“He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what? He did well. He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over,” Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina Tuesday. In comparison, Trump said, “today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It’s like Harvard. Okay? So sad.”
That assertion may be challenged by Israelis, as Clinton’s senior campaign adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN, “In reality, Hussein’s regime was a sponsor of terrorism — one that paid families of suicide bombers who attacked Israelis, among other crimes.”
Then Sullivan added that “Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”
Not necessarily so. In retrospect, after the violent collapse of the “Arab Spring” everywhere but in Tunisia, Trump’s assessment of what the Arab world requires to keep it stable is not necessarily democracy. Back in October, 2015, Trump said he believed Iraq and Libya would be more useful in forging a stable Middle East if ruthless dictators like Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi had not been terminated by a succession of American presidents.
“If you look at Iraq from years ago,” Trump said in October, “I’m not saying [Hussein] was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy, but it was a lot better than it is right now. Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Right now Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It’s all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what’s going on.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rushed to the defense of both Bushes and Obama, telling Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that Saddam Hussein “was one of the 20th century’s most evil people. He was up there. He committed mass genocide against his own people using chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.”
Yes, but, in the immortal words of FDR, when someone asked him about the wisdom of supporting Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, “He may be an SOB but he’s our SOB.” Back in 1979, when Iran’s Shah was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution, giving way to an Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which drove the US out of Iran (and kept hundreds of American hostages), only Saddam Hussein was able to limit the spread of Iranian influence in the region. The Iran–Iraq War lasted from September 1980 to August 1988, exacting millions of victims in the service of Western interests in the region. No Arab democracy (an oxymoron if ever there was one) could have stopped Iran. The only force able to facilitate Iran’s yearning for regional hegemony were presidents Bush I and Bush II, followed by Obama.
On July 25, 1990, US ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie held an emergency meeting with Saddam, who attacked American policy with regards to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Saddam complained bitterly: “So what can it mean when America says it will now protect its friends? It can only mean prejudice against Iraq. This stance plus maneuvers and statements which have been made has encouraged the UAE and Kuwait to disregard Iraqi rights.”
Saddam was referring to his neighboring oil sheiks “drilling sideways” into Iraqi deposits. Saddam viewed the entire concept of there even being a country named Kuwait to have been a conspiracy of British Petroleum and Her Majesty’s government to steal oil-rich Iraqi land. Saddam felt that in light of his service to the US, he should receive its support in his conflict with the Kuwaitis.
Ambassador Glaspie replied that the US would rather see the conflict resolved through peaceful means, but in the end, “…we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.”
And so, after his ultimatum to the Sabah ruling family of Kuwait had failed, Saddam invaded Kuwait, believing the US was going to take a neutral position on his move. But his move frightened the Saudis, whose Ambassador under both Bush administrations had his own desk in the Oval office, and they pressured Bush I to start what is now a 26-year program of completely destabilizing the Middle East, complete with attacks on US soil, lingering civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, two worldwide Islamic terrorist armies, one of them a Caliphate wannabe blowing up half of Europe. All of which could have been avoided had the Bush I and certainly Bush II administrations been more accommodating to the monstrous dictator who used to be our monstrous dictator.
The Democratic and Republican establishments insist on presenting Trump as an admirer of dictators, which he may be — but that was not the case Trump has been making for boosting rather than unseating dictators, such as Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Trump has a much clearer view regarding US foreign interest than do the establishment politicians on either side of the aisle, and it ain’t about spreading the spirit od democracy and goodwill to all mankind.