The United States and Iraq War Essay Example
Eight U.S. helicopters took off in the middle of the night, flying over the desert, aiming to take out an Iraqi radar. This initial attack allowed the many aircrafts of Operation Desert Storm to enter Iraq. The Gulf War lasted from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991 and was predominantly a war between Iraq and the United States. The war was ultimately started because Iraq invaded Kuwait over border disputes, which displeased the United Nations and the United States. The Gulf War was fought primarily using air strikes led by the U.S., and as a result, there were few American casualties.
This war was controversial because many Americans did not believe going to war over a Middle Eastern conflict was worth risking American lives. However, President George H.W. Bush viewed Saddam Hussein and Iraq as a substantial threat to international safety after he invaded Kuwait. Before the war, Bush wanted the U.S. to be friendly with Iraq, but after the invasion of Kuwait, President Bush was eager to go to war. His quick change in opinion suggests he had alternative motives for getting involved in the conflict than what he conveyed to the public. The motives of the United States and President Bush for taking military action against Iraq after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait were to benefit themselves rather than Kuwait and the rest of the world.
President Bush wanted to get militarily involved with Iraq after their invasion of Kuwait for his own political gain. The United States was an ally of Iraq and Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, which took place from 1980 to 1988. Despite personally having issues with Iraqi policies, President Bush wanted to remain friendly with Iraq. However, Bush’s opinion on Hussein changed immediately after Iraq invaded Kuwait. April Glaspie, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, met with Hussein on July 25, 1990, a few days before the invasion. She said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.''
Bush also praised Saddam Hussein for agreeing to meet with Kuwait about their differences, which shows that he trusted the Iraqi leader. But after Hussein invaded Kuwait, Bush changed his opinion on Saddam almost one hundred and eighty degrees. Bush went from having “no opinion” to calling Saddam Hussein “Hitler revisited.” Hussein was not the next Hitler because he did not have the power of the WWII Axis forces and his atrocities did not reach Hitler’s magnitude. These exaggerations demonstrate President Bush had different motives for getting involved in this Arab conflict because he was previously trying to be friendly toward Hussein. Bush was motivated to go to war to fix his political image because he had the reputation of being a political wimp.
Bush had been actively trying to change his image to being a forceful leader, as he invaded Panama in the first year of his presidency and overthrew Manuel Noriega. In addition to shifting opinions on Hussein, President Bush did not stay true to his word and remove Saddam Hussein from power after the Gulf War. The United States dominated the Persian Gulf War, and they could have done anything they wanted to with Iraq post-war. One of the main reasons Americans were okay with going to war in the Middle East was because President Bush had led them to believe Hussein would be removed from power after Iraq’s defeat.
According to a poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times where 1031 people were surveyed, sixty-five out of one-hundred Americans thought removing Hussein from power in Iraq justified at least limited military involvement. Bush’s not removing Hussein from power in Iraq signifies one of his motives for going to war was to reap the rewards from a successful military victory. After the war, Bush’s approval rating was very high. From the day the war ended, February twenty-eighth, to March third, his approval ratings were eighty-nine percent. President Bush changed his opinions on Hussein and Iraq, and he did not stay true to his word, which demonstrates he went to war for his own political gain rather than to help Kuwait and the rest of the world.
The United States went to war with Iraq to help assert themselves as the world’s most powerful country and policeman rather than to help the rest of the world. The Gulf War was another event in recent history where the U.S. tried to demonstrate their authority to other countries. If the U.S. wished to accomplish what they claimed they did from the conflict, then there were other ways they could have achieved their goals including using a non-military approach.
According to a projection from the C.I.A., sanctions given by the United Nations would have forced Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait within six months. While these sanctions were harsh and greatly supported across the globe, the United States did not think the sanctions would work and wanted to go to war with Iraq. President Bush had once been the Director of the C.I.A. and therefore should have trusted their counsel. Without trading with countries, Iraq would not have been able to survive because they had one major export, oil, were not an industrial power, and were close to landlocked.
Although minimal, there were U.S. casualties in the Gulf War which could have been prevented altogether if the U.S. had trusted that the sanctions would resolve the conflict on their own. Bush’s priority and any other president’s priority when it comes to international conflict should be to avoid war at all costs. Because he was willing to go to war over the conflict, Bush proved he had the motive of displaying the United States’ and his power. Another reason to suggest the U.S. and Bush had alternative motives for going to war than what they advertised was the U.S. was not dependent on the Middle East for oil. The U.S. considers the Middle East valuable because the region holds two thirds of the world’s oil reserves.
However, at the time, most of the United States’ oil came from Canada and domestically. If the U.S. was not dependent on the region for their oil, then they wanted to help Kuwait for personal gain. The U.S. was also concerned Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia next. This would have led to Iraq controlling a very large part of the world’s oil, but there was no evidence Saudi Arabia would be invaded by Iraq next. Iraq invaded Kuwait over border disputes which had lasted a long time, so if there was no need to protect Saudi Arabia, the U.S. must have wanted to gain something by going to war.
Japan and many European countries got much more of their oil from the Persian Gulf, yet they did not jump at the opportunity to wage war. The United States’ eagerness to go to war shows they felt as though they should be in charge of the Middle East and be the region’s policeman. The U.S. got involved in the Persian Gulf War to demonstrate their authority on the world stage, and they acted like a policeman in the Middle East during this conflict.
Some would argue that the United States needed to go to war to prevent Arab hostility toward the U.S., terrorism against the U.S., and the development of Iraqi Nuclear Weapons. When Saddam Hussein and Ambassador Glaspie met, Hussein was frustrated about the U.S. possibly supporting economic warfare against his country. He said, “We cannot come all the way to the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you.” Saddam Hussein was implying that terrorism could potentially be possible if the U.S. hurt Iraq’s economy. Iraq was also rumored to be creating weapons of mass destruction. The United States claimed they did not have an opinion on inter-Arab conflicts, so they should not have gotten involved in the Iraq and Kuwait conflict in the first place.
However, they got involved, which proves they lied about their beliefs, perhaps-change into a claim wanting to gain authority in the Middle East. Iraq may have had a nuclear program, but they never created nuclear weapons. The United States claimed Iraq was very close to having usable weapons, but the timetable they presented was most likely exaggerated to justify going to war with Iraq. No one knew exactly how far along Iraq was in their nuclear program, a program that was originally created for their own self-defense. Iraq wanted the Middle East to be a nuclear free region, but neighboring countries had nuclear weapons and posed a threat to Iraq’s safety.
The U.S. acted hypocritically in that they were allowed to have nuclear weapons but other countries like Iraq were not. The hypocrisy of the United States angered many people in the Middle East, as did the U.S.’s presence and involvement in the region. The only Arab nations that supported the United State's involvement in the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait were Egypt and Syria, whom the U.S. had influence over.
More Arabs disliked the U.S. after the Gulf War than before, which demonstrates that the war increased the risk of terrorism and Arab aggression toward the U.S. Because of all of these negative impacts, the U.S. should not have gotten involved in the conflict or went to war over it. However, they must have seen an opportunity to gain authority from the situation, as telling countries what they can and cannot do projects authority. Overall, the United States went to war with Iraq not to help Kuwait, but rather to benefit themselves by gaining authority on an international stage.