Trump, the Cartoon Version of an Imperialist

What the Russians are calling “state banditry” he is proud of it and wants credit for it

“He thinks that banditry is good and he has objected to previous military interventions because there wasn’t enough banditry”

Trump hopes to enlist U.S. oil companies in the theft of Syrian oil:

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he’s interested in making a deal with ExxonMobil or another energy company to tap Syrian oil reserves.

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly…and spread out the wealth,” he said.

It is doubtful that any oil company would want anything to do with the president’s plunder operation, because they do not want to expose themselves to the legal problems that would come from dealing in stolen property. The wealth represented by Syria’s oil resources is not ours to “spread out,” but in order to get the president to go along with a garrison in Syria the military has dangled the prospect of “taking the oil” and he has jumped at the chance. In addition to reminding us of the president’s abiding interest in stealing other countries’ resources, the new Syria mission also shows how the president makes a habit of boasting about conduct that anyone else would try to conceal.

When he abuses power or engages in obviously illegal behavior, he calls attention to it and doesn’t see anything wrong with what he’s done. He publicizes wrongdoing that others in his position would be desperately trying to cover up.

The president is openly violating international law here, and he wants to brag about it. The continued U.S. military presence in Syria has no legal justification, and Trump has given them a mission to commit another crime by taking what does not belong to us. Trump’s plunder doctrine has naturally been met with international puzzlement and condemnation:

Trump’s message is puzzling to former government officials and Middle East analysts who say that controlling Syria’s oil fields — which are the legal property of the Syrian government — poses numerous practical, legal and political obstacles.

They also warn that Mr. Trump’s discourse, which revives language he often used during the 2016 campaign to widespread condemnation, could confirm the world’s worst suspicions about American motives in the region. A Russian Defense Ministry official on Saturday denounced Mr. Trump’s action as “state banditry.”

The other danger with this new deployment is that it flows from Trump’s worst instincts. He sees foreign policy in the narrowest terms of predation and exploitation. If another country has resources that can be seized, he thinks that the U.S. should take them if we can, and he faults his predecessors for “failing” to steal other countries’ natural resources outright.

Trump’s interest in stealing Syrian property is also a reminder that the president has a worldview closer to that of a crude mercantilist and imperialist. Stephen Wertheim of The Quincy Institute made that observation earlier:

This comes back to the earlier point that Trump doesn’t think there is anything wrong with what he is doing. He is proud to be involved in what the Russians are calling “state banditry.”

He thinks that banditry is good and he has objected to previous military interventions because there wasn’t enough banditry. It never occurs to him to deny that he is engaged in banditry because he wants people to give him credit for it. On this point, I think Bruce Riedel is mistaken:

Mr. Riedel doubted that the president would wind up insisting on control of the oil fields. Beyond the many military, technical and legal challenges, there are the optics to consider.

“Let’s say he does do it,” Mr. Riedel said. “Let’s say we establish the precedent that we are in the Middle East to take the oil. The symbolism is really bad.”

The optics and symbolism are definitely bad, but the president doesn’t grasp that because he sees nothing wrong with plundering other countries’ resources.

Source: The American Conservative

And all that for a paltry 40,000 bpd (0.05% of the global daily production) The New Yorker:

What’s particularly baffling is that Syria now produces a piddling amount of oil—about as much as Utah. “Syrian oil was not significant at all to the world market. It was very small,” Daniel Yergin, an energy expert and vice-chairman of IHS Markit, told me. At its peak, Syria produced less than four hundred thousand barrels a day, which generated about a quarter of government revenues. But, as a result of the eight-year civil war and U.S. air strikes on oil installations seized by isis, production is down ninety per cent, to only about forty-thousand barrels per day, Yergin said. That’s a negligible amount on global markets—inadequate even for Syria’s domestic needs.

  1. Mary E says

    When you think about Trump and his 6 or 7 bankruptcies when he was in full business mode, he stiffed New York companies (and probably many others) of what he owed them for various services and materials..just told them to go to hell. That’s the kind of guy we have as the president of the US…a guy who was shoved into office by the unknowns who really run the US.. (he wasnt duly elected…lost by 3 mil votes)…and he has no scruples…robbing Syria’s oil, small amount that it is, is just a ‘natural’ for a criminal…
    they would steal the coat off an old lady in winter if the opportunity were to arise…
    the one entity that he didn’t and couldn’t stiff was the NY city’s cement companies…
    all owned by Mafia! He feared for his life if he crossed them…same should be for a healthy fear of a Russia-China-Iran consolidation….

    1. Peter J. Fazio says

      The American voters, who are historically uninformed and predjudiced in every way, just love their BIGOT! He is totally ill-informed by the idealogues and sycophants that surround him!

      1. kunling says

        Crawl back under your rock, commie!!

  2. CHUCKMAN says

    The article has it clearly wrong.

    The stuff about “bandirty is good” is just a silly play act, covering an unspoken reality. Of course, it’s easy to make fun of because it’s vacuous nonsense.

    Trump’s words on the subject are indeed stupid, but then so are his words on so very many things.

    Taking the oil is about weakening Syria, as Israel wishes it weakened, and absolutely nothing else.

    The country faces great costs ahead in reconstruction, and Trump has been as unhelpful in that as possible. Again, a bow to Israel.

    Trump, with the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson, has been the most appallingly servile of presidents towards Israel.

    Virtual war on Iran? Appointing Bolton and Pompeo? Giving away what’s not his to give in Jerusalem and Golan? Occupy part of Syria?

    It is all in the service of immensely wealthy campaign funders who regard Israel as having first priority in all things.

    And Trump is happy to accommodate.

    He desperately wants to be reelected.

    1. Mary E says

      Absolutely right on all scores!!

  3. Grand Nagus Zek says

    Trump and the Yanks are morons.

    The oil wells are useless to him – he won’t be able to get any oil out of them.

    Drill pumps require electricity or they can’t pump ANYTHING – and the Syrian army+government control ALL the hydro and other power stations in the region that supply it to the wells; they will simply cut the power to the wells and no oil for the american gangsters.

    And the entire surrounding area is hostile and the Yanks want to get rid of open skies – resupply of those troops to sustain them in the field will be a BITCH…and that’s putting it mildly. I think US overflight privileges with surrounding countries for resupply etc will now become MUCH harder.

    Electioneering BS which will quietly disappear on the ground without anyone noticing.

    1. Mary E says

      Written and thought out so well!

    2. plamenpetkov says

      no, they are not. The WORST mistake you can do is to under estimate your enemy. They are nasty, conniving assholes as nasty as they can be, All Anglo-saxongs are like that.

      Trump doesnt really want the oil, he just doesnt want it to be into the hands of Assad, thus keeping Syria from rebuilding itself. It’s called the chaos theory. Same principle they are applying in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Hong Kong, etc,

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