nor, it truthful happens, is it the archetypal clip that helium has joked astir the full premise of the Iraq war. Back successful 2004, during the yearly cringe-fest known arsenic the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bush narrated a descent amusement featuring a representation of him looking nether furnishings successful the Oval Office: “Those weapons of wide demolition person got to beryllium present somewhere”, helium quipped to applause and laughter.

This, caput you, was conscionable 1 twelvemonth aft the motorboat of a warfare that was supposedly meant to prevention the satellite from the apocalyptic menace of Iraq’s alleged WMD arsenal. In an April 2004 dispatch for The Nation, titled Laughing With Bush, David Corn – past the magazine’s Washington exertion – called retired the president for his Correspondents’ Dinner “performance” and the attendees for their ingratiating response.

In beforehand of an “audience of radical who supposedly walk their days pursuing the truth”, Corn wrote, “Bush joked astir misstatements (if not lies) helium had utilized to transportation (if not hornswoggle) the American radical and the media”.

In different words, the full concern was itself a gag – albeit not astatine each funny.

The Correspondents’ Dinner has besides played big to different bouts of statesmanlike humour-that-wasn’t – including successful 2010 erstwhile then-president Barack Obama undertook to denote that members of the Jonas Brothers set were successful attendance astatine the venue and that his daughters Sasha and Malia were “huge fans”.

Obama continued: “But boys, don’t get immoderate ideas. I person 2 words for you: Predator drones. You volition ne'er spot it coming”. After pausing to let for laughter and applause, the president received adjacent much giggles with the line: “You deliberation I’m joking”.

Never caput that US subject drones were then, arsenic now, notoriously associated with the indiscriminate sidesplitting of civilians successful assorted overseas lands. In the end, these statesmanlike punchlines execute the benignant of barbarity disguised arsenic banality that reflexively tickles America’s comic bone.

Meanwhile, contempt the perennial hullaballoo surrounding the menace of weapons of wide destruction, US leaders often look to find the precise conception of wide demolition downright hilarious. Recall that greeting successful August 1984 erstwhile Ronald Reagan went into jokester mode for the microphone cheque preceding his unrecorded vigor broadcast: “My chap Americans, I’m pleased to archer you contiguous that I’ve signed authorities that volition outlaw Russia forever. We statesman bombing successful 5 minutes”.

US allies, too, stock a akin consciousness of humour and would-be wit – not to notation microphone issues. In July 2006, during the G8 league successful nary different than Russia, an unattended microphone captured the banter betwixt Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his faithful accomplice successful the quest to obliterate Iraq.

It was little than a week into the latest effort by Israel – different imperial accomplice – to obliterate Lebanon via a 34-day bombing run that yet killed immoderate 1,200 people, chiefly civilians. Bush addressed his counterpart as: “Yo, Blair”, and, according to the transcript of the chat connected the BBC website, the brace had a bully laughter implicit the important substance of a sweater Blair had talented Bush:

Bush: “I cognize you picked it retired yourself.”

Blair: “Oh perfectly – successful fact, I knitted it!”

The duo past proceeded to sermon the bloodshed successful Lebanon, which successful Bush’s presumption could beryllium resolved not by getting Israel to halt massacring radical but alternatively by getting Lebanon’s Hezbollah organisation – which, logically, was warring backmost – “to halt doing this s***”.

Fast guardant to the 2022 Iraq-I-mean-Ukraine gaffe astatine the George W Bush Presidential Centre successful Dallas – the “wholly unjustified and brutal” decimation of a state condensed into a azygous imperial wisecrack – and 1 finds oneself wishing that it would each conscionable stop.

The views expressed successful this nonfiction are the author’s ain and bash not needfully bespeak Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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