Using two words that ended up haunting George W. Bush during the Iraq War, President Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday to declare “Mission Accomplished!” following airstrikes on chemical weapons targets in Syria.
Pentagon officials said the overnight missile strikes by the U.S., the U.K., and France on three key targets in Syria crippled the ability of dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime to use chemical weapons.
“A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The triumphant statement was similar to one that hounded 43rd President of the United States, even though he didn’t actually make it. On May 1, 2003, six weeks after the invasion of Iraq, Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, under a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished” and declared “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”
But the war in Iraq raged on for more than eight years after Bush made the statement.
Critics slammed Bush for the statement, saying it was a grave misjudgment. But the White House later said it had nothing to do with the “Mission Accomplished” banner and noted that the president never said those words in his speech on the deck of the Lincoln. The Bush administration said the banner was meant to signify the end of the Lincoln’s 10-month mission in the Persian Gulf.
Ari Fleischer, Bush’s White House press secretary, retweeted Trump’s tweet Saturday, adding, “Um…I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words.”
In a subsequent tweet, Fleischer noted that “Bush stated the danger was not over and that difficult missions lay ahead, particularly in the Sunni triangle” of Iraq.
Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokesperson, backed Trump’s comment during a briefing on the overnight bombing raid of the Syrian targets.
“We met our objectives. We hit the sites, the heart of the chemical weapons program. So it was mission accomplished,” White said.
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