Trump problem: Saddam killed Kurds and dissenters, not terrorists
Saddam Hussein wasn’t a slayer of terrorists. In fact, he gave money to families of suicide bombers. Trump’s praise of him for killing terrorists was factually incorrect.
Iraq’s dictator was responsible for gassing thousands of Kurdish civilians, using chemical weapons against Iran, invading Kuwait, crushing political dissent and giving money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who terrorized Israelis.
But killing terrorists? Not in the eyes of the West. The U.S. listed Iraq during the Saddam years not as an opponent of terrorism, but as a state sponsor of it.
And now, the late dictator’s Baath party makes up the organizational backbone of the Islamic State, the principal Islamic extremist threat.
Trump has maintained for a decade that the otherwise bad Iraqi leader was good in taking on terrorists. “You know what he did well?” he asked a campaign crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday night. “He killed terrorists. He did that so good.”
He went on: “They didn’t read ’em the rights, they didn’t talk. They were a terrorist, it was over.” It was a view he repeated Wednesday at a rally in Cincinnati, but with the caveat that he wasn’t praising Saddam as some critics had suggested. The Iraqi leader “was a bad man,” he insisted, adding that “I hate Saddam Hussein.”
Yet, in October, Trump asserted the world would be “100 percent” better off if Saddam and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had been allowed to stay in power. This, despite the fact Trump initially if unenthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq (“I guess so”) and called strongly for the West to step in and help oust Gadhafi, which it did.