Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein during an interview aired Wednesday, praising the deceased dictator as an effective killer of terrorists who should not have been removed from power.
“If Saddam Hussein was there [in Iraq now], would we be better off? Absolutely,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The real estate mogul added that Saddam was “not a nice man” and “not a great guy,” but at least killed terrorists.
“Saddam Hussein did one thing: he killed terrorists,” Trump said. “He was a professional killer of terrorists.”
The United States would be better off if the Iraqi dictator still controlled the country, according to Trump, because now Iraq is a hub for terrorism after the U.S. military deposed Saddam in 2003. He emphasized this point, calling the Iraq War “one of the worst mistakes in the history of this country” that “started everything happening today in the Middle East.”
“We were a lot better off before,” Trump added. “And besides that, Iraq did not knock down the World Trade Centers, just in case you had any question.”
Trump also said Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama made a mistake by intervening in Libya to remove former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, causing the country to become a failed state.
Trump has lambasted the decision to go into Iraq on the campaign trail, arguing that authoritarian rulers in the Middle East keep the region more stable, while removing them creates chaos for terrorists to exploit.