Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s controversy du jour is his offer of praise for late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein at a rally in North Carolina. Trump told the crowd that while Hussein “was a bad guy, really bad guy,” he added that Hussein “killed terrorists! He did that so good.”
Trump also called post-Saddam Iraq “the Harvard of terrorism,” and if all of this sounds a bit familiar to you, it should. Like the days-long kerfuffle over his refusal to disavow Ku Klux Klan icon David Duke, this episode is a rerun. Trump said a nearly identical thing to CNN’s Jake Tapper back in October:
TAPPER: But you also recently said that the Middle East would be better off with Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein and Assad in power. How does…
TRUMP: I didn’t say Assad.
But we certainly have not gained anything with Gadhafi. And you look at what happened, I mean, look at Libya, look at Iraq. Iraq used to be no terrorists. He would kill the terrorists immediately. It was like — now it’s the Harvard of terrorism, Iraq.
If you look at Iraq from years ago — I’m not saying he 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.
The argument Trump is trying to make is one that liberals often made against George W. Bush, that Hussein kept a lid on sectarian violence, but Hussein was, of course, a state sponsor of terrorism, not a terrorist-hunting hero.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.