Friday, January 4, 2019

Why Did Trump Ask Iraq For Its Oil?


In November 2018, Axios reported that President Trump twice asked Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar Abadi for Iraq’s oil. This was an embarrassment to the president’s staff, but the question of why Trump would make such a ridiculous request not once, but twice was never answered. It stems from his world view, which is shaped by money and leads him to believes that the U.S. should use its military to make a profit.

President Trump twice asked PM Abadi for Iraq’s petroleum to repay for the U.S. invasion. The first time was in March 2017 when Abadi visited the White House. Trump said that the U.S. had spent trillions on the Iraq war and a lot of people had talked about taking Iraq’s oil, so he asked Abadi when America would get it. Abadi was polite and said that his country had plenty of contracts with U.S. oil companies. In the summer of 2017, Trump made a phone call to Baghdad when he again brought up the issue of getting Iraq’s oil. Afterward, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told the president that he was wrong for bringing up the issue. Trump asked what was the U.S. getting out of Iraq and it made America look like idiots spending all this time and money there. He asked McMaster why the U.S. hadn’t taken the oil as payment. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis chimed in that couldn’t happen because it was a violation of international law, would make the U.S. look bad in the region, and provide propaganda to its enemies. Trump finally seemed to drop the topic.

Trump had voiced a similar view on the campaign trail. He complained that the U.S. had spent all this money on the Iraq war and gained nothing. He repeatedly said that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil in return.

In Bob Woodward’s Fear, Trump in the White House, he explains that the president has these opinions due to his business background. He sees everything in terms of money as a result. He’s told his staff that the goal of the military should be making a profit. He even derided his generals and staff such as former National Security Adviser McMaster because they didn’t think like businessmen. As a result, he wanted the U.S. to seize Afghanistan’s minerals or at least get an American company to exploit them, and he refused to sign an order on Libya policy once saying that U.S. should take its oil. This is where he got the idea to talk about Iraqi petroleum on the campaign trail and brought it up with PM Abadi twice. This is a stereotype of critics of Washington that it went into Iraq for its oil, and was used to deride the invasion. This is actually how Trump thinks. It represents his crass world view where he neither knows how the military, the government or law works, and doesn’t care. Profits is how he’s seen the world for the last several decades and being president has not changed that.


Swan, Jonathan, “1 big thing: Scoop – Trump to Iraqi PM: How about that oil?” Axios, 11/25/18

Woodward, Bob, Fear, Trump in the White House, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, New Delhi: Simon & Schuster, 2018


Humam Miscone said...


Trump became President in January 2017, so the dated March 2016 should be corrected to march 2017.

Joel Wing said...

Thanks for catching that Typo!

Iraq’s Oil Exports And Revenue Drop In May

In May Iraq suffered a drop in international oil prices. Its exports dipped as well.