Donald Trump said Sunday that the Middle East would be more stable if Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Libyan autocrat Muammar Gaddafi were still in power.
When asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he thought the region would be "safer" with Hussein and Gaddafi ruling Iraq and Libya, respectively, the real estate mogul and ersatz Republican presidential candidate replied, "It's not even a contest."
Trump reasoned that had the United States not forced Hussein out of power in Iraq, the Islamic State would not have come into existence.
And he contended that ousting Gaddafi had led to chaos in Libya, including the fatal 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
"Libya is ... nobody even knows what's goin' on over there," Trump said. "It's not even a country anymore."
Trump suggested that ousting Syrian president Bashar Assad would yield a "mess" similar to the ones in Iraq and Libya.
"It's gonna be the same thing," he said.
Trump made clear that he did not think Assad was a "good guy," but said the rebels fighting Assad "may be worse."
Trump also doubled down on comments he made earlier in the week hailing Russian president Vladimir Putin's initiation of airstrikes in Syria as a "wonderful thing" that will help the U.S. in its fight against the Islamic State.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a rival for the Republican nomination, called Trump "painfully naive" on Sunday for welcoming Putin's involvement in the country.
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