In his quixotic search for attention, likely GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has added a foreign policy leg to his farcical platform. Revealing his thoughts on the Iraq war to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last week, the real estate mogul boiled his policy down to an argument of “to the victor belonged the spoils.” Fearing that “15 minutes after we leave,” Iran would tromp into Iraq and “take the oil,” Trump argued the U.S. should “stay and keep the oil,” “take what’s necessary for us and we pay our self back $1.5 trillion or more.”
O’Reilly later mocked Trump’s policy on Fox and Friends: “You’d basically be re-invading the country you already invaded to try and get their oil. Come on, can you imagine the world reaction to that?” Unswayed, Trump doubled-down in a Fox and Friends segment this morning. Still convinced Iran will pounce on the oil fields once the U.S. withdraws, Trump insisted that if we don’t “take the oil,” the 5,885 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq “would have died in vain”:
TRUMP: I very simply said that Iran is going to takeover Iraq, and if that’s going to happen, we should just stay there and take the oil. They want the oil, and why should we? We de-neutered Iraq, Iran is going to walk in, take it over, take over the second largest oil fields in the world. That’s going to happen. That would mean that all of those soldiers that have died and been wounded and everything else would have died in vain — and I don’t want that to happen. I want their parents and their families to be proud.
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Trump’s apprentice-level understanding is not unique and is gathering support within the right-wing. Echoing Trump, Fox News host Glenn Beck suggested that President George W. Bush was a “bad leader” for failing to get enough “oil to repay us for what we did” in Iraq and that our Libyan operations should protect our oil interests. His network colleague Sean Hannity proposed re-invading Iraq to “take all their oil.” Insisting the U.S. gave up oil in Iraq for “the guilt of being a superpower,” right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh stated, “I wish we were going for oil” in Libya.
Despite his desire to exploit the Iraq war for oil, Trump should learn that while private U.S. companies like Halliburton are exploiting Iraqi oil for profit, the U.S. government is a signatory to the Hague Conventions and thus cannot confiscate private property as an occupying power. If Trump finally decides to run, perhaps he should take his own advice on foreign policy: “don’t be so stupid.”