Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested that he would destroy oil fields in the Middle East, saying that they’re a primary source of income for terrorist groups such as ISIS.
In an interview with the New York Times published online Saturday, the billionaire businessman argued that even though he was against the Iraq War, the government could have used that opportunity to seize the oil refineries. His call to “take the oil” now would require deploying U.S. troops on the ground, a move Trump is not in favor of.
“I would say knock the hell out of the oil and do it because it’s a primary source of money for ISIS,” said Trump. “We have to destroy the oil. We should’ve taken it and we would’ve have it.”
If elected, Trump told the Times he might also halt the purchase of oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies because they’ve been unwilling to send their troops in on the ground to fight against ISIS despite efforts by President Barack Obama to have them join a U.S.-led coalition.
Hours after the interview was published, the former head of Obama’s Auto Task Force, Steven Rattner, tweeted that Trump “has no idea how oil market works. We take only about 10% of what Saudi Arabia produces.”
When asked about his strategy to defeat ISIS in Syria, Trump said the approach of fighting the terror group and the country’s President Bashar Assad simultaneously is “madness, and idiocy.”
“The far bigger problem than Assad is ISIS, I’ve always felt that,” he said. “Assad is, you know I’m not saying Assad is a good man, ‘cause he’s not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS.”
When asked during the 100-minute interview what would merit humanitarian intervention under a Trump presidency, the real estate mogul suggested that it would be determined based on how “friendly” a country has been toward the U.S.
“I’d have to see what’s going on in the region and you just cannot have a blanket. The one blanket you could say is, ‘protection of our country,’” he said. “That’s the one blanket. After that it depends on the country, the region, how friendly they’ve been toward us.”
Trump stopped short of being specific with his foreign policy proposals, saying that he “wouldn’t want [other countries and allies] to know what my real thinking is.”