Yesterday, Donald Trump sent fingers a’wagging and tongues a’clucking by praising Saddam Hussein: “He was a bad guy—really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism,” he said.
“The Clinton campaign jumped on the remarks,” CNN reported, “with senior campaign adviser Jake Sullivan saying ‘Trump’s praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds.’”
How much longer can such faux outrage be maintained? By this point, is it really necessary to, yet again, trot out FDR’s applause for, say, the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo, responsible for, among other atrocities, the 1937 massacre that slaughtered over 10,000 Haitians? Roosevelt called Trujillo his “great and good friend.” “He might be a S.O.B, but he is our S.O.B,” Roosevelt reportedly said, not just of Trujillo but of any number of Latin American slaughterers. Does the pundit class really need to be reminded that US presidents have long been rapturous in their acclaim of Latin American dictators, including the Somozas in Nicaragua, Stroessner in Paraguay, Pinochet in Chile, Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala? The list knows no bounds.
Today, it would hard to find a top-tier Democrat—Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton—any less effusive in their praise of Saudi Arabia’s leadership, or any other Middle East ally, provided that they are on our side. Clark Mindock writes:
While secretary of state in 2009, Clinton praised Egypt’s then-dictator Hosni Mubarak, telling ABC News she considered the president “and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” Last year, following the death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Clintons released a statement through their foundation saying that they were “grateful” for the king’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, the close economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and the “kingdom’s humanitarian efforts around the world.” On Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Intercept notes that the Democratic front-runner suggested in 2011, as the revolt against him began, that he had the potential “a reformer.”(She was referring to the thoughts of members of Congress who had been to Syria, though she was not challenging their assessment.) Clinton also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, who she said appeared to be a pragmatic leader and a natural politician.