Sen. Rand Paul, who’s seeking a Republican nomination for the White House race in 2016, called America’s involvement in key facets of the Iraq conflict a “mistake” and said U.S. troops never should have pushed Saddam Hussein from power.

“All the way back to the Iraq war, I think it was a mistake to topple Hussein,” he said, the Hill reported. “Hussein was the bulwark against Iran. The Sunnis didn’t like the Shiites, now Iraq is a vassal state for Iran.”

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America made a “mistake” in sending in military in 2003 to oust Hussein because Iran is now “twice as strong” as when he was dictator, Paul added, speaking to Orthodox Jews at a Jewish school in Brooklyn, New York, the Hill said.

Paul also criticized the U.S.-led ousting of Moammar Gadhafi from Libya, saying the tyrant maybe wasn’t a “good guy,” but he did keep out the extremist Islamic element. And now, President Obama should learn from that reality and quit trying to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, Paul said.

“Each time we topple a secular dictator, I think we wind up with chaos and radical Islam seems to rise,” he said, the Hill reported.

Paul took opportunity, too, to confirm his feelings for Israel, telling the audience: “I think Israel is one of our best allies and best friends around the world. They’re the only democracy in the Middle East and I’m very supportive.”



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