Trump: Spewing Nonsense About Saddam Hussein and the Middle East


David French:

Speaking Tuesday night to Brett Baier, Donald Trump sounded more like Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and Dennis Kucinich than like the Republican front-runner for president. Asked whether he stood behind his 2008 interview where he said it would have been a “wonderful thing” if Nancy Pelosi had attempted to impeach President George W. Bush, Trump said this: “I think he was a disaster and I think it was one of the worst decisions ever made. [He] has totally destabilized the Middle East. If you had Saddam Hussein, you wouldn’t have the problems you have right now.”

I’m sorry, but this is nonsense. The Middle East was not stable with Saddam in power, and the present instability is far more related to the Arab Spring and the American pullout from post-Surge Iraq than it is to the initial decision to invade. In 2009, Barack Obama inherited a Middle East where American and Iraqi forces had crushed the al-Qaeda insurgency, Libya’sMoammar Qaddafi was effectively neutralized — agreeing months after Saddam fell to abandon his own WMD stockpiles — and Iran’s power was checked in part by the presence of American combat troops next door.

First, let’s dispense with the absurd notion that with Saddam Hussein still in power, “you wouldn’t have the problems you have right now.” From 1980, when he launched his war with Iran, until the fall of his regime in 2003, there were few greater agents of instability in the world (much less the Middle East) than Hussein. He invaded his neighbors, gassed his people, built up a vast stockpile of chemical weapons, supported terrorism, and triggered multiple military confrontations with the U.S., including Operation Desert Storm — the largest American military deployment since Vietnam.

Even when he was allegedly “contained” — walled in by no-fly zones, hampered by sanctions, and subject to periodic bombing raids — he still fomented regional discord. He was a prime financial supporter of the Palestinian suicide-bombing campaign that caused more Israeli civilian casualties — on a relative basis — than American casualties suffered on September 11. He hatched a terror plot to assassinate George H. W. Bush. He fired on American planes and pilots who were lawfully enforcing the no-fly zones. He interfered with lawful weapons inspections. And we now know — thanks to comprehensive New York Times reporting and the stories of countless Iraq vets — that he maintained secret stockpiles of chemical weapons.

If these historical facts don’t persuade, then why not the example of Hussein’s Ba’athist comrade in Syria, Hafez al-Assad? No Western power invaded Syria, yet the nation is the site of the world’s bloodiest war, it’s the incubator of ISIS, Syrian migrants are now swamping European shores, and U.S. and Russian forces now find themselves in combat in the same country and in dangerous (and hostile) proximity.

#share#​Trump’s statement also discounts the Arab Spring — a movement that had little (if anything) to do with Iraq. In December 2010, a young Tunisian grocer set himself on fire to protest his treatment at the hands of local police. Within days, protests swept the nation, and by January 2011 the government was overthrown. Less than two weeks later, Egypt erupted in protest. The first Syrian protests started in January also. In February, Libya was torn apart by violence.

While no one should pretend there was an easy or obvious American diplomatic or military response to the Arab Spring, the Obama administration did worse than fail — it kept choosing to back the wrong side. It launched a war on behalf of a ragtag group of jihadist militias in Libya — jihadists who soon enough transformed into violent enemies of the U.S. It backed the revolutionary Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt — even to the point of sending it advanced American weapons – even as it violated the Camp David Accords, persecuted Christians, and supported Hamas. Then, when the Brotherhood was overthrown in one of the world’s largest political protests, the Obama administration incredibly imposed an arms embargo on the new, allied government that took power.

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Spot on. If Trump wants to reach out to the BDS crowd, he needs to seek out the other party’s nomination.

@another vet: Trump has bashed “W” consistently.
Cruz says Trump can’t win and expects he’ll secure The Donald’s supporters over the next few months. I said this weeks ago.
Run Joe run.– A Biden entry will liven up the Dem side. 60/40 chance.

@rich wheeler: A Biden run will make Trump entertainment pale in comparison. It’ll be the Clinton machine vs. the Obama machine. The two biggest, most ruthless political machines out there doing battle. It should prove entertaining.

Trump is repeating the same gibberish that we’ve heard since “not finding” WMD materials and stockpiles. So much for being knowledgeable on military and national security issues that will make our heads spin.

@David: Bush has been bashed quite a bit, but he did the right thing in Iraq. What’s the problem with Trump being wrong about Iraq, seems as if all Dims were/are wrong about Iraq. Some people have recognized their errors, some never will. If people that were wrong about political issues were disqualified from running, we wouldn’t have elections anymore because there wouldn’t be any eligible Dimocrats. Have they ever been right about ‘anything’?

@another vet:

It’ll be the Clinton machine vs. the Obama machine.

I can’t figure that out.