Persian Gulf War 1990 91 Thesis

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Persian Gulf War 1990-1991

Why America Became Involved in the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)

Iraq had launched a full-scale attack against Kuwait after claiming the smaller country was undermining Iraqi efforts to keep oil off the world market and, as a result, raise prices. Iraq and Kuwait had been "negotiating" with Saddam Hussein dictating the terms when he launched a surprise attack in August, 1990 and quickly overran Kuwaiti military forces, conquered Kuwait, and then annexed it as part of Iraq (Schellenberg).

The United Nations quickly condemned this illegal act of aggression as did the United States and, as the superpower, it was up to President George H.W. Bush to organize a military alliance against Hussein. Meanwhile, the U.N. attempted to negotiate with Iraq to pull back from Kuwait, but Hussein refused to do so.

Other than the "official" reasons for the Persian Gulf War, there were a couple of others. One was to protect the world's oil supply. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait combined control roughly 30% of that supply. The region contained 65% of the known petroleum reserves in the non-Communist world. Nearly 30% of Western Europe's oil imports originated from the Gulf -- approximately 65% of Japan's. For the United States, in late 1989, the figure for imports as part of petroleum consumption climbed to 52%, with around 18% of those imports -- or nine percent of total consumption -- coming from the Gulf producers. There was no way the U.S. Or the U.N. coalition was going to have the supply threatened (Joyner).

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Also, security considerations as they applied to ensuring access to wellheads, and securing routes to refineries and consumers were critical. The need existed to protect sea lines of communication to and from the Gulf (Joyner).

The second reason was that no one was sure what Hussein would do next. If his intent was to attack Saudi Arabia because of their huge oil reserves, the U.N. And the U.S. wanted to protect the region from that happening.

Thesis on Persian Gulf War 1990 91 Assignment

Other reasons announced by President Bush were to affect the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, to restore Kuwait's legitimate government, to protect the lives of American citizens abroad, and to promote security and stability in the Gulf region (Arkin).

The coalition of countries also wanted to humiliate, roll over, and roll back Iraqi forces into Iraq since they were not certain what Hussein would do after the war. The purpose was to let Hussein know that he had better not try to attack anyone or anywhere else.

Political Pressures

The U.S. Congressional vote to enter a war against Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf was not unanimous. Initially, though President Bush won the vote, there was much political pressure to make sure this didn't "turn into another Vietnam," and that the U.S. didn't get "stuck" in the Gulf (Yetiv). This did affect Bush's withdrawal strategy in that he originally considered completely devastating Iraq's military forces -- once and for all time. The pressure he received from other coalition nations forced his hand in pulling back before that happened. That, and he was concerned about exceeding the U.N. mandate (Yetiv).

There were three main political pressure points for the Bush administration. The first was that Bush had to stop Israel from entering the war after Iraq launched missiles into Israel a couple days after the war started. Second, the U.S. had to accommodate Soviet attempts to fashion a diplomatic solution prior to the opening of the ground war without allowing Saddam to avoid complying fully with the UN resolutions in place. Third, it had to determine at what point to conclude the military offensive against Iraq, as we have mentioned (Pauly).

In the situation with the Soviet Union, Gorbachev escalated his efforts to forge a diplomatic solution to the crisis when the U.S. set in motion plans to conduct the ground war. Two days into the air war, Gorbachev stressed to Bush that a "fundamental victory has been scored" and asked him the purpose of further military action. The U.N. mandate demanded Iraq's full compliance prior to any cessation of military operations. Gorbachev's proposal to Bush was a non-starter -- understandable because Soviet hardliners pushed for a more favorable stance towards Hussein's regime. Gorbachev's political efforts with Bush were all aimed at his own political survival and he saw the Persian Gulf War as a potential foreign policy coup (Pauly).

Little known is the pressure the Joint Chiefs placed on the decision to invade Iraq. The branches of the military are vying for two things always: budget, and priority over the other branches. This pushed them to favor a war option, and in particular for a larger combat role for their branch of the military. It can be said, that, second to Saddam Hussein's actions, it was this inter-service rivalry that placed pressure on the administration and shaped U.S. decisions.

The President

President George H.W. Bush was elected in 1966 and 1968 to the House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas. He later lost his second attempt at a Senate seat in 1970 to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen who defeated the incumbent Yarborough in the Democratic primary. He served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Envoy to communist China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and on the executive board of the Committee on the Present Danger (George H.W. Bush).

In 1980, Bush ran for President, losing in the Republican Party primaries to Ronald Reagan, the former Governor of California. After nearly choosing former President Gerald Ford as his running mate, Reagan selected Bush as his Vice President, placing him on the winning Republican Presidential ticket of 1980. Bush had been many things Reagan had not been, a military man, a life-long Republican, and an internationalist with UN, CIA and China experience (George H.W. Bush). His background makes him one of the most experienced and qualified men to ever hold the office of President of the United States.

How the Persian Gulf War Affected His Presidency

The war was an overwhelming victory for the U.N. Coalition forces, led by the United States. The stated goals were met -- get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The actual outcome matched the pre-war desired outcome. There was some chatter about why "Bush" didn't march into Baghdad and take out Hussein, but that was never part of the plan. Besides this was a coalition of dozens of nations under U.N. charter and that act would have split the alliance.

The war itself was a tremendous positive jolt for President Bush himself, as one might imagine. He committed to the right cause at the right time in world history. He was responsible for making the coalition work. His military commanders directed the operation. The aerial bombing attack did exactly what it was supposed to do in bringing the Iraqi military, communications, and command structure to its knees. The ground attack took only a few days to decimate the Iraqi army. Then it was over and the troops came home. The Bush popularity rating zoomed to about 83% immediately during and after the war (Feldman and Perotti).

The Persian Gulf War led most people to assume that there was no way George H.W. Bush could possibly lose the 1992 presidential election. but, there are always two presidencies when the man sits in the Oval Office -- the domestic president, and the foreign relations president.

President Bush gained much credibility as a "war president" and much respect as he pulled the complex and massive coalition together. However, his domestic pledge not to raise taxes -- "read my lips..." -- caused his downfall when he actually did raise taxes because, in his mind, he thought the domestic and economic situation had changed and a raise in taxes was necessary (Feldman and Perotti). And a mild economic depression from mid-1990 to mid-1991 didn't help his cause. He had also lost a good deal of his own party's support after he had "sided" with Democrats to raise those taxes in 1990. Republicans remembered, and Bush lost his bid for re-election (George H.W. Bush).

Political Realities During 1990-1991

As the crisis deepened, American observers applauded Bush for his skill in building the coalition, but critics, both in the U.S. And abroad, also began to question his strategy. Would economic sanctions suffice to pry the Iraqis out of Kuwait? If so, would the coalition hold together long enough for that to occur, or would military threats be necessary to convince Hussein that he must retreat? Would Bush's insistence on working through the UN backfire? It seemed unlikely that the entire world could be brought to endorse so bold and controversial an action. Not since the Korean War had the UN authorized offensive military action, and then only because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council (Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991).

In the final months of 1990 a strange alliance sprang up in opposition to Bush's policy, consisting of liberals and peace activists on the one hand… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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