Rudy Giuliani’s Appalling Claim That ‘Anything is Legal’ During a War

With covetous eyes on Iraq’s oil, Rudy Giuliani offered us the old “ends justify the means” routine on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, claiming in support of Donald Trump, that because during war, “anything is legal,” we should have taken Iraq’s oil and kept it.

That’s an excuse that didn’t get the Nazis anywhere at Nuremberg and shouldn’t get Trump anywhere now. War is a messy business and often an excuse for atrocities, but humans have tried, with mixed success, to establish certain rules that apply to all nations fighting a war.

Trump has made clear he doesn’t like those rules, like those applying to torture. And as the examples of My Lai during the Vietnam War; Abu Ghraib during the Iraq War; and the War on Terror’s Gitmo demonstrate, they don’t always work.

According to Giuliani, if we’d taken Iraq’s oil, and kept it, there would be no Islamic State. Actually, if we hadn’t taken Iraq, there would be no Islamic State. But the Trump campaign and its surrogates want nothing to do with pesky facts.

Watch Giuliani’s appalling justifications courtesy of Media Matters for America:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): One of the things that Donald Trump also said on Thursday night, again, is that we should have taken the oil of Iraq. Even if you could do that practically, and most experts say you couldn’t, wouldn’t that just be theft?
 
RUDY GIULIANI: Well, no, he said take it so that the Islamic State then would not have had it available.
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said leave a force back there in take it.
 
GIULIANI: Leave a force back there and take it, and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way. And basically —
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s not legal, is it?
 
GIULIANI: Of course it’s legal. It’s a war. Until the war is over, anything is legal. That oil becomes a very critical issue. First of all, if that oil wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have the Islamic State. So when he says things like Obama and Hillary are the founder this Islamic State, he doesn’t mean literally, and he follows it by saying they would get the MVP award. That oil is what makes the Islamic State so rich. Had we held that oil, made sure that it was equitably distributed in Iraq, we would been able to —
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says we should have taken it.
 
GIULIANI: He [INAUDIBLE] said we should take it for ourselves necessarily, he said we should secure it so it doesn’t get taken by terrorist forces, and then we can have some say, some control over the distribution of it.

“Anything is legal.” As The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman put it, “This is…not true.”

To be fair, the West long understood the importance of Iraq’s abundant oil reserves, 11% of the world’s total in 2002. The pesky fact here is that Big Oil wanted Iraq’s oil back after Saddam Hussein nationalized the oil companies and said Iraq’s oil belonged to Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who should know, said in 2007 that,

“People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

President Bush claimed in 2002 that he just wanted freedom for the Iraqi people, but after destabilizing the region, claimed in 2005 that he wanted to keep the oil away from al Qaeda, even though Saddam Hussein had already doing that before we invaded:

“If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks. They’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.”

The Washington Post has pointed to “Trump’s illegal, impossible, and ‘beyond goofy’ idea of seizing Iraq’s oil,” but Giuliani would never admit it was impossible in the first place.

His guy is the guy who will build the wall, and make Mexico pay for the wall they say they won’t pay for, and who has a secret plan to defeat ISIS even our generals couldn’t come up with. Nothing is impossible in the eyes of the Trump cult of personality – except for actual facts.

Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani apparently feel that rules are for losers. If Trump didn’t feel that way, he would not be under constant investigation for one money-making scheme or another. He just doesn’t think the laws that direct and guide the rest of us apply to him. That is appalling enough on a personal level; it is positively dangerous on an international scale, as another rule breaker, George W. Bush, proved when the other shoe – and the world economy – fell in 2008.