As if we needed further evidence that reality show puffball Donald Trump has no business whatsoever being anywhere near the White House, yesterday he told a North Carolina rally that Saddam Hussein was an awesome terrorist-killer:
Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights — they didn’t talk, they were a terrorist, it was over.
While it is true that Saddam did not let Islamist organizations operate in Iraq, and that the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney invasion of Iraq created a vacuum of power which Al Qaeda and then the Islamic State could fill, most ‘terrorists’ executed by the old Ba’ath regime were simply enemies of the state who ‘confessed’ under torture. Children were reportedly beaten and had their feet crushed before their parents’ eyes; rape was also common.
But of course, Trump loves torture and rape, so the arbitrary arrests and fake confessions of the Ba’ath era are actually a plus in his eyes.
“Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism,” Trump told the approving crowd. “You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It’s like Harvard. OK? So sad.”
This is not the first time Trump has praised Hussein or other dictators, although his comments on Tuesday night gathered much more attention than his earlier comments. In October, Trump said that the world would be “100 percent” better if dictators like Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi were still in power. In February, Trump said at a political event in New Hampshire that “whether you like Saddam Hussein or not, he used to kill terrorists” and now Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists.
All the invading, Pottery Barn-breaking, and Abu Ghraib torturing that America did from 2003 to 2007? It did not keep Iraq from becoming a terrorist haven, but Trump says it will work this time just because he is president, and he can use the magic words ‘radical Islam.’
Of course, Trump doesn’t seem to know that Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services sponsored or organized acts of terrorism abroad — mainly against Israel, but also in Muslim countries. Does Trump also admire Saddam for dropping mustard gas on Kurdish civilians? Someone should probably ask him that question.
Then again, Trump has never acknowledged that most victims of terrorism are Muslims, either. Such admissions would rather tend to undermine his un-American campaign promise of halting Muslims at the border to stop future terrorist attacks.
“Donald Trump’s praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds,” Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement responding to Trump’s remarks yesterday evening. “Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”
Indeed. As Franklin Foer pointed out in a long, but important Independence Day piece for Slate, Trump’s curious affection for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin seems largely inspired by the willingness of Russian oligarchs to finance his projects — because Wall Street considers him a terrible credit risk.
The money didn’t come directly. Hunting for partners with cash, he turned to a small upstart called the Bayrock Group, which would pull together massive real estate deals using the Trump name. Its chairman was a former Soviet official named Tevfik Arif, who made a small fortune running luxe hotels in Turkey. To run Bayrock’s operation, Arif hired Felix Satter, a Soviet-born, Brighton Beach–bred college dropout. Satter changed his name to Sater, likely to distance himself from the criminal activity that a name-check would easily turn up. As a young man, Sater served time for slashing a man’s face with a broken margarita glass in a barroom brawl. The Feds also busted him for a working in a stock brokerage tied to four different Mafia families, which made $40 million off fraudulent trades. One lawsuit would later describe “Satter’s proven history of using mob-like tactics to achieve his goals.”Another would note that he threatened a Trump investor with the prospect of the electrocution of his testicles, the amputation of his leg, and his corpse residing in the trunk of Sater’s car.
Torture, murder, and mayhem for power and profit: these classic hallmarks of despotism are now warmly approved by half of Republican voters. It’s enough to make you think that maybe all their talk about ‘freedom’ and ‘small government’ is just compensation for something much darker going on in their fearful little minds.Click here for reuse options!
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