Every American, regardless of who they voted for in the election, should be furious with President Donald Trump for what he told the CIA during a recent meeting at its headquarters. I do not mean his digressions about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and the number of times he has appeared on the cover of Time magazine, although it does not inspire confidence to see the president waste fleeting time with national-security employees on his vanity rather than our security.
It’s his comments on Iraq that ought to make Americans apoplectic, for in the space of seconds, Trump managed to utter words that are 1) morally repugnant, 2) certain to be exploited as a recruiting tool by America’s terrorist enemies, and 3) likely to help foreign adversaries diminish America’s reputation and power. For the sake of an indisciplined, self-indulgent riff, Trump made Americans less safe.
Here are his words:
The old expression, ‘To the victor belong the spoils’––you remember I always used to say, ‘Keep the oil.’ I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I don’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in we got out wrong. And I always said in addition to that, ‘Keep the oil.’ Now, I said it for economic reasons. But if you think about it, Mike, if you kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil, okay? Maybe you’ll have another chance.
When Trump made statements like this as a private citizen they could be safely ignored. Now that he is president they have immediate, global consequences. They reached, for example, a 27-year-old Iraqi who is fighting ISIS. Here is how he responded: “I participated in the attack against the Americans by attacking them with mortars and roadside bombs, and I’m ready to do it again,” he told war correspondent Borzou Daragahi. “We kept our ammunition and weapons from the time the Americans left for fighting ISIS. But once ISIS is gone we will save our weapons for the Americans.” Is America well served by a president who needlessly evokes that reaction?