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Trump’s Plunder Doctrine Revisited

During Trump’s controversial appearance at the CIA over the weekend, he restated one of his worst foreign policy positions:

Now I said it for economic reasons,” Trump said while introducing Representative Mike Pompeo, his pick to lead the agency. “But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance [bold mine-DL].”

During a press briefing earlier today, Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the administration wouldn’t rule out taking Iraq’s oil:

This takes Washington’s preoccupation with never ruling anything out to new depths of absurdity. For one thing, “taking” Iraq’s oil would require a large-scale, open-ended military occupation that would be violently resisted. Many more Americans and Iraqis would die in yet another a completely senseless and unnecessary war. For that matter, it would be both illegal and profoundly wrong to try this. “Taking” Iraq’s oil would not only expose U.S. military personnel to unnecessary risks for no good reason, but it would also wreck our international standing for years and possibly decades to come. And it would all be for the sake of plundering a country that our policies have been wrecking for at least the last two decades. Nothing could be easier than ruling out an illegal, dangerous, and unjust policy that would needlessly cost American lives, but for whatever reason the Trump White House won’t do it.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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