Piers Morgan Asks If Iraqis Aren't Any Better Off Than Under Saddam Hussein

According to CNN's Piers Morgan, the U.S. mission in Iraq was a failure and Iraqis could ask if they're any better off now than under dictator Saddam Hussein.

Interviewing former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday, Morgan brought up recent instability in Iraq and noted: "I suppose if you're living in Iraq and you're an Iraqi, you're saying are we really any better off now than we were under Saddam Hussein, brutal though he was and despotic though he was."

"When you at it in totally is it possible to conjure up any impression that this was a successful mission for America and the allied forces there?" Morgan asked Gates, who countered that it was.

"But as far we're concerned I believe we accomplished our mission in stabilizing the country and handing over a fragile democracy. What they do with it is really up to them in the long run," he concluded.

Below is a partial transcript of the segment:

CNN
PIERS MORGAN LIVE
1/15/14
[9:07 p.m. EST]

PIERS MORGAN: There's another big news story today which is absolutely in your old wheel house, which is Iraq, 61 people at least were killed and scores wounded in the latest wave of attacks in Baghdad and across the county. It looks from the outside as if Iraq is teetering into real civil war here, with the double problem of al Qaeda now apparently running Fallujah and other areas in Iraq. When you at it in totally is it possible to conjure up any impression that this was a successful mission for America and the allied forces there?

GATES: Well I think that we succeeded in the mission in 2008 and 2009 of being able to turn over to the Iraqis a fragile but real democratic government, a democratically elected government, as well as security and stability in the country. We basically handed them their future on a silver platter. My own view is that you can't freeze history in place. I think we accomplished our mission and we withdrew in the way that was not strategic defeat with global consequences for us. 

(...)

GATES: But as far we're concerned I believe we accomplished our mission in stabilizing the country and handing over a fragile democracy. What they do with it is really up to them in the long run.

PIERS MORGAN: I mean, I suppose if you're living in Iraq and you're an Iraqi, you're saying are we really any better off now than we were under Saddam Hussein, brutal though he was and despotic though he was, when he got 61 Iraqis killed in a single day and this follows up ugly patterns being going on for quite some time. Do you not think there is an argument to say that the Americans should never have gone in to Iraq in the first place, that it was an issue that the Iraqis should have resolved themselves?

GATES: Well, there's no doubt in my mind that there is a certain percentage of Iraqis who always considered us to be occupiers and were against our being there in the first place and against our staying and I think that that sentiment was one of the reasons the Iraqis in the end were unwilling to agree to a residual U.S. military presence in the country. There just wasn't broad enough support. On the other hand, I think that most – for most Iraqis life is in fact significantly better than it was under Saddam Hussein. Both in terms of – in economic terms but also in terms of their own personal safety and security, despite of the violence that's been going on.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014