Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump made the rounds on the morning shows on Tuesday, facing backlash over his proposal to bar Muslim immigrants and tourists from the US for the time being.
“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough asked Trump whether the US should send more ground troops to the Middle East to take territory away from the terrorist group ISIS (also known as the Islamic State and ISIL), Trump said “you’d need some ground troops” to knock out the group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.
“Here’s what I’d do,” Trump said. “I’d knock out the capital and I’d knock it out big and strong. I’d take over the oil and I’d keep the oil. … You’ll need some ground troops, yeah.”
Trump then talked about the importance of cutting off ISIS’ sources of wealth.
“The only way you’re going to beat ISIS, Joe, is to take their financing away, to take their money away, and the way you’re going to do that is by banking and by knocking out their oil,” he said.
Scarborough then said that the US is not going to win the fight against ISIS by “carpet bombing,” a partial reference to a statement made by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). and asked Trump specifically whether he would support calls for 10,000 ground troops as part of an international force to fight the jihadists.
Trump danced around the question a bit as he continued to talk about taking ISIS’ oil and making money from it.
“I want to knock out their capital and I want to knock out the oil. And I want to take over the oil, and I want to ring it so that the oil is safe. And we’re going to take the oil. We’re going to give some of the profits of the oil to our wounded warriors and to our veterans and to the families of the people whose family and sons and daughters died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria,” Trump said.
He then said he would support sending 10,000 ground troops to the Middle East to defeat ISIS and would encourage working with other countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“I think it’s wonderful. If Russia wants to drop bombs on ISIS, anybody wants to drop bombs on ISIS, I’m all for them,” Trump said.
Earlier on in the show, Trump suggested that if he had been president before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the World Trade Center might still be standing today.
“I was the one that called Osama bin Laden,” Trump said. “… I would have had Osama bin Laden knocked out, and maybe the World Trade Center, as it was, would have been standing right now.”
Other candidates who are seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016 have also come out in favour of sending more troops to the Middle East to defeat ISIS, while some have stopped short of calling for proverbial boots on the ground.
Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) have come out in support of sending some ground troops to combat the militant group.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) haven’t gone so far as to say they’d put more boots on the ground.
A recent CNN poll showed that 53% of Americans say the US should send ground troops to Iraq or Syria to combat ISIS.
President Barack Obama has deployed some special forces to Iraq and Syria, but has been reluctant to drastically scale up the number of US troops in those countries.
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