Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump views of the Middle East are strikingly similar.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump views of the Middle East are strikingly similar.

There’s been a fair amount of punditry already on what unites the stirring anti-establishment presidential campaigns of Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. While they have diametrically opposite visions of the world, both have channeled populist dissatisfaction with the economy, Washington policymakers and business-as-usual to surge up the polls.

Trump and Sanders repeatedly warn about the perils of regime change. They bring up the lessons of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein, an intervention that they (and many others) argue paved the way for the instability now wracking the Middle East.

That carries forward to the present moment, where both have expressed little opposition to the Russian entrance into the Syrian war and are lukewarm on the need to work against the regime of embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who has presided over a conflict that has displaced half the Syrian population and sparked an enormous refugee crisis.

“Let’s say you get rid of Assad, you knock out that government — who’s gonna take over?” Trump asked, during an interview with CBS earlier this week. “The people that we’re backing? And then you’re gonna have, like, Libya?”

Trump was referring to the U.S.-backed NATO air war in 2011 against the government forces of dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The airstrikes enabled Libyan rebels to defeat and ultimately kill Gaddafi, yet the country has undergone a dangerous, deadly unraveling in the years since. Trump referred to the situation in Libya as a “mess.”

Donald Trump acknowledges photographers after speaking at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge on Feb. 11. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

He also praised Iraq’s late leader as a secular bulwark against extremism.

“Had we not done anything — had our politicians gone to the beach and enjoyed the sun, we would be in a lot better position than we are right now,” Trump said on CBS, referring to the decision to invade in 2003. “Saddam Hussein — no good guy but Saddam Hussein killed terrorists.”

Source/Credit — Washingtonpost/AP/CBS