“Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? ... But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Prior to the US invasion, Iraq was listed by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Hussein suppressed dissent in his country and used poison gas against 5,000 Iraqi Kurds.
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 that is poised to nominate him for president in a few weeks.
He has said the United States is too fully engaged around the world and has questioned the role of NATO and said the United States has been taken advantage of by nations benefiting from its security cooperation and troop presence.
Some critics within the Republican party have said his policies suggest an isolationist stance in an increasingly dangerous world.
Sens John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, partners among Republican congressional critics of Obama administration 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 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 isn’t paying enough to cover the cost of the American military presence.
“Isn’t it the fact that it costs us less to have troops stationed in Korea than in the United States, given the contribution the Republic of Korea makes?” McCain asked Gen Vincent Brooks.
Yes, Brooks said, telling McCain the South Koreans pay half, or $808 million annually, of the US presence there.