Speaking today on NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump cautioned against further intervention in Syria, noting that the US largely has no idea who these rebels they’ve been funding and arming are, and predicting that Syria would go the way of Libya and Iraq, toward more chaos, if Assad was ousted.
Pressed on whether this meant he believed the region would be more stable with Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein still in power, he confirmed it was “not even a contest,” saying Libya isn’t even really a country anymore, and ISIS came out of the removal of Saddam in Iraq.
Trump said he was glad Russian President Vladimir Putin is ‘bombing the hell out of ISIS” in Syria, but predicted that he would get bogged down in such an effort just as everyone else who has tried to go into the Middle East on such interventions has.
Though Trump denied that he “trusts” Putin, he did say he believes the Russian leader would be targeting ISIS, because of concerns about ISIS expanding northward into Russian territory.
Trump has been campaigning, like materially all of the Republican field, as a hawk, but is showing a lot more nuance in recent weeks, including unveiling an economic plan that would cut the defense budget, with an eye on massive savings to be achieved by eliminating corruption and fraud in spending.
Indeed, at this point Trump’s protestation that he’s “militaristic” probably needs reexamining, with his aversion to military adventures in the Middle East putting him in a position that starkly contrasts with the rest of the candidates out there.