Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), an Iraq War veteran who was part of the team that tracked down Saddam Hussein, argued Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is “wrong” to say the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power on Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
Russell stated, “He’s wrong. Regardless of what people think about the Iraq War, human rights advocates worldwide believed that the one silver lining that came out of the war was the demise of Saddam Hussein.”
Russell added, “350,000 Kurds and Arab Shias murdered, by Saddam, specifically. entire villages gassed. he attacked every neighboring country except Baathist Syria. The Marsh Arabs went from a population of 250,000 down to 30,000. He killed 20,000 of his own Sunni Arab political opponents, murdered his own son-in-law. I mean, are we kidding? This just demonstrates a complete lack of the facts, and a complete lack of understanding of foreign policy.
Russell also said he approaches the issue “as a soldier who happened to be involved with his demise, and it is absolutely absurd to think that the world would be a better place. He ranks as one of the worst dictators of the 20th century in terms of human loss. He also had Joseph Stalin as his model. Are we to say, Well, you know, gosh, Mussolini, at least he let the trains run on time. Maybe we should have left in power.’ What an absurd notion.”
He further argued, “what we see with Iraq — had we had the political will, let’s not forget, the men and women in uniform with great sacrifice, and great bloodshed, did turn the place around. and america abandoned its commitment to Iraq which also contributed [to] some of that.”
Russell also stated, “There’s a lot of missed opportunity with Syria. One, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Russians have an interest in syria. it shouldn’t have taken us a year and a half to figure out they had a naval base at Tartus and an air base at Latakia. They’ve got a mixed married Russian-Syrian population, much similar to, as we’ve been based around the world, we get very integrated with communities. So, Russia has an interest there. There’s a lot of misreading of the entire Syrian situation.
Russell concluded that former President George W. Bush should “absolutely not” apologize for the Iraq War, “nor does anyone that faces down evil and fights tyranny. Look, the minute the United States begins to say, ‘We’re not going to call for the removal of absolute tyrants and barbarians,’ we’re talking half a million dead, one million ancillary, hundreds of thousands of Kurds that were forced into asylum and fleeing the country. All you have to do is look at Saddam’s track record. The minute that the United States loses that good will to take objective looks, and says, ‘It’s better that tyrants remain in power and kill by the half-million, we’ve lost our way.'”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett