One of the most remarkable aspects of Trump’s candidacy has barely been touched on: He has brought into political discourse the idea that we should plunder countries for oil, and that the United States military should be turned into an agent of that plunder.
This is not even an exaggeration. The point came up again at a town hall event that Trump held with Sean Hannity this week. Hannity started with the falsehood that Trump had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. Trump then repeated it himself, before going on to detail his own vision for occupation.
“But the way we got out was ridiculous. But I’ve been saying something ever since I’ve known you: Keep the oil,” Trump said, repeating that refrain as the crowd applauded. “And I said, when we went in, you know, in the old days, to the victor belonged the spoils.”
He added: “Now, if they would’ve done that, there would be no ISIS. I said keep the oil. And I think most of the audience has heard me say it 200 times—I mean every time practically. ... So I wanted to get out, but I wanted to keep the oil. So by nature, that means you’re staying in, because you’re going to have to guard the oil, etc., etc. But that oil is very prized oil, believe me.”
Trump has been talking about occupying Iraq’s oil areas since at least last August. If this were actually put into practice, chances are there would still be an ISIS—and a lot more armies of Iraqi national resistance. And this time, the United States would not be able to count on any of its traditional Western democratic allies to wage a project of imperialistic piracy.
While it’s looking very unlikely Trump will become president, he has accomplished something truly disturbing: bringing this kind of talk into the political mainstream, and getting crowds of people, plus members of the conservative media, to cheer it on.