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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Trump’s Revealing Visit to the CIA

“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32, (Etched into the wall of the main lobby of the CIA)

On his first full day in office, President Trump spoke at the CIA headquarters, in front of the hallowed CIA Memorial Wall. The wall memorializes over 100 CIA persons who died while on duty.

Trump gave a rambling, self-serving speech suggesting that the media had created a feud between himself and the intelligence agencies (except he created it). He complained that the media had mischaracterized the crowd size at his inauguration. Then he crossed a bright line:

Probably almost everybody in this room voted for me…But I will not ask you to raise your hands.

CIA personnel do not speak about policy, only about analysis. Policy, they feel, belongs to politicians. Trump bringing up whether they voted for him, set off alarm bells inside the agency, according to ex-CIA chief John Brennan. The CIA’s concern is that last time intelligence was highly politicized, the pressure came from Bush and Cheney. It produced the notorious National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that the Agency hasn’t lived down.

The most alarming thing Trump said, however, regarded Iraq: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

The old expression [is] to the victor belong the spoils. You remember, you always say keep the oil. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq, I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong. I always said…if we kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place…But, okay. Maybe we’ll have another chance. But the fact is, we should have kept the oil…

And Trump was wrong again. From Juan Cole:

The UN 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 wasn’t all. Saying that the US should “take the oil” in Iraq creates a yuuge issue for the 6,000 US troops in Iraq. Trump’s unthinking talk could put them in danger from Iraqis. Why would they continue to see us as allies against ISIS, when our president says “take the oil”? This isn’t speculation. Juan Cole quotes Borzou Daragahi of Buzzfeed who says that some Iraqis are now indeed ‘pissed’ and ready to fight to keep their oil away from the US.

Trump has no idea about Iraq’s political geography. Most oil in Iraq is either in Shiite territory (the South) near Basra (the vast majority of the oil that Iraq pumps) or up in Kurdish-held territory near Kirkuk. ISIS in Iraq had relatively little access to Iraqi petroleum.

His idea about ISIS profiting from oil might be true in Syria, but he was speaking about Iraq.

Trump doesn’t realize that you can’t export oil against its people’s will. They have too many ways to sabotage the effort. Moreover, you’d have to overthrow the current Iraqi government (who would never agree to Trump taking the oil), and then re-occupy Iraq.

And if the US ‘took’ Iraqi oil in a way that reduced oil profits for Iraqis, it would enable ISIS to overthrow the then weakened government and install an ISIS Caliphate, the exact opposite of our current policy!

In any case, the US doesn’t need Iraq’s oil. China’s economy has slowed enough that world oil demand has leveled. Fracking in the US has also lowered our needs for more imported oil. So the fact is, US petroleum companies wouldn’t want to “take” Iraqi petroleum.They don’t need it, and wouldn’t want the security hassles it would create.

At 7:35 AM on Sunday, Trump tweeted: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!

CBS reported that there were about 40 Trump invites and, while the front rows were senior CIA who were not cheering (on the video you can see their heads pivot to the cheers and laughter while not joining in). The cheers came from the Trump claque.

No standing “O”. No truth.

And worst of all, no thinking before speaking.

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