One of the unique things about American culture is that it is, by and large, not locked in the zero-sum mentality. We don’t see our success as requiring the failure of others, or vice versa. That’s a big part of why there’s not much class envy in the USA. Non-zero-sum means not only that we can create wealth without having to take it from our “betters” but the fact that others have more doesn’t mean we can’t get more as well.
On the other hand, most of the rest of the world seems stuck in the zero-sum view where the only way the USA can get rich is by stealing the money from other nations. Given this viewpoint, it easily follows that the only plausible reason for invading Iraq is mercantilism of some sort, either via looting or colonization (or both). My impression is that this view is fairly common in Europe, which is a partial explanation of why Americans and Europeans can talk right past one another on this issue. To one the idea of mercantalism is obvious while it doesn’t even enter the mind of the other.
With regard to Iraq, this attitude means that America doesn’t see a successful Iraq as a loss for the USA. In fact, I have little doubt that the large majority of Americans view a self-ordered, prosperous Iraq as a win for America. We would be happy to see such an Iraq emerge from the horror of the Ba’ath and the invasion. This is why the concept of the USA colonizing Iraq is so ridiculous. The mercantilist view that our riches require impovershing other countries has no traction on the American Street. Because of this, it would political suicide to promote such colonization because the citizenry is far more likely to view it as a revenue drain than as a revenue source. There isn’t anything there we couldn’t get cheaper and easier by buying it rather than occupying it.
I wonder if it’s also because of the lower esteem of government here. Mercantalism, if Americans thought about it, would be seen as good for government revenues, but Americans much prefer things that are good for their own, personal revenue. A lot more Americans could envision themselves benefitting from a prosperous Iraq than from a colonized one.
If only the rest of the world could realize this.