Saddam Hussein warned the Americans they would be unable to run Iraq after the 2003 war because they did not understand the language, the history, or the “Arab mind”.
After he had been captured in December 2003, the toppled Iraqi president was interviewed by John Nixon.
Mr Nixon, who was a senior analyst with the CIA, has now written a book about his encounter with the man who had been in power in Iraq for more than 20 years.
In an article in Time magazine, Mr Nixon writes: “When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: ‘You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.’
“When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: ‘You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.'”
Mr Nixon says some of what the Americans thought before the Iraq War started in March 2003 was wrong.
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.”