Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s solution to defeating ISIS is modern-day colonialism: leaving a presence of U.S. troops in the region, who would control the oil.
“I’ve always said we shouldn’t be there, but if we’re gonna get out, take the oil,” Trump said during NBC News’ Commander-in-Chief Forum on Wednesday, after being asked how he would defeat ISIS. “If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.”
Asked how the United States would take the oil, Trump called for leaving more troops in the region. “You would leave a certain group behind, and you would take various sections where they have the oil.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has advocated for seizing oil in Middle Eastern countries — and fits into a larger pattern of him advocating for colonial practices. Trump’s general plan to tackle ISIS throughout the campaign has long relied on taking their oil, but he made similar comments before announcing his presidential bid.
In a bizarre interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans in 2011, Trump revealed that his policy towards the Middle East is guided by oil. He said he has “no interest in Libya” if the United States doesn’t take the country’s oil and simultaneously advocated for U.S. troops leaving Iraq and U.S. troops staying and taking Iraq’s oil.
“So you would keep troops in Iraq after this year?” asked Evans.
“I would take the oil,” Trump responded.
“I don’t understand how you would take — does that mean keeping troops there, or staying involved in Iraq?”
“You heard me, I would take the oil,” Trump repeated. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.”
Trump also called for taking Iraq’s oil to “reimburse” for the costs of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulous a few weeks later.
Trump: So, in the old days, you know when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it…
Stephanopoulos: It would take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure the oil fields.
Trump: Excuse me. No, it wouldn’t at all.
Stephanopoulos: So, we steal an oil field?
Trump: Excuse me. You’re not stealing. Excuse me. You’re not stealing anything. You’re taking — we’re reimbursing ourselves — at least, at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.
Trump’s comments on Wednesday weren’t new, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.