Donald Trump praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein Tuesday night, allowing that he was a “really bad guy” but had redeeming qualities when it came to his handling of terrorists.
Trump lauded the former U.S. adversary for how “well” he killed terrorists, recalling that he “didn’t read them the rights, they didn’t talk. They were terrorists, over.” Now, Trump assessed, “Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign seized the opportunity to once more paint Trump has unfit for office. “Donald Trump’s praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds,” Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan said in an emailed statement. “Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has cast the brutal dictator in a positive light — or called Iraq an Ivy League locale for aspiring terrorists. Throughout the primaries Trump glossed over Hussein’s violent history in favor of what he viewed as a more stable Middle East ruled by Saddam’s viciousness.
In an October exclusive with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Trump asserted that the Middle East would be better off today if Moammar Gadhafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein were still in power. “It’s not even a contest,” Trump told Meet the Press. Trump continued to push this idea at a rally in Franklin, Tennessee, telling the crowd that despite Hussein’s “vicious” rule in Iraq “there were no terrorists in Iraq” while he ruled.
“You know what he used to do to terrorists?” Trump polled the Tennessee crowd. “A one day trial and shoot him…and the one day trial usually lasted five minutes, right? There was no terrorism then.”
Trump didn’t just praise Hussein for keeping terrorists at bay, but seemed to tacitly accept the dictator’s use of chemical weapons. During a December rally in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Trump took a cavalier attitude toward Iraq’s use of chemical weapons under Saddam.
“Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy, ‘oh he’s using gas!'” Trump said. Describing the way stability was maintained in the region during that time, Trump said “they go back, forth, it’s the same. And they were stabilized.”
Trump lamented how the United States intervened in the region during a speech in South Carolina late last year. “if you go after one or the other, in this case Iraq, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. That’s what’s going to happen,” he said.
On Tuesday night, at rally focusing heavily on Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Trump revived the old riffs from his primary playbook. “We shouldn’t have destabilized Saddam Hussein, right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy, but you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good.”
Trump’s statements were noteworthy for the company he made them in. At Trump’s side Tuesday: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who was on the trail with Trump for the day. Corker is being vetted for vice president and his trail time in North Carolina was considered by many to be an audition.
(h/t NBC News)
What Trump is praising Saddam Hussein for here isn’t justice against the evil terrorists. Saddam Hussein used this tactic of labeling political dissenters and ethnic minorities as “terrorists” and disappearing them, many times without trial. This is a violation of human rights, crimes against humanity, and murder. Hussein’s atrocities are all documented at organizations like Human Rights Watch.
So this is what Trump is praising when comparing Hussein against our “weak” justice system. And if applied in the United States it would be a clear violation of the 5th and 14th amendments of the Constitution should it be applied here in the United States.
Also this isn’t the first time Donald Trump praised Saddam Hussein and other authoritarian leaders while calling the democratically elected officials in Congress and the White House “weak.”
- After receiving praise from Vladimir Putin, Trump showed lots of love for the authoritarian Russian President in return saying he’ll get along fine with him.
- Praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on how well he killed all of his uncles in order to take power.
- In the midst of a brutal civil war where authoritarian Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, Trump was kind enough to give Bashar a grade of ‘A’ for leadership.
- During the CNN-Telemundo Republican candidates’ debate in February that while Gaddafi was “really bad,” his tactics were effective and we would be so much better off if Gaddafi were in charge.
- Trump tweeted a quote from former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. When asked about being associated with a fascist Trump responded what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else — it’s a very good quote.
- And Trump has a history of praising Saddam Hussein in interviews and at rallies.
Gadhafi, Hussein, Bashar, Un, and Putin all have committed atrocities against their own people and were among the world’s worst human rights abusers.