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2 - The Persian Gulf War and Its Aftermath

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2021

Thomas H. Henriksen
Affiliation:
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, California
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Summary

Iraq’s brutal leader Saddam Hussein threatened the Persian Gulf regions for two decades. Soon after coming to power he went to war against Iran in 1980. The eight-year war drained both countries of lives and funds. In search of additional oil wealth, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 to replenish its treasury. President Bush ultimately decided to go to war to repel the Iraqi troops. He forged a multi-national, United Nations–backed coalition and won US congressional approval to expel Hussein’s Republican Guards. The Persian Gulf War featured advanced technological weaponry that utterly vanquished the Iraqi forces as in a Nintendo videogame. The short war contributed to the notion of a Revolution in Military Affairs that promised America easy victories. RMA proved to be no silver bullet against insurgents. The war deepened the Pentagon’s involvement in the Middle East. To protect the rebellious Kurds within Iraq, it established no-fly zones with airpower, which rained down missiles on Iraqi air defenses. This de facto war in the time of peace represented a new version of armed diplomacy. Critically, it set a precedent for future use of aerial drones (pilot-less aircraft) to strike at Islamist militants within countries not at war with the United States.

Type
Chapter
Information
America's Wars
Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War
, pp. 33 - 55
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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