Half of Donald Trump’s critiques of the Iraq War sound like they were written by Noam Chomsky — the other half, by a conquistador. “We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity,” Trump argued, during an early GOP primary debate. “The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what?”
A few months later, Trump suggested that, if we were going to wipe all those people away, we might as well have impoverished their surviving relatives — by pillaging the region’s natural resources — while we were at it. “I’ve always said, shouldn’t be there, but if we’re going to get out, take the oil,” the GOP nominee explained in September 2016. “We go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is, we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”
The president has not outgrown this cognitive dissonance in the two years since. In an interview with the Hill Tuesday, Trump said that the Iraq War was “the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country,” one that cost the world “millions of lives — you know, ’cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives.”
On Thursday morning — less than 48 hours after arguing that America’s involvement in the Middle East cost millions of Iraqis their lives — Trump scolded OPEC for failing to demonstrate sufficient gratitude for all that the U.S. has done to keep the Middle East “safe.”
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” the president tweeted. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Granted, Trump’s disparate sentiments aren’t impossible to reconcile — you just have to assume that the president is offering to “protect” the Middle East in the same sense that the Mafia might offer to protect a local laundromat (nice petro-state you’ve got there, would be a shame if something happened to it).