In March, Marco Rubio was asked Marco Rubio was asked whether it was a mistake to invade Iraq. He responded by saying,
The world is a better place because Saddam Hussein does not run Iraq.
He then went on to explain all the reasons why Saddam Hussein was a bad guy and a threat to countries in the region. All of that sure sounds like he thought that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea.
Well lo and behold that may not be true. Yesterday, Marco reversed himself. When asked whether he would have invaded Iraq knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction he said,
"Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush wouldn't have been in favor of it, and he's said so,"
Of course, Rubio does not want to admit to having reversed himself so he explained, through his spokesman, that in fact those two statements were not contradictory. The spokesman said
He believes the world is better without Saddam in it. But we wouldn't have invaded if we knew he didn't have WMDs,"
Putting aside the obvious, that the statements are totally contradictory, and that Bush has never said that invading Iraq was a mistake, there is a more important point to Rubio's statement. He says that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.
That is true if by "world" he means Iran, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hussein's political prisoners, Iraqi Kurds and certain Shia clerics and politicians in Iraq. Those countries and groups clearly think that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein because their power has been increased.
But the rest of the world is most definitely worse off. The simple truth is Saddam Hussein in 2003 was not a threat to anyone. His military had been decimated in the Gulf War and half of his country was operating under a no-fly zone. In addition, he was suffering from severe sanctions which effectively prevented him from ever becoming a serious military power again. Moreover, he had lost two wars and at that point was merely trying to stay in power.
The entire question about weapons of mass destruction was always nonsense. He not only didn't have any, but he had given up the chemical weapons program that he had used during his ill-fated invasion of Iran. He had absolutely no nuclear weapons program. While he had built a nuclear reactor in the 1980s, it was knocked out by the Israelis. In 2003 he was a threat to no one other than his political enemies in Iraq.
While no one laments the passing of a brutal dictator, and clearly he was that, the only country that benefited from his passing was Iran. Iran and Iraq were antagonists and sometimes enemies, and fought a brutal war in the early 1980s. Their antagonism was based on religion, their shared boundaries, and their economic conflicts, primarily involving oilfields on their shared borders. By removing Hussein we gave the Iranians something they never could have hoped to achieve on their own. Iraq went from an enemy of Iran to a friend. The Middle East went from having one Shia dominated major country, Iran, to having two.
And more importantly, the invasion of Iraq sewed instability throughout the region. And that instability gave rise to Al Qaeda affiliates in the region and the creation of Isis. It is sad but true that even the hoped-for benefits, such as the Arab Spring, have not materialized. With the exception of Tunisia, the Arab Spring has brought nothing but conflict and carnage in countries such as Libya, Yemen, and Syria.
That is the reality of the Middle East without Saddam Hussein. Marco Rubio is wrong about the war and about Saddam Hussein.