Speaking to the CIA, President Donald Trump offhandedly suggested the U.S. re-invade Iraq and that the U.S. military "should have kept the oil" (video below).
“Maybe we’ll have another chance,” Trump said.
Although Trump appeared to be joking, he has suggested numerous times in the past that the U.S. should have kept control over Iraq's oil reserves as a form of payment for the cost of the Iraq War, which has killed approximately 180,000 Iraqi civilians since President George W. Bush ordered troops to invade the country in 2003, according to Iraq Body Count.
In 2011, long before he launched his presidential bid, Trump suggested confiscating Iraq's oil.
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“You’re not stealing anything,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal, according to The Guardian. “We’re reimbursing ourselves ... at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.”
On the campaign trail, Trump repeated this idea.
“We go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then ... what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils,” Trump said in September 2016, according to The Guardian.
He added: “One of the benefits we would have had if we took the oil is ISIS would not have been able to take oil and use that oil to fuel themselves.”
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Trump's suggestion of confiscating an entire nation's oil has been roundly criticized by experts.
"Insofar as Mr. Trump's proposals are coherent enough to be subject to analysis and judgment, they appear to be practically impossible, legally prohibited and politically imbecilic," said Barnett Rubin, associate director of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, according to PolitiFact.
Although the U.S. government doesn't technically have control over Iraq's oil, several U.S. oil firms have been granted licenses by the Iraqi government to drill for oil, which wasn't the case before the 2003 invasion.
"Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, U.S. and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq's oil market," oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera in 2012. "But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973."