Monday, February 20, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He announced, through his defense secretary, that the United States does not intend to seize Iraq's oil.

It was probably necessary for James Mattis, who is visiting Iraq today, to make such an announcement because Trump has repeatedly declared that Iraq's oil industry is a prize of war that the United States should have taken because "to the victor go the spoils." 

Seizing Iraq's oil against its will would involve nothing short of the permanent military conquest and occupation of the country. The last serious attempt at seizing even a small oil-producing region was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, although ISIL has used oil fields in territory it controls to provide for its own oil needs and to raise cash from small-scale smuggling operations.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • It's bad if a president needs to explicitly reassure allied governments that he does not intend to invade them and take their natural resources.
  • Saddam Hussein and ISIL are poor role models for a president of the United States.

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