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Trump’s Threat To Steal Iraq’s Oil

Trump’s Threat To Steal Iraq’s Oil thumbnail

The spectacle of Donald Trump abruptly transitioning the US political system into open fascism is quite horrifying even from the other side of the Pacific, however by and large ourlocal media aren’t bothering to report the details.

Paul McGeough at the SMH gets to do a summary piece each day though (today’s piece looking on the blatant blackmail involved in the new anti-muslim immigration laws, with countries that host Trump properties exempt and those without them hit hard – it’s more a mafia style shakedown than a real immigration policy).

Long time business writer Michael Pascoe was also moved to voice his shock (“Australia is investing billions in madman Donald Trump“) after Trump’s bizarre interview with ABC News recently where he once again threatened to steal Iraq’s oil.

As I’ve noted here many times before, Iraq has the world’s largest and cheapest to extract oil reserves, and trying to gain control of them was a major reason for the Iraq war.

Bush and the neocons at least tried to maintain a fig leaf of legality around their attempt’s to bully the Iraqi government into signing over control of the oil, so Trump’s naked imperialism has managed to outrage the entire political spectrum outside of the fascist right.

The Washington Post – Trump’s illegal, impossible, and ‘beyond goofy’ idea of seizing Iraq’s oil.

The United States can’t just walk off with Iraq’s oil when it decides to get out. In 2015, Iraq produced about 4 million barrels a day, enough crude oil to fill more than 700 Trump Towers. Billions of barrels more sit underground in conventional reservoirs. The International Energy Agency has estimated that Iraq could produce twice as much as it does currently — by 2035. That means taking the oil would take decades. That might explain Trump’s suggestion that “a certain group” should be left behind to hold down parts of the country so that the United States could siphon off oil. What he didn’t say is that that group – undoubtedly U.S. soldiers — could be there quite a while. …“To ‘take the oil’ would require the United States to occupy Iraq. We tried that after 2003 with something approaching 200,000 troops and it did not work,” said Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and professor of history and international relations at Boston University. “What would effective occupation actually require? A minimum of a half-million troops, perhaps more.” Bacevich added, “Presumably, Trump would have them stay until the oil runs out, which would entail an occupation running into decades. The total cost? Probably more than the value of the oil itself. The whole idea is beyond goofy.”

Juan Cole – Trump to CIA: We now have 2nd Chance to take Iraq’s Oil.

The United Nations Charter and other treaty instruments that are part of US law actually abolished the principle of ‘to the victors go the spoils.’ Conquering states in a war are not allowed to annex territory from the vanquished as of 1945. That’s what is wrong with the Israeli creeping annexation of Palestine since 1967.Given that the US has 6000 troops in Iraq, as Thomas Doherty pointed out, this kind of talk puts them in danger from Iraqi nationalists who may begin seeing them not as allies against ISIL but as stalking horses for a sinister imperialism. Trump just painted a big red target on the backs of our troops. …

This isn’t speculation: the great Borzou Daragahi reports that the Iraqis are indeed ‘pissed’ and ready to fight for their oil.

Trump is also wrong that Iraqi petroleum fueled Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), or that the US could have “taken” Iraqi petroleum. This is because he does not know Iraqi geography or political geography. Most oil in Iraq is either down in Shiite territory at Basra (the vast majority of what is pumped) or up in Kurdish-held territory at Kirkuk. Daesh in Iraq had relatively little access to petroleum revenues, and the experts on it believe that contributions from Gulf supporters and taxes and plunder from local people (including on agriculture) were much more important. The situation is perhaps a little different in Syria, but we’re talking about Iraq.

The Independent – Iraq says Donald Trump’s threat to seize the country’s oil makes no sense.

US enemies and friends would oppose the move. While Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has accepted US help to retake Isis-held territory in his country, he has repeatedly asserted Iraqi sovereignty. He said of Trump’s oil vow in November, “I am going to judge him by what he does later.” Reuters reported Mr al-Abadi as saying: “It wasn’t clear what he meant. Did he mean in 2003 or to prevent the terrorists from seizing Iraq’s oil? Iraq’s oil is constitutionally the property of the Iraqis.”

The Atlantic – Why Iraq Needs the Oil.

It is into this delicate situation that Trump has pitched himself, without apparent regard to the consequences. That his threat to strip Iraq of its oil survived his transition into the White House demands careful consideration of what the proposal could actually entail. The U.S. military would not, as Trump has suggested, occupy Iraq to oversee the illegal extraction of crude from its oil fields, which are dispersed across the country. …Or he could just push the Iraqi government to award favorable contracts to American companies like ExxonMobil, whose former CEO Rex Tillerson has just been confirmed as secretary of state. Tillerson’s previous escapades, of course, present a cautionary tale. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil purchased oil rights to land blocks controlled by the KRG in 2011—a deal that directly challenged the authority of the Iraqi government and was partially responsible for an armed stand-off between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga.

Tillerson’s record of aggressively asserting corporate interests into decidedly thorny diplomatic climates also reflects the lack of common purpose among Trump’s team. James Mattis, Trump’s secretary of defense, has a record of seeking to confront Iran’s growing influence in Baghdad. Destabilizing Iraq’s oil sector would weaken Baghdad’s hold on the country, thereby strengthening Iran’s position.

The Boston Globe – As Trump muses about seizing Iraq oil, energy experts say it makes no sense.

“This is foolish,” Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, said. “This is a typical Trump remark. It’s moronic. It makes no sense. We couldn’t just suddenly grab Iraq’s oil and walk away with it.” In order to extract the oil, American forces would need to occupy the country, a costly, dangerous, and politically risky process, Pollack said. He added Iraqi resistance to these efforts would be quite strong given oil is a crucial source of income for the country.In response to Trump’s comments, Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, a former Marine, tweeted on Saturday, “No. That’s pillaging, and it’s a war crime.”

The Guardian – Trump’s plan to seize Iraq’s oil: ‘It’s not stealing, we’re reimbursing ourselves’.

The idea predates Trump’s presidential campaign. As far back as 2011, he was telling the Wall Street Journal that this was his policy for Iraq. “You heard me, I would take the oil,” he said. “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.” And he insisted to ABC News that this did not amount to national theft. “You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said. “We’re reimbursing ourselves … at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5tn to reimburse ourselves.”As a security strategy, this presents huge problems from almost every angle, according to military, strategic, legal and oil experts. First of all, there are issues of principle and legality. Trump’s frequent invocation of the “spoils of war” seems to hark back to a bygone age of conquistadors and plunder-based imperialism, illegal now under the laws of war.

“In international law, you can’t take civilian goods or seize them. That would amount to a war crime,” Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke chair in strategy at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Oil exports were almost the only Iraqi source of money. So you would have to pay for government salaries, maintain the army, and you have triggered a level of national animosity far worse than we did. It would be the worst kind of neo-colonialism. Not even Britain did that.”

Jay Hakes, the author of A Declaration of Energy Independence, about the relationship between US national security and Middle Eastern oil, was similarly unsparing. “It is hard to overstate the stupidity of this idea,” he wrote on Real Clear Energy. “Even our allies in the Middle East regard oil in their lands as a gift from God and the only major source of income to develop their countries. Seizing Iraq’s oil would make our current allies against Isis our new enemies. We would likely, at the least, have to return to the massive military expenditures and deployment of American troops at the war’s peak.”

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15 Comments on "Trump’s Threat To Steal Iraq’s Oil"

  1. joe on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 9:10 am 

    Trump says allot of stuff. The very temporary Shia Muslim ban, the wall which has now become a metaphoric wall, the futile attempts to brow beat Mexico, in fact so all he has done is unify everyone against him even people who voted for him. The only good thing so far is abandoning TPP and looking for partners in the west might actually prevent the losers from globalisation from voting for worse than Trump. Its not his third week yet so lets hold on for more of this roller coaster and hope somthing good comes of it.

  2. Davy on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 9:17 am 

    Trump has done good if it upsets the angloshpere of delusions. I love how the Anglo Cheeto whiners are all hot and bothered. This misreading of history represents just another failure of their rationalizations and hipocricies. We know how big of a failure the angloshpere is because they were among The Clinton Crime Families biggest donors. Birds of a feather flock together.

  3. rockman on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 9:27 am 

    Joe – “…in fact so all he has done is unify everyone against him even people who voted for him.” I imagine you live in a very different world then me. I cross paths with many Trump voters and not one has expressed disappointment. In fact many are even more pleased then they had expected. And understand those statements are not being filtered thrh the ears of another big Trump supporter: I considered him as the lesser of two evils…barely. First time since reaching voting age I didn’t go to the polls for a presidential election.

    In my world the conservatives are truly euphoric. But I do live in Texas. LOL.

  4. penury on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 9:56 am 

    Let me see. Murdering a few million people in eight different countries makes you a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Droning and killing thousands of women and children, pretending they were terrorists is wonderful. However, an attempt to actually enforce immigration laws which have been on the books fr a hundred years makes you a monster. Makes sense to me.

  5. Aire on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 11:18 am 

    It’s funny to see so many of you guys on here defend Trump to the bitter end. He’s gonna basically be a puppet, just like any other president to special interest and bankers. A handful of “nationalist” policies are inevitable since American power will deteriorate along with globalism. He’s still lining his pockets, continuing the wars/proxy wars, letting most the little “unimportant” people suffer.

  6. penury on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 11:40 am 

    In case you are confused I am not supporting Trump per se. During my time with Gov I had mentors who had brains and acumen enough to teach me a few things. One of them is: if you have outdated laws and they need changing never talk to the legislature, enforce the law. The ensuing firestorm of agony will activate the legislature to either cooperate to change the law to make it relevant, or to revoke it. I think that perhaps a review of the immigration laws of the U.S. will be coming under the scrutiny that they have needed for 50 years years. Arbitrary or capricious enforcement of the law renders the law invalid. Perhaps rump is smarter than we think.

  7. Davy on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 11:46 am 

    Aire, maybe, but your “He’s gonna” doesn’t work in my book because that is your opinion. You got any “He has” otherwise that is your opinion. Your opinion is just a rehash of a traditional worn out view we see from the conspiracist concerning the POTUS is a puppet. It is intellectually lazy so try getting more creative.

  8. BobInget on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 12:31 pm 

    It’s only a question of months before DJT leaves office. Then, debate will shift: Did he jump or was he pushed ?

    Q3 2016 marked the bottom of the V-shaped recovery which is now under way
    In the company’s Q4 conference call this morning’s , Core Laboratories (ticker: CLB) CEO David Demshur and other members of the CLB executive team laid out their company’s view of where the oil and gas industry stands today and their thoughts on where it is heading in 2017. After 80 years providing reservoir description, management, and production enhancement technologies and services for E&Ps, Core Lab has a global presence in 55 countries and its customers are the most significant oil and gas producers in every major oil and gas province.

    Comments from Core Lab CEO David Demshur

    Core Lab: Q3 2016 marked the bottom of the V-shaped recovery which is now under way
    David Demshur, CEO, Core Laboratories. Image: Oil & Gas 360
    Core believes that the worldwide crude oil markets are currently under-supplied as indicated by several consecutive months of declining worldwide crude oil inventories, and we believe the projected December draw will be the fifth consecutive month in a row.

    Projected OPEC cuts of 1.344 million barrels of oil per day and other cooperating countries pledging to cut another 600,000 barrels of oil per day will lead to extended worldwide inventory declines and a continuing rally in oil prices and energy prices in 2017.

    As Core has continually stated, the Middle East was producing oil at unsustainable levels, and we are sure that some of these cuts were more than welcome by several Middle Eastern producing countries. All that Core did was listen to the reservoirs and not the rhetoric.

    Also importantly, U.S. crude production peaked at 9.7 million barrels a day in March of 2015, and then declined approximately 1.3 million barrels a day into December of 2016. At that time, Core calculated a U.S. net decline curve rate of 11% per annum. U.S. crude supplies have increased on a net basis for October and November in response to increased activity levels, largely in the Permian Basin.

    However, conflicting data sets and completion statistics, especially in the large crude supply increase reported by IEA in October, especially from the Bakken, make calculations and projections for U.S. land production too difficult and uncertain to offer at this time.

    In 2016, production gains in the Gulf of Mexico were disappointing. Originally projected by Core Lab to add 200,000 barrels of production per day during 2016, the production added was essentially flat to up slightly year-over-year owing to larger-than-expected activity declines and less production addition from legacy deepwater projects.

    2017 is off to a better start as BP’s Thunder Horse South complex completed ahead of schedule and under budget is set to add 40,000 barrels of new 2017 production. Globally, Core estimates that the net decline curve rate is currently approximately 3.3%.

    Applying the 3.3% net decline curve rate to the worldwide crude oil production of approximately 85 million barrels a day means that the plant will need to produce an additional 2.8 million barrels of new oil by this date next year to maintain current worldwide productive capacity totals.

    With limited long-term sustainable spare production capacity, coupled with the aforementioned production cuts, Core believes worldwide producers will not be able to offset the estimated 3.3% net production decline curve rate in 2017, leading to a further decline in global crude oil production.

    Also weighing on future production capacity is the fact that operators discovered less than 4 billion barrels of new oil in 2016, while the globe consumed over 55 billion barrels.

    Therefore, Core believes crude markets more than rationalized in late 2016, and price stability followed by price increases, some occurring as we speak, are returning to the energy complex. Remember, the immutable laws of physics and thermodynamics mean that the crude oil production decline curve always wins and it never sleeps.

    On the demand side of the crude oil market, new IEA estimates have increased worldwide demand in 2017 by approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil per day over the 1.3 million added in 2016.

    The U.S. is now using approximately 10 million barrels of gasoline per day and 20 million barrels of total demand of hydrocarbon near record levels. Recent Chinese imports, coupled with strong demand out of India, are near all-time highs. In addition, China, the world’s largest energy consumer, is probably in terminal decline as year-over-year production has dropped more than 400,000 barrels a day to 3.8 million barrels a day in 2016. That is near a six-year production low.

    Other countries posting significant 2016 production decline, which will continue into 2017 include Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Angola, Kazakhstan and Oman, amongst others. As projected by Core in early 2016, the third quarter of 2016 marked the bottom of the V-shaped recovery which is now underway. This recovery should continue to strengthen with higher commodity prices and subsequent activity levels as 2017 progresses.

  9. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 1:56 pm 

    I like plan of stealing their oil.

    Because Honesty is the best Policy.

    Pump it out from underneath their feet.

    We don’t need all their land, just enough secure spacesto put in the jack pumps. Have lots of military around the jack pumps, for the secure perimeter.

    Then I can drive my 1977 Ford LTD to the
    Drive-In, and eat a cheeseburger and fries.

  10. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 1:57 pm 

    … enough secure spaces to put in …

    OH, left something out.
    Cheeseburger, fries, AND a chocolate shake.
    Need go to Drive-In in a gas guzzling 5000 pound car. Just not the same dining experience, in a Prius.

  11. onlooker on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 2:56 pm 

    Excuse me call me jaded, but wasn’t the plan all along to steal the oil. Seriously, we are there primarily for the OIL. Empire etiquette 101 is how I know that. haha

  12. Davy on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 3:09 pm 

    Right, onlooker, nation building was a neocon lie in Iraq. In Syria it was a neocon neoliberal compromise that allows IS to butterfly. Trump is being honest about this. He also said we should never have gone into iraq. His point is since we did we should of kept the oil.

    The horror of the left to hear that when they have been a participant in the same false nation building in Syria and Libya. We always knew the neocons wanted the oil now we know Obama got caught up in it indirectly in Syria. Obama was a nation wrecker and the left loves him. Putin stopped it and now Putin and Trump appear to be ready to clean that American mess up. O early to tell though.

  13. onlooker on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 3:17 pm 

    Yes Davy and that is where the liberal so called progressive Democrats are so hypocritical and deceptive. Killary and the rest know very well they and the military was all about taking possession of resources. That has been the track record of the US since WWII and before of Great Britain. All Empires do that they take because they can. So yes at least Trump is being forthright about it. I will take a unsavory truth over a sly carefully crafted lie all the time from my so called Govt.

  14. Cloggie on Sun, 29th Jan 2017 6:10 pm 

    Steeling oil is an empty threat. The Jihadists are very good at blowing up pipelines.

  15. Jerome Purtzer on Wed, 1st Feb 2017 11:06 am 

    Why steal the oil when all you have to do is fire up the printing presses and, for the cost of paper and ink, it’s yours. Much cheaper than having troops and tanks there.

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