Writing in National Review, Jim Geraghty tells readers that Trump’s populist appeal tends to “fall apart on closer inspection.”
“Case in point: American policy in the Middle East, where Trump has in recent years repeatedly endorsed the bizarre, bellicose fantasy that the U.S could and should seize oil fields in Iraq and Libya.”
In 2007, Trump said that the U.S. should “declare victory and leave” Iraq, “because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down.” Four years later, as Obama prepared to withdraw U.S. troops from the country, Trump was more or less getting his wish. But by then he appeared to be arguing that the U.S. should maintain its troop presence simply to seize Iraqi oil fields.
“So you would keep troops in Iraq after this year?” asked Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly Evans.
“I would take the oil,” Trump responded.
A confused Evans 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 insisted. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.”
About a week after his interview with Evans, Trump elaborated, suggesting that America’s losses in Iraq deserved compensation in the form of Iraqi oil. “In the old days, you know when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils,” he told George Stephanopoulos in 2011. “You go in. You win the war and you take it. . . . You’re not stealing anything. . . . We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.”
A few days after his interview with Stephanopolous, he suggested that U.S. policy toward the uprising against Moammar Qaddafi in Libya should also focus on “taking the oil.”