(AlterNet) -- When Donald Trump was campaigning for president in 2015, his comments belittling Republican Sen. John McCain for his experiences as a POW during the Vietnam War spoke volumes about his mentality. Trump insisted that McCain—who suffered five years of torture in a North Vietnamese prison—was “not a war hero” because a real war hero wouldn’t have let himself be captured. The comment was so offensive and wrong-headed that Trump’s detractors assumed his campaign would implode, but instead, The Donald went on to win the GOP presidential primary in 2016 and defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general. And as president, Trump has continued to equate power and authoritarianism with character, courage and valor.
The neocons of the George W. Bush era caused tremendous damage when they overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq, helping pave the way for the creation of ISIS (in the case of Iraq, Bush and Vice President Cheney’s “cure” proved to be much worse than the illness itself). But at least the Bush administration—as dysfunctional and horribly flawed as it was in so many respects—pretended to care about democracy and human rights. President Trump, on the other hand, has a pattern of expressing admiration for authoritarians whether he is discussing Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey or Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines.
Here are four authoritarians Trump has expressed admiration for.
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