Persian Gulf War
In August of 1990, Iraqi forces under Dictator Saddam Hussein rapidly conquered and occupied their southeastern neighbor, Kuwait. President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush continually asserted an American and International rejection of Hussein’s invasion, vowing to free the people of Kuwait. Over the next few months Bush amassed an international coalition. Members included nearly all signers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization along with Arab and Muslim states, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Senegal. Bush dispatched just under half a million troops, 1,500 airplanes and eight aircraft carriers to the region in preparation for a counter invasion. Initially Operation Desert Shield, the defense of Saudi Arabia from further Iraqi aggression, and later Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait, proved to be the largest American military mobilization since the Vietnam War.1 The coalition liberated Kuwait with relatively very few casualties. Military command feared a massive destabilization in Iraq and would not allow the magnitude of severe losses suffered by the Iraqi Army.
The war ended quickly with a ceasefire as President Bush refused to send American troops into Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, where American American troops would be caught in the midst of a civil war. Saddam ruled a nation with three separate sectarian Muslim religious groups, the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. Both the Shiites and Kurds threatened to secede from Iraq and form separate and possible warring states. A weakened Iraq would also open the door to increased Iranian and Syrian power in the region. Bush instead opted for promoting an Iraqi national uprising among the disenfranchised Shiites and Kurds. Hussein used what remained of his military forces to crush the uprising re-establishing order. The United Nations implemented a “No Fly Zone” restricting any attempt on the part of Saddam Hussein to deploy aerial aggression, and an economic embargo was placed on Iraq when Hussein violated the cease fire by maintaining stocks of chemical weapons.2