Retired Army personnel explained Wednesday how Donald Trump’s plan to steal Iraq’s oil was impractical because obsolete warfare tactics like occupying land and raping women no longer exist in the 21st century.
Trump has, throughout his campaign, repeatedly asserted that the U.S. should send its oil companies to seize oil from Iraq and his interview during MSNBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum was no exception. The GOP presidential nominee told host Matt Lauer that they should take the oil because in the olden days, the victor took home “the spoils.”
“People don’t know this about Iraq but they have among the largest oil reserve in the world, in the entire world,” he said. “And we’re the only ones, we go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then Matt, what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be ‘to the victor, belong the spoils.’ Now there was no victor there, believe me, there was no victor. I always said take the oil.”
Speaking to the retired generals, CNN host Anderson Cooper, said he “could not wrap his mind around the concept.”
“Just from a military standpoint, all I see is you’re taking the oil of a sovereign nation, which is our ally, under this antiquated notion of to the victor go the spoils. They’re supposedly our ally,” an incredulous Cooper said. “Wouldn’t that turn everybody else against the United States if we are stealing Iraq’s oil?”
“Not if we were in the 16th century. But unfortunately we’re not, we’re in the 21st,” Retired Lt. General Mark Hertling replied.
Ret. Col. Cedric Leighton agreed with Hertling’s assessment that it was an antiquated concept and also added Trump’s remarks were “something you might expect a Chinese military leader to say.”
He also suggested it is a better idea to help the war-torn countries by generating revenue for them by buying their oil, instead of forcibly taking it.
“You want to raise the oil revenue for the countries that are affected by these conflicts and you want to give them a way in which to live their lives,” said Leighton.
When Cooper said the idea of “to the victor goes the spoil” implied that Iraq itself was the enemy, Hertling added it also placed a bad connotation to their military force.
“It implies that the U.S. military that’s there is a mercenary force to do these kind of things” said Hertling. “It is not the American way of war to go and occupy land, steal its resources, rape its women and do the kind of things that Mr. Trump is saying.”
Yet he admitted the simplistic approaches like these were what appealed to Trump supporters, regardless of the strategic or diplomatic cost the United States would have to pay for them.
It is the same naïve approach Trump uses when he touts about building a wall on the American-Mexican border and making Mexico pay for it.