Republican primary contender Donald Trump has built a surprising successful campaign around his own personality quirks, but has rarely made much in the way of substantive policy declarations. His recent comments on ISIS may suggest he’s better at soundbites than thought out policy.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump declared this morning that his strategy was to send ground troops against ISIS “any place where they have oil,”and that he would “take the oil for our country,” reiterating “I’d just take the oil.”
The reality, however, is that much of ISIS territory isn’t oil bearing in the first place, with most of the much-vaunted ISIS oil centered around eastern Syria. The infrastructure for that oil is aging, ramshackle, and in many cases already blown up in months of US airstrikes.
Trump’s comments appear to suggest he envisions the oil paying for the war, which both severely underestimates the cost of a protracted US occupation and overestimates how much oil could be stolen from Syria and western Iraq, even if the US military was to set about to take it.
The whole country of Syria has about 2.5 billion proven reserves, at a current price of $44 per barrel. Researchers put the cost of the last Iraq occupation at roughly 50 times that amount, $4-$6 trillion. That’d be an extremely “best case’ scenario too, if the US went in with the express purpose of looting the region it could expect dramatically more resistance than it did last time, and from more than just ISIS.