Bruce Riedel lists many of the negative consequences of Trump’s preferred “take the oil” approach to Iraq, and concludes with this:
Taking the oil is the most dangerous and irresponsible of all of the Republican nominee’s policy proposals. It’s one he has repeated often. If you want permanent war in the Middle East and a titanic clash of cultures between Islam and America, it’s your best bet.
Trump’s “take the oil” rhetoric is notable for being one of the few consistent foreign policy positions he has held over the years. It unites both his support for military interventions in the region (so that we could then take the oil) and his later criticism of how those interventions were conducted (they were failures because we didn’t take the oil). He makes the same complaint about the Libyan and Iraq wars, and if his “take the oil” idea were put into practice it would guarantee open-ended wars in both countries, each of which would probably be more costly to the U.S. than the previous two interventions put together. It’s a thoroughly unjust idea, and it would be completely illegal to do, but more than that it is a phenomenally stupid policy to favor. It should be a reminder that there is no aggressive policy too reckless or provocative that Trump wouldn’t support so long as the U.S. can extract payment or resources along the way, and it tells us that acquiring plunder is what he thinks U.S. foreign policy is for.