The world was better off when dictators maintained a deadly order, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has said. It wasn't the first time he had praise for foreign strongmen.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for killing so-called terrorists.
Trump's comments came during a campaign rally Tuesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? ... But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good," Trump said. "They didn't read 'em the rights, they didn't talk. They were a terrorist, it was over."
Before the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the country was considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the US government and the neo-conservative branch of the Republican Party pushed hardest for the US-led invasion.
Many Republican leaders distanced themselves from Trump's statement. But the campaign of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and who voted in favor of the Iraq invasion, slammed Trump's assertion.
Jake Sullivan, a Clinton senior policy adviser, said Trump's "praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds."
Sullivan added, such comments "demonstrate how dangerous [Trump] would be as Commander-in-Chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks."
Trump's foreign policy statements
Trump has made a series of claims that are completely at odds with a bi-partisan consensus on US foreign policy.
He has advocated for a more isolationist foreign policy, which is at odds with the Republican establishment. In particular, he said the United States should either reduce its global military presence or get its allies to foot more of the bill.
His more unorthodox statements include calls for the US to withdraw its military from South Korea unless the Asian government pays more for the US presence. He also said NATO had become irrelevant in the post Cold War era.
Both claims have been roundly condemned by foreign policy and military experts.
Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who are two of the Republican's most strident critics of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, challenged some of Trump's national security statements during a Capitol Hill hearing earlier this year.
Gen. Vincent Brooks said it costs the US less to have its troops in South Korea because the Asian country pays half - $808 million (730 million euros) annually - the cost of maintaining the troops.
On NATO, Trump said he wouldn't object to breaking-up the alliance if member states didn't put more money into it.
Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti slammed the idea, telling senators that NATO is critical to US security. Breaking up the alliance, he said, would benefit Russia, the Islamic State and the Taliban.
bik/sms (AP, AFP)