Thu, Jul 07, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Trump praises Saddam Hussein as ‘terrorist killer’

‘DANGEROUS’:The Republican presidential hopeful’s praise of Saddam and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and attacks on US allies have drawn criticism within his party

AP, RALEIGH, North Carolina

US presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shows a police officer his photograph on the cover of a Playboy magazine during a campaign event at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo: AFP

US presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who frequently criticizes US foreign policy under President Barack Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has praised former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s ruthlessness.

“Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right?... But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” Trump told a campaign rally on Tuesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina. “They didn’t read ‘em the rights, they didn’t talk. They were a terrorist, it was over.”

Trump has previously said the world would be “100 percent better” if dictators like Hussein and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi were still in power. Prior to the US invasion, Iraq was listed by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Jake Sullivan, a Clinton senior policy adviser, said Trump’s “praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds.”

Sullivan said such comments “demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”

Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements have proved controversial, even within the Republican Party. He has said the US is too fully engaged around the world and has questioned the role of NATO and said the US has been taken advantage of by nations benefiting from its security cooperation and troop presence. Some critics within the party have said his policies suggest an isolationist stance in an increasingly dangerous world.

US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, partners among Republican congressional critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, carried out a fact-check on Trump’s national security statements earlier this year at a Capitol Hill hearing.

On April 19, when the US Army general selected to lead US forces in South Korea testified before the committee, McCain seized the opportunity to undermine Trump’s suggestion that the US withdraw its forces from the South because Seoul is not paying enough to cover the cost of the US military presence.

“Isn’t it the fact that it costs us less to have troops stationed in [South] Korea than in the United States, given the contribution the Republic of Korea makes?” McCain asked US General Vincent Brooks.

Yes, Brooks said, telling McCain the South Koreans pay half, or US$808 million annually, of the US presence there.

Two days later, Trump’s claim that NATO is irrelevant and ill-suited to fight terrorism came under the microscope. As president, Trump has said he would force member nations to increase their contributions, even if that risked breaking up the alliance.

Responding to a series of questions from Graham, US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, selected as top US commander in Europe, assured the committee of NATO’s critical importance to the US. Breaking up the alliance would benefit Russia, the Islamic State group and even the Taliban in Afghanistan, Scaparrotti said.

In early March, more than 70 conservative national experts, including former US secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff, wrote in an open letter that they have disagreed with one another on a variety of issues, but are united in their opposition to a Trump presidency.

The experts who signed the letter said they planned to work to prevent Trump’s election, a stance that suggests there may be a shallow pool of experienced conservative national security professionals willing to join Trump’s administration should he win in November.

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