The San Francisco Chronicle published an article (fact article, not column) a few months ago. Some particulars:
Iraq has the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia.
Iraq has existing development contracts on their various fields with France, Russia, and China (as I recall).
Two different leading members of the Iraqi National Congress (the exiled-Iraqi want-to-overthrow-Saddam group) were quoted. One said that if they get into power, they would reconsider the existing oil contracts ‘in the interests of the Iraqi people.’ The other specified they would cancel the contracts and open them to American bidding. The members had titles indicating they were high up in the INC–one might have been the president, one the public communications official (memory quite vague here).
End of article; beginning of comment.
So it would not be gratitude after the fact, but a deal struck in advance with our Administration, to have America invade and put them into power.
Actually, given how Nice it would be for the US to be making all the decisions on the enormous oil reserves, the INC may be out of luck, as we don’t need them as they do us. We are going to be running the country; we are going to incur enormous expenses; surely the Administration will require reparations paid in oil; the USA keeps the books; the USA will be getting into further expenses if the existing trends are any indication; the justifications could go on till the oil runs out.
As said earlier, it could break OPEC, as well as putting the Administration’s oil-industry friends into the position of being at the location where underground sources convert into money.
It could be about other things than oil: the USA gets to be an empire; Saddam is evil (but we don’t do this to the other evil regimes); we’re doing this for the stability of the Middle East (?!); it’s revenge for the attempted assassination; etc.
Maybe we’re doing this to install democracy in Iraq, but the Pres in his speech yesterday said Local government, not Democratic government.
Yes, Saddam is disgusting and his people don’t deserve him, and he rewards Palestinian bombers. But.
Given that the USA has not come up with good evidence of most of the charges (links to Al Quaeda; effective WMD; Saddam would hand nukes or bios over to the control of others), there is a vaccuum where the reasons should be, if not oil.