Former President George W. Bush isn't done spinning the Iraq War, one of the longest and costliest conflicts in U.S. history, as a net positive for both nations.
Discussing his new book 41: A Portrait of My Father, which touches on his father's legacy, Bush was asked on NPR Wednesday morning whether he thought Iraq is safer now compared with when Saddam Hussein was in power. The answer that followed was a vague "hypothetical" of Hussein's capabilities had the U.S. not intervened — under what many believe to be false pretenses.
"One could envision a nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq. The man, Saddam Hussein, would have a lot of revenue as a result of high prices of oil," Bush said. "And even though there wasn't, you know, a — we found a dirty bomb, for example — he had the capacity to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. And so there's — you know, it's all very hypothetical."
"I could argue that we're much safer without Saddam," he added. "And I would argue that the people of Iraq have a better shot at living in a peaceful — a peaceful state."
A "hypothetical" where Iraqis have "a better shot" at peace is a far cry from democratic nation-building, given recent developments — the rise of the Islamic State, for one — that have yet to give way to stability.
But Bush argued that his successor was to blame, because the U.S. failed to maintain a troop presence in the country. He noted that "in 2009 and 2010, the violence in Iraq was settling down. And the democracy, even though it was not perfect — kind of like ours was initially not perfect — was beginning to work."