Donald Trump Talks Oil As He Proposes An "America First" Foreign Policy
By Jeff Reed
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump expounded on his foreign policy views in an interview published Saturday in the New York Times. We will first take a look at what he said related to oil, and then conclude by explaining how Trump's use of the term "America First" to describe his foreign policy is rooted in a pivotal moment in 20th century history.
"Knock The Hell Out Of The Oil"
If elected president, Trump told The Times he would consider a freeze on purchasing oil from Saudi Arabia unless the Saudi government deployed ground troops in the fight against ISIS.
When asked by the paper whether he would halt U.S. oil purchases from the Middle East without military support from Arab nations in the region, he responded, "The answer is, probably yes...We protect countries, and take tremendous monetary hits on protecting countries. That would include Saudi Arabia, but it would include many other countries, as you know. We have, there’s a whole big list of them. We lose, everywhere. We lose monetarily, everywhere."
He added, "And yet, without us, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long...It would be, you know, a catastrophic failure without our protection.”
Speaking specifically about the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, he told the paper, "Now I would say knock the hell out of the oil and do it because it's a primary source of money for ISIS."
Seeking clarification of this point, The Times asked, "So in other words you don't want to take the oil right now, you want to destroy the oil fields." Trump responded, "Well now, we have to destroy the oil. We should’ve taken it and we would’ve have it. Now we have to destroy the oil. We don’t do it, I just can’t believe we don’t do it."
"America First" Is NOT A New Term
Trump said that his guiding principle in foreign policy would not be isolationism, but "America first." He told The Times, "We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many, many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher...We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we were the big bully who was the big, stupid bully, and we were systematically ripped off by everybody.”
By adopting the phrase "America First" to describe his foreign policy, Trump is using the name of a group that was founded in 1940 that sought to keep the U.S. out of the Second World War prior to Pearl Harbor: the America First Committee (AFC). The most famous spokesperson of the AFC was the aviator Charles Lindbergh. As the likelihood of war increased in 1940-1941, Lindbergh and America First persistently argued that unless America were directly attacked, the country should not go to war as American interests were not directly threatened by a strictly "European affair."
Because of this stance, the group was dubbed "fascist" and "pro-Nazi" by many leftists. The group dissolved 3 days after Pearl Harbor and many of its members then threw their support behind the war effort.
Among the famous members of America First were John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Walt Disney, and General Robert E Wood of Sears-Roebuck.
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