NEW YORK: Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein told US interrogators after his capture:
You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.
And now President Obama and president-elect Donald Trump believe the United States should have never invaded Iraq in 2003 (or, at least, Trump claims he now does).
The invasion of Iraq and its chaotic aftermath in many ways prefigure the present moment in the Middle East; it triggered a sectarian unraveling that now haunts both Iraq and Syria and looms large in the minds of an Obama administration wary of further intervention in the regions conflicts.
In a new book coming out this month, John Nixon, a former CIA officer who interrogated Saddam Hussein after he was captured by the US-led forces in Dec 2003, details his encounter with him and the discussions that followed.
Saddam Hussein warned that the occupation of Iraq wouldnt be the cakewalk Washingtons neoconservatives assumed at the time.
From an excerpt published on Time magazines website: When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.
When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.
Nixon now reckons Hussein had a point and that a ruthless strongman like him was necessary to maintain Iraqs multi-ethnic state and keep both Sunnis and the power of Shia-led Iran at bay.
Saddams leadership style and penchant for brutality were among the many faults of his regime, but he could be ruthlessly decisive when he felt his power base was threatened, and it is far from certain that his regime would have been overthrown by a movement of popular discontent, he wrote.
Likewise, it is improbable that a group like the militant Islamic State (IS) would have been able to enjoy the kind of success under his regime that they have had under the Shia-led Baghdad government.
This may all be rather true. Trump himself insists that regime change should no longer be on Washingtons agenda and has embraced dictatorial leaders such as Egypts President Abdel Fatah al Sissi
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