Was Trump Crazy for Wanting to Target ISIL’s Oil?
Trump’s strategy against ISIL has been ridiculed. (image from the theatlantic.com)
Donald Trump is a rather polarizing figure. People seem to either love him or hate him, to believe him to be a potential political savior for the US or to be an egomaniacal buffoon. When a man like Trump speaks people are sure to listen and to react strongly one way or another.
In July while Trump was being interviewed by Anderson Cooper he answered how he would tackle ISIL by saying, “I would take away their wealth. I would take away the oil. What you should be doing now is taking away the oil…I’d bomb the hell out of the oil fields.” This strategy was quickly pooh-poohed by many in the media. Even former US General Raymond Odierno disagreed with Trump’s strategy. So maybe this is an example of Trump’s buffoonery?
But maybe not. Recently, in apparent response to official confirmation that ISIL downed flight 9268 over the Sinai Peninsula killing 224 people including 219 Russians, Putin has intensified his bombing campaign against ISIL in Syria. Over a four day period 100 cruise missiles have been launched and 522 sorties have been conducted striking 800 targets.
And guess what? Russia is targeting ISIL’s ability to refine, store and transport oil. In the Syrian town of Dayr al-Zawr an ISIL controlled oil refinery was struck by Russian cruise missiles, reportedly killing 600 ISIL militants. Russian air strikes have also destroyed a 1,000 ISIL oil trucks, with Russia releasing footage of the attack. I guess Putin is being a bit of a buffoon himself and would not have taken the council of General Odierno nor the American media.
And why would he, sarcasm aside, Putin is not an idiot. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu as a result of the recent air strikes ISIL is losing $1,500,000 daily, which if annualized amounts to over $500,000,000, a considerable shortfall in ISIL’s budget. While Russia may be overstating the effect of their air strikes on ISIL’s oil industry and it is possible for ISIL to regain their lost oil revenue in due time, they are nonetheless being denied a significant stream of revenue. And just like every other ‘state’, ISIL needs money to provide services to its population, to pay its fighters and to buy weapons and munitions. By targeting ISIL’s oil industry Putin is significantly degrading ISIL’s ability to wage war and spread terror.
Now was Trump’s proposed strategy to target ISIL’s oil so crazy? No it wasn’t, even if it may not be the best possible strategy, it was a perfectly sensible one. Putin understood this, hence why he is going after ISIL’s oil with devastating effect. Qassem Suleimani, the much vaunted Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander, understood this, which is why he previously criticized the US for not targeting ISIL’s oil transportation capacity, citing this as evidence that the US has no will to fight ISIL. Even America is beginning to understand this as they are now themselves increasing their targeting of ISIL’s oil industry.
But the American media and many others apparently did not and does not understand this. They say things like the situation is very complicated and needs a very sophisticated strategy. They argue that if we destroy ISIL’s oil refineries in Iraq and Syria that this will not only hurt ISIL but also the local population especially once ISIL is eventually defeated.[*] Fortune’s Cyrus Sanati was mocking Trump writing “No, Mr. Trump, you can’t just “bomb the shit out of them”, it is actually fraught with complications and will require unprecedented commitment and cooperation.” Yet Putin is bombing the shit out of ISIL, as is discussed in my post Putin is Turning up the Heat on ISIL.
In this situation we are left with two explanations. Either the media and others have shockingly little understanding of how to effectively wage war against an enemy or they are not so dull, but instead are trying to torpedo Trump’s political campaign by criticizing any of his policies regardless of their actual merits. I suspect its a combination of both; they are mendacious nitwits.
A recent article by USA Today illustrates the media’s campaign against Trump. Never one to miss an opportunity for self-promotion, Trump has taken credit for the US’s intensified targeting of ISIL’s oil infrastructure. He tweeted, “They laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said.” The media cannot allow Trump an ounce of validation so they quickly sprung into action. USA Today published an article entitled, Fact check: Trump on bombing ISIS oil fields.
Now first of all let me warn you that when you hear anyone in the mainstream media present themselves as fact checkers–as if they and only they have some magical ability to ascertain the truth–be on alert. If anything they are not fact checkers but fact obfuscators. But don’t listen to me, I am just a tad cynical.
Returning to this fact check article, the author Eugene Kiely, first noted that while Trump said that the US targeting of ISIL’s oil infrastructure started 2 days ago it in fact started 4 weeks ago. This is true, but in all honesty is besides the point. For over one year America has been bombing ISIL and yet it only decided to intensely bomb its oil infrastructure one month ago. Whether this decision was made 4 weeks ago or 2 days ago, the real point is why wasn’t it made over a 1 year ago?
Then Kiely points out the fact that America has been bombing ISIL’s oil infrastructure since the beginning of their bombing campaign having made 196 such air strikes. Now Kiely admits that these air strikes were “not very effective,” as has also been admitted by the US military itself. Again, this ‘fact’ does not in any real way detract from or invalidate what Trump has been saying. Trump was not calling for “minimally effective” air strikes, but for “bombing the shit out of them” type air strikes. Clearly America was not doing the latter, and this is the crux of Trump’s criticism.
Kiely concluded, “So it’s true that the Obama administration has changed tactics and is now conducting what Warren called “significant disruption operations.” But it wasn’t just “two days ago,” as Trump said.” So all Kiely could basically come up with to discredit Trump–after quite honestly presently a well researched article–was that he was off by about 4 weeks, and because of that ‘egregious’ error, we should forget about President Obama’s ineffectual strategy.
So here we see how the obfuscation of the media works, and it is done very cunningly. They take the truth, but distort it, place it into a new irrelevant context, and then proclaim that their fact checking has shown the buffoon Trump to be wrong, when in fact their arguments when carefully analyzed actual support what Trump is arguing.
Just remember while many may think Trump to be crazy and to be a farce of a political leader, his proposal to bomb ISIL’s oil industry is not a crazy strategy. It is a perfectly sound one. But no just keep listening to former General Odierno, Fortune, USAToday and others. Only they are ‘smart’ enough to see the complexity of the world and to propose adequately sophisticated proposals for solving the world’s problems such as ISIL. While us normal people, and Trump and even Putin, well we are too simple to know what to do. Yet have the proposed policies of these ‘elites’ done anything to prevent the rise of ISIL and now that it is here to significantly degrade ISIL’s caliphate? No they haven’t. So maybe it is possible that the ‘simplicity’ and ‘craziness’ of Trump and Putin may in fact be just what is needed to achieve victory against ISIL.
[*] I don’t buy this argument. When NATO bombed Serbia, was the media and government officials concerned with the detrimental after effects on the local Serbian population? Were they concerned with the after effects on Iraq from their bombings and sanctions against Saddam Hussein? So why all of a sudden are they so concerned with the well being of Iraqi and Syrian civilians?