Trump’s larger point is that brutal dictators like Qaddafi, Saddam, Assad, Mubarak, etc. keep the Islamist crazies at bay. It is choosing the lesser of two evils, so to speak. What happened when the Shah of Iran fell? It ushered in something much worse: The Khomeini religious fanatics. Today, is Egypt better off? Libya? Syria? Iraq?
At the same time, part of the anger in the Muslim world has been our support of brutal dictators. It fuels the disenfranchised to fall under the siren song of Islamists who blame all the dysfunctions of their current state upon the excesses, the westernization, the modernization of secular, Muslim governments; and because the West supports these governments, governments like the United States are also held to blame. Religion is the answer, so says men like Sayyid Qutb and al-Zawahiri.
The difference between a Mubarak or Pahlavi and Saddam, however, is that the former two were allies of the United States. The Shah was deeply pro-American. Saddam, however, was a sworn enemy of the United States, was a constant menace to his neighbors and a source of instability to the region; and, despite the repute for secularism, was in collusion with terror, both secular and Islamic. The seeds of alliance with Islamists had already been planted long before AQI found a brief alliance with Sunni tribes and former Baathists and Saddam loyalists, pre-Invasion. It is a myth that Saddam would never cooperate with jihadis he did not trust, due to “secularism”. Saddam used religion because it is a powerful political tool. And he did business with Islamists in similar manner to Saudi Arabia’s collusion with wahhabists and salafists- in the hopes to appease and have their violence turned away from their respective regimes.
Iraq may not have been torn apart by Islamic terrorists and militants and sectarian violence; but Saddam was a breeder of terrorism. (Also forget the facts of how much he and his murderous sons had terrorized the Iraqi people). Salman Pak may have been in the uncontrolled northern region of Iraq; but that training camp represented Saddam’s reach into the Kurdish north.
Some critics of OIF like to say there weren’t suicide bombings in Iraq before the 2003 invasion, forgetting that Saddam was giving out cash rewards to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Why did we invade Iraq and remove Saddam? Because after 12 years of deceit and defiance of 16 + 1 UNSCRs, a cat-and-mouse game of UNSCOM and UMOVIC weapons inspections that turned into weapons hunting, after the events of 9/11 and OEF, the Bush administration made a decision that an open-state sponsor of terrorism and known lover of WMD, was too dangerous in a post-9/11 world to let stand. The fear the Bush administration had was that Saddam would follow “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” maxim and ally himself with the al Qaeda network, using them as proxy to deliver a wmd attack.