Saddam Hussein warned the US it could not govern Iraq
A former CIA analyst who debriefed the captured leader says that had Saddam stayed, IS may not have gained ground in Iraq. He writes: “I heard over and over from counterparts in the military and the Bush administration that if we caught Saddam we would be able to nip the growing Iraqi insurgency in the bud.
“This presupposed that Saddam had an iron-like control over the Sunni insurgency (he didn’t) and that decapitating the Baathist regime would make Iraq a peaceful country (it didn’t).
“This was the underlying ethos of the Bush administration’s decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
In his book, Mr Nixon ponders what might have happened had Saddam remained in power.
Concerning Islamic State, he says: “Saddam felt that Islamist extremist groups in Iraq posed the biggest threat to his rule and his security apparatus worked assiduously to root out such threats.”
Addressing the region’s balance of power, he says: “Saddam also would have inevitably maintained a hostile stance toward Iran … Iraq is now very much the junior partner to a much emboldened Iranian regime that has expanded its military and security influence in the chaotic aftermath of Saddam’s overthrow and the aborted Arab Spring.”
Mr Nixon says that “Saddam’s leadership style and penchant for brutality were among the many faults of his regime”.
Nevertheless, he observes: “Although I found Saddam to be thoroughly unlikeable, I came away with a grudging respect for how he was able to maintain the Iraqi nation as a whole for as long as he did.”