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Donald Trump’s first campaign ad promises blood for oil.

The long-awaited ad contains a curious line: “He’ll quickly cut the head off of ISIS and take their oil.” 

ISIS, of course, controls oil fields that properly belong to the people of Iraq and Syria, but Trump wants those resources for the United States. This echoes a longstanding Trump argument that plundering fossil fuels should be a goal of American foreign policy. In early 2013, he tweeted

In a December 21, 2015, speech at Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump said, “You take the oil. You know, to the victor belongs the spoils. You take the oil. You don’t just leave it. ... And you know what we do with the oil? We give some the soldiers that have been so badly hurt, some to the wounded warriors, we give some to the parents who have lost soldiers.”

The crassness of Trump’s remarks point to an interesting shift in Republican politics. In 2002 and 2003, the Bush administration offered a host of reasons for invading Iraq, but it was only the critics who complained about a policy of “blood for oil,” which the Republicans hotly denied. Now the Republican presidential frontrunner is crudely saying that the goal of American foreign policy should be just that. “Blood for oil” is no longer an accusation but a policy proposal.