Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

Part of a series on George W. Bush. [View Related Entries]

Updated Mar 20, 2013 at 06:21PM EDT by Brad.

Added Feb 03, 2010 at 03:00AM EST by Masem.

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“Mission Accomplished” is a catchphrase that stems from the infamous banner sign displayed in the background during former President George W. Bush’s 2003 speech onboard USS Abraham Lincoln, where he announced the end of major military combats in Iraq. Already facing global anti-war protests and unstopping insurgency, photographs of President Bush delivering his speech in front of the banner soon became a target of online parodies and symbol of public skepticism towards the Bush administration’s handling of the war.


On May 1st, 2003, less than two months into the U.S. military operations in Iraq, President George W. Bush arrived on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to praise the success of the mission, which was delivered in front of a large banner adorned in an American flag motif with the words “Mission Accomplished” written across it. His speech, along with the banner, suggested that the war efforts in Iraq were complete.

In the following weeks, however, hostilities in the area continued to escalate, with number of US military casualties eventually exceeding the figures prior to the speech in May 2003. Soon, cable TV pundits like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert began ridiculing the meaning of the “Mission Accomplished” sign and speech, using it as a fodder to criticize the Bush administration’s foreign policies.


Since gaining widespread recognition as one of the most unflattering moments in Bush presidency, the phrase “mission accomplished” has been sarcastically referenced to imply that either mission of dubious value was completed, or that a major error was made. The meme is used both in prose and in altered graphics, typically with the original “Mission Accomplished” banner, or a similar text-style with the same red, white, and blue pomp used.

The catchphrase is perhaps best suited for commentaries on national political events, but it can be applied at any level. There is also a counter-use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” usually referred to any success tied to President Barrack Obama’s administration, contrasting the drastic change of U.S. Government politics between the two presidencies by actually using “Mission Accomplished” in its literal sense. The image(s) of Bush in front of the banner on the carrier can be also considered an exploitable upon which to build on.

Bush’s Admission

During the final days of his second presidential term, President Bush admitted his oversight regarding the hastened display of “Mission Accomplished” banner at his last White House news conference in January 2009.[1]

Osama bin Laden’s Death

On May 1st, 2011, on the 8 year anniversary of the “mission accomplished” speech, it was announced that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed by US forces. A thread was stickied on 4chan’s /b/ board with 4 American flags and text overlaid saying “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”. The audio from the song “America: Fuck Yeah!” was set to auto-play in the background.

Notable Examples

Search Interest

Due to the fairly common use of the phrase in the English language, It is difficult to gauge the online popularity of the phrase as a quote attributed to George W. Bush.

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