John Judis says Obama's "humanitarian" intervention in northern Iraq is actually "all about the oil." Not sure about the "all" but surely "partly" or "mainly."
In portraying American intervention in Iraq as a purely humanitarian effort, Obama is following the script he read from in Libya, when he justified American intervention as an effort to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. In a March 28, 2011 address to the nation, Obama painted the American intervention as a response to “brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis.” Oil was not mentioned, even though Libya was the world’s sixteenth-largest oil producer in 2009 and a major supplier to Europe. But oil was most likely involved, as became clear when, after preventing a massacre in Benghazi, the United States and its coalition partners stuck around to topple the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. If the Obama administration wanted to prevent the world’s peoples from brutal dictators and repressive regimes or from takeovers by terrorist groups, there are other countries besides Libya and Iraq where it could intervene. What distinguishes these two countries is that they are major oil producers.