Gulf war term paper help:
In 1989, the USSR collapsed, bringing down with it the rest of the Communist world. This was a challenge to the US which for the first time found itself presiding over an international world system where it was the only superpower with the responsibility of monitoring and maintaining world peace. The Middle East, one of the hottest spots in the world, was certainly to be impacted by these sudden changes. Saddam Hussein, the tyrannical dictator of Iraq was already making calculations and setting plans to benefit from the changes in the world system.
Saddam Hussein was an American ally during the 1970s and 1980s. In the name of the United States and the Gulf states that were intimidated by the Islamic Revolution, Saddam fought a destructive war against Iran which was threatening American interests in the Middle East. Although Saddam relied heavily on terrorizing his domestic and external enemies, and despite the human rights violations his regime committed during the war with Iran when he used biological and chemical weapons, the US considered him as a basic ally in the region.
After the Gulf War against Iran ended, Saddam turned his aggression against Kuwait. He considered Kuwait to be a part of Iraq that was stripped off during British colonialism. Kuwait itself is a small country with a very small population and a strategically insignificant territory. Yet, this small state is one of the richest Gulf states in oil. By occupying Kuwait, Saddam realized that Iraq would become the most powerful country in the region. He also realized that none of his weak and intimidated neighbors would stand to support Kuwait since his military power was evidently strong. By the time he had made his mind up to invade Kuwait, Saddam Hussein had already involved in long complicated calculations that made such a decision favorable to him.
Saddam Hussein had a number of strategic goals beyond the war. The first of these goals was to overcome the economic difficulties that were arising as a result of his war with Iran. It is true that Iraq had come out victorious against Iran, but the truth is that this victory was more of a defeat, especially that Iraq was left with growing social, economic and political tensions. The $100 billion debt that had accrued over the years was itself a serious problem that could eradicate the Iraqi regime if a solution was not found.
Obviously, Saddam Husssein’s invasion of Iraq was itself strategic step that had its economic, political and social goals. First of all, Hussein wanted to annex Kuwait to Iraq in order to achieve a socio-political gain at home and to divert the growing unrest in the country. Hussein wanted to shift the Shiite and Kurdish unrest against his minority-led regime in order to achieve a strategic gain that would confirm his leadership.
Apart from this socio-political goal, Saddam Hussein was concerned about Iraq’s leadership of the Arab world. This was clear in the tone that he was using in his meetings with the Arab leaders and with various Arab visitors, where he reflected that Iraq was willing to raise the challenge against Israel, and threatening to burn half of Israel if necessary. Saddam Hussein also asserted the fact that he was determined to upgrade the military capabilities of his country in order to match those of Israel, mainly through the development of chemical and other unconventional weapons. Indeed, Iraq had already started such plans long before the war with Iran was over, and among Hussein’s intentions was to use Iran as a field ground for trying these weapons. He did not hesitate, for example, to apply these weapons in Halabja when he attacked the Kurdish rebels.
However, Hussein’s military and political aspirations were faced with a major economic problem, namely the need for funds. While Iraq was falling under a heavy debt that almost reached $100 billion, Saddam Hussein was far from starting economic reforms, especially that his military and political plans were far more demanding. It is important to point out that Iraq was actually shifting military alliances, moving from his French allies whom he grudged for providing Iran with arms sales, to the Soviet bloc where he hoped to get more advanced weapons and at better economic conditions.
The costs of Saddam Hussein’s military arsenal, however, could not be paid from Iraq’s burdened economy, and it was impossible to rely further on debts, especially that international creditors were no longer willing to provide any fund to Iraq if reforms did not start immediately.
Kuwait, however, provided Saddam Hussein with an opportunity to achieve his goals. First of all, it was a small country, and since the world order was still in turmoil due to the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, Saddam believed that he could make an easy victory without paying a price for it. A successful annexation of Kuwait could simply make Saddam Hussein in control of more than 70% of the world oil reserves, thus turning Iraq into a superpower overnight. Furthermore, given Iraq’s military capabilities, it was not likely that any problem or challenge would result, even from Saudi Arabia or other neighboring countries. The only worry came from Israel, which Saddam Hussein wanted to settle accounts with after the attack the Israeli airforce conducted against his nuclear reactor in 1981.
It seems that Saddam Hussein had reasons to believe that the US would not reject such a step on his side. Perhaps he even thought that his old American allies were ready to support his plans. At that, he must have made a fatal miscalculation.
First of all, Europe and Japan, both the United States’ most important allies imported 90% of their oil from the Gulf. Saddam Hussein’s control of Iraq and Kuwait together would make him on top of rich oil supplies, giving him power not only over supplies, but also over global oil prices. Slowly, this could turn Saddam’s regime to one of the richest regimes in the region, and certainly the strongest. Moreover, with his ambitions and Iraq’s large population, Saddam would be leading the region towards new changes, probably leading the Arab countries toward unity, probably by using more force.
However, Saddam’s threat to the sources of power in the Middle East could not be tolerated by the US. More seriously, Saddam’s aggressive messages were particularly directed towards Israel which had in 1982 destroyed his nuclear reactor. Saddam’s possession of unconventional weapons did not only threaten Israel, but also the ability of the US to impose its influence in the Middle East. Therefore, cutting down Saddam’s power was seen as a priority for the Americans.
Obviously, a miscommunication had taken place between the US and Saddam Hussein. On the one hand, the American diplomacy did not seem to understand the messages that Saddam Hussein was propagating, namely that he was going to invade Iraq. As a result, the US looked at the growing tensions between the two countries as a misunderstanding that would not go beyond that limit. However, this proved to be wrong, because Saddam Hussein on his part, misunderstood the American intentions. He believed for a while that the US was actually approving his maneuvers, something which he considered as a green signal for invading Kuwait.
Iraq Invasion of Kuwait:
Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was therefore a result of miscalculations both on the political and military level. Evidently, Hussein’s military prowess gave him a lot of confidence, but what he did not take into consideration was that the US was more concerned about the stability in the Gulf and the preservation of the status quo more than it was concerned about having a new strong ally in the region.
Hussein also failed to realize that the collapse of the Soviet Union was in fact a point against him. He believed that Russia would find in supporting him an opportunity to return to the Middle East as a superpower. However, this calculation again proved to be erroneous because Russia was in drastic need for economic aide from the west, and accordingly, its political decision was already half-paralyzed by these economic considerations. Furthermore, Russia was still emerging after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, and therefore, it could by no means have supported Saddam Hussein in his adventure.
In contrary to Hussein’s beliefs, the Russians actually considered that the invasion of Kuwait was the worst blow that could be rendered to Russian prestige and presence in the region. The reason was that Moscow would not be able to play any role in this conflict which would only contribute to its isolation politically and militarily in the region. Furthermore, if the Iraqi military abilities were to be defeated as eventually happened, this would only render the Russian military prestige a blow since most of Iraq’s military equipment was Soviet made.
As a result, the Russian administration advised Hussein to withdraw immediately because all what it could guarantee him was an honorable withdrawal with the minimal level of sanctions. Hussein, however, was persistent in his inability to read the various political and military indicators and instead, insisted on going on with his plans to the end regardless the consequences.
It might never be known how Saddam actually found the courage to occupy Kuwait, although he knew that the US would never allow him to do so. One interpretation is that Saddam was given a green light from the American administration to invade Kuwait. Saddam might have thought that the American administration was treating him as a very favored ally after his war against Iran. Under any circumstances, by invading Kuwait, Saddam was rendering the US a great favor. He was giving the US administration a very good reason to dispatch their troops and weapons to the Gulf.
In its war against Saddam, the US learned a lot from history. This time, the losses in lives were minimal. Kuwait’s liberty was returned and Saddam was defeated. The only winner in this war was the US. First of all, the US did not pay a dime for the fifty billion dollars cost of the war. Rather, it was Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that paid for American and international support. The American military industry thus made one of its biggest hits in decades. Secondly, American companies were given most of the contracts in reconstructing Kuwait after the war. As a result of this, thousands of jobs were created for Americans, and billions of dollars were cut in deals and contracts in Kuwait, all to be transferred to the American economy. The intervention in Iraq enabled the US to get over its recession by creating new projects and job opportunities for American industries. The war also maintained secured oil imports to the US, Europe and Japan.
Politically, the American gains were much more important. First of all, under an international legitimate coverage from the UN, the US destroyed the power of a very possible threat in the future for American and Israeli interests in the region. Secondly, the US enforced itself as a leading power in the world by gathering and leading the largest armed force since World War II. This image is important for the US, since it would enforce the image of the US as a global policeman.
Furthermore, by keeping Saddam in power, the US maintained a reason to have its troops dispatched to the Gulf area whenever necessary. As long as Saddam remained in power, the US did not have to justify its military presence in the Gulf or the Middle East. In reality, American presence in the Gulf and the Middle East is necessary for other reasons. Most important of all, this presence is a deterring exercise of power by the US against Iran and Russia, as well as against any other power with a political agenda involving challenges the US foreign policies and interests.
Economically, by defeating Saddam, the US protected the oil fields in the Gulf. Such a protection was considered to be necessary for the US for several reasons. First of all, although the US did not depend heavily on Middle Eastern oil, Europe and Japan did. Thus, any threat to Middle Eastern oil would also be an indirect serious threat to American trade and trade partners. It seems at first that the US was very concerned about the fate of Kuwait as a free country. Actually, this is not true, because the US had other political and economic plans in mind.
During the mid 1980s, Kuwait was threatened by Iran which was attacking its oil tankers. The US immediately sent its fleet to the Gulf area to protect the Kuwaiti fleet against Iranian attacks. The US was not serving Kuwait a free favor. As a matter of fact, the US was making all the benefit that could be made from such a situation. First of all, by enforcing its military presence in the Gulf, the US was challenging and harassing Iran, an important aspect of the American foreign policy. Secondly, by protecting the Kuwaiti tankers, the US increased its military presence in the region, hence, embarrassing and intimidating the USSR and other forces against the US. Therefore, during the 1980s, the US intervened to protect its interests, not Kuwaiti interests, and the same happened again in the 1990s.
During the Gulf crisis in the mid-1980s, the US was importing more oil that it ever did before, and about 11.5% of America’s oil came from the Gulf. Hence, protecting American economic sources was a major concern for US policy makers. The American administration to move quickly in order to protect its threatened interests, “The United States sent its navy to protect Kuwaiti tankers from Iranian attack: it inevitably looked as though oil, not principle, was at the head of the American agenda.”
In as much as the American intervention in 1991 to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion raised the applause of Arab and other governments, it also raised more criticism about the double-standard policy adopted by the US towards world nations. In Kuwait, the US was ready to intervene at any price to defeat Saddam and bring peace and order to the region, giving each side its rights. But also in the Middle East, the US was never capable of acting decisively to stop the aggressions and human right violations of its ally, Israel, in the occupied Arab territories. This is understandable, but not from the same perspective the US used in liberating Kuwait, that is, the perspective of freedom and liberty for the nations of the world. Rather, it can be only understandable from a political and pragmatic perspective that puts political, economic and other interests as priorities to action. Since Israel is the most important American ally, and it remains closer to the US more than any other country or ally. The issue is not that the US deals differently with different allies. The issue is that the US applies the laws or does not apply them according to its own interests. Values such as international law, freedom, justice and others are only terms that signify nothing unless they can be used to achieve self-interest goals of American foreign policy. If not, these values are disregarded immediately. If they do, they are used in every manner to make every benefit possible.
The US has involved in wars and confrontations more than any other nation during the twentieth century. Many make think this to be the price the US has to pay to preserve liberty and freedom of world nations. For these, the American illusions of liberty, democracy and human rights are reasons for which a major power such as the US would go to war, have its troops killed and economy damaged. Many tend to believe the American rhetoric on human rights, freedom and other similar values which infatuate the minds of people. But when it comes to reality, disillusion is very difficult. In setting and implementing its foreign policy, American policy makers see their interests on one side, and the whole against them. Considerations of morals or human values are not made. The only consideration that talks is power. Such Machiavellian behaviors in politics are always expected and not surprising, but they are very disappointing since they come from the only major power, the only country that can really maintain democracy and freedom in the twenty-first century, in every corner of the world. The US has declared slogans and banners on democracy and liberty more than any other nation in the world. Yet, the agenda of American foreign policy makers was more concerned with interests than with principles. These principles were only titles under which the US fought its way through to protect its political, economic and other interests in the world.
Apparently, the results were more than shocking to Hussein, especially that his resort to religious and nationalist banners failed, and the US was tremendously successful in uniting the international will under its military leadership to uproot the Iraqi military presence in Kuwait. The consequences of the war cannot be read in terms of an Iraqi defeat, but rather, in terms of regional and international changes.
On the regional level, the Gulf War created a new situation in the Middle East. First of all, the majority of the Arab nations were for the first time siding with the US in a positive action, including Syria which had long been considered as a threat to US policies and interests in the region. This alliance with the US provided the American administration with the ability to play the role of intermediary for peace between the Arabs and Israel, especially that the US was capable of controlling the Israeli reaction to the Iraqi bombardment of Tel-Aviv.
Indeed, it was not long before the historical bilateral peace conferences between Israel and individual Arab countries were held in order to reach a final agreement over the peace. Accordingly, the war and Iraq’s defeat paved the way for reducing Arab radicalism and at the same time, building a path for both the Arabs and the Israelis to initiate a peace process towards a final agreement that could involve normalization of relations.
Implications and Hidden Secrets:
With all its complications and hidden secrets, the Gulf War might be over, but not its consequences. So long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, the region will continue to remain unstable. Only a few years after his defeat, Saddam Hussein reinitiated his mass destruction programs, redirecting most of Iraq’s economic sources to support his military plans. For a country that has been devastated by economic sanctions after the war, such plans are not only serious but also threatening. Whether there is another round of military showdowns in the Gulf or not, is a matter that only time can prove or disprove, but indeed, for those who know enough, not much time.
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