As long-time readers of this humble blog (all 2 1/2 of you) know full well, I was among the humans who were most vociferous in condemnation of the U.S. -- U.K. invasion and occupation of Iraq. In fact, I wrote a whole separate blog about it for some 15 years. It was an illegal war of aggression, justified by pretextual lies, there were hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and U.S. and British troops, and mercenaries, committed atrocities. People in the U.S. didn't seem to care about the human cost in Iraq nearly as much as they do already about Ukranians, and I don't have to tell you why.
The objective was to install a regime more congenial to North American and European interests, which in the view of the perpetrators included being friendly to Israel. What they got was social collapse and a horrific civil war, followed by a regime more friendly to Iran. There are a couple of points that might make a minor moral distinction between this war crime and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One is that the majority of the Iraq population did want an end to the Saddam Hussein regime, although they invaders didn't really understand anything about Iraq and in particular that there wasn't any common national identity or aspiration that could quickly lead to the emergence of a stable, less oppressive order. The original intention also was not to stay long or continue to exercise coercive control over the country. These points of difference don't make it okay, but they do need to be acknowledged.
As I said in the previous post, another difference is that Saddam didn't have a friend in the world. Many governments, including notably that of France, did condemn the invasion, but they didn't do anything to sanction the U.S. or assist the Iraqi resistance. The only exception was Iran. Once Saddam was gone, Iran did fund and arm a Shiite resistance in Iraq, for which of course the U.S. called them sponsors of terrorism. Attacking American soldiers, on the battlefield, who have invaded and are occupying your country, is considered terrorism by the United States, and there are even people in prison today for doing just that.
But obviously, that doesn't make what Putin is doing right now okay. It is in fact worse, for both moral and pragmatic considerations. The most important pragmatic consideration is that it is far more dangerous, threatening to expand beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine and in fact to endanger human civilization. (In case that hadn't occurred to you.) That also makes it even more morally reprehensible, as to the undeniable facts that Ukraine has an elected government and a strong sense of national community; and the objective is either to install a puppet government or annex the country. In other words it's an imperialist adventure, which the U.S. invasion of Iraq was not precisely.
While I wish that the international community had come together more forcefully to condemn the Iraq war, that doesn't mean I shouldn't be glad that the world is coming together to oppose Putin now. There should be no need to review the imperialist history of the U.S. The entire country consists of stolen land; and I lived through Vietnam as well as Iraq. But we need to achieve a new global consensus that this is not acceptable. If it takes Russia attacking some white people who aspire to have a western European style democracy, so be it. And to pretend that Ukraine, or NATO for that mater, somehow represent a threat to Russian security is utter nonsense.
Update: I don't know how to embed tweets so I'll just give you the image:
PS: The NATO intervention in Afghanistan was indeed under color of its mutual defense mission, a response to the 9/11 attack on the U.S. Obviously, sticking around for 20 years was not in the original plan. How the U.S., and the alliance, got sucked into that futile endeavor will be a life's work for some historians. The Libyan intervention is a complicated story. It was not originally a NATO operation, but it was authorized by the UN Security Council because of purported intelligence that a massacre of civilians was imminent. This was ultimately determined to have been false. NATO took over only after the operation had gone awry, because some of its member states believed that would provide more responsible leadership, and under NATO auspices the operation ended. I would prefer that NATO be unnecessary, but clearly right now it isn't. Whether expanding the alliance eastward was wise is debatable, but it's what the new member states wanted.