Cruz: When it comes to dictators, U.S. should mind its own business

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says the United States is safer if we leave Bashar Assad in power in Syria.

The GOP presidential hopeful told the Associated Press that while Assad is a “bad man” who has “murdered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens,” toppling him would be “materially worse for U.S. national security interests.”

He faulted the Obama administration as well as one of his Republican rivals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, for wanting to get rid of the Syrian leader.

“If President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rubio succeed in toppling Assad, the result will be the radical Islamic terrorist will take over Syria, that Syria will be controlled by ISIS, and that is materially worse for U.S. national security interests,” Cruz said.

Cruz, who has been gaining some ground in recent polls, also said the United States should not have supported the overthrow of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, or even former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

“If you topple a stable ruler, throw a Middle Eastern country into chaos and hand it over to radical Islamic terrorists, that hurts America,” he said.

Cruz said he would not commit American ground troops to fight Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, but instead said he would vastly expand U.S. airstrikes and directly provide arms to Kurds who are fighting ISIL in the region.

Other Republican contenders, including Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, have said they would commit more U.S. ground troops to fight ISIL. GOP frontrunner DonaldTrump has said he would be open to dispatching more American troops to the region if necessary.