The Slatest

Trump Takes Page Out of Bush Playbook, Declares “Mission Accomplished” After Syria Strike

President George W. Bush addresses the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on 1 May, 2003, as it sails for Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California.
President George W. Bush addresses the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on 1 May, 2003, as it sails for Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California.
STEPHEN JAFFE/Getty Images

President Donald Trump channeled his Republican predecessor on Saturday, congratulating U.S. military and allied forces for a “perfectly executed strike” on Syria by declaring “Mission Accomplished!” That phrase immediately brought to mind the misplaced optimism from President George W. Bush regarding the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”

The words “Mission Accomplished” became infamous after they were displayed on a banner in an aircraft carrier behind Bush as he addressed the nation and declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. Although Bush never actually said the words “Mission Accomplished” critics often cited them as evidence the United States was not ready for the insurgency that began mere weeks later. Even Bush recognized later that using the words was a “mistake.”

Ari Fleishcer, who was White House press secretary at the time, immediately noticed the parallel and wrote on Twitter: “Um…I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words.” Even though the White House always insisted that the message on the banner was from the crew and not the president, Fleischer recognizes that “the shot of Bush with the banner became a symbol of what went wrong.”

Trump also wrote on Twitter that he was “so proud of our great Military,” giving himself a pat on the back because it “will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had.”