GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that if the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi were still in power, the Middle East would be better off than it is today.
“Of course it would be. You wouldn’t have had your Benghazi situation, which is one thing which was just a terrible situation, but of course, it would. Libya is– is not even– nobody even knows what’s goin’ on over there. It’s not even a country anymore,” Trump said.
Iraqi forces executed Saddam by hanging in 2006, while Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels in 2011.
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked Trump, “You think the Middle East would be better today if Gaddafi, Saddam and Assad were sort of– if Saddam and Gaddafi were still there and [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad were stronger? You think the Middle East would be safer?
“Not even– it’s not even a contest, Chuck. It’s not even a contest. Iraq is a disaster. And ISIS—” Trump responded.
“So, it’d be better off if Saddam were in charge?” Todd asked.
“Don’t forget. ISIS came out of Iraq – the leftovers that didn’t get taken care of,” Trump said.
“Right. No, I understand,” said Todd. “Well, let me button this up. If Saddam and Gaddafi, you think things would be more stable?”
“Of course it would be. You wouldn’t have had your Benghazi situation which is one thing which was just a terrible situation. But, of course, it would. Libya is– is not even– nobody even knows what’s goin’ on over there. It’s not even a country anymore,” Trump responded.
The benefit of Russia getting involved in Syria instead of the U.S. is that Russia will “get bogged down,” Trump said.
“I don’t wanna see the United States– we’ve spent now– we’ve spent $2 trillion in Iraq, probably a trillion in Afghanistan. We’re destroying our country. We owe $19 trillion. We’re bogged down. Russia was bogged down in Afghanistan, meaning the Soviet Union. It broke up the Soviet Union. They’re gonna get bogged down, you watch,” said Trump.
“They’re gonna get bogged down. Everybody that’s touched the Middle East, they’ve gotten bogged down. Now, Putin wants to go in– Putin does not want ISIS. I know they haven’t hit ’em as hard as they should be hitting ’em,” added Trump.
Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin has to get rid of ISIS, because Putin doesn’t want ISIS coming into Russia. However, Trump said, he does not trust Putin. Trump said he welcomes Putin’s involvement in Syria, despite reports that Putin has so far attacked only anti-Assad forces in the region and not ISIS as he promised.
“They’re hittin’ Assad– they’re hittin’ people we’ve trained,” Todd said.
“Excuse me. Where they’re hitting people, we’re talking about people that we don’t even know. The rebel group– we have no idea. I was talking to a general two days ago. He said, ‘We have no idea who these people are. We’re training people. We don’t know who they are. We’re giving ’em billions of dollars to fight Assad,’” said Trump.
“And you know what? I’m not saying Assad’s a good guy, ’cause he’s probably a bad guy, but I’ve watched him interviewed many times, and you can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there– it’s a mess– if you look at Saddam Hussein with Iraq, look what we did there– it’s a mess– it’s gonna be same thing,” he added.