Term Paper: Causes of the Persian Gulf War

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Persian Gulf War

Causes of the Persian Gulf War

International Level

There are three basic things that can be attributed to the cause of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The first of these things is that Iraq had long considered Kuwait to be a part of Iraq and that led to several confrontations over the years and continued hostility among the countries. It can also be argued that when Saddam Hussein's attempted invasion of Iran failed, he thought that the invasion of his weaker southern neighbors would be an easier feat to undertake (the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), 2009).

The second thing to consider has to do with the rich deposits of oil that spanned the badly defined borders of the country. Iraq always claimed that Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally tapping into the Iraqi oil fields. Unfortunately, Middle Eastern deserts make the definition of borders difficult and this has led to many conflicts in the region over the years (the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), 2009).

The final thing to look at is the fallout from the First Persian Gulf War between Iraq and Iran that strained relations between Baghdad and Kuwait. That war began with an Iraqi invasion of Iran and turned into a bloody form of trench warfare. Kuwait and many other Arab nations supported Iraq in their fight against the Islamic Revolutionary government of Iran because they feared that Saddam's defeat would cause a wave of Iranian led revolution throughout the Arab world. After the war the relations between Iraq and Kuwait went from bad to worse (the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), 2009).

It is believed that Iraq had no real intentions of ever invading Saudi Arabia, but it is felt that America had every intention of finding an excuse to send troops to protect the Saudi oilfields. Since 1950 these oilfields had been an American preserve. These was due to an agreement with the King of Saudi Arabia in which the European oil companies were excluded and U.S. oil companies, grouped together as a.R.A.M.C.O., were given a monopoly. The Gulf was considered to have great strategic importance because it contained more than two-thirds of all the oil exported around the world. It was thought that if war were to break out in the Middle East, the matters at stake would have been solely economic and commercial. The problem would have been the access to the sea and a high price of oil on one side and control of the oilfields and a low price of oil on the other side. This scenario would have been disastrous for everyone involved (Economic Causes of the Gulf War, 2006).

The presence of oil in the Gulf region is definitely seen as one of the leading causes of the Persian Gulf War. In this region oil has been used as a weapon for years. The presence of it has made nations rich while those nations without any have been crippled. This weapon has long been fought over between Iran-Iraq, as both nations have tried to obtain a leadership role in the Middle East (the Gulf War." n.d.).

The area of the Persian Gulf has long been a troubled oil rich area and during the 1980s it was American policy to overlook the brutal ways of the Saddam Hussein regime. The U.S. continued to support Iraq in its long, eight-year bloody war against Iran. The United States found itself following the old principle that the enemies of my enemies are my friends. And Iran was seen as an enemy. But in the end the United States could not overlook the fact that they had a vested interest in the Saudi Arabia oil fields. And when the time came that Saddam Hussein threatened to invade Saudi Arabia, the U.S. found that they had an immediate problem of ensuring that Iraqi forces did not seize the major oil fields of Saudi Arabia and thereby acquire control of approximately 40% of the world's oil reserves. This can be seen as one of the major things on an international level that led to President Bush's declaration of war and the U.S. invasion of the Persian Gulf.

Domestic Level

The general thought is that this war started in March of 2003, but in fact the foundation was laid many years before. The military conflict that involved U.S. troops and Iraq started in January of 1991. The prelude to all of the fighting actually dates back over a hundred years ago when the value of Middle East oil came to be recognized by the industrialized West (Paul, 2005).

The United States use of troops to throw out Saddam Hussein from Kuwait was the beginning of the current conflict with Muslim fundamentalists. This group has been determined for years to force the removal of American troops from all Muslim countries, especially the area of Arabian Peninsula, which they consider holy land. The strategic and historic reasons that the United States has any involvement in the Middle East are vast and complex. Unfortunately the direct reasons that were given to the American people in 2002 and 2003, although precise where not based on facts (Paul, 2005).

The desire to have a regime change in Iraq had been blazing since the first Persian Gulf conflict in 1991. This idea represented a dramatic shift in American policy, since in the 1980s the U.S. had upheld a friendly alliance with Saddam Hussein as they had assisted him in his war against the Iranian Ayatollah. The American people heard no complaints in the 1980s about Hussein's treatment of the Kurds and Shiites, or the brutal war he waged against Iran. It was this policy toward Iraq that played a major role in compelling Saddam Hussein to believe that he had free reign in the Middle East. The results showed the serious inadequacies of America's foreign policy of interventionism that had been in place for over a hundred years (Paul, 2005).

In 1998 Congress along with the Clinton administration overwhelmingly passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which stated that it was now the United States policy to get rid of Saddam Hussein. This resolution has been cited on many occasions as justification for the defensive, deliberate invasion of Iraq although no legitimate national security concerns have ever been cited for this dramatic and severe shift in policy (Paul, 2005).

Shortly after the Bush administration took office in January 2001, this goal of eliminating Saddam Hussein quickly changed into a policy of remaking the entire Middle East, with the beginning being the regime change in Iraq. This aggressive domineering policy surprised many people, since the Bush campaign had indicated that it would pursue a foreign policy of humility, no nation building, reduced deployment of our forces overseas, and a rejection of the notion that we would serve as a world policemen. It only took the 9/11 disaster to proved the push for invading Iraq and restructuring the entire Middle East. Although the plan had existed for years, it was quickly recognized that the fear that had been produced by the 9/11 attacks could be used to assemble the American people and Congress to support this war (Paul, 2005).

The Bush administration repeatedly pushed out alarming information that Saddam Hussein was a threat to America with his weapons of mass destruction, which were thought to mean nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. And since the United States had helped Saddam Hussein obtain biological and chemical weapons in the 1980s, it was assumed that he had maintained a large supply, which in the end turned out not to be true. The American people, reeling from 9/11, easily accepted these fear charged ideas. Over time as these reasons for the war lost credibility and support, other reasons were found for why the war had to continue. As the lone superpower, the Americans believed that they had a greater responsibility to settle the problems of the world for fear that someone else would get involved. There seemed to be this notion that America must fight to spread American goodness. The war was seen as a legitimate moral crusade. It was argued that no one should be allowed to stand in the way and that using force to spread democracy was legitimate and necessary.

Individual Level

The biggest headline of the Bush administration was the Persian Gulf War waged by an international coalition under American leadership. The purpose was to force Saddam Hussein to end his country's hostility against Kuwait. The victory in February of 1991 brought Bush the highest public opinion approval ratings of his presidency. And for a time this overshadowed the controversial questions that had been asked about whether policy mistakes by the United States were partially responsible for the war in the first place (George Bush- the Persian Gulf War, 2008).

The policy that the administration was going to follow was set down in the National Security Directive 26 which was formulated in October of 1989. This directive said: "Normal relations between the United States and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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