Because he’s being graded on a doofus curve that is unprecedented in presidential politics, Donald Trump said more than a dozen outrageous, scary or untrue things in the past 10 days and got away with all of them. But with at least one statement, marking a profound shift in how the United States would interact with the rest of the world, Trump should be shamed back to his golden throne.
He wants the United States to become a nation that steals from its enemies. He’s called for war crimes – killing family members of terrorists, torturing suspects. He would further violate the Geneva Conventions by making thieves out of a first-class military.
“It used to be to the victor belong the spoils,” Trump complained to the compliant Matt Lauer in the now infamous commander-in-chief forum. Oh, for the days when Goths, Vandals and Nazis were free to rape, pillage and plunder. So unfair, as Trump said on an earlier occasion, that we have “all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight.”
As with everything in Trump’s world, his solution is simple: loot and pilfer. “Take the oil,” said Trump. He was referring to Iraq, post-invasion. And how would he do this? There would be an open-ended occupation, as a sovereign nation’s oil was stolen from it. Of course, “you’d leave a certain group behind,” he said, to protect the petro thieves.
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A certain group. Let’s be clear what he’s talking about: Under Trump’s plan, American men and women would die for oil, victims of endless rounds of lethal sabotage and terror strikes. That’s your certain group. He thinks we could get in, get the oil, and get out. Just like the cakewalk of occupying Iraq. And if such a seizure violates international law, what’s the rest of the world going to do about it? “Anything is legal” in war, as the deranged Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani explained.
For this kind of plunder, there is in fact a precedent for Trump’s plan: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The United States fought the first gulf war because the Iraqi dictator tried to seize Kuwait’s oil. We were the good guys, fighting an invading military force that was trying to steal a small country’s most precious natural resource.
I realize with Trump that any discussion of actual “issues” is not for our political press. Can’t we just talk about that awesome Dr. Oz exam? But even one of Trump’s top military supporters, Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, retired, thought the candidate’s conquer-and-steal plan was insane. “It’s a bad precedent,” he told NBC News. “That oil belongs to somebody else.” Sorry, soldier: You’re going to have to follow Trump’s orders.
Of course, the Mideast would be aflame with violent anti-Americanism if Trump’s troops sat on the oil wells in the desert. Iran, seeing a fellow Shiite-majority nation robbed of its lifeblood, would strike, and jump again into a fast-paced development of a nuclear bomb.
But, by then, Trump would be at war with Iran, as he suggested in another of his overlooked recent statements. He said if the Iranians made inappropriate “gestures” at “our beautiful boats” he would shoot them. He would start a war, in other words, if they flipped off our sailors.
Let’s imagine the Trump Doctrine after World War II. Instead of building model democracies, vigorous trade partners and allies in global sanity out of Germany and Japan, U.S. troops would have looted those countries of all their worth and left them ripe for a fresh dictator. It was one of the highlights of my grandfather’s life, as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, to help rebuild Germany after it was left in ruins.
Today, my grandfather would be forced by Trump to violate the codes of international behavior that the United States has long tried to uphold. Trump would put us on the side of tyrants and monarchs, the people our founders tried to disentangle us from.
Trump would become a war criminal, a role he seems to relish – typical for a man who has never served a day in the military. Take it from someone who has served, and defeated another nation, Colin Powell. Trump, he said in emails leaked this week, is “a national disgrace and an international pariah.”
But Trump would have an ally in kleptocracy with his favorite world leader, the former KGB operative Vladimir Putin. Trump is Russia’s useful idiot, dismissing its international aggressions and human rights violations. Putin can do no wrong because, “if he says great things about me,” as Trump said, “I’m going to say great things about him.” Trump then went on a Russian propaganda television network to prove his point.
Some may call this flirting with treason, the enabling of an American adversary – something that Trump has done earlier with his suggestion that Russia try to destabilize the American election. To that, he’s openly advocating war crimes. Can he get away with it? He already has.