(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

President Trump still thinks that America should have taken Iraq's oil

"To the victor belong the spoils," President Trump proclaimed to Fox host Bill O'Reilly


Matthew Rozsa
February 7, 2017 8:24PM (UTC)

For the second time in less than a month, President Donald Trump has talked about how America should have taken Iraq's oil — a war crime, according to the Geneva Conventions.

"I always said take the oil," Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in the second part of an extensive interview that aired on Monday. "If you would have taken the oil, there would be no ISIS because they used that to fuel —"

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O'Reilly interjected, "If you took the oil, the Iraq oil, you would have to put in U.S. troops to do that and then that would have started another round —"

Trump finished, "And you would have made a lot of money with the oil, and you would have had assets, and to the victor belong the spoils, and all of that. But forget that."

This isn't the first time that Trump talked about the possibility of seizing Iraq's oil. Last month the president delivered a speech at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, before its memorial wall and implied that "maybe we'll have another chance" to confiscate Iraq's oil.

"If we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place," Trump said. "So we should have kept the oil. But, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance."

A United States decision to "take the oil" would violate international law in several ways. First, it would have breached the annex to the Hague Convention of 1907 on the laws and customs of war, which mandates that private property "cannot be confiscated" and that "pillage is formally forbidden."

Similarly, the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in wartime declares that "any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

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Trump's suggestion may even violate a United Nations resolution from 1974 about certain types of aggression.

On Monday Fox News contributor and neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer told Bret Baier, "The point is that when you become president of the United States, your words — they are incredibly important. You can say one sentence and the dollar will lose its value. Pondering the oil is a war crime."

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Trump has also repeatedly claimed, incorrectly, that he opposed the second Iraq War from the beginning.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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