Speaking on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Hillary Clinton’s former rival for New York’s US Senate seat Rudy Giuliani unloaded on the Obama administration’s failures to prevent the rise of the terror group Daesh (or ISIS) and suggested that Donald Trump’s statements about seizing Iraq’s oil are not only mainstream ideas but also correct.
Guiliani said that the United States should have left a force in Iraq to take the oil and make sure that it is "distributed in a proper way" moderating Donald Trump’s statements slightly. The ABC host and noted donor to the Clinton Foundation fired back saying, "That’s not legal."
"Of course it is (legal), it’s a war. Until the war is over, anything is legal. That oil becomes a very critical issue. If that oil wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have the Islamic State," explained Giuliani. "So when he says things like Obama and Hillary were the founders of the Islamic State he doesn’t mean it literally. He follows it by saying they would get the MVP award. That oil is what makes the Islamic State so rich. If we held that oil and made sure it was equitably distributed throughout Iraq."
The ABC host countered that Donald Trump did not merely say that the United States should distribute the oil to prevent a terrorist group from seizing it in its entirety, but that he actually said that the US had a right to take it because “to the victors goes the spoils.”
"We shouldn’t take it for ourselves necessarily," said Giuliani appearing to walk back the campaign’s position slightly. "We should secure it so that it doesn’t get taken by terrorist forces so that we can have some say and some control over the distribution of it. One of the major clashes between the Sunnis, the Shia and the Kurds is the oil and the distribution of it."
Giuliani went on to argue that the United States does have a right to determine how the oil is distributed and should have a stake in some of its revenues because of the many Americans who died fighting to topple Saddam Hussein and secure the region following the regime’s collapse.
It is worth noting that the policy Trump espouses is not new. The Bush Administration, which was widely condemned at the time, brought in Western oil companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Total Elf Fin (now Total S.A.) in addition to oil extraction companies such as Haliburton under extended lease arrangements to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure to increase output several fold.
Under this arrangement, Western oil companies would have profited handsomely from extracting the natural resources of Iraq, but in the near term the thought was that the Iraqi people would be better off than if the Western oil companies weren’t there due to the surplus output that would enable the country to rebuild its infrastructure. These oil related projects were protected, with heavy subsidization from the United States government, by defense contractors such as the notorious Blackwater.
History shows that this policy of resource extraction, on its face of dubious legality but refined through dealings with a friendly Iraqi government to pass muster, was a policy that Hillary Clinton supported in an oft-cited quote, "We should start looking at Iraq as a business opportunity."