Persian Gulf Crisis


Persian Gulf Crisis Essay, Research Paper

Persian Gulf Crisis

Persian Gulf Crisis, 1990-1991: How Saddam Hussein’s Greed and Totalitarian

Quest for Power Led to the Invasion of Kuwait, World Conflicts and the

Degredation of Iraq

Joseph Stalin. Fidel Castro. Adolf Hitler. Saddam Hussein. These names

are all those of leaders who have used a totalitarian approach to leading a

nation. Stalin and Hitler ruled in the early to mid-nineteen hundreds. Like

Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein is now. Saddam Hussein belongs to the Baath Party

of Iraq. This party adopts many techniques similar to those used by Stalin and

Hitler. Saddam Hussein conceived a plan to invade Kuwait. It was, perhaps, one

of the worst mistakes he could have made for his own reputation and for his

country. The invasion of Kuwait as well as the world’s response to it, the

environmental disaster it caused, and the degradation of Iraq were completely

the fault one man and his government: Saddam Hussein and his Baath Government.

One of Hussein’s weaknesses is negotiating. Negotiating in his terms is

to fight it out with as much carnage as possible until his side comes out

“victoriously”. Repeatedly, Saddam and his government break international

convention laws. During his war fought with Iran, the Iraqi army used chemical

weapons on the Iranian troops and even on their own Iraqi population. This was

seemingly overlooked by the rest of the world because most nations didn’t want

to see the Ayatollah’s Islamic revolution rise. Iraq often obtained foreign arms

support from other nations because of this. It wasn’t until the invasion of

Kuwait that the rest of the world seemed to realize the danger that Iraq posed

to its own people and to the Arab states surrounding it. Through poor planning,

Saddam Hussein made three major mistakes that enabled an easy defeat of the


The first mistake was that he captured all of Kuwait at the same time,

instead of leaving it as a border dispute. This might have kept it from becoming

an international affair. The second error was that Hussein positioned his

troops too close to the Saudi Arabian border. Because of this, other nations

feared that Saddam’s aggression was endless. The third mistake was that Hussein

miscalculated the world’s response. He overestimated the Arab “brotherhood” and

by doing so, didn’t realize that the rest of the world would try to stop him. He

also overestimated his own country’s military power, and believed that he could

annihilate military superpowers like the United States, Britain and France.

Saddam Hussein’s ultimate dream was to possess a nuclear bomb. Most of

the world believed that Iraq didn’t have the resources and materials to

manufacture one. Despite a failed attempt at building two reactors in the late

seventies, Saddam was determined to hold nuclear capability. He tried again in

1989 to purchase three high-temperature furnaces from a New Jersey company,

claiming that they were to be used for prosthetic limbs for Iran-Iraq war vets.

The deal was called off after the company, Consarc, was warned by the Pentagon.

Despite this, Iraq was still rich with weapons. Between 1975 and 1990,

this Arab nation had spent $65 billion in arms [Macleans, June 3, 1991]. In the

five years before the Kuwait invasion, Iraq was one of the world’s largest

purchaser of arms. In those five years, Saddam had bought ten percent of all

weapons sold around the world. By 1990, Hussein’s Iraqi army had 5,500 tanks

(mainly Russian), 8000 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), thousands of various

missiles (ground-to-air), 70 MiG 23s, 25 MiG 29s and 15 Su 24s [Outlaw State,

page 89].

Saddam’s quest for power by now was almost complete, except for nuclear

capabilities and a naval power. Most of this support of foreign arms came during

the Iran-Iraq war, against the Ayatollah’s Islamic revolution. $500 million of

the $65 billion was spent on high-tech equipment purchased from the United

States. It is ironic that some of the missile sites that were set up by the

United States would later become bombing targets during the Gulf War, in 1991.

There were two primary reasons that Saddam Hussein wanted to invade

Kuwait. The first reason was so that Iraq would have a navy and eventually be

classified as a naval superpower because Kuwait situated on the Persian Gulf.

His quest for power would nearly be fulfilled by doing this. Hussein thought

that Iraq would be unstoppable with a navy. The other reason was that the oil

fields could greatly improve the Iraqi economy that had suffered during the

Iraq-Iran war.

It is at this point that his greed comes into picture. Since most

industry had to be stopped during this war, Saddam had a reason to develop a new

military industry. The citizens were glad to support this because of a strong

sense of nationalism that had developed after an Iranian “defeat.” New missiles

were developed including the Scud.

Despite the weapon industry flourishing, the economy became increasingly

worse. Many Iraqis had travelled to Kuwait, which was a country left virtually

unscathed after the Iran-Iraq war. They realized what the Kuwaiti “oil-money”

could buy, for Kuwait had one of the best incomes per capita in the world. Its

major cities were similar to those in North America (such as New York, Los

Angeles and Toronto). A feeling of jealousy arose from this. Kuwaitis were

buying Iraqi land very cheaply because of the crumbling economy. All foreign

purchases of land would soon end.

By the end of 1988 Iraq had defaulted on loan payments to the United

States, Canada, Australia and Britain. They were being rejected time after time

for credit. Saddam required a large and quick influx of money. There was only

one way that Hussein thought that this could be accomplished – to invade Kuwait.

2:03 a.m. August 2, 1990 … Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. A massive

force of 120,000 troops, 1000 tanks, 900 Armoured Personnel Carriers and Mi-24

Hind attack helicopters were used [Beyond the Storm, page 100]. It was all-out

use of military power that showed little mercy. There were many more forces than

were needed to take this small country. The reason for this, (besides Saddam’s

power-hungry characteristics), was that the Iraqis were disillusioned after it

took longer than expected to defeat the Iranians. Hussein was basically doing

this to ensure that the Kuwaitis could not resist. Five days before the

invasion, satellite pictures picked up the formations of Iraqi troops.

Foreign officials had been phoning Baghdad asking for an explanation to

this massive deployment of troops. Hussein insisted that it was merely routine

seasonal exercises and he had no intention of invading Kuwait.

Global conflicts had already begun because of this. The United States

Treasury Department ordered a freeze of all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the

United States (which totalled over $30 billion [Times Magazine, Aug. 29, 1990].

Russia not only did the same but cancelled all future arms sales to Iraq. This

greatly put a hole in their income but the decision gained respect from other

leaders world wide. The United States fell under pressure trying to reach other

foreign leaders before Saddam did. Fortunately, President Bush won this race and

received nearly unanimous support from foreign leaders. Soon after, in the early

months of 1991, the new league of nations formed by the United States gave

Saddam Hussein an ultimatum: either get out and have a chance to survive or stay

in and suffer the consequences of war. He chose to stay, thinking that his

country would come out victoriously against the rest of the world. Little did

Saddam know that choosing to stay would cause Iraq to crumble even more and lead

to disastrous effects on the environment.

Then came the hundred hour ground war. This completely annihilated the

Iraqi strategic capabilities, it’s missile sites, arms factories and advancing

forces. The allied forces flew approximately 100,000 sorties, that averages out

to one bombing run a minute throughout the whole campaign [Beyond the Storm,

page 91]. This month long air campaign broke up the fighting capability of the

Iraqi forces and their morale. When the air attacks did not cause a Kuwaiti

withdrawal, the ground attack began. By surrounding the Iraqis in the desert,

many surrendered. The ones occupying Kuwait City tried to flee but were gunned

down by allies as they tried to leave the city. It was defeat for the Iraqis.

As some of the Iraqi troops left Kuwait, they torched 600 of Kuwait’s

950 oil wells [Outlaw State, page 139]. Black smoke dimmed the sun all the way

to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Black rain fell in the Middle East for months, even

after all the well fires had been put out. Millions of gallons of oil had been

spilled into the Persian Gulf. Wildlife was killed off. Fish died, birds died,

plants died. The oil present in the Gulf was over 250% more than that in Alaska,

years ago [Outlaw State, page 72]. The coastlines were destroyed, covered in

thick black oil. The oil was so concentrated that in some areas of the gulf the

oil was over a meter thick. The coastlines were littered with mines intended to

defend against an attack by the United States Marines that never came. Bodies

littered the streets of Iraq and Kuwait. There was a great rebuilding process

ahead for the Kuwaiti and Iraqi economies.

By invading Kuwait, Saddam had broke promises to three distinct peoples.

To his own people, to his Arab “brothers” and to the rest of the world . He had

promised his citizens of Iraq a better life after the long war with Iran. He had

also promised economic stability. Instead Saddam gave his people unemployment, a

war that destroyed their country, crushed nationalism, and a broken economy. To

his Arab brothers he promised that Iraq would lead them to greatness and develop

a military power that would equal Israel. His military visions led to Arab

attacking Arab on the battlefield. To the world he broke international law after

international law. He repeated himself that he would not invade Kuwait. Many

world leaders believed him and thought of him as a reliable trading partner

until this war.

This proves to many that the Hitlers and Stalins of the world are not

gone from the global scene. Saddam Hussein is a modern day figure modeling these

two. All the negative outcomes of the Persian Gulf crisis were either directly

or indirectly his fault. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein is still the leader of

the now-crumbled country of Iraq. No doubt he will be looking for another quick-

fix to the economic problems Iraq must currently possess. Hopefully, it is not

the same method he used in the invasion of Kuwait.


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