The morning after President Donald Trump ordered airstrikes on Syria — apparently without legal standing to do so — he tweeted out a self-congratulatory “Mission Accomplished!”
President George W. Bush used the same slogan when he stood aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln announcing an “end” to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which officially lasted from March 20 to May 1, 2003. But the conflict would drag on for more than a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, including civilians, and unleashing ISIS from a power vacuum that ensued.
The moment — especially the phrase ‘Mission Accomplished’ — dogged Bush for the remainder of his presidency.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
Trump launched the air strikes in response to the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, using chemical weapons against civilians in Douma on April 7. British and French forces joined the strikes, and the coalition targeted three sites where chemical weapons stored and developed, according to the Pentagon.
Pentagon official defends Trump’s “mission accomplished” tweet: “It *was* mission accomplished.” pic.twitter.com/veuF0RC39s
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 14, 2018
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” he said in a statement issued after the strikes began.
Bush stood aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, having flown in on a fixed-wing aircraft that made an arrested landing on the surface of the carrier — a considerable and needless expense given it was stationed off the coast of San Diego and therefore reachable by helicopter.
Bush glad-handed with Navy personnel before changing into a suit and making his infamous speech.
“Our mission continues,” he told the assembled crowd on the aircraft carrier in 2003. The speech was also broadcast. “We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide… Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”
In fact, the conflict only begun: President Barack Obama withdrew the last combat troops in Dec. 2011, but sectarian violence and the ISIL insurgency continued to escalate. Obama sent U.S. troops back, and as late as 2014 U.S. and coalition forces were operating air strikes inside Iraq’s borders.