We all know by now about the off the cuff comment Trump made about Iraqi oil….but in case you have been in a coma…..
One of the recurring themes of Donald Trump’s national security strategy is his plan to “take the oil” in Iraq and from areas controlled by Islamic State (Isis) extremists. It would drain Isis’s coffers and reimburse the US for the costs of its military commitments in the Middle East, the candidate insists.
At a forum hosted by NBC on 7 September, Trump suggested oil seizure would have been a way to pay for the Iraq war, saying: “We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”
He added: “One of the benefits we would have had if we took the oil is Isis would not have been able to take oil and use that oil to fuel themselves.”
The idea predates Trump’s presidential campaign. As far back as 2011, he was telling the Wall Street Journal that this was his policy for Iraq. “You heard me, I would take the oil,” he said. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.” And he insisted to ABC News that this did not amount to national theft
Of course it is being spun that he was just thinking out loud….and then news hit the fan about something that out Joint Chiefs added to the conversation…..
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford says that the Pentagon is considering a “long-term commitment” to operations in Iraq, intending to keep troops in the country after the ISIS war, with an eye toward keeping Iraq’s military propped up.
Exactly what form this would take remains to be seen, as the US already has thousands of ground troops in Iraq, and they have already made a point to say that their existing operation has “no fixed end date.” US officials have previously indicated that the US would likely be in Iraq more or less forever, believing ISIS or something similar would crop up if the US was ever not occupying the nation.
Dunford’s comments suggest the US is considering something above and beyond this, but might portend both an increase in US military aid to Iraq and an even bigger deployment of ground troops in a nation-building capacity, though this would clearly run contrary to President Trump’s position that the US is spending too much money having troops abroad in so many different countries.
That statement raises so many questions for us foreign policy wonks. Will they be there to protect American businesses in the Iraqi oil industry? If the Iraqi military will never be up to the task, then why keep pouring money down that rabbit hole?
Like I said….questions.