GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has stated that the U.S. should have taken over the oil reserves of Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has joined the chorus of critics who have deemed Trump’s suggestion to be a disastrous idea.
Graham gave both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton failing grades for their performances during the foreign policy-centric Commander-in-Chief Forum.
“It makes me want to move to Canada,” Graham told The Huffington Post.
Graham, who made a failed presidential bid during the latest GOP primary, has spent his two-decade career in Congress focused on foreign policy concerns. While he found Clinton’s pledge to not commit any ground troops in Iraq or Syria disappointing, he was most disturbed by Trump.
“In terms of competency, I think Trump fell way short,” Graham said. “You’re running to be the leader of the free world, and if you find admiration of Vladimir Putin, then I’m not with you.”
Graham was particularly disturbed by Trump’s statement that the U.S. wasted the opportunity to seize Iraq’s oil reserves for its own purposes.
“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil,” Trump said during the forum, according to TIME Magazine.
When asked how the U.S. could have taken the oil after leaving Iraq, Trump said that "we would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil.”
Continuing to control the energy resources of a country that you are no longer formally occupying would likely violate international law, but Trump suggested that the U.S. deserved the oil by virtue of ousting former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils,” Trump said. “Now, there was no victor here, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: Take the oil.”
Graham remarked that if the U.S. had followed Trump’s advice, such a move would “start World War III.”
Retired Lt. General Mark Hertling agreed with Graham’s assessment, telling CNN that Trump’s suggestion belonged in the 16th century.
“It implies that the U.S. military that’s there is a mercenary force,” Hertling said. “It is not the American way of war to go and occupy land, steal its resources, rape its women and do the kind of things that Mr. Trump is saying.”