After the opening of the $250 million George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas last month, Americans will have access to new exhibits extolling the Iraq War, an invasion opposed by the majority of U.N. members states and one that experts believe took the lives of at least 123,000 Iraqi civilians and […]
After the opening of the $250 million George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas last month, Americans will have access to new exhibits extolling the Iraq War, an invasion opposed by the majority of U.N. members states and one that experts believe took the lives of at least 123,000 Iraqi civilians and 4,448 U.S. troops.
“I think it should probably be said every time somebody notes that there is a George W. Bush Presidential Library … that this is rather bluntly a museum designed to make you think that the Iraq War was a great idea,” MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow said.
This is especially evident in an interactive game for children and adults that leads library visitors to make the same policy choices executed by Bush at the time of the Iraq invasion. The game includes “expert advice” from top advisers urging participants to take action against Saddam Hussein because of the weapons of mass destruction he allegedly possessed.
Players who choose not to invade Iraq are given lectures about why this is an incorrect choice, including a video from former President Bush speaking about the reasons for initiating the war — a war now considered a mistake by nearly 60 percent of Americans.
Highlighting this point was CodePink, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement that protested the library opening. Wearing paper-maché costumes resembling Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, protesters held signs reading, “Try Bush for War Crimes.”
CodePink and others contend that the library is an attempt to rewrite history and repair Bush’s tarnished reputation. “It looks like a theme park as much as it is a library,” said Lou Dubose, co-author of “Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America.” “It’s kind of a parentheses around one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in our country’s history and they’re pretty shameless about it.”
The few who initially opposed the Iraq War invasion now represent the majority voice of Americans who see the war as a mistake. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no threat to our national security. There is no convincing evidence that Iraq is capable of threatening the security of this country and therefore very little reason if any to pursue a war,” Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) said in 2002, one of the few voices in Congress to oppose the Iraq invasion.
The library and museum, which covers 207,000 square feet, tells a different story, praising unilateral military actions that led Bush’s popularity to nosedive near the end of his two-term presidency. Upon leaving office in early 2009, Bush held the lowest approval rating ever recorded for a US president, a mere 19 percent.
This didn’t stop former and current presidents from heaping praise upon Bush during the ceremony, touting his achievements during his terms in office that began in 2000. “To know the man is to like the man,” said President Obama of his predecessor. “He’s comfortable in his own skin, he knows who he is, he doesn’t put on any pretences … he is a good man.”
The museum includes exhibits highlighting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the war in Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the Florida vote recount and other events around which Bush’s presidency revolved.
“We remember the compassion that he showed by leading the global fight against HIV-Aids and malaria, helping to save millions of lives,” Obama said. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton also spoke words of praise for Bush, most notably for launching the global war on terror and a now decades-long struggle to rout Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations in the wake of 9/11.
As Iraq begins to pick up the pieces after a 10-year U.S. occupation, the country remains in shambles, with widespread power outages and a lack of clean drinking water.
“Despite the billions committed to aiding and reconstructing Iraq, the country remains devastated by the war,” write researchers from the Brown University Costs of War project. “Many parts of the country still suffer from lack of access to clean drinking water and housing. Some large number of people have died as an indirect result of the war, specifically its effect on the systems that provide health care and clean drinking water.”