Trump Threatens German Carmaker Buyers with 35 Percent U.S. Import Tax

U.S President-elect Donald Trump warned German car companies he would impose a border tax of 35 percent on vehicles imported to the U.S. market, a plan that drew sharp rebukes from Berlin and hit the automakers’ shares.

In an interview with German newspaper Bild, published on Monday, Trump criticized German carmakers such as BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen for failing to produce more cars on U.S. soil.

“If you want to build cars in the world, then I wish you all the best. You can build cars for the United States, but for every car that comes to the USA, you will pay 35 percent tax,” Trump said in remarks translated into German.

“I would tell BMW that if you are building a factory in Mexico and plan to sell cars to the USA, without a 35 percent tax, then you can forget that,” Trump said.

Volkswagen (VW) shares closed down 2.2 percent, while BMW and Daimler’s shares ended 1.5 percent lower.

Under pressure to deliver on campaign promises to revive U.S. industrial jobs, Trump has turned his fire on carmakers that use low-cost Mexican plants to serve the U.S. market. He has also warned Japan’s Toyota it could be subject to a “big border tax” if it builds its Corolla cars for the U.S. market at a planned factory in Mexico.

All three German carmakers have invested heavily in Mexico, but also pointed out on Monday that they manufacturer in the United States as well.

BMW executive Peter Schwarzenbauer told reporters the company was sticking to plans to invest around $1 billion in a new plant in Mexico, which is due to go into production in 2019 and create at least 1,500 jobs.

SERIOUS WARNING

“The president’s powers are considerable. He can legally impose tariffs of up to 15 percent for 150 days. Trump is not constrained by Congress,” said Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at Switzerland’s University of St Gallen.

“Even if foreign companies object and seek to challenge the legality of tariffs, it will take at least 18 months to get decided. Corporate strategies will be disrupted by then.”

While investing in Mexico, German carmakers have quadrupled light vehicle production in the United States over the past seven years to 850,000 units, more than half of which are exported from there, Germany’s VDA automotive industry association said.

“In the long term, the United States would be shooting itself in the foot by imposing tariffs or other trade barriers,” VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement.

German carmakers employ about 33,000 workers in the United States and German automotive suppliers about 77,000 more, the VDA said.

Speaking in tabloid newspaper Bild, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that rather than trying to penalize German carmakers, the United States should instead respond by building better and more desirable cars.

Norbert Roettgen, head of Germany’s foreign affairs committee, said Berlin needed to take Trump’s comments seriously. “He seems to be absolutely focused on short-term job interests and security interests … not that he is looking for free trade so much, but more for protection,” he told Reuters.

MEXICAN PLANS

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW already have sizeable factories in the United States where they build higher-margin sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for export to Asia and Europe.

Around 65 percent of BMW’s production from its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is exported overseas. BMW builds the X3, X4, X5 and X6 models in the United States.

“It is surprising that Trump singles out the carmaker that exports more vehicles from the United States than any other manufacturer,” Evercore ISI analysts said.

A BMW spokeswoman said the planned plant in the central Mexican city of San Luis Potosi would build the BMW 3 Series from 2019, with the output intended for the world market. The plant would be an addition to existing 3 Series production facilities in Germany and China.

In June last year, BMW broke ground on the plant, pledging to invest $2.2 billion in Mexico by 2019 for annual production of 150,000 cars.

Daimler has said it plans to begin assembling Mercedes-Benz vehicles in 2018 from a $1 billion facility shared with Renault-Nissan in Aguascalientes in Mexico. A spokesman for Daimler declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.

Last year, VW’s Audi division inaugurated a $1.3 billion production facility with 150,000 vehicle production capacity near Puebla, Mexico. Audi said it would build electric and petrol Q5 SUVs in Mexico.

Audi declined to comment on Monday. VW also declined to comment on Trump’s remarks but noted it was investing another $900 million in its U.S. plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Trump called Germany a great car producer, saying Mercedes-Benz cars were a frequent sight in New York, but claimed there was not enough reciprocity. Germans were not buying Chevrolets at the same rate, he said, calling the business relationship an unfair one-way street.

Chevrolet sales have fallen sharply in Europe since parent company General Motors (GM.N) in 2013 said it would drop the Chevrolet brand in Europe by the end of 2015. Since then, GM has focused instead on promoting its Opel and Vauxhall marques.

Asked by Reuters whether Trump could take any steps to make it easier for GM to sell more American-made cars in Europe, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said the company aimed to build cars in markets where they are sold.

“We’re a global company so we’re going to continue that focus just because from an economic perspective that generally turns out to be the best framework,” she said. “I think there is a lot that we can work on with President-elect Trump.”

(h/t Reuters)

Donald Trump ‘supports policy’ that has killed 4,500 people in the Philippines in five months

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to “kill all” the country’s suspected drug users and dealers has many foreign critics, including the United States, the European Parliament and the International Criminal Court. It now has at least one high-profile supporter: President-elect Donald Trump, at least according to Duterte.

In a statement on Saturday, Duterte shared details of a seven-minute conversation that took place on Friday. He said that during the call, Trump endorsed his campaign against drug users and dealers — a campaign that has left at least 4,500 Filipinos dead in about five months. Trump told Duterte that he was doing it the “right way,” according to Duterte’s account.

“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” he added. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”

The comments, which have not been confirmed by Trump’s team, could signal another significant twist in U.S.-Philippine ties.

The Philippines is a former U.S. colony that has been a close U.S. partner for decades. Since sweeping to power last spring, Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at his longtime ally, threatening to ditch the United States for China and Russia.

In September, when President Obama raised questions about the bloody anti-drug crusade, Duterte lectured him on colonialism, referring to him with a slang term that translates, roughly, as “son of a whore.”

In the weeks that followed, he made several surprise announcements on U.S.-Philippine military ties, calling for the ouster of U.S. Special Operations forces from the southern island of Mindanao and the end of joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises — only to backtrack repeatedly.

But Trump’s triumph in the US presidential race saw Duterte switch direction again. Weeks after railing against “uncivilized” Americans, Duterte greeted the U.S. president-elect with an enthusiastic “long live” Trump. Duterte also mused that they might get along — because they both like to swear.

For the Philippine president, an expression of support from Trump could help reset ties with the United States. But endorsing Duterte’s crackdown may put Trump at odds with allies such as the European Union, whose parliament issued a resolution urging the Philippines to halt “extrajudicial executions and killings” in connection with the drug war.

(h/t Independent)

Reality

Duterte, also an authoritarian, threatens political rivals and other enemies with baseless claims that they too are drug dealers in order to intimidate into submission or move them aside, even having one political rival murdered under police custody.

Successful Fight for Mosul Shows Trump’s Failed Military Claims

Pentagon officials said Monday that the campaign to reclaim Mosul was proceeding as planned and that so far anti-ISIS forces in Iraq are succeeding in their fight against the terror group.

The military’s upbeat assessment puts Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an awkward position. His repeated criticism of the handling of the operation means its success could cast shadows on his argument to be the next commander in chief, while his decision to take on the Pentagon once again highlights the sacred cows he has been willing to slay during his unconventional campaign.

For weeks, Trump has lambasted the coalition effort to re-capture the city of Mosul from ISIS, calling the undertaking a “total disaster” and saying the US and its allies were “bogged-down” there even as defense officials say they are encouraged by the progress being made.

“The campaign is on track and moving forward according to plan,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters Monday.

“There’s no question that counter-ISIL forces continue to have the momentum in this fight,” he added, using the government’s preferred acronym for the terror organization, also known as Daesh.

Yet Trump repeated his critique of the operation on Monday.

“Did we give Mosul enough advanced notice?” he asked rhetorically during a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Whatever happened to the element of surprise?”

Trump’s view contrasts with the assessment of military officials, who have laid out the reasons why they are discussing some — though not all — elements of the Mosul operation.

And, so far, they can point for back-up to developments on the ground to take back Iraq’s second-largest city and key holdout for ISIS.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter “continues to be encouraged by what he is seeing,” Cook said, describing the campaign as proceeding on schedule.

Cook’s view was also echoed by the US special presidential envoy for the counter-ISIS coalition,Amb. Brett McGurk, while speaking Friday in Rome.

While McGurk acknowledged that the campaign for Mosul “will be a long-term effort,” he said that “every single objective has been met and we continue to move forward.”

On the same day, the military spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition, US Air Force Col. John Dorrian, went even further.

“They were able to get to those places faster than they anticipated that they would,” he said of local forces. “So, the Iraqis continue to be successful in the engagements against Daesh.”

Because Trump has made a concentrated effort to slam the conduct of the Mosul operation, its success could undermine his claim of superior judgment as commander in chief in the final days before the November 8 election.

Non-incumbent candidates for political office always have to walk a fine line while military operations are ongoing. Typically, this involves commending the troops on fighting on the ground while simultaneously blasting the politicians in charge.

But Trump has shown a readiness to deviate from this political playbook, as he has repeatedly done for others throughout the 2016 campaign.

In contrast, then-Sen. Barack Obama made sure to praise the military even as he was highly critical of the 2007 “surge” in Iraq during the run-up to his own campaign for the presidency.

Obama called George W. Bush’s decision to deploy thousands of more troops as part of a counterinsurgency strategy aimed at reducing violence a “course that will not succeed” during an interview that year with PBS’s Charlie Rose.

Despite slamming the Bush administration, Obama still offered praise for the US troops on the ground, saying they had “performed brilliantly” and calling Gen. David Petraeus, the surge’s architect, an able and competent leader.

Trump’s recent statements on Mosul don’t include these qualifiers of praising the US military officers in charge or the US troops on the ground, though Trump has offered general praise for US troops in other situations.

“Donald Trump is testing lots of what we thought we knew about American politics, including that no one gets elected running against the troops,” said Kori Schake, a former senior Bush official, who has endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016.
Schake, who was one of the 50 Republican national security officials that penned an open-letter slamming Trump earlier this year, argued that the Republican nominee’s comments on Mosul were undercutting morale.

“The particular way he’s done it is bad for morale of American forces as well as the allies bearing the brunt of the fight,” she told CNN.

Clinton has been quick to knock Trump for his criticism of the Mosul campaign.

Following his tweet labelling the assault “a disaster,” Clinton told a rally in New Hampshire last week, “He’s basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started. He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander-in-chief. It’s not only wrong, it’s dangerous.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Chief among Trump’s criticisms has been the absence of secrecy from the fight, though most analysts believe that given its size and scope, total secrecy and surprise in an operation like Mosul would be impossible.

Pentagon officials have also noted that because the Iraqis were leading the operation, the timeline and discussion of the assault was determined by the government in Baghdad.
Military officials also pointed out that many aspects of the final attack were indeed kept under wraps.

The former dean of the Army War College, retired Army Col. Jeff McCausland, told The New York Times that the candidate’s assessment was off the mark.
“What this shows is Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about military strategy,” he said.

Trump fired back Wednesday when asked about McCausland’s remarks on ABC.
“You can tell your military expert that I’ll sit down and I’ll teach him a couple of things,” he said.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Donald Trump once actually boasted that he knew more than the generals, and later said he could “teach them a couple of things about Mosul.”  As the long fight for Mosul shows early signs of a major success, it turns out his boast was full of hot air, and his elementary understanding of complex military tactics are not better than the generals who dedicated their lives to serving our country.

Trump Says He’ll Teach Military Expert ‘a Couple of Things’ About Mosul

Donald Trump went on the offensive against a military expert and former dean of the Army War College, Jeff McCausland, who said the Republican nominee’s comments this weekend about the battle to reclaim Mosul in Iraq show he doesn’t have a firm grasp of military strategy.

“You can tell your military expert that I’ll sit down and I’ll teach him a couple of things,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the ongoing offensive against the ISIS stronghold of Mosul is turning out to be a “total disaster.”

“We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!” he tweeted.

Trump doubled down on his assertion that the element of surprise is an important military strategy.

“I’ve been hearing about Mosul now for three months. ‘We’re going to attack. We’re going to attack.’ Meaning Iraq’s going to attack but with us. OK? We’re going to attack. Why do they have to talk about it?” he asked Stephanopoulos.

“Element of surprise. One of the reasons they wanted Mosul, they wanted to get ISIS leaders who they thought were, you know, in Mosul. Those people have all left. As soon as they heard they’re going to be attacked, they left,” Trump added. “The resistance is much greater now because they knew about the attack. Why can’t they win first and talk later?”

But according to The New York Times, some military experts disagree with Trump’s claims that the element of surprise is crucial to win the fight against ISIS.

“What this shows is Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about military strategy,” McCausland told the Times.

McCausland replied to Trump’s comments to Stephanopoulos in a lengthy statement today, saying, “I can’t wait to sit down with Mr. Trump and hear what he has to teach me about military strategy. I’m happy to compare my record of over 45 years working in national security affairs with his any time.

“When it comes to the question of the Mosul offensive, Mr. Trump doesn’t understand that 99.9 percent of the troops involved are Iraqi,” McCausland continued. “I reassert my statement to The New York Times: Mr. Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about military strategy.”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also hit Trump for his comments to Stephanopoulos yesterday at a joint campaign event with First Lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, today.

“And yesterday when he heard a retired army colonel and former dean of the Army War College said that Donald doesn’t understand military strategy, Trump said ‘I’ll teach him a couple of things,'” she continued. “Well, actually, Donald, you’re the one who’s got a lot to learn about the military and everything else that makes America great.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is on the ground in Iraq and told ABC’s Martha Raddatz in an interview earlier this week that he’s “encouraged” by the progress in the fight against ISIS because it “is going according to plan … ISIL will surely be destroyed.”

Trump blamed Clinton and President Barack Obama for the need to reclaim Mosul.

“We had Mosul. We have to take it because Hillary Clinton and Obama left that big vacuum, and ISIS went in, and they took Mosul,” he said.

(h/t ABC News)

Media

Trump, Under Oath, Claimed Mexicans Are Rapists

Video footage from a legal deposition of Donald Trump released Friday suggests the Republican presidential candidate planned to call Mexicans “rapists” when he first announced his candidacy.

The offensive remarks were premeditated, Trump suggested under oath in a sworn video deposition taken June 16.

The deposition was part of a lawsuit Trump launched against a restaurateur who pulled out of a deal to open a restaurant in the billionaire businessman’s new Washington, D.C. hotel in response to his racism.

The deal fell apart after Trump made his offensive comments on the campaign trail.

It is one of two lawsuits Trump leveled against restaurants who said his nasty remarks were reason enough to end their business relationship.

“They thought I made statements that were inflammatory in some form,” Trump said, complaining of the response he’d received for his incendiary remarks.

Asked if he had planned “in advance” what he was going to say in that now-famous speech launching his campaign, he said “yes.”

“I mean, I’ve tapped into something. I’ve tapped into illegal immigration,” he said a minute later, bragging about his big primary win.

Trump’s team fought the video becoming public, but a judge ruled Friday that the candidate’s argument that it could be used in attack ads against him wasn’t enough reason to keep it sealed.

The GOP candidate said that he did “virtually nothing” to prepare for the sworn deposition, similar today his approach heading into the first presidential debate.

(h/t New York Daily News)

Media

Trump Fires Back at Criticism from Robert Gates

Twitter

Donald Trump took to Twitter early Saturday morning to lob an attack at Robert Gates, after the former Defense secretary said he is “beyond repair” on national security.

“I never met former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He knows nothing about me. But look at the results under his guidance – a total disaster!” the GOP presidential nominee tweeted.

Gates on Friday criticized both Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on military issues, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “neither candidate has seriously addressed how he or she thinks about the military or the use of force.”

Gates specifically ripped Trump for “naive and irresponsible” expressions of admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and for a Middle East plan he called a “dangerous approach oblivious to the reality” of the region.

“Mr. Trump is also willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself,” he wrote.

“He disdains expertise and experience while touting his own — such as his claim that he knows more about ISIS than America’s generals. He has no clue about the difference between negotiating a business deal and negotiating with sovereign nations.”

Gates and Trump have gone after each other throughout the presidential campaign.

Gates ripped Trump in May for appearing unwilling to accept advice from foreign policy experts, and Trump responded that he’s “not a big fan” of the former Defense secretary, who served under President Bush as well as President Obama.

Trump Overseas Business Conflicts ‘Can’t be Unwound’

The author of a new report that alleges Donald Trump’s businesses overseas have conflicts with America’s interests said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee “makes money by aiding the people whose interests don’t coincide with America’s.”

“The interests of these businesses, the interests of these politicians, often go directly against the interests of American national security. So right now you have Donald Trump in a situation where he makes money by aiding the people whose interests don’t coincide with America’s,” Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald told CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on “New Day,” adding later, “The important thing here is this is an entanglement that can’t be unwound.”

The Newsweek report raised a series of questions about how Trump would handle the countless conflicts of interests inherent in his overseas business interests.

Trump has said he plans to entrust his business to his children if he is elected president, a move that would only partially distance Trump from his massive corporation and do little to quell questions about influence-peddling and conflicts of interest.

“From what I’m hearing, Trump is planning to say that he will put the company in a blind trust — which is sort of like saying ‘I have 100 million shares of Apple stock and I’m going to put it in a blind trust,'” Eichenwald said. “He would know what’s there, he knows who his partners are and he knows, you know, he will know going forward.”

“Now, in the future, you’re talking about giving money to either the family of the President of the United States or money that will go to the President of the United States if his company is in this, you know, blind trust.”

CNN has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on the report and has not yet received a response.

Ivanka Trump also discussed the future of the Trump business empire if her father wins the presidency during an interview on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. Asked what the family would do to prevent potential conflicts of interest, she said that “as a private business, we can make decisions that are not in our best interest.”

“There’s something so much bigger than our business at stake, and that’s the future of this country,” she said. “We can say, you know what, we’ll do less deals, and not going to do that deal even though it’s a fine deal and economically reasonable because it could create a conflict of interest. And we’ll act incredibly responsibly, and my father already said he would put it into a blind trust and it would be run by us.”

The report outlines a series of potential conflicts of interests, from Trump’s dealings with businessmen who have been the subject of government investigations in India and Turkey to his ties to powerful Russian oligarchs.

On “New Day,” Eichenwald explained why Turkey would be problematic for the Republican nominee. He said that a failed business deal between Trump and a politically-connected organzation in the country had created potential tension between Trump and the President Recep Erdogan, who had called the deal a “mistake.”

“What I am being told is that Turkey’s cooperation with the United States, in terms of providing an air base where we are able to launch bombers against ISIS would be at risk if Donald Trump was president,” he said.

And where Trump has suggested significant changes to US foreign policy, the Newsweek report magnified some of Trump’s business dealings.

Trump, who has floated the idea of Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons, maintains an ongoing business relationship with Daewoo Engineering and Construction, according to Newsweek. Daewoo is one of the top South Korean companies involved in nuclear energy projects.

In India, Newsweek raised questions about Trump’s ties to powerful businessmen and political parties in the country, particularly in light of promises from Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to build “a very aggressive pipeline” there with “exciting new projects” to come.

“If he plays tough with India, will the government assume it has to clear the way for projects in that ‘aggressive pipeline’ and kill the investigations involving Trump’s (Indian business) partners? And if Trump takes a hard line with Pakistan, will it be for America’s strategic interests or to appease Indian government officials who might jeopardize his profits from Trump Towers Pune?” Eichenwald wrote.

Eichenwald also discussed potentially problematic connections between Trump and Russian oligarchs under the political umbrella of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One such connection comes from a deal in which the GOP nominee attempted to license the Trump name to an organization in Russia. Eichenwald said that “the head of that organization, who, again, very politically connected, very tied in to the Putin government, backed away from the deal because Trump wanted too much money.”

Trump would undoubtedly have the most expansive and complex international business portfolio of any president in US history, which would bring an added layer of scrutiny to nearly every foreign policy decision Trump would make as president.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sought to jump on the story Wednesday by tweeting 20 questions that they would like Trump to answer about Eichenwald’s report.

“Will you sever ties with your company linked to foreign leaders, questionable organizations, and criminals if you become president,” read the first.

The questions also hit Trump for not releasing his tax returns, his business connections and his ability to separate his responsibilities as president with his businesses ventures.

“How can we be sure you’d be willing to be tough on any nation if necessary, if it would put your interests and profits at risk?” asked another question.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization revealed a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.

In short, because Donald J. Trump would hand over the control of his company that rakes in millions to his children, even with a blind trust as he promised, any policy decision that he would make he would already be aware of any negative or positive impact on his children and their company.

Some of his children are even acting as advisors to his campaign and have helped to write policy proposals, which as they mentioned during the RNC, they plan on continuing in this capacity during Trump’s presidency. This will unquestionably effect their decision-making as the head of a multi-million dollar company, that can skew policy to help their bottom line.

This level of conflict of interest would be undoubtedly seen as a vulnerability by foreign governments who could use the Trump Organization’s interests as leverage in their foreign policies or negotiations with the United States.

Some, but not all, of these concerns could be assuaged if Donald Trump would simply release his tax returns. But to be truly clear of any conflict of interest, as he once suggested of the Clinton Foundation, the Trump Organization should be shut down immediately, contracts canceled, and money returned back to their owners.

It is a long read, but to fully understand the massive scope of this damaging issue, one must read in its entirety.

 

Trump Declares He Would Start a War Over Iranian Ships Bothering American Ships

Donald Trump said Friday night that he would shoot Iranian vessels “out of the water” if they bother American ships.

“Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” the GOP presidential candidate said at a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida.

is comments follow the fifth time in about a month that Iranian boats have harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.

The US Navy has fired defensive warning shots, but not “shot [them] out of the water,” as Trump would like.

Military analysts suspect the Iranian fast-attack craft have been conducting such maneuvers mainly because they are unhappy with the US nuclear deal — an agreement Trump also opposes.

Earlier this week, the real-estate mogul also released his plan for the military if elected president.

It calls for 540,000 active-duty Army soldiers, 350 Navy ships, 1,200 combat-ready Air Force jets, and 36 Marine Corps battalions — numbers he reiterated at the rally Friday night. On the technology side, Trump calls for a modernization of the missile-defense system.

This buildup will likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, according to Military Times.

The US military, Trump said, will be “so strong that nobody’s going to mess with us.”

(h/t Business Insider)

Reality

Get ready for yet another Republican-led war in the Middle East should we elect a President Donald Trump.

It is scary to have a presidential candidate hold a policy of American military aggression, reinstating torture techniques that are proven not to work, while calling for a military buildup, ignoring international laws, and replacing career generals who he disagrees with puts our country on a highly volatile and dangerous path.

Media

Trump Surrogate Rudy Giuliani on War Crimes: ‘Anything’s Legal’ During War

Donald Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani on Sunday claimed that “anything’s legal” during war, including the theft of private property.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Giuliani said that the United States should have seized oil fields in Iraq following the 2003 invasion, to prevent the resource from falling into the hands of terrorists.

It is a position that Trump has argued for years, but it has only garnered serious attention since the former reality TV star became the Republican nominee for president.

Asked why such a move would not amount to theft, Giuliani scoffed. “Of course it’s legal,” he said. “It’s a war. Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”

This is patently false. The seizure of private property in war has been prohibited under international law for more than a century.

That Giuliani, a lawyer and former U.S. attorney, would dismiss decades of international law was unexpected, but it was in keeping with Giuliani’s recent adoption of many of Trump’s most unsubstantiated claims.

The tenor and tone of Giuliani’s media appearances on behalf of Trump have caused a number of his former colleagues to worry publicly that the former mayor of New York is throwing away his legacy.

Giuliani went on to claim that Trump never meant that the United States should have literally removed Iraq’s chief natural resource from the country, only that American troops should have remained in Iraq to ensure it was divided up evenly. “Leave a force back there and take [the oil] and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way,” he told Stephanopoulos.

“If that oil wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have the Islamic State,” Giuliani continued. “That oil is what makes the Islamic State so rich. Had we held that oil, made sure that it was equitably distributed within Iraq, we [could] have some say, some control over the distribution of it.”

For Trump, however, the notion of taking Iraq’s oil has always held an appeal as a sort of plunder. Speaking to Stephanopoulos in 2011, Trump explained: “In the old days, you know when you had a war, to the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it. … You’re not stealing anything. … We’re taking back $1.5 trillion to reimburse ourselves.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Trump has moderated his statements, leaving out the part about Iraq reimbursing the United States for the cost of our blundered invasion of their country.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Reality

Specifically, the Annex to the Hague Convention of 1907 on the Laws and Customs of War, which says that “private property … must be respected (and) cannot be confiscated.” It also says that “pillage is formally forbidden.”

In addition, the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War provides that “any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

For example, when Saddam Hussein (the former authoritarian leader of Iraq who Trump admires) invaded Kuwait in 1990, one of the justifications for international intervention was because Hussein seized and held Kuwaiti oil fields.

Media

Trump Praises Putin Again, ‘A Leader Far More Than Our President’

Donald Trump defended his admiration for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at a forum on Wednesday focused on national security issues, even suggesting that Putin is more worthy of his praise than President Obama.

“Certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said. “We have a divided country.”

The Republican presidential nominee said that an alliance with Russia would help defeat the Islamic State, and when asked to defend some of Putin’s aggressions on the world stage, he asked, “Do you want me to start naming some of the things Obama does at the same time?”

Trump also said he appreciated some of the kind words Putin has had for him. “Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I think I’ll take the compliment, okay?”

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

Donald Trump has engaged in an unsettling bromance with the Russian president, once saying Putin was was world leader he would “get along very well with,” and has since made a lot of pro-Russian stances.

  • Heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well. They did not look good together.”
  • Questioned the need for NATO, which was set up as a check against Russian aggression in Europe, calling it “obsolete.”
  • Declared he would not come to the aide of NATO allies when attacked by Russia if they do not pay.
  • Fought like mad during the Republican National Convention to change the GOP platform to no longer provide arms to Ukraine in their conflict with Russia.
  • Told a conference in Ukraine that their nation was invaded because “there is no respect for America.”
  • Invited Russian hackers to attack his political rival in order to influence the American election.
  • Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, left over revelations that he possibly received millions of dollars in illegal payments from Ukraine’s former pro-Russian ruling party.
  • Incorrectly stated that Russia would never go into Ukraine, when they have been intervening there for the past 3 years.

But in the larger context, make no mistake, Republicans love Russian President Vladimir Putin. No surprises here because in the past, conservatives have heaped massive praise on Putin. Here are just a few examples.

Never-mind that Putin is a human-rights-abusing, political-enemy-killing, tyrant. Putin became the strong authoritarian model they have long desired in a president after 2 terms of “weak” Obama.

Media

MSNBC

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