War (also now known as the First Iraq War), as the first major
conflict involving the United States since Vietnam proved to be a
catharsis of sorts for the American military and
More on the Gulf War Below
first major conflict involving the United States since Vietnam proved
to be a catharsis of sorts for the American military and public. Just
as the Spanish-American War of 1898 gave the nation a "short
victorious war" following the angst of the Civil War, the Gulf War
lifted the U.S. out of a self-conscious, post-Vietnam malaise.
However, just as the short war of 1898 quickly led to the bloody
the Gulf War's dark legacy soon reared it's ugly head; the Gulf War
Syndrome plagues veterans and the No-Fly
alive the violence and confrontation as a lead-in to the current
Persian Gulf War,
also known in the U.S. as the Iraq
nearly as many links dealing with Gulf
War Syndromeas there are on the war itself. This is not really a surprise,
considering the relative brevity of the war compared to the serious
long-term consequences of the disease from which many veterans
NAMES: The Gulf War (US), Operation Desert Storm (US)
and United Nations (United
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada,
Czechoslovakia, Germany, Honduras, Italy,
Niger, Romania, South Korea)
**UN nations in
denote actual combat
involvement. Israel did not participate in an offensive manner, but
suffered Iraqi missile attacks.
(Jordan, Yemen and the
Palestine Liberation Organization gave moral support to
August 2, 1990 -Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
March 3, 1991- Iraq accepts cease-fire
OF CONFLICT: Inter-State
(Related conflicts that occurred before)
First Persian Gulf War (1980-1988)--AKA "The Iran-Iraq
(Related conflicts occurring at the same time)
There are three basic
causes to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. First, Iraq had long
considered Kuwait to be a part of Iraq. This claim led to several
confrontations over the years (see below), and continued hostility.
Also, it can be argued that with Saddam
invasion of Iran defeated, he sought easier conquests against his
weak southern neighbors.
Second, rich deposits of
oil straddled the ill-defined border and Iraq constantly claimed that
Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally tapping into Iraqi oil fields. Middle
Eastern deserts make border delineation difficult and this has caused
many conflicts in the region.
Finally, the fallout from
the First Persian Gulf War between Iraq and Iran strained relations
between Baghdad and Kuwait. This war began with an Iraqi invasion of
Iran and degenerated into a bloody form of trench warfare as the
Iranians slowly drove Saddam Hussein's armies back into Iraq. Kuwait
and many other Arab nations supported Iraq against the Islamic
Revolutionary government of Iran, fearful that Saddam's defeat could
herald a wave of Iranian-inspired revolution throughout the Arab
world. Following the end of the war, relations between Iraq and
Kuwait deteriorated; with a lack of gratitude from the Baghdad
government for help in the war and the reawakening of old issues
regarding the border and Kuwaiti sovereignty.
Relations Prior to the 1990 Invasion.
Iraq (President Qasim) threatens Kuwait, invoking old Ottoman
claims. Britain supports Kuwait and Iraq backs down.
March- Iraq occupies as-Samitah, a border post on Kuwait-Iraq
border. Dispute began when Iraq demanded the right to occupy the
Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah. Saudi Arabia and the Arab
League convinced Iraq to withdraw.
Kuwait supports Iraq in the First Persian Gulf War with
Amid growing tension
between the two Persian Gulf neighbors, Saddam Hussein concluded that
the United States and the rest of the outside world would not
interfere to defend Kuwait. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded
Kuwait and quickly seized control of the small nation. Within days,
the United States, along with the United Nations, demanded Iraq's
immediate withdrawal. U.S. and other UN member nations began
deploying troops in Saudi Arabia within the week, and the world-wide
coalition began to form under UN authority.
By January of 1991, over
half a million allied troops were deployed in Saudi Arabia and
throughout the Gulf region. Intense diplomacy between U.S. and Iraqi
officials failed to bring an Iraqi withdrawal, so, on January 16,
1991, Allied forces began the devastating bombing of Iraq and her
forces in Kuwait. The Allied bombing sought to damage Iraq's
infrastructure so as to hinder her ability to make war while also
hurting both civilian and military morale. To counter the air attack,
Saddam ordered the launching of his feared SCUD missiles at both
Israel and Saudi Arabia. He hoped to provoke the Israelis into
striking back at Iraq, which he theorized would split the Arab
nations from the anti-Iraq coalition due to the ongoing hostility
between Israel and the Arab world. Israel came very close to
retaliating, but held back due to President George Bush's pledge to
protect Israeli cities from the SCUDs. As a result of this promise,
U.S. Patriot missile batteries found themselves deployed in Israel to
shoot down the SCUDs. Another result of the SCUD launches was to
divert Allied air power from hitting the Iraqi army to hunting for
the elusive mobile missile launchers. Even so, the Allied air strikes
and cruise missile attacks against Iraq proved more devastating than
When the Allied armies
launched the ground war on February 23, the Iraqi occupation forces
in Kuwait were already beaten. Cut off from their supply bases and
headquarters by the intense air campaign, thousands of Iraqi soldiers
simply gave up rather than fight, as the Allies pushed through Iraq's
defenses with relative ease. In the few cases where the more elite
Iraqi forces, such as the Republican Guard, stood and fought,
superior American, British and French equipment and training proved
the undoing of the Soviet-equipped Iraqis.
By February 26, U.S. and
Allied Arab forces, along with the underground Kuwaiti Resistance,
controlled Kuwait City and Allied air forces pounded the retreating
Iraqi occupation army. In southern Iraq, Allied armored forces stood
at the Euphrates River near Basra, and internal rebellions began to
break out against Saddam's regime. On February 27, President Bush
ordered a cease-fire and the surviving Iraqi troops were allowed to
escape back into southern Iraq. On March 3, 1991, Iraq accepted the
terms of the cease-fire and the fighting ended.
1. Saddam's second war of
foreign conquest ended even worse than the first one. Iraq again
stood defeated with the liberation of Kuwait.
2. Despite the crushing
defeat and subsequent Shiite and Kurdish rebellions, Saddam's
government retained a strong grip on power in Iraq.
3. As a result of the
cease-fire terms, Iraq had to accept the imposition of "no-fly zones"
over her territory and United Nations weapons inspection teams
sifting through her nuclear and other weapons programs.
4. The economic and trade
sanctions begun during the war continue to the present day,
contributing to severe economic hardship in Iraq. Some reports say
hundreds of thousands of children have died due to the sanctions.
There are no indications that the government or military suffer undo
5. While the world (and the
United States and Europe), concentrated on Iraq, Syria moved to crush
the last resistance to her de facto control of Lebanon, thus ending
that country's long civil war. It is believed that Syria's President
Assad was given a free hand to deal with Lebanon in return for
joining the war in Kuwait.
6. When Yemen declared
sympathy for Iraq, Saudi Arabia expelled upwards of a million Yemeni
guest workers, causing economic hardship in Yemen and increased
tension between the two neighbors. See Saudi-Yemen
FIGURES FOR THE GULF WAR:
Iraq: Original figures
listed 100,000 Iraqi military dead, but more recent estimates place
Iraqi dead at 20,000 military and 2,300 civilian.
United States: 148 killed
in action, 458 wounded, and one Missing In Action (MIA). Also, 121
Americans died through non-combat incidents.
The one MIA (compared to
1,740 MIA in the Vietnam War), was Navy pilot, Captain Michael
"Scott" Speicher was shot down and was neither rescured, nor was a
body found until, on August 2, 2009, the Pentagon announced that U.S.
Marines stationed in Iraq had found Speicher's remains.
Ironically, or perhaps
intentionally, the Pentagon announced the recovery of Speicher's on
the 19th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, which
occurred on August 2, 1990, and sparked the following 19 years of war
between the U.S. and Iraq.
The Survival of Saddam
- Portrait of Saddam Hussein's life and the secrets behind his
leadership. Features interviews, rare photographs, and Saddam "music
A recent article written by
Seymour Hersh for New Yorker magazine ignited a controversy over the
use of appropriate force by General Barry McCaffrey at the Battle of
Rumaylah. Below are links for further research.
Discussion Network: Principle of
This is a military history discussion group which discussed the Hersh
article and McCaffrey's actions in the war. The general principle of
"what is the appropriate amount of force?" is debated. Click on the
link and then scroll down the page to the discussion thread for
"principle of proportionality."
Iraq Foundation --"is
a non-profit, non-governmental organization working for democracy and
human rights in Iraq, and for a better international understanding of
Iraq's potential as a contributor to political stability and economic
progress in the Middle East."*Descriptive
statement is from the Iraq Foundation website.