Politics & Policy

Trump’s Foreign Policy: America as Global Vulture

Oil tankers fill up at Basra, Iraq. (Essam al-Sudani/AFP/Getty)
Forget the hair and the ranting. We need to examine what Trump’s actually saying.

Offering the politically disenchanted a doorway to a utopian Neverland, Donald Trump can rant, joke, and flip-flop to his heart’s content. All he needs to do is speak with more confidence than his opponents.

But even if they like his personality, Mr. Trump’s supporters should examine his policy positions more closely — in particular, his foreign-policy positions. Because they might not like what a Trump presidency would mean. Were a President Trump to do what candidate Trump says he would do, two things would almost certainly occur.

First, America would enter a global tariff war with China, Mexico, and any other nation that failed to bow to Trump’s majesty. This would collapse American export markets, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs, and lead to far higher costs for the basic goods American families buy every day.

Second, we’d be in a theater-level war in the Middle East. That’s not an exaggeration.

Donald Trump wants to seize control of oil fields in the Middle East and North Africa. While he has recently focused on his desire to “bomb the hell” out of ISIS-controlled oil fields (a comment that does not constitute strategy), his oil agenda has deeper motivations than security. In 2011, Trump explained to CNN that the U.S. should have seized control of Iraqi oil fields as “spoils of war.” He was confused by his interviewer’s skepticism. But that same year, Trump expanded on his underlying oil-centric theory of foreign policy. Speaking about the Libyan revolution, Trump stated that the U.S. should have supported the anti-Qaddafi rebels only in return for “something special.” In Trump-world, this special gift would have entailed “50 percent of their oil.”

#related#Now don’t misunderstand me: It’s eminently possible to cogently argue that the U.S. made a strategic error by intervening in Libya. Still, whether applied to Iraq or Libya, Trump’s foreign-policy motivation is rotten. It is centered on raw imperial mercantilism, a notion that is antithetical to any moral notion of American foreign policy and American exceptionalism. A President Trump would turn America into a global vulture. China and Russia would be benevolent guarantors of international order compared with Trump’s America.

And the Middle East wouldn’t meekly acquiesce. In a matter of weeks after the first oil fields were seized, the U.S. would almost surely face a pan-Arab military mobilization against us. Even a cross-sectarian alliance between America’s Arab allies and Iran would be on the cards. U.S. military units in the region — and Trump asserts that U.S. ground forces would guard our newly seized oil prizes — would quickly be surrounded. To protect our personnel, we would need a massive mobilization of combined-arms forces — at least on the scale of the First Gulf War.

Donald Trump’s oil plan would lead America on a yellow brick road to chaos.

And that’s just the start. Perceiving our seizures as the ultimate proof of jihadist propaganda — that America seeks corrupt domination — both Sunni and Shia terrorist groups would receive a windfall of new recruits, funds, and popular support. The U.S. would be forced to close embassies around the world — some voluntarily, for reasons of security, and others because of expulsion. America’s regional allies would be treated as collaborators, and nations like Jordan and Saudi Arabia might fall into the hands of terrorists. And beyond the Middle East, the U.S. economy would face global sanctions as other allies moved in disgust to separate themselves from President Trump’s action.

Put another way, Donald Trump’s oil plan would lead America on a yellow brick road to chaos. And even aside from the human casualties we would take in following this agenda, Trump’s mercantilism would also fail. After all, fighting a war on that scale wouldn’t be cheap.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Trump’s policy positions are unavailable on his campaign website.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular


What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More