Zack Beauchamp writes: In the past five years, Trump has consistently pushed one big foreign policy idea: America should steal other countries’ oil.
He first debuted this plan in an April 2011 television appearance, amid speculation that he might run for the GOP nomination. In the interview, Trump seemed to suggest the US should seize Iraqi oil fields and just operate them on its own.
“In the old days when you won a war, you won a war. You kept the country,” Trump said. “We go fight a war for 10 years, 12 years, lose thousands of people, spend $1.5 trillion, and then we hand the keys over to people that hate us on some council.” He has repeated this idea for years, saying during one 2013 Fox News appearance, “I’ve said it a thousand times.”
Trump sees this as just compensation for invading Iraq in the first place. “I say we should take it [Iraq’s oil] and pay ourselves back,” he said in one 2013 speech.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump has gotten more specific about how exactly he’d “take” Iraq’s oil. In a March interview with the Washington Post, he said he would “circle” the areas of Iraq that contain oil and defend them with American ground troops:
POST: How do you keep it without troops, how do you defend the oil?
TRUMP: You would… You would, well for that— for that, I would circle it. I would defend those areas.
POST: With U.S. troops?
TRUMP: Yeah, I would defend the areas with the oil.
After US troops seize the oil, Trump suggests, American companies would go in and rebuild the oil infrastructure damaged by bombing and then start pumping it on their own. “You’ll get Exxon to come in there … they’ll rebuild that sucker brand new. And I’ll take the oil,” Trump said in a December stump speech.
Trump loves this idea so much that he’d apply it to Libya as well, telling Bill O’Reilly in April that he’d even send in US ground troops (“as few as possible”) to fight off ISIS and secure the country’s oil deposits.
To be clear: Trump’s plan is to use American ground troops to forcibly seize the most valuable resource in two different sovereign countries. The word for that is colonialism.
Trump wants to wage war in the name of explicitly ransacking poorer countries for their natural resources — something that’s far more militarily aggressive than anything Clinton has suggested.
This doesn’t really track as “hawkishness” for most people, mostly because it’s so outlandish. A policy of naked colonialism has been completely unacceptable in American public discourse for decades, so it seems hard to take Trump’s proposals as seriously as, say, Clinton’s support for intervening more forcefully in Syria.
Yet this is what Trump has been consistently advocating for for years. His position hasn’t budged an inch, and he in fact appears to have doubled down on it during this campaign. This seems to be his sincere belief, inasmuch as we can tell when a politician is being sincere. [Continue reading…]
Ignoring the issue of whether this policy might be widely supported in the U.S. (I fear that large numbers of Americans, like Trump, may actually feel the U.S. is entitled to lay claim to Iraq’s oil), and ignoring the fact that Iraqis themselves would object to the theft of their resources, a problem that Trump seems to overlook is the reaction of the rest of the Gulf’s oil producing countries.
Rather than succeeding in taking the oil, what Trump would more likely accomplish is something that currently looks improbable: the formation of an alliance between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, all of whom would feel threatened by Trump’s move. Not only would they feel threatened but they would also have the means to apply a stranglehold on the global oil supply by shutting down the Straits of Hormuz until Washington’s Pirate-in-Chief stepped back in line by respecting Iraq’s sovereignty.
What’s scarier than any of Trump’s outlandish proposals, is the fact that millions of Americans take him seriously.