The Persian Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm, was a war that separated good versus evil and what s right from wrong. It was the war that put the greedy and totalitarian Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein versus the American President George Bush. It was the 1st major international conflict since the end of the Cold War years earlier. The events leading to one of history s shortest wars started on August 2nd, 1990 when the first Iraqi tanks crossed into Kuwait, as part of an invasion that claimed Kuwait in less than 24 hours. These tanks were ordered to invade Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi troops took money from Kuwaiti businesses and brutalized Kuwaiti civilians. Saudi Arabia began to fear that they may be invaded too, and on August 6th King Fahd of Saudi Arabia formally asked President George Bush for US military assistance. The US promised to defend the Saudis, and President Bush declared that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait will not stand . Great masses of troops from many different nations were ordered by the United Nations, to protect and serve in the Persian Gulf area. At 4:30 PM EST on January 16, 1991, the first aircraft with orders to attack Iraqi targets was launched from Saudi Arabia, marking the beginning of Operation Desert Storm.
It has always been international law that Dictators like Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to take advantage of smaller countries like bullies after lunch money. There has to be someone to stop them, or they will gain more and more power and land, just like the lessons that the world learned when Adolph Hitler did the same in World War II. That someone who was called on to stop Hussein was the United States, with help, eventually, from a multinational coalition . The US had just cause in entering a war against Iraq because of Iraq’s invasion of the small and defenseless nation of Kuwait. Iraq had no just cause in invading Kuwait. Their reasons for their own benefit. Hussein wanted to control Kuwait because of the wealth Kuwait had in oil and also he wanted better access to the Persian Gulf. Another reason why the United States entered the war was because of the threat that Iraq might declare war on Israel. Israel is one of the US s closest allies.
Days after the invasion of Kuwait the United Nations put an embargo on Iraq that prohibited all trade with Iraq except for medical reasons. At this point all of Iraq s foreign relations were pretty much gone. Iraq had no allies. Following the announcement Iraq declare that they officially annexed Kuwait. At the same time the United States were sending over the first batch of American troops who would be based in Saudi Arabia. Weeks later Iraq began to take any innocent foreigners who were based in either Kuwait or Iraq as hostages. They were all moved to Iraqi military bases and served as human shields to discourage any countries from attacking .
On August 25th, the same month in which all of this started, The United Nation Security Council authorized any military force needed in enforcing the embargo against Iraq. This eventually escalated to the decision by the Security Council to grant permission to the coalition of countries against Iraq, to use all means necessary to kick Iraq out of Kuwait unless the Iraqi forces did not pull out all their military forces by January 15, 1991.
United States congress later voted on whether they would support the permission granted to them. They unanimously agreed. The vote was as good as a declaration of war, as far as legitimate authority is concerned. The January 15th deadline for Iraq was basically set so that the countries could quarter up enough troops and develop a battle plan. The battle plan was not to destroy Iraq s military, but to simply get Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. President Bush planned to get Iraq’s troops out of Kuwait and then stop. He had no intention of carrying the war further. Although Bush probably would have dearly liked to have marched US troops toward Baghdad to destroy Hussein’s government, he did not, because of the risk of heavy casualties, and it would have been a negative representation of a world leader.
The United Nations knew that Saddam Hussein was much too proud of a dictator to pull his troops out of Kuwait by the January 15th deadline. So of coarse he did not remove any troops at all. When the deadline passed the nations had their battle plans all mapped out. What was named Operation Desert Storm by U.S. army leaders like Colin Powell and General Schwarzkopf, officially started at 3 A.M., Iraqi time, on January 17th, 1991 when aircraft bombed parts of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The war started in the air. The Air Force and other allied air craft aimed to destroy Iraq s ability to launch missile attacks and also aimed at eliminating all of Iraq s deadly weapon facilities.
The objectives on the most part were obtained with the help of new technologies. The use of night vision systems and precision guided weapons were first introduced to warfare. The precision warfare enabled the US to launch cruise missiles, like the Tomahawk Missile , from the Persian Gulf and hit a specific target precisely.
Iraq responded to the start of the war by launching inaccurate SCUD missiles to places in Saudi Arabia and Israel. The attacks killed many innocent civilians in both Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iraq wanted Israel to enter the war because they wanted Arab allies. It is well documented that Arabs and Israelis have been at conflict throughout the years. Hussein thought that if Israel entered the war, Arab nations would side with Iraq seeing that the war was another Arab-Israel conflict. Israel would not give in and they remained out of the war.
The coalition against Iraq applied a ground attack against the Iraqis. It was well known that the Iraqis had several hundred thousand poorly trained, poorly equipped, and poorly led troops, while the allied forces numbered about 800,000 professionally trained and experienced troops. After the war in Vietnam it can be said that the US would not have entered into this conflict if they had not clearly known that they would win. Without any doubt, this was a war they could easily win.
On February 24th the ground troops for the coalition forced their way into Iraq and Kuwait. The attack was a mass of different operations executed at the same time in different areas. Iraqi forces proved much too weak for the strong offenses brought by coalition troops. The allied forces ended all Iraqi military operations on February 28. They basically won the entire war in about 100 hours.
On April 6th, Iraq agreed to a cease-fire and the war was official declared to an end on April 11, 1991, by the UN Security Council. Iraq agreed to pay Kuwait for war damages. All of the United States objectives were completed. The Iraqis were forced out of Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia was protected. Iraq lost as many as 100 000 casualties in the war, while coalition forces only lost about 370 soldiers. However, politically, the war may have resulted in a draw. Saddam Hussein is still in control of Iraq, and is still a big threat to the security of the world. The UN decline to forcefully remove Hussein from office.
On the way out of Iraq, Iraqis disposed of many of Kuwait s oil wells by means of setting fire to them. This hazard to the environment was escalated when Iraq dumped as much as 465 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf.
Iraq was in awful state after the war. The bombings by allied troops destroyed many transportation systems, communication systems, hospitals and other important facilities. Many civilians died after the war because of the lack of food and medicine.
Years after the war had ended many veterans of the war complained of physical and psychological sicknesses that they believed were related to their services in the war. The sicknesses were given the name Gulf War Syndrome Symptoms consisted of fatigue, joint pains, and memory loss. Troops cited that their symptoms could have been brought upon when troops destroyed a chemical weapons facility and were possibly exposed to hazardous chemicals . There is people debating that the symptoms are from post-war stress. It is still unknown today what the truths are to the theory of Gulf War syndrome.
The Persian Gulf War was just another prime example of how the United States are the policemen of the world. We entered the war knowing that there was nothing to gain and more to lose. I think that the US used this war to make a statement that the world will remain a peaceful place as long as we remain the superpower of the world.
Mark Grossman Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War Abc-Clio Co. 1995
David A. Deese, Persian Gulf War. World Book Online, http://www.worldbookonline.com/na/ar/fs/aar424190.htm, April 5, 2000
Chronology Of The Persian Gulf War http://www.desert-storm.com/War/chronology.html Desert-Storm.com, 1997
Operation Desert Storm Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Grolier Inc. 1995