One of Trump's throwaway lines, one he's used with some regularity is about how if those Middle Easterners don't settle down and behave themselves, he'd order the seizure of "the oil" in various countries in that area.
For more than a year, he's talked about seizing the oil in places like Iraq, Iran and Libya. Those are three he's named specifically; presumably, if you asked, he'd tack others onto the list.
It's been reported from time to time, yes, but largely glossed over - maybe because the boast/threat sounds so quintessentially Trummpian. But there's no particular reason to think that he doesn't mean it, that if he were in the White House, that he simply would forget about it.
So what are the implications of seizing, or trying to seize, the oil of one or more countries in the Middle East?
Writer Bruce Riedel, at the Daily Beast, did give it some thought, and concluded, "Taking the oil is the most dangerous and irresponsible of all of the Republican nominee’s policy proposals. . . . If you want permanent war in the Middle East and a titanic clash of cultures between Islam and America, it’s your best bet."
Riedel addressed only Iraq specifically, but the scenario in Iran or even Libya would be no more promising. (Trump to Fox News on Libyan oil: “I would go in and take the oil — I would just go in and take the oil. We don’t know who the rebels are, we hear they come from Iran, we hear they’re influenced by Iran or al-Qaeda, and, frankly I would go in, I would take the oil — and stop this baby stuff. . . . I’m only interested in Libya if we take the oil. If we don’t take the oil, I’m not interested.”)
In Iraq, substantial oil supplies are spread across the country, much of which has at the least security issues, but the largest concentration is in the south near the Basra area. Getting the oil out would involve securing extraction facilities over a large area, and over many years - as any Texas oilman can tell you, a large supply doesn't all pump itself out of the ground in a week or two. That would mean a massive deployment of American military, and associated contractors.
Riedel said that "Since Basra province has over 2.5 million people, almost all Shia Arabs, their resistance alone would be challenging. But they would not be alone. The Shia- dominated government in Baghdad would support its citizens, adding to the struggle. It will turn attention away from fighting for Mosul, and focus on recovering Basra. It will be a grueling war."
Nor is that all, since the Basra area is next door to Iran, which also would back the rebellion, whether openly or not.
Do you suppose Trump actually knows any of this?
If Trump had gotten into the mire this far, he'd probably be tempted - in good business fashion - to get improved return on investment if he could. That would mean taking over the large oil fields in Kuwait. The good news there would be that we already have significant forces in Kuwait, and it's a friendly country. The bad news is that Kuwait's three million people would be friendly no longer, and the war zone would simply have increased. The business-minded solution to that? Take over more oil fields, in the Gulf and in Saudi Arabia, giving the United States overwhelmingly control of the oil system, but at an immense military cost.
And that would be only the beginning: "No Muslim state would host American troops or cooperate with counter-terrorist operations. Friendly Arab governments like Jordan would have to break ties with Washington or face massive unrest. Americans traveling in the Islamic world from Morocco to Indonesia would be at risk. Sunnis and Shia alike would stalk Americans. None of our Western allies would support taking the oil. (Canada would have to wonder if Alberta is next.) The Europeans would see such a naked land grab as a return to the era of Hitler and Stalin. Russia, on the other hand, would claim its seizure of Crimea was post facto legitimized."
Does Trump pause, even for a couple of seconds, to think through this garbage before he spews it forth? Or is that too much to ask from this famously attention-disabled candidate for the presidency? - rs