by Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and International Relations
This essay last updated February 1, 2012
(Protected by the copyright laws of the United States. Exclusively for the use of students enrolled in Prof. Bowen's Political Science courses at Mary Baldwin College. Not for citation, quotation or other use without written permission of the author; contact: email@example.com)
In 2003, Iraq and the United States fought their second war in the space of twelve years. As in 1991, so in 2003, U.S. military forces decisively prevailed initially on the battlefield. Unlike 1991, in 2003 U.S. Armed Forces (along with key allies, e.g. Britain) did not swiftly withdraw. Instead, coalition forces led by the U.S. removed the Saddam Government from power in Baghdad, and chose to occupy the country. Though legitimized by United Nations resolutions after the war, the U.S./coalition occupation of Iraq in turn became the focal point of diverse insurgents seeking the removal of foreign forces from Iraq. Over the next five years, 2003-2008, over 4100 U.S. soldiers and Marines died, and they were joined by more than 120 British troops and a similar number of U.S. paramilitary contractors who died attempting to suppress this insurgency. By late 2008, the Iraqi insurgents were substantially defeated, and an elected Iraqi Government on December 4, 2008, signed and ratified a formal agreement with the United States recognizing the legitimacy of the U.S. military presence in Iraq until December 2011. On Sept. 1, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama declared the U.S. combat role in Iraq to be over; about 4500 U.S. military personnel overall had died in the effort.
Americans long will debate whether these conflicts were necessary, and no consensus now exists even on the apparently settled matter of whether the war in Iraq was a victory for the U.S.. In terms of U.S. foreign policy, we are forced to ask a somewhat different question: did these military interventions advance U.S. national interests? This reading presents background and analysis to help inform answers to these questions.
The setting of the conflict within a changing international system. Conflicts such as those between the U.S. and Iraq are symptomatic of rising disorder in the global system after the end of the Cold War. Between the late 1940s and the early 1990s, the global international system was dominated by a Cold War of rivalry between the US and the USSR. Dangerous as this system was in terms of the risk of a general thermonuclear war, its de facto rules (Gaddis 1986) restrained client states such as Iraq from engaging in provocations that could escalate to a direct Soviet-American conflict. The concluding acts of this Cold War began to unfold late in 1989, and the pattern in these gave rise to widespread hopes for a new, cooperative basis for international relations in general. Some (e.g., Fukuyama 1989) even saw in the end of ideological conflict the conclusion of humanity's long age of war. These hopes, however, proved to be short-lived.
Structure of the sections of the reading which will follow below. To review the background and course of U.S. relations with Iraq, the reading unfolds in largely chronological sections:
- Prewar: before 1990. We first set the stage regarding the area from earliest times until Kuwait's independence in 1961. In section II below, relations among the US, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait from 1961 until the first outbreak of hostilities in August 1990 are described. A third section then reviews the main diplomatic efforts designed to coerce Iraq into reversing its aggression from that time until January 16, 1991.
- War, 1990-91. War preparations, including a strong U.S. threat concerning Iraq's potential use of weapons of mass destruction, fully are described, as tensions rose in November 1990-January 1991. The role of the U.S. Congress in authorizing military action next concerns us, including its regional and partisan characteristics. Section four discusses the Air War against Iraq; section five summarizes the ground war.
- No war, no peace, 1991-2003. A section six then discusses the aftermath of the first Gulf War, analyzing why the peace terms which were imposed on a defeated Iraq produced a recipe for further international conflict. The revolt by Kurdish peoples in Northern Iraq, and others, and U.S. responses first are considered. Iraq's agreement to destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction, and the belief that it was evading those obligations to the United Nations, produced a crisis in 1997-98 which led to the expulsion of U.N. weapons inspectors.
- The George W. Bush approach. After September 11, 2001, the further management of this impasse through U.N. sanctions and U.S. - British air patrols (and occasional air raids) came to be believed to be inadequate to protect the U.S. Thus, convinced by Pres. Bush that further delay endangered national security, Congress on October 10, 2002 authorized that war with Iraq be undertaken if Bush deemed it necessary.
- The War with Iraq of 2003 and U.S. policy toward the insurgency against its occupation of Iraq are described analyzed in the final section. Its various stages, including the 2007-09 "Surge," are reviewed.
I. Iraq and Kuwait: from antiquities to 1961
U.S. involvement in military conflict with Iraq grew out of a dispute between Iraq and Kuwait in 1990. It is a story that mingles a conflict between two Arab peoples (Iraqis and Kuwaitis) with a related conflict between Arabs and non-Arabs, the Persian peoples of Iran. This section presents historic background of these disputes, and introduces the reader to some of the ethnic complexity of the region.
As early as 5000 BC humans lived in area of Kuwait, but they were Mesopotamians as in Iraq. Around the year 1722 BC, the Utub people, a part of the Arabian Anaiza tribe, migrated and settled near present day Kuwait City. Their migration from the Nejd area of Arabia was precipitated by a drought. The city they founded was known as a "kut" or "fort near water;" etymologically this is the root of the name Kuwait. The area already was inhabited by the Sabah clan. The two groups then intermarried and merged over the following years, growing to a census of about 10,000 within a short time.
The Sabah-run Kuwait was a trading center of both overland caravans and 800 sea-going vessels. However, the area was not fully independent but was a part of the Ottoman Empire, c. 1600 to 1918. Borders of it and of the areas now known as Iraq were vaguely drawn, especially the frontier with Persia/Iran. A key dispute at that time concerned the waterway granting access to the port of Basra (now in Iraq), known as the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. In 1555, 1639, and 1823 a series of treaties between the Turks and Persia attempt to delineate the status of the Shatt.
In 1775, British naval forces established a presence in the area. Persians also continued to encroach on neighboring Ottoman territories now known as Iraq. Russia and Britain mediated and manipulated these quarrels, producing the Second Erzerum Treaty (1847) and the Constantinople Protocol (1913). In the Erzerum Treaty, Persia was given control over Khorramshahr and Abadan Islands (now in Iran), and Persian rights to navigate the Shatt were recognized. No map delineating borders accompanied the Treaty, however. Rather, a Commission was set up to finalize them: in 1869, it produced a map with two separate borders shown with a note saying the "actual border is somewhere in between." The latter Protocols, however, recognized Ottoman rights on both sides of the Shatt, except for a 5 mile area around Khorramshahr, where the median line of the river (i.e., the Shatt) was said to be the border. This agreement never was implemented, as war between Turkey and Russia/Britain led Britain to take under its control Basra and both sides of the Shatt.
Early in the 20th Century, Kuwaiti ruler Sheik Murabak al-Sabah felt endangered from Ottoman aggression and solicited protection from Britain. From then until 1961, Kuwait was both a recognized independent state and one that was informally a protectorate of Britain.
The Kuwait-Iraq border also was vaguely drawn and never formally accepted. It emerged from an agreement in 1913 between the al-Sabah ruler of Kuwait and the Ottoman Empire. In 1918, Britain combined three Ottoman provinces to create Iraq, installing in 1921 the Hashemite Amir Faisel ibn Hussein as ruler. His brother, Abdullah, was appointed by the British as ruler of neighboring Trans-Jordan. Both were sons of Hussein ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, who in 1916 had declared himself King of the Hijaz (now Saudi Arabia). The British directly occupied the Mosul district, an oil rich part of the northern area of Iraq. A League of Nations Mandate legitimized British dominance of Iraq, Kuwait and adjacent areas.
In 1925, Reza Shah established his regime in Iran: he subsequently renounced the Protocols regarding the Shatt. Thus, the primary external threat to Kuwait in the early 20th century was perceived to be from Persia/Iran. The Kuwaiti rulers, therefore, sought to secure their other ill-defined frontiers. In 1922, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to the line which still forms their border, in the Treaty of Uqair.
In 1937, Iran and Iraq signed a treaty. It recognized the Shatt to be open to shipping of all nations, and open to patrol by navies of both nations (i.e., Iran and Iraq). Iran's claim to Abadan Island was recognized. Little dispute over all this occurred in 1937-53, but with the return of the Shah to Iran (1953), Iran pressed its claim that concessions to Iraq of 1937 were imposed by Britain onto Iran by duress. The Shah of Iran then claimed the center of the Shatt to be the rightful border of the entire Shatt. Tensions again rose between Iran and Iraq.
Neither Iran nor Iraq were ethnically homogeneous and, within both states minority populations struggled to realize autonomy, and perhaps independence. This was especially true among the Kurds, a mountain people found throughout the region. Kurdish nationalists were far from docile during the first half of the 20th century. Twentieth century Kurds drew upon thousands of years of cultural identity, and upon concentrated localized majorities in parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They long had sought an independent national entity of their own, separate from all of these existing states. The Kurds have waged a long struggle against outside rule by using force of arms, whether against Safavid rulers of Persia in the 18th century (thus, on behalf of the Ottomans), against the Ottomans (after they began to conscript Kurds to fight on their behalf in 19th Century quarrels in Europe and the Caucuses), against Russian encroachment into Kurdistan (1828-30), against Persians (1877-78), and/or against the continued demands of the Ottoman rulers for tribute (late 19th and early 20th centuries).
In the First World War, Kurds generally supported the Islamic Ottomans in their struggle against the Christian Russians. Locally, this translated into vigorous Kurdish support for the Ottoman campaign to decimate the Christian Armenians, who claimed areas Kurds considered to be Kurdistan. The genocide committed against the Armenians, 1915-16, has continued to exacerbate relations among the states of the region, especially since the end of the Cold War. Today, an independent Armenian state has come to dominate a large portion of the land area of the formerly Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. The process of nation building in Armenia, after 1988, encouraged other effectively stateless peoples of the region (e.g., the Kurdish minority in Turkey and in Iraq) to assert their own claims to a denied right to self determination.
From the outset of the kingdom of Iraq, Kurdish rebels were active advocates on behalf of a restored Kurdistan, especially in 1922-32. A brief hiatus in their revolt took place in the 1930s. Iraqi rulers declared war on Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in January 1943. Using this diversion of Iraqi attention created by World War II as their opportunity, the Kurds undertook a further rebellion against Iraqi dominance over the area they consider "Kurdistan," 1943-45. This rebellion, led by Mustafa Barzani, only was suppressed in 1945 after British Royal Air Force bombing magnified the power of Iraq's Army, which then drove the Kurdish rebels into Iran. British troops were withdrawn from Iraq in October 1947, though a British air force base remained until 1959.
The Iraqi Military Revolution of July 14, 1958, deposing the pro-British monarchy, set in motion new forces throughout the region. The entire Iraqi ruling family was murdered. Initially, the military government of Abdul Karim Kassem accepted Kurdish help; by 1960, however, the Iraqi military rulers, too, were repressing their Kurdish minority. As early as 1961, the Kurds renewed their uprising, creating a real internal security threat which further propelled the Iraqi government to adopt stringent internal security policies. In time, these policies bordered on a totalitarian system.
Shortly after Britain granted Kuwait full independence (1961), Iraq asserted claims to certain Kuwaiti territories: Bubiyan and Warbah Islands and to certain Iranian claims, especially the entire Shatt al Arab waterway. These were territorial claims against both Kuwait and Iran, respectively. Iraq attempted to meddle in Iranian internal politics to add pressure to these claims: in 1963, Iraq granted asylum to a key opponent to Iran's ruling pro-US Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini. He stayed there until October 1978, organizing an Islamic opposition to the modernizing, secular Shah's government and taking full advantage of the porous Iraq-Iran border to introduce radical propaganda to the Shah's peasant and urban working classes, chiefly through audio cassettes of the cleric's speeches.
Inside Iraq, government instability reigned. Col. Abdul Salam Aref, seized power in 1963 but failed to stabilize the situation. Finally, a stable tyranny was established: the Ba'athist Party staged a military-like coup d'etat bringing an end to the Iraqi military government (July 17, 1968). Saddam Hussein, a man who had risen from the lowly status of being one of its many hired assassins by working within this secret conspiratorial Ba'athist Party, became Vice President of Iraq. This party has ruled Iraq ever since: all opposition was banned.
In 1969, the Shah of Iran formally renounced the 1937 Iran-Iraq treaty. Thereafter, Iran aided Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy/independence from Iraq. The US, through the CIA, aided in this subversion campaign. As mentioned above, the Kurds long had struggled against outside rule, and this campaign marked only a further chapter in the manipulation of Kurdish nationalism by others.
II. US-Iraqi-Kuwaiti Relations, 1958-August 1990
Until 1958, US relations with Iraq were cordial, even good. American oil companies helped develop Iraqi oil fields, while Britain (in the main) trained and equipped the Iraqi Royal Army. After the 1958 military coup, relations with the US and Britain soured. Then, in 1961, Iraq menaced and threatened Kuwait and Britain mobilized troops on Kuwait's behalf. To end the crisis, Kuwait agreed to a settlement giving $84 million to Iraq. In the later 1960s, after the Ba'ath Party had seized control of the Iraqi government, further claims against Kuwait were renounced. This moment of generous spirits would prove temporary, however.
All international relations in the Middle East were set into a new dynamic direction in June 1967. As a result of the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab states, the US position in the Arab Middle East was thrown into flux. In particular, Iraq broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. completely. While this war did not directly involve the US, its other friends in the region (e.g., Saudi Arabia) found great displeasure in deepening U.S. support for another of our friends in the region, Israel. The Six Day War had been a rout, creating a bevy of "occupied territories" (link to map) that have remained close to the center of Middle Eastern conflicts. Israel had conquered the Sinai Peninsula (which later was returned to Egypt, after 1979), the Golan Heights (formerly part of Syria), the whole of the theretofore divided city of Jerusalem (which Israel then annexed and declared to be capital of Israel), the Gaza Strip (administered 1948-67 by Egypt; 1967-95 by an Israeli military administration and ruled after 1995 by the new Palestinian entity) and the West Bank (formerly administered and claimed as part of Jordan by Jordan, 1946-74; under military administration by Israel, but not annexed by Israel, until parts were granted autonomy pursuant to the Israel-Palestinian Accord of September 1994). In the aftermath of the rout, however, the mildly pro-Western Arab states (e.g., Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) found common cause with the radically anti-Western Arab states (e.g., Iraq, Syria). They all were unified in opposition to the Israeli military rule over the large numbers of Palestinian Arabs who lived in these formerly Arab-run areas, now dubbed the "occupied territories."
In this atmosphere of declining sympathy with Western "Cold War" ways of viewing regional problems, in 1969, Iraq renewed its claims to the Shatt al-Arab waterway. In this manner Ba'athist Iraq curried favor with Moscow and made matters more difficult for the pro-Western, non-Arab rulers of Iran. Inside Iraq repression ran rampant: deportations of Iraqi Shi'ites --an anti-Iran move-- followed shortly thereafter. Ba'athist Iraq had begun to accumulate power by turning its ethnic diversity into a basis for official hate campaigns, enemies. Deportations of Iraqi Jews --begun in 1958-- continued, and were made more chilling by public executions and a bellicose "anti-Zionist" campaign in the Ba'athist-controlled press. These manifestations ran parallel to similarly renewed campaigns of official anti-Semitism in Poland and the USSR. As if to formalize this drift toward the East, in 1972, Iraq signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the USSR, and completed the final stages of nationalization of all foreign properties associated with the petroleum industry. So bolstered, in 1973, Iraq again threatened to invade Kuwait. Little came of the threat, however.
Matters were less sanguine on other fronts. In 1975, weary of the Iran-backed uprising of its Kurdish minority, Iraq agreed to a peace with Iran known as the "Algiers Agreement." In it, Iraq accepted that only one half of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway is Iraqi; a border line was said to exist at the "deepest water mark" throughout the channel. In exchange, Iran agreed to stop aiding the Kurdish rebels. With a peace of sorts now obliging Iran to withhold support from the Kurds, subsequently Iraq undertook an vicious anti-Kurdish policy: over one half million Kurds were relocated from the border region; 250,000 of these were driven into Iran. Having created sufficient trouble for Iran that the Shah had begun reassessing the Algiers Agreement, Ba'athist Iraq again could turn toward other nearby, weak neighbors. Again in 1976, Iraq again threatened to invade Kuwait.
Change in the late 1970s. The events of 1978-79 substantially altered the regional balance of power in four significant ways. Iran's revolution unleashed a new religious element into the region's politics, and with it US influence ebbed; Soviet power locally increased; and Iraq's governors changed in a more radical direction. Let us look briefly at each. First, in the fall of 1978, widespread rioting in Teheran --sponsored by Khomeini's followers and others-- gave rise to an exodus of middle and upper class Iranians from the area. Early in 1979, the Shah himself fled and his appointed successors could not reestablish order. A radical Islamic fundamentalist regime under Khomeini's leadership began to consolidate itself, and began to call for revolutionary uprisings against all regional states that had not yet experienced political Islam. In the next three years difficult manifestations of this attempt to export revolution were weathered by US allies. Uprisings at Mecca were suppressed, though fully two weeks' fighting appear to have been involved; Pakistani militants burned the US Embassy, but the pro-US military government there nonetheless survived. Nonetheless, politicized Islam had become a worrisome force that menaced traditional authoritarian rulers, especially those with close ties to the US (e.g., Jordan, Egypt).
The US had placed its hopes on demonstrating that it alone could be the peace broker in the region, and had produced some results by engineering the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel (1978-79). In a region more impressed by power than by paper promises, however, the chief effect of Camp David was to alienate Egypt from the rest of the Arab and Islamic states of the region, and to earn for its leader, Anwar Sadat, the enduring contempt of much of his own population. His assassination, in 1981, underlined the high potential costs to rulers inclined toward the American-made route to peace. More impressive in the region was the clear decline in US influence, the second major dimension to the shift in the regional power balance. A US that in 1953 had virtually installed a ruler of its choice in Iran had, by 1978-79, come to be perceived as unable to protect its interests by saving its friend, the Shah. This decline in US influence became still more evident as the US Embassy was seized and diplomats were held hostage, beginning in November 1979.
One month later a third factor that showed change in the regional power balance rolled forward: the Soviet Red Army dispensed with the fiction of local control and simply took over the major cities of theretofore neutral Afghanistan. For the first time, Soviet MIG aircraft now could menace the strategic Strait of Hormuz through which a majority of the oil consumed by Europe and Japan passed.
Unnoted by most observers was the fourth change in the power equation surrounding the Persian Gulf region. Long the real power behind Ba'athist presidents, in 1979 Saddam Hussein declared himself to be its President. Taken together, these four factors had altered the relationship of the key states in the region, and their goals, for Saddam had more than rhetorical plans for his language of conquest. The weakened condition of Iraq's eastern rival, Iran, first would consume his attention. As the pro-US Shah of Iran was overthrown by an Islamic revolution (February 1979), Iraq began to renew its claims on Iran. This escalation of tensions was reciprocated: Iraqi Shi'ite sympathists with the new Khomeini regime began agitation for greater autonomy within Iraq. Terrorist acts by Shi'ite radicals, or perhaps by Kurds, began to hit close to Saddam. Assassination victims included Saddam's brother, the Chief of Security, and many other high officials. Minor border skirmishes began to occur all along the Iran-Iraq border, provocations in which an Iraqi hand appeared obvious.
The American approach to Iraq in the last year of the Carter Administration appears to have been guided by the objective of trying to salvage with Iraq something that clearly had been lost with Iran: a decent relationship. What the Carter team misapprehended there was that, for decent relations to exist, not just one side must be decent. On January 23, 1980, the US Department of Commerce approved the sale to the Iraqi Navy of eight engines manufactured by General Electric corporation, worth $11.2 million, which then prepared to export them to the shipbuilder, Cantieri Navali Riumti, an Italian firm (CQWR 1980: 1519). Two engines were exported. Congress objected to the entire Iraqi Navy engines sale, however, citing terms of the 1979 Export Administration Act that prohibited military exports to states identified as supporters of international terrorism. However, that Act and other acts did not include engines under the list of proscribed equipment. After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war (below), the Administration also came around to the Congressional point of view and elected to block the shipment of the remaining six engines (CQWR 1980: 1519).
Iraq attacks Iran, 1980. Little affected by the prospect of a few minor bits of Western equipment, and secure in his supply of Soviet weaponry, Saddam had big territorial objectives to pursue. On Sept. 17, 1980, the Iraqi president, claiming it was imposed in a moment of weakness, renounced the Algiers Agreement, and claimed the entire Shatt. War with Iran was begun by Iraq in October. Quite unnecessarily --but predictably-- the Iranian Prime Minister immediately threatened to attack all international supporters of Iraq, including Kuwait. The war between Iran and Iraq would last nearly eight years. Sources of military aid to Iraq were diverse. Before the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, 79 percent of all military aid to Iraq came from the USSR and its East European allies, amounting to about $1.46 billion. Other prewar military aid came from Western Europe (19.4 percent), primarily from France (Neuman: 128). Once the war broke out, moderate Arab and Western states --mistakenly viewing Iraq as a bulwark against a more dangerous, fundamentalist Islam-- gave increased aid to Iraq, including French Mirage jets. Brazil, China, Chile also sold arms to Iraq. In the first three years of the war, about $3.3 billion in military equipment aid was granted to Iraq: about 53 percent from the USSR and its East European allies, 29.2 percent from Western European nations, and 17.8 percent from Third World suppliers (Neuman: 130).
The US, however, did not extend any direct military aid in 1980-83, partly because of the disinclination of the Carter Administration (to January 1981) to use military aid as a weapon of influence, and partly due to the impact of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, a statute that then granted to Congress potential veto power over the president's authorized arms exports. However, over $2.5 billion in US economic aid to Iraq, 1981-85, did go to help finance oil pipeline and other industrial development projects. The pipeline projects were of special strategic importance to Iraq, since the real danger of Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf could have deprived Iraq of revenues needed to conduct the war (Europa: 1412).
While the US was significantly affected by threats to the world oil supply, geopolitical concerns appear to have been pre-eminent in the calculation of policy. Some months prior to the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, in the face of the several signs of slippage in the U.S. position in the region, and particularly in response to the December 1979, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter had enunciated the "Carter Doctrine." This January 1980 element in the State of the Union Address stated that "An attack by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (quoted in Levering: 167). Though the immediate context of this statement was the invasion of nearby Afghanistan by the USSR, within nine months Iraq had launched the War against Iran, giving deeper meaning to this enlargement of US commitments in the region.
The Reagan Years. But it would fall to the Reagan Administration, 1981-89, to form the largest parts of the US relationship with Saddam's Iraq. In April 1981, Reagan Administration officials began to signal Iraq of the U.S. intention to improve bilateral relations. During this month, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Morris Draper traveled to Baghdad (April 10-12) to build on a sale of five new Boeing jetliners to the Iraqi airline which was approved by the Reagan team days earlier (CQ7: 277). Shortly thereafter, on April 10, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Morris Draper visited Baghdad and met with Iraqi officials (Diller: 277). This mini-thaw in US-Iraqi relations, however, would falter due to the independent actions of Israel.
The Israeli Raid on Iraq's Nuclear Weapons Program. On June 7, 1981, Israel Air Force jets attacked and destroyed a key Iraqi nuclear research facility and reactor at Osirak. Virtually all nations condemned this preemptive strike (Bowen, 1993: 1116). Though not much appreciated publicly at the time, the Osirak raid ultimately prevented US military operations, 1990-91, from being menaced by Iraqi nuclear weapons. See in particular, then CIA Director (after 2007, Secretary of Defense) Robert Gates' 1992 Congressional testimony, below).
Relations between the US and Iraq were complicated after the Osirak raid. On the one hand, both the US and Iraq sought to contain Iran. On the other hand, as 1982 unfolded, much evidence continued to emerge confirming Iraqi involvement with Palestinian terrorist organizations based in Baghdad. One such Baghdad-based Palestinian terrorist group was the "May 15th Organization." In the early 1980s, Western intelligence agencies learned that the "May 15th Organization" had bombed Western targets in London, Rome, Vienna, Antwerp, Nairobi and Istanbul. In September 1982, this group struck directly at the US when it exploded a bomb on a Tokyo to Hawaii Pan Am flight. Fifteen were injured and one Japanese was killed. Palestinian Mohammed Rashid was due to be tried in Greece in 1991 for this crime at the time war between the US and Iraq broke out (Peterzell: 28). He and the other Palestinian men Greece ultimately convicted of these crimes were never extradited to the US for trial despite strong protests from the Bush and Clinton Administrations; early in 1997, they were released and allowed to freely leave Greece for the destination of their choice.
Despite this clear pattern, for reasons clear only to diplomatic sophisticates, the decision made in February 1982 by the US Department of State to remove Iraq from list of "States which sponsor terrorism" was not reversed (CQA 1990: 722; Dobbs: 1). Pentagon counter terrorism specialists were reported to have expressed outrage at this decision, but were unable to challenge this tilt toward Iraq, as it was made at the highest levels of the Reagan Administration (Peterzell: 30). The Iran-Iraq war had crowded out all other objectives in the region; relations with Iraq would be warmed, whether or not Iraq, in fact, supported terrorism. As one Reagan Administration official working on Iraq (former National Security Council staff person Howard Teicher) later put it in sworn court testimony (Dobbs: 1), "You have to understand the geo-strategic context, which was very different from where we are now... Realpolitik dictated that we act to prevent the situation from getting worse." In order to support Iraq in its conflict with Iran, U.S. assistance required lifting the "terrorist state" label, otherwise, according to Teicher, it would have been "impossible to take even the modest steps we were contemplating."
NSDD 139. The warming of US-Iraq relations continued throughout 1983-84 and this policy was set at the very top of the U.S. administration. On April 5, 1984, National Security Decision Directive 139 (parts of which remain classified) was issued (WP 2003: 2). It called for the U.S. to do whatever was necessary and legal to prevent Iraq's loss in war to Iran. Aid to Iraq appears to have been a key element in the set of policies that both preceded and followed from NSDD 139 (Dobbs: 1). Iraq was declared eligible to participate in the Agriculture Department's short-term credit guarantee program, the Commodity Credit Corporation. During 1983, Iraq purchased $230 million in feed grains, rice and wheat under the program (CQA 1990: 722), and over $400 million overall (Jentleson: 42). In fiscal 1984, $513 million in these loan guarantees were extended to Iraq (Jentleson: 42). Inasmuch as Iraq in those years was dependent on imports for 75 percent of its food supply, U.S. loan guarantees indirectly supported Iraq's war effort in a significant way.
The trend continued in other areas more directly related to Iraq's performance in the war. As part of the U.S. effort to isolate Iran, it long has been known that "Operation Staunch" had been mounted with its aim being a total blockade of transfers of military equipment to Iran. In October 1983, however, a secret NSC study determined that the U.S. ought to, according to one report, "encourage other countries to arm and finance Iraq's war effort" (Sciolino: 166). Whether U.S. encouragement really was needed remains unclear, but as the Iran-Iraq war unfolded it became abundantly clear that some U.S. weapons which had earlier been sold to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt had, in fact, been transferred to Iraq (Jentleson: 45), and that the U.S. then had subsequently re-supplied these countries to make up for the transfers made to Iraq by them (Walt: 226). Satellite images of Iranian troop deployments also were provided to the Iraqis by U.S. officials, perhaps as early as June 1982 (Jentleson: 46), along with other intelligence (Dobbs: 1). While 1992 US Senate study found further "tilting" toward Iraq in 1984 in the form of "limited intelligence" to Iraqi military and intelligence agencies "in order to forestall a total Iraqi collapse in its war with Iran" (Lardner 1992b: 6), other sources have pointed to a much closer intelligence sharing relationship (Dobbs: 1). It is clear that by late 1984, top U.S. officials had for more than a year been informed that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran on an "almost daily basis."
A special Presidential envoy, private citizen (now Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld met separately with Hussein and Tariq Aziz in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. Rumsfeld has denied that his visit had anything to do with helping Iraq defeat Iran, but that denial simply raises more questions regarding what it was that he did talk to Hussein regarding (Dobbs: 1).
Containing Iran surely was a key U.S. goal at the time, however. As early as 1982, according to NSC staffer Howard Teicher, the U.S. had to "prevent the situation from getting worse" for Iraq in its war with Iran (Dobbs: 1). Substantial opportunities to make a profit from the new relationship also appear to have been one additional consideration in the warming of U.S.-Iraq relations. But whether making profits was the central goal or merely an effect of the new policy, some U.S. corporations were made "winners" out of the rapprochement. A $40 million General Electric power plant in Baghdad was completed during 1984. During 1985, the US financed $750 million worth of farm exports to Iraq (Birchall: 81).
There appears to have been a strategic purpose as well. This reliance on strong regional powers --even brutal ones that start aggressive wars as had Saddam's Iraq-- was consistent with a new basic foreign policy doctrine that might be summed up as: don't rely on us. Interestingly, it was articulated just two days after formal diplomatic relations with Iraq were restored. On November 28, 1984, in a speech before the National Press Club, US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger signaled US adversaries that the Pentagon would be reluctant to recommend the direct use of US force anywhere soon. The so-called "Weinberger Doctrine" contained six points, all of which would have to be met before using US armed force: (1) armed force would be used only to protect vital interests of the US or its allies; (2) when the US commits itself to the use of force it must do so wholeheartedly, with the clear intention of winning; (3) troops should be committed only in pursuit of clearly defined political and military objectives, and we should know in advance precisely how the forces committed can accomplish those clear objectives; (4) the relationship between the forces committed --their size, composition, etc.-- and the objectives must continually be reassessed and adjusted if necessary; (5) "before the US commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their representatives in Congress;" and (6) the commitment of US armed force should be the last resort (Historic: 1012-1013). Taken altogether, the "Weinberger Doctrine" reinforced the impression held widely in the Middle East that the US was reluctant to directly engage military force on behalf of its objectives in the region.
Aid to Iraq thus was part of a larger strategy. Though the Iraqis had provided virtually nothing to the U.S. in exchange for these several dimensions of help over the preceding two years(Jentleson: 46-47), two days earlier, on November 26, 1984, full US diplomatic relations with Iraq nevertheless had been restored. Six months later, on June 27, 1985, Congress reauthorized the Export Administration Act, extending it until September 30, 1989. The act delegated to the president the power to block exports to nations' whose foreign policies were detrimental to US national interests, but the explicit requirement that Reagan certify that Iraq was not sponsoring terrorism was dropped from the Act (CQA 1985: 259). Secretary of State George Schultz assured the Congress informally that if such evidence of Iraqi terrorism emerged, the exports would be stopped. Congress was not fully mollified, however. Amendments were attached later that year to the bill appropriating funds to the World Bank which called for no US support for funding to be extended to eight nations, including Iraq, unless the President certified to Congress that such a ban was "contrary to the national interests of the United States" (CQA 1985: 259).
Concurrently, Iraq continued to wage aggressive war. In the six months leading to January 1986, the Iraqi air force repeatedly raided the main Iranian oil export facility of Kharg Island. In a sign of its flagging air capabilities that more broadly might have been appreciated than it apparently was, despite more than 60 bombing attacks, Iraq failed to fully stop the export facility from being usable. The Iraqi air forces were less than superb vehicles for war on economic targets. Recognizing this, Saddam's generals turned to terror, and in May 1986, Iraqi airplanes bombed the Iranian capital of Teheran after an 11 month lull in such raids.
In this context, and according to information received by the Senate during the Fall 1991 confirmation hearings for Robert Gates as CIA Director, it was during this same 1986 that US intelligence assistance to Iraq significantly was expanded beyond the limited information it had been given since 1982. The Senate was told that the US information given was, in 1986, expanded to "enhance Iraq's pursuit of the war" by "providing intelligence and advice with respect to pursuit of the war" (Lardner 1992b: 6). This intelligence sharing relationship continued until mid 1990, though Congressional sources labored to claim that "little substantive information" was provided in that final year.
Explicitly American military aid, however, had not become direct. Indirect aid was another matter. On August 14, 1986, William Schneider, Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, wrote a classified report to Senator Richard Lugar which informed the Congress that Saudi Arabia had transferred to Iraq a quantity of US-supplied "Mk-84" one ton bombs. Such reports to Congress about third country transfers of US weapons were required under the Arms Export Control Act. Department of State spokespeople in 1992 stated that these 1985-86 transfers were made wholly on the initiative of Saudi Arabia, were not part of the policy of "tilting" toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, and that it was "inadvertent" that the Saudis had done this without informing the US in advance as was required under the terms of the US aid which gave Saudi Arabia custody of the US-made bombs in the first place (Goshko: 15; see also LAT: 18). At the time, cloaks of secrecy concealed all aid, direct and indirect. Subsequently, however, Teicher stated in sworn testimony in a court case that the U.S. "actively supported the Iraqi war effort ... by providing military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to make sure Iraq had the military weaponry required. The Chilean company Cardoen also was used to supply Iraq with cluster bombs (Dobbs: )
But if indirect US military aid flowed more generously in the middle 1980s, reciprocal Iraqi cooperation on outstanding thorny issues again was not forthcoming. It was, after all, in 1986, that the Baghdad-based Palestinian terrorists of the "May 15th Organization" bombed a TWA jet to Athens: four US citizens were killed (Peterzell: 30).
The Reflagging Operation. Independent of any direct coordination with Iraq, the US Navy also had taken steps that had the effect of "tilting" toward it in the long conflict with Iran. US ships had been tasked to patrol international waters in the Persian Gulf for the purpose of protecting Kuwaiti owned oil tankers. Further mingling the power of the US with this effort, the Kuwaiti ships had been "re-flagged" so to pass through the Gulf with themselves flying under the US flag. These tankers, while commercial non-military vessels, were conveying oil that produced revenues for Kuwait, a major financial backer of Iraq in the war. To further secure their passage, and the passage of other vessels, US naval forces also had been assigned to clear mines from the sea lanes during this period. Taken along with an embargo of US weapons sales to Iran, and with substantial trade credits granted to Iraq, these actions amounted to a US policy that, overall, "tilted" toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war.
Iraq reacts: The Stark Incident. Other matters, however, impeded further warming in US-Iraqi relations. Secret US arms sales to Iran were revealed to have taken place in a press conference by US Attorney General Ed Meese (November 25, 1986). Popularly remembered in the US as the beginning of the public phases of the Iran-Contras scandal, this revelation angered the Iraqi regime. Six months later, revenge appears to have been taken: on May 17, 1987, Iraqi jets attacked the USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 US sailors. Much diplomatic haze soon was produced, and both sides seemed at first to prefer to let the matter die with the transparent claim that the attack had been an "accident." In the US, however, the debate over foreign policy involves more than the odd sensibilities of diplomats. Iraqi explanations that this incident had been an "accident" had done little to mollify families of the martyrs, especially as months passed and no Iraqi reply was received to the US request for $82.9 million in compensation. Finally, on March 28, 1989, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz offered $29.6 million in payment to settle the claims arising from the Stark incident (CQWR 1989: 714). Saddam, however, later decorated the pilots who had committed the "accidental attack" on the Stark.
In the interim, the larger stalemate in the war, and the exhaustion of both the Iranians and Iraqis from it, had better served the cause of peace. United Nations negotiations to bring an end to the conflict had begun virtually at the outset (i.e., UN Resolution 479 of September 28, 1980 had urged an immediate end to hostilities), but had produced no major steps toward peace. But minor steps had been taken: in June 1984, after both belligerents had agreed not to attack each others' cities, two teams of UN military observers had been posted in Teheran and Baghdad. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, in July 1987, persuaded the five permanent members of the Security Council to adopt UN Resolution 598, which set the terms for UN supervision of a cease fire. The immediate cease fire it called for did not occur, though Iraq immediately had accepted its terms, Iran --which cited "fundamental defects" (U.N. 1990: 326) in it-- had not.
But events of the Summer of 1988 shook even the obdurate Iranians. Particularly, on July 3, 1988, the U.S. warship the USS Vincennes mistook an Iranian airliner for attacking aircraft, and shot it down, killing 290 civilians. Two weeks later, Iran finally notified de Cuellar of its acceptance of UN 598, Iraq reiterated its acceptance, and the Iran-Iraq war soon was concluded, with a cease fire taking effect on August 20, 1988. An approximately 300 man United Nations Iran Iraq Military Observation Group (UNIIMOG) already had arrived in the region to assist in implementing the cease fire; by 1990, the UN contingent performing this function numbered 400. The observations of the cease fire at the front by this force, however, were impeded by the Iranians: no UN aircraft were permitted to fly over the area, observers were permitted only in the company of Iraqi and Iranian flyers in their national aircraft, and, accordingly, neither side permitted flights over areas outside their immediate control. In other words, no real peace unfolded at the Iran-Iraq border despite the presence of UN observers and the support of all of the major powers.
In January 1989, George Herbert Walker Bush became US President. He soon appointed as his National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. It has been alleged that Scowcroft had ties to financial institutions heavily involved with Iraq. The connection was less than direct, but Scowcroft had served as a member of the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates in the 1980s. In 1992, US Representative Henry Gonzalez stated that "On three occasions between 1986 and 1989, Mr. Scowcroft briefed the Banco Nazionale del Lavorno (BNL) board on international political and economic developments" and, with Henry Kissinger met the president of BNL while he attended a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in New York (Lardner 1992c: 6). BNL in the 1980s was one of Iraq's best sources of Western funds.
Early in the first Bush Administration controversy over the continued "warming" toward Iraq swirled within the executive branch, well out of sight of press and Congress. At issue was the development of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. On April 15-16, 1989, A. Bryan Siebert, head of the Office of Classification and Technology Policy of the US Department of Energy, urgently requested Secretary of Energy James Watkins to bring new evidence of Iraq's building of nuclear weapons to the attention of the National Security Council. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence Robert J. Walsh stopped the report from reaching that level of the government, saying later that its concerns were "overstated" (Broad: 5; Hosenball: 24).
Later, in Spring 1992, CIA Director Robert Gates would tell Congress that, had not the Gulf War of 1991 stopped these Iraqi nuclear developments, Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon in 1992. Intelligence agencies "were in error in understanding both the pace and the scale of the Iraqi program," Gates stated (Broad: 5). Indeed they were: in August 1995 the world would learn (Current History 1995b: 351) by Iraq's own admission that the goal date for completing the Iraq nuclear bomb construction originally had been April 1991!
But in 1989, an Iraqi nuclear threat was simply not on the agenda. More pressing were continued fears about Iran, and oil supplies; all this despite the recent Iranian acceptance of the cease fire, and the full withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in February 1989. Typical of the concerns of the early Bush years were those stated to Congress on July 12, 1989 by an US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, who then told the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East that the "US recognizes that the Persian Gulf is an area of vital strategic importance" (Kelly: 45).
Steps taken during the Reagan years to "tilt" toward Iraq so to have it serve to protect "vital interests" began to surface. Later that summer, on August 4, 1989, the FBI and Federal Reserve agents raided the Banca Nazionale del Lavorno (BNL) branch in Atlanta, Georgia, uncovering evidence that it had been the principal source for credit for Iraq during 1984 to 1989. The raid produced evidence of massive fraud in underreporting huge financial transactions involving the government of Iraq (Lardner 1992a: 28). Related to these findings were discoveries in early October 1989 by US Department of Agriculture officials who learned from the Office of Management and Budget that the yearly one billion dollar Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) agricultural export program to Iraq was "riddled with corruption, including kickbacks and bribes demanded by Iraqi government agencies and questionable consulting fees fro Iraqi front companies in the US" (Lardner 1992a: 28). Food shipments to Iraq underwritten by CCC, apparently, were also diverted to other countries, sold, and the profits used to buy weapons for Iraq. Despite receipt of this information, on October 4, 1989, the Agriculture Department approved an additional $400 million line of credit for Iraq under the CCC program. Iraq rejected this credit, saying it was "too low." On October 13, 1989, a State Department memo reviewed the earlier concerns and suggested that Iraq might already have used some of the CCC money "to procure nuclear-related equipment" (Lardner 1992c: 6).
NSDD-26. In early October 1989, National Security Decision Directive 26 (NSDD-26) was issued by President Bush. It called for "pursuit of improved economic and political ties with Iraq" (cited in Lardner 1992a: 28; Jentleson: 94-105). Part of its timing seems to have been intended to clear up the muddled US priorities found in the prior pattern of mixed messages in the bureaucratic dealings with Iraq. A strategy driven by a "logic of accommodation" (Jentleson: 94-105) would continue to guide the US to improved commercial relations with, and improved diplomatic ties to Iraq. With the overall US goal set, Secretary of State James Baker then intervened with Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter and Deputy Secretary Lawrence Eagleburger contacted the critical Treasury and O.M.B. officials. Further reservations about accommodating Iraq would have to be curtailed.
But despite the high level intervention, others in the bureaucracy continued to investigate the Iraq policy for its compliance with U.S. law. On October 20, 1989, a U.S. Customs Service internal report was filed which charged that the B.N.L. Atlanta branch had provided Iraq loans which financed exports of US machinery, chemicals and equipment that might have had military applications. Despite all of this emerging evidence, US agricultural exports to Iraq (which in 1989 equaled more than one billion; Dumas: 1281-2) proved to be more important than reports of scandalous relations. State's Eagleburger, on November 8, 1989, stated the Administration's ruling position in a memo to Treasury and OMB officials, saying that subsidized exports were "important to our efforts to improve and expand our relations with Iraq, as ordered by the President" (Lardner 1992c: 6). On the next day, November 9, 1989, citing NSDD-26, an interagency meeting overcame Federal Reserve, Treasury and OMB objections, and the large credits to Iraq were continued (Lardner 1992a: 28).
Thus, the "tilt" toward Iraq continued over one year after war with Iran ended, and after substantial evidence had emerged pointing toward dangers in the policy. But not without some controversy. The full costs of turning a blind eye to the true character of Iraq then were raised again. In late November 1989, Congress acted independently of presidential policy. Human rights groups had produced credible reports of Iraqi gas attacks on Kurdish civilians within Iraq, especially the March 16-17, 1988 massacre of more than 5000 at Halabja (Amnesty International 1989: 258). Congress responded. It amended the Export-Import Act, adding Iraq to list of nations blocked from Export-Import insurance, unless the Administration cited compelling reasons for a waiver of this ban.
The gesture would prove utterly symbolic, empty: agricultural interest groups in the US brought pressure onto the Administration, and such a waiver permitting exports to continue soon was issued (Kondracke: 9, 12). On January 17, 1990, the Bush Administration signed a waiver permitting resumption of the short-term Export-Import Bank insurance for export payments from Iraq. With the revolving $200 million replenishible supply of US funds underwriting it, agricultural exports to Iraq were able to be resumed because, in the words of the Waiver limiting US exports to Iraq would not be "in the national interest of the United States" (Lardner 1992a: 28). By May 1990, one half of the one billion dollar line of credit had been used by Iraq. Finally, in May, 1990, the Bush Administration canceled the CCC program for Iraq.
While fawning over Saddam continued to set the pace of Bush's Iraq policy in early 1990, division over this pattern of appeasement surfaced still more broadly within the administration. On February 10, 1990, the US Department of State released its annual Human Rights Report. The section on Iraqi practices was highly critical of Iraq. But that same month the larger drift was evident when Federal prosecutors in Atlanta were pulled from the BNL investigation, and interviews with key witnesses in Turkey were canceled, shortly after the Department of Justice in Washington took over the case (Lardner 1992a: 28). (No indictments were issued until Feb. 28, 1991, the day the war against Iraq ultimately ended).
Meanwhile, Iraq's leadership had embarked on a provocative course. On February 24, 1990, at a meeting of the Arab Cooperation Council, Iraq issued verbal attacks against both Kuwait and the West in general. Regarding Kuwait, Iraq demanded debt relief of war debts from the Iranian war, seeking from the Saudis and Kuwaitis $30 Billion to be forgiven, plus a new grant of $30 billion to compensate Iraq for blood losses on behalf of all Arabs (ABC). Regarding the West, Iraq characterized the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf as dangerous and suggested that Arab monies be withdrawn from Western banks. The pro-Western Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak then left the meeting in protest (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
In late February 1990, quite independent of Administration supervision, the U.S. Voice of America broadcast criticisms of Iraq's human rights record, calling for the overthrow of dictators like Saddam (ABC). This apparently angered Saddam further. At diplomatic levels, strain was beginning to appear in U.S.-Iraqi relations, and officials close to President Bush appear to have intervened on Iraq's behalf. On March 5, 1990, a confidential State Department memo stated that important help for continued agricultural credits to Iraq (of $500 million) was given by the NSC after "the Iraqi ambassador complained to General Scowcroft" about obstacles and delays other government departments had instituted to try to stop Iraq's use of US funds for purposes contrary to what those agencies believed to be the deeper U.S. interests (Lardner 1992c: 6).
The record also makes apparent that these special sensitivities to Iraq's purported needs were not isolated only to some executive offices (e.g., the N.S.C.) and departments. When Senators Robert Dole (R-KS), Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) and others met with Saddam later in March, the visit not only was cordial. During it apologies (!) were extended for the February 1990 VOA broadcast (ABC).
The mollifying appears to have had little effect. Within days, Saddam again demanded that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia release Iraq from debt payments then due; demands for new loans and grant also were again made (ABC). During this same month, SCUD missile launchers were moved to the western part of Iraq, near the Jordanian border so better to threaten Israel. On April 2, 1990, Iraq threatened to attack the Jewish nation with chemical weapons (CQA 1990: 724). Finally, on April 2, 1990, the U.S. Department of State responded to the Iraqi threat to burn half of Israel, saying these Iraqi statements were "inflammatory, irresponsible, and outrageous" (Crowell: 1).
Tensions had begun to mount. On April 9, 1990, the Iraqi Government attempted to buy detonators usable for a nuclear bomb; these sales were intercepted and stopped by the US Government (Watson: 26). That same day columnist William Safire wrote an editorial in the New York Times which described Hussein as the "world's most dangerous man." In Congress, on April 25, 1990, Secretary of State James Baker told the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary that the Bush Administration "views very seriously" Hussein's chemical threats and alluded to their nuclear efforts as an additional problem the US intended to prevent from developing (Dumas: 1281-2).
However, the Bush Administration's signals to Iraq were, at best, mixed. The very next day after Baker's hard-line testimony, John Kelly, Undersecretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs publicly opposed any Congressional effort to enact economic sanctions against Iraq, saying these would hamper Bush's ability to be a "restraining influence" on Iraq (Drew and Schwartz: 14). Meanwhile, the US press had begun to focus more on the Iraq problem. On April 28, 1990, for example, columnist Flora Lewis criticized Iraqi links to terrorist organizations and acts (Lewis: 25). Then, on May 4, a second Safire editorial in New York Times criticized U.S. support for Iraq (Safire: 35). In the mainstream press, however, little attention fell on these perceptive writers' views.
Tensions continued to mount in the Middle East. In May 1990, Saddam warned the Kuwaitis that there was "not much time left" in which to settle debt issue and in which to remedy overly low price of oil, which Iraqis blamed on Kuwait (ABC). Again, on May 28, 1990, Saddam's paranoia was in full view as he threatened the West, saying: "if the US and Britain thought their criticism would provide political and diplomatic cover for Israel to attack Iraq, they are mistaken" (Colwell: 8). Neither the threats, nor the erratic qualities of that leader, however, would produce any firm Western response. Instead, under press questioning, State Department spokesperson Margaret Tutweiler stated that "no review on relations with Iraq" was underway, or contemplated (ABC).
It is now clear that the equivocation about Iraq expressed publicly mirrored a similar inattentiveness of the Administration in private. On May 24, 1990, for example, briefing materials prepared for a National Security Council meeting to discuss US relations with Iraq revealed that some in the Administration weighed discontinuing, but that the Administration then did not discontinue, US intelligence sharing with Iraq at this time. Apparently, termination of the intelligence sharing policy "option did not come up at the meeting," but only was proposed in briefing materials (Lardner 1992b: 6). Lesser steps, however, were taken. On May 29, 1990, the Agriculture Department CCC export program to Iraq was terminated after a meeting of the National Security Council deputies' committee. A secret State Department paper prepared for this meeting also listed additional options that could be taken against Iraq. Included among the ongoing US-Iraq contacts that then were extant were activities being undertaken by US intelligence that provided Baghdad "limited information on Iranian military activity that would be missed" if it also were to be canceled (Lardner 1992a: 28). However, it must be emphasized that the intelligence sharing was not then canceled (CQA 1990: 724).
As the tensions in the Middle East grew during Summer 1990, allies urged the US to exercise caution. On June 26, 1990, the Egyptian Government asked President Bush to "give the Arabs more time to solve the problem" of Iraqi demands on Kuwait (ABC). But, independent of Mubarak's efforts, forces locally were further enraging Saddam. On July 11, a mini meeting of the oil ministers of the OPEC cartel flatly rebuffed an Iraqi bid for a rise in the world price of oil (ABC), a measure that Saddam sought in order to recoup losses from the war years. On July 16, at an Arab nations' meeting in Tunisia, the Iraqi ambassador vehemently accused the others of trying to turn back his country's development, trying to "turn our women into prostitutes." In particular, the Gulf kingdoms were accused of a "conspiracy against us." The Saudi Ambassador present there later reported that he felt this to be an irrational outburst, the ravings of a "paranoid" (ABC).
Some focus on the building Middle East crisis occurred in Washington, but not with much sense of the gravity of the situation. On July 16, a top level US inter-agency meeting on Iraq was held in Washington. A Department of State official present therein later reported that the meeting did not even discuss the possibility of an invasion of Kuwait by Iraq (ABC). The next day, July 17, in a "Revolution Day" speech, Saddam publicly blasted Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates calling them "U.S. stooges," and accusing Kuwait of "stealing" Iraqi oil ((Drew and Schwartz: 14). Ominously, Saddam stated publicly that "Arab countries are trying to kill Iraq," warning that "cutting necks is better than cutting a means of life" (ABC).
Israel then attempted to bring the new dimensions of the tension to the Bush Administration's attention. On July 20, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens visited Washington to warn Bush and the Pentagon that Israeli intelligence had learned that Iraq was mobilizing troops for a possible attack on someone. Arens suggested that Israel would be the target, consistent with Saddam's threat earlier to "burn half of Israel" (ABC). Evidence of any serious US reaction has yet to be declassified.
The Glaspie Gaffe. Four days later, on July 24, at the Iraq-Kuwait border two armored divisions of Iraqi troops were deployed. Amazingly, a Department of State statement then issued, in reply to a press question about Iraqi potential for aggression against Kuwait, stated that the U.S. has "no treaties, no defense commitments," to Kuwait. In this context, on the very next day (July 25), U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad April Glaspie was received by Saddam. A transcript of the meeting later was released by Iraq. In it, Glaspie never asked about the mobilization of troops on the Kuwait border. Instead, Saddam finally brought up the issue and stated that the troops were there only to intimidate Kuwait in the ongoing negotiations (Drew and Schwartz: 14). Apparently, Glaspie did not protest; she then left for a scheduled vacation. Other actions (or rather, inactions) suggest Glaspie's conduct was consistent with U.S. policy. That very same day, July 25, consistent with a CIA report showing large-scale buildup of troops on Kuwait border, the Pentagon requested approval for a strong display of U.S. force in the Persian Gulf so to deter Iraqi aggression. The Bush White House rejected this request (ABC).
On this same date, an Arab summit meeting was held. At it, Kuwait agreed to cut oil production, but refused to cancel Iraqi debt unless Iraq formally would give diplomatic recognition to Kuwait as an independent country first. Iraq refused (ABC). Two days later, on July 27, an OPEC meeting rebuffed Iraq's demand for a $25 per barrel charge for oil, but did agree to raise to $21 per barrel their reference price by the end of the year (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
In Congress, on July 29, debate on the floor of both House and Senate urged strict sanctions be imposed on Iraq, including termination of all U.S. agricultural credits. In the halls of Congress, four days prior to the outbreak of Iraqi aggression, the Bush Administration's lobbying opposed the measure (ABC). Yet, even within the Administration, the danger was perceived, but only by some. On that same date (July 29) a CIA Report stated that "invasion of Kuwait by Iraq now is likely." The State Department was reported to have dissented from this view (ABC). Two days later (July 31), Assistant Secretary of State Kelly again testified to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Under questioning of Chairman Lee Hamilton, he again stated that "U.S. has no treaty commitment to Kuwait." BBC International Service then broadcast this verbatim testimony worldwide (ABC). On August 1, a third CIA warning of imminent invasion preparations was given to the National Security Council; US Ambassador Glaspie went on vacation anyway (ABC).
The next day, August 2, 1990, 100,000 Iraqi troops overtook all of Kuwait by land, sea, air. Shortly, Iraq announced that Kuwait was annexed and had become the 19th province of Iraq. By January 1991, 500,000 Iraqi troops controlled the nation. Tardily, that same day, the US finally froze all Iraqi and Kuwaiti government assets in the US and ordered an immediate halt to all trade and financial transactions with the two nations. The U.N. Security Council also condemned the invasion and demanded immediate, unconditional withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait.
III. Crisis in the Gulf: US and U.N. Responses to Iraqi Aggression, August 2, 1990 to January 16, 1991
Summary overview of this section: Conflict with the Saddam regime in Iraq was a major focal point in American foreign policy after 1990. Beginning early in August 1990, global institutions and leading states began to fashion a response to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. Following leadership set in motion by US President George H. W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the United Nations condemned the invasion of Kuwait and authorized numerous responses all of which condemned Iraq. Militarily, the United States assumed the prominent position it long had held during the Cold War era: nearly 200,000 US armed forces soon were poised in the Saudi Arabian desert, deterring further aggression, and preparing for possible military conflict against Iraq. In late November 1990, the United Nations Security Council authorized states opposed to Iraq's conquest to use "all necessary means" (i.e., including military force) to expel the Iraqi aggressors if that nation did not withdraw by January 15, 1991.
Early in January 1991, the US Congress debated the use of US armed force as was indicated in the UN's November action, and as the US Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution demanded. On Saturday January 12, 1991, the US Congress formally granted to a president the authority to undertake military action (i.e., to make war) when it passed House Joint Resolution 658, known as the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution." This resolution legally authorized the use of force, which is tantamount to authorizing war, at any time of President Bush's choosing after 12:01 AM January 16, 1991.
A little more than eighteen hours after that time, Operation Desert Storm began with massive US, British, French, Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti air strikes at Iraqi forces throughout Iraq and Kuwait. After more than a month of this air war, on Saturday February 23, these allied forces mounted a ground invasion of Iraq and Kuwait. In four days, the US and allied armies decisively routed the Iraqi Army, expelling all their forces from Kuwait, and capturing a large portion of Southern Iraq. With victory apparently well in hand, President Bush ordered a cessation of hostilities at 8 AM February 28, 1991 and actual large-scale combat ended around that time. A battlefield ceasefire agreement was inked at Safwan, Iraq (March 3, 1991), but a permanent cease-fire took some weeks to be arranged. On April 11, the UN Security Council received formal Iraqi acceptance of its cease-fire terms as enunciated in UN Security Council Resolution 687; the war formally was over. In its conclusion, however, the seeds of further conflict were planted, a conflict that has vexed American policy makers well into the new millennium.
A. The Initial phase: Deterring Further Aggression, August 2 to November 8, 1990.
If US policy had been too indecisive to deter Iraq before August 2, it soon became far less ambiguous. After meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Aspen, Colorado, on August 5, President Bush drew the line: "this will not stand, this aggression..." Militarily, the US rapidly deployed about 100,000 troops to protect Saudi Arabia from a further Iraqi invasion. Diplomatically, the US assembled a coalition of other nations to participate in this deterrent force, notably Britain, France, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Syria and 23 other nations. In international organizations, beginning on August 2 --the very day of the invasion-- the US secured in the UN Security Council the first of what ultimately would become twelve formal resolutions condemning the Iraqi invasion, demanding their immediate withdrawal, demanding the payment of compensation for damage inflicted, and obligating all nations to cease all trade with Iraq. At the heart of this policy were two activities, each requiring considerable attention: first, to create a defensive military force posture designed to protect Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states; and second, to create a range of military, economic and diplomatic policies to persuade/induce Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. Diplomatic and economic pressure on Iraq was central to these activities. These continued to be the main elements of US policy until after the November 1990 US general elections for a new Congress.
Early on, the US recognized the importance of bringing pressure on Iraq by its former Cold War ally, the USSR. On August 3, the US and USSR issued a joint comunique condemning the Iraqi invasion. Soviet-US consultations would continue throughout the crisis and war. On August 4, the European Community imposed strict sanctions on Iraq. Regional actors were less agreeable. The Arab League also made a August 3 declaration denouncing the invasion, but Jordan, Libya and the PLO abstained from this denunciation. In response to the first round of official diplomatic denunciations, Iraq announced that it would withdraw from Kuwait within two days (Drew and Schwartz: 14). But, no one withdrew.
On August 7, President Bush ordered US military aircraft and ground troops to Saudi Arabia to defend against further Iraqi aggression. Operation Desert Shield was begun at this moment (Drew and Schwartz: 14). In response, on August 8, Iraq announced that Kuwait formally had been annexed and thereafter would be treated as part of Iraq. The next day the UN Security Council declared this annexation "null and void." Iraq then sealed its borders, trapping about 3000 Americans and many thousands of other foreign nationals. They soon became de facto hostages (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
Congress first formally was consulted on August 9. In his first formal approach, Bush wrote a letter to Congress stating that "consistent with the War Powers Resolution" he was notifying the Congress US troops had been deployed to the Persian Gulf, adding his belief that hostilities were not imminent (CRS: 45). The next day, an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo declared by a vote of 12 to 3 that Arab states should send armed forces to Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom. Again, Saddam was unmoved: Iraq announced that all foreign embassies in Kuwait should close by August 24 (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
US naval operations against Iraq began on August 12, when President Bush ordered the interdiction of marine shipping destined for Iraq, consistent with the UN embargo passed to this effect earlier (Drew and Schwartz: 14). In response Saddam equivocated, stating (August 12) that he would withdraw from Kuwait as part of a settlement of all regional "issues of occupation," including Israel in the West Bank/Gaza and Syria in Lebanon (Drew and Schwartz: 14). In another odd initiative, on August 15, Iraq offered a new peace proposal to Iran (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
Three days later, a UN Security Council resolution demanded the release of all foreigners (Drew and Schwartz: 14). Support for opposition to Iraq appeared to be broadening at other levels as well. On August 19, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain allowed US troops onto their soil. France also authorized its navy to join in the enforcement of the trade embargo (Drew and Schwartz: 14).
On August 22, President Bush signaled the American people about the seriousness of the situation when he authorized the call up of 40,000 US military reserves (Drew and Schwartz: 15). In response, on August 24, Iraqi troops began a siege of the US embassy in Kuwait (Drew and Schwartz: 15), allowing no supplies to pass in to the captives led by US Ambassador Nathaniel Howell there. In a clear escalation of the international pressure on Iraq, on August 25, the UN Security Council authorized, in effect, the use of military action when it authorized member states to enforce the trade embargo against Iraq (Drew and Schwartz: 15).
Matters worsened on August 28: Iraq declared Kuwait to be its 19th province, but foreign women and children were announced to be free to leave (Drew and Schwartz: 15). Five hundred fifty did leave on Sept. 1, making clear that all men remaining were Iraq's hostages.
Early in September (i.e., on the 9th), at a summit meeting in Helsinki Finland Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issued a joint declaration that condemned the invasion, and which suggested further steps by the two nations would soon follow (Drew and Schwartz: 15). In a desperate attempt to minimize its growing diplomatic isolation, on Sept. 10, Iraq and Iran formally resumed diplomatic relations (Drew and Schwartz: 15).
After more than a month of rising tensions, on September 11, President Bush spoke to a joint session of Congress, requesting their patience and continued support, vowing that Iraq's conquest of Kuwait "will not stand" (CRS: 36). Three days later, on September 14, Iraqi troops forcibly entered French, Canadian, Australian and Belgian embassies in Kuwait. Several French diplomats were taken hostage; other Westerners were threatened (Drew and Schwartz: 15). The alarming turn of events inside Kuwait had crossed another holy line: the sanctity of diplomatic missions.
The whole crisis set in motion unusual fluidity in international relationships, notably the Soviet-American cooperation that permitted the UN finally to take a leading role in isolating aggressors, a role the Cold War rivalry never had permitted. Indicative of the further levels of this new fluidity was the September 17, announcement that, after a 52 year break in relations, Saudi Arabia and the USSR had restored diplomatic relations. Within America's alliances, even the ordinarily cautious Europeans joined in the action: twelve EC governments then expelled Iraqi military attaches and limited the movements of Iraqi diplomats (Drew and Schwartz: 15).
Within Iraq, tensions rose to a new level on September 23, when Saddam threatened to attack Israel and the Saudi Arabian oil fields if Iraq was to be "strangled" by the economic sanctions and trade embargo. In response, on September 25, the UN Security Council again voted to further squeeze Iraq, passing a resolution that would bar all air travel, except for humanitarian purposes, to Iraq.
Late in September, the exiled Emir of Kuwait met with President Bush, telling him of the pillage of his country and of Iraqi efforts to repopulate it with non-Kuwaitis (Drew and Schwartz: 15). Bush apparently was moved by this presentation. With Administration support, on October 1-2, resolutions supporting the deployment of US troops to the Gulf region, and which reiterated the US demand that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait, were passed by the House (Oct. 1) and Senate (Oct. 2). Throughout September-October, Congressional members were received in private meetings with Bush and his key advisors. In these encounters presidential techniques of persuasion appear to have begun to have had an impact (CRS: 31). Apparently to support this effort to win over Congress people reluctant to fight to restore a monarchy, on October 13, Kuwait's exiled ruler promised exiled Kuwaitis that, once Kuwait would be freed of Iraqi domination, a democratic parliament would be established (Drew and Schwartz: 15).
Iraq then attempted to divide the burgeoning coalition against it. On October 23, Iraq announced that it would free all French hostages. Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath also secured the release of 33 Britons on this date. The equivocal steps by Iraq toward mitigating the crisis were responded to in a similarly equivocal way. On October 29, the UN Security Council voted to establish a framework in which to work to resolve financial claims against Iraq; but the resolution also demanded that embassies in Kuwait promptly be re-supplied with essentials (Drew and Schwartz: 16).
The US Administration appears to have, simultaneously, undertaken steps to insure that no partial solutions would emerge, piece-by-piece. On November 5, US Secretary of State Baker and Saudi King Fahd reached agreement on the command and control structure for any military operations against Iraq. This agreement stipulated that US forces would remain under US command (Drew and Schwartz: 16).
III. B. Preparing for War: November 8, 1990 to January 15, 1991.
With Congressional elections finally behind him, on November 8, President Bush announced his intention to increase the number and quality of US military forces in Saudi Arabia to the point at which he would, at some later date, have "an adequate offensive military option should that be necessary" for use against against Iraq (Drew and Schwartz: 16). Actually, some well informed sources (Woodward: 287) have reported the decision to have been made October 5, then simply kept under wraps until the Fall US elections had ended. Whenever Bush actually made up his mind to up the ante, the new pressure of the threat of force against Iraq also soon was magnified by UN measures which went beyond the extant policy of interdicting sea deliveries so to enforce economic sanctions.
In the November 8 statement, Bush had announced that all troops then in Saudi Arabia would be kept there and would not be rotated out for rest and recuperation. Further, it was announced that these troops would be substantially augmented by increased US and other nations' forces, to bring the total US forces to approximately 430,000 by mid January and the total for the coalition overall to over one half million. Heavily armored US forces from Germany ultimately supplied a major component of this deployment, transferred from that theater of diminishing tensions. This clearly was an aspect of the Desert Shield deployment that would have been impossible had the Cold War remained a live problem.
In response to the build-up of allied troops, on November 19, Iraq announced it would station another 250,000 troops in Kuwait (Drew and Schwartz: 16). Still, Saddam entertained the possibility that he might divide, and thus weaken, his opponents. On November 20, Saddam proposed to release all German hostages (Drew and Schwartz: 16). Within the US, cracks began to appear in the apparent unity of Americans in opposition to the conquest of Kuwait: On this same date in Washington DC's US District Court, 45 members of Congress filed a suit demanding Congressional authorization prior to the launching of any US attack on Iraq (CRS: 24).
President Bush stayed above that fray, electing to visit US troops in Saudi Arabia as part of their Thanksgiving observance. There he warned of the danger to US troops posed by Saddam's nuclear weapons development program (Drew and Schwartz: 16), and urged Americans to support their troops. As he was returning he met in Geneva with Syrian President Hafez Assad (November 23), stating the US would "work with" any nation opposed to Iraq (Drew and Schwartz: 16). Meanwhile, careful diplomatic efforts behind the scenes with US allies and former adversaries, paid off. On November 29, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 678, which authorized members states in the use of "all necessary means" to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. In the UN debate and elsewhere this language explicitly was interpreted to mean that the UN Security Council had authorized the use of armed force, albeit only after a short pause for final attempts at a diplomatic solution. This pause for diplomacy was given by the UN Security Council a deadline of January 15, 1991, after which time member nations were authorized to use "all necessary means."
Bush soon invited Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz to the White House, and offered to send Secretary of State Baker to Baghdad to discuss peace. Iraq responded by letting food and other supplies be delivered to the besieged US embassy in Kuwait (Drew and Schwartz: 16). These gestures appear to have convinced Saddam that he might be able to trade his way out of the crisis for, on December 6, Saddam announced that Iraq would soon release all Western hostages. However, all efforts to begin direct talks between the US and Iraq about the other more basic issues (e.g., the occupation of Kuwait itself) were stymied by Iraq's refusal to meet with US diplomats on any of 12 separate dates proposed by the US for meetings in December and January 3 (Drew and Schwartz: 16).
On December 7, the US State Department announced that the US Embassy in Kuwait would be closed as soon as all Americans wishing to leave the area had been evacuated (Drew and Schwartz: 16). This soon was accomplished and the embassy was closed. The next day, Iraq proposed that Baker meet with Iraqi officials in Baghdad on January 12. The US refused, saying the meeting should occur no later than January 3, 1991 (Drew and Schwartz: 16). Diplomacy --which had seemed a promising avenue early in December-- was going nowhere. Meanwhile, military realities continued to change. On January 2, 1991, NATO announced the transfer to Turkey of 42 jets with German, Italian, and Belgian crews (Drew and Schwartz: 17).
Bush announced (January 3) that he would make "one last attempt" to preserve peace, and proposed a meeting in Geneva between Baker and Aziz on January 7, 8 or 9. The next day, Aziz agreed to a Jan. 9 meeting (Drew and Schwartz: 17). War seemed the alternative to an agreement and some American partners were beginning to display cold feet: on January 6, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia suggested that if Saddam were to withdraw from Kuwait, "no further punishment" would be needed, and that Fahd would then support holding of an international conference on other Middle East peace issues (Drew and Schwartz: 17). In this context of shifting sands in the desert, on January 8, Bush formally proposed to Congress passage of a resolution to authorize the use of force.
Ultimatum and threats of use of weapons of mass destruction. The last diplomatic contact occurred as scheduled on January 9, at Geneva. There Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz finally met with US Secretary of State James Baker, engaging in discussions for six and one half hours. Throughout the day a personal letter from President Bush to Saddam sat on the table, with Aziz adamantly refusing to accept it on behalf of the Iraqi government because of what he termed its overly sharp, undiplomatic ultimatum. Long reported as simply a confrontation over the unpalatable choice of leaving Kuwait or facing war, only some years later did well informed sources assert that the central issue in the Baker-Aziz meeting was weapons of mass destruction. Mangold and Goldberg (290-291) claim that the letter told Iraq that "if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons, the US would retaliate in 'the strongest possible way', and Iraq would pay a terrible price'. Although the word 'nuclear' was never used openly, neither side had any difficulty understanding the sub-text of the message." At the conclusion of this meeting, Baker stated that no evidence of Iraqi intention to comply with the 12 UN Resolutions was given. Further, the Iraqi foreign minister and the Iraq Embassy in Washington DC each separately refused to accept the letter from Pres. Bush to Saddam Hussein which spelled out the US position. More tellingly, in a 45 minute press conference at the close of the Geneva meeting, the Iraqi minister failed even to use the word Kuwait in discussing the issues which had led to the impasse (Baker: 358-359; Drew and Schwartz: 17; and other sources).
Two days later, on January 11, UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar began a final peace pilgrimage to Baghdad, which also ended in failure on Jan. 13. In another clear indication of things to come, the US Department of State then issued travel advisories to US citizens still remaining in the region (Drew and Schwartz: 17).
The Politics of Authorizing War. Throughout the days leading down to January 12, the US Congress engaged in formal debate about going to war. In the end it passed the bill known as the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution," through House Joint Resolution 658 and Senate Concurring Resolution 147. The bill authorized President Bush to initiate war after sending to the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate a written determination of its necessity. It passed 52 to 47 in the Senate, and 250-183 in the House of Representatives. The bill explicitly was consistent with the requirements of The War Powers Resolution of 1973, section 8(a)(1) and 5(b), which require that the US can engage in war only when specific statutory authorization by the Congress for such war-like actions exists. These sections of that 1973 law were specifically cited as the Congress formally delegated the choice to adopt a war policy to President Bush.
In each of the two houses of the US Congress, the coalition which passed this war-authorizing bill was a bipartisan one. The Senate passed the war resolution 52 to 47 at 2:44 PM in the afternoon of Saturday January 12, 1991. Republican Senators strongly supported the resolution, voting 42 to 2 in favor of it. Only Hatfield (OR) and Grassley (IA) opposed the President's war power request. Democrat Senators were more divided, opposing the resolution by a ratio of 10 (in favor) to 45 against. Southern Democrat Senators provided the key support for the war resolution: seven of the ten votes with President Bush were provided by Southern Democrats: Breaux and Johnston of Louisiana, Heflin and Shelby of Alabama, Gore of Tennessee, Graham of Florida, and Robb of Virginia. Northern Democrat Senators voting in favor included Lieberman of Connecticut and Bryan and Reid of Nevada.
A little more than an hour after the Senate vote, at 3:50 PM, the House of Representatives passed the war resolution, authored by Reps. Robert Michel (R-IL) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY), 250 to 183. This vote represented 57 percent of the membership of the House in favor of authorizing the President to have the power to choose go to war. Again, Republican Members of the House more strongly supported the resolution, voting 164 to 3 in favor of it. Again, Democrat Members of the House were more divided, opposing the resolution by a ratio of 86 in favor to 179 against. The final single vote opposed to war was cast by Vermont's sole member of the House, a socialist non-member of either major party.
Top Democratic Party leaders in the House opposed the war request: Speaker of the House Tom Foley (WA), Majority Leader William Gray (PA) and Majority Whip Richard Gephart (MO) all voted against the resolution. However, many key Democratic Party Committee Chairs and other influential Democratic Party members voted with the President to help provide the margin of victory for the war resolution, including: Dante Fascell (FL), Dan Rostenkowski (IL), John Dingell (Mich), Jamie Whitten (MS), Steve Solarz (NY), Dave McCurdy (OK), Murtha (PA), Jack Brooks (TX), and Les Aspin (WI).
As had been the case in the Senate, Southern House Democrats also provided the key support for the war resolution: 52 of the 86 Democratic Party votes with President Bush were provided by Southern Democrats. Pro-Bush votes swept the entire Democratic Party delegations of two states (AL, SC), were in the majority in five others (GA, LA, MS, TN, and TX), and were tied with those opposed in two others (OK, VA). Only in three Southern states did the Democratic Party delegations follow the position of the Democratic Party leaders of the House and oppose the President's war request: AR, FL, and NC.
Allies concurred with this decision. In Britain, the House of Commons voted 453 to 57 to back the war policy of the Conservative Government. All 21 of Britain's national newspapers also voiced support for the British role in the conflict (Frankel: 23).
IV. The Persian Gulf War: The Air War.
At 12:01 AM, Wednesday January 16, 1991, or anytime thereafter at the discretion of the President, the United States legally was authorized to initiate a policy of war against Iraq, both by the U.S. Congress and by the U.N. Security Council. At 6:50 PM EST on that date, US bombers attacked throughout Iraq and the war began. Many Americans witnessed the initial stages of the massive and precise bombing of Baghdad reported live, as ABC and CNN news were maintaining open telephone lines with reporters there as the attack began. A clear picture soon emerged of the devastating accuracy of high-tech US laser guided bombs and cruise missiles. Military installations were demolished throughout Iraq, while civilian casualties were to a great extent minimized. This image persisted despite the fact that within a day of the outset of war, Iraq subjected all US reporting from Baghdad to rigorous censorship. The US military, not subject to Iraq's censorship, released many bombsight video camera tapes which gave vivid testimony to the accuracy and power of US and allied weapons used in the bombing campaign. Meanwhile, Iraq's air force fled the battle or were quickly destroyed. At home in the US, Congressional opposition -- so prominent just days before-- virtually disappeared, reinforcing a public whose support for the war effort grew stronger throughout the campaign. Indeed, in many quarters the 1816 words of Stephen Decatur (quoted in MacKenzie) once again became apt: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong." Americans closed ranks behind their armed forces, conveying to them a strong sense of national unity which helped bolster morale among the fighters. Each increment of the air war briefly will be recounted below.
January 18-19: More than 10 Soviet-made SCUD missiles were sent by Iraq to strike targets inside Israel. (Other Scuds shot at Saudi Arabia were neutralized by US Patriot missiles). In a clear attempt by Iraq to widen the war, nonbelligerent Israel's civilian population centers of Haifa and Tel Aviv were attacked in the missile raids. The aim appears to have been to induce Israel to join in the anti-Iraq attack, producing pressures within Arab coalition partners to quit the war or to switch to Iraq's side. However, Israel's Likud Party leaders (especially Prime Minister Y. Shamir) maintained a policy of restraint and rejected public demands for retaliation. In exchange, the US provided Israel with Patriot anti-missile defense missiles. Without Israel joining the war, Iraq's strategy of provocation produced little gain for the Saddam regime, engendered worldwide sympathy for Israel, and temporarily narrowed the once-great political distance between the Jewish state and the pro-US Arab states. Most importantly, the Arab-Western anti-Iraq coalition held together.
January 20: Allied air bases in Turkey began being used for offensive operations against Iraq. Iraq resumed firing Scuds at Saudi Arabian population centers Dharan and Riayad. US Patriot defense missiles again intercepted the attacking Iraqi missiles.
January 21: In the first four days of aerial combat, US and allied aircraft had flown over 7000 sorties, it was announced. Iraqi television paraded captured US airmen and declared them to soon be relocated to strategic sites to act as human shields. US, French and Italian governments promptly announced that this violated the Geneva Conventions governing the humane treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and that Iraqis so abusing POWs would later be held liable for war crimes.
January 22: Allied bombing of Iraq continued and President Bush threatened Saddam with post-war war crimes trials should captured allied airmen have been mistreated. An Iraqi SCUD missile penetrated through the Patriot defenses and destroyed more than 20 buildings in residential Tel Aviv, Israel, killing three and injuring more than 65. Iraqi occupiers of Kuwait also set afire some of the Kuwaiti oil wells and oil storage facilities on this date. Terrorist bombings occurred against several French businesses in Beirut and Balbeck, Lebanon and against American commercial interests in Istanbul, Turkey.
January 23-31: The punishing Allied air bombardment of Iraq continued, with the US announcing it had achieved "air supremacy" over Iraq by January 30. Of potential significance was Iran's new role: over 85 Iraqi aircraft fled and found sanctuary in Iran, though that government maintained it would keep all Iraqi aircraft grounded for the duration of the war. The war enlarged in other, more minor ways: Terrorists supportive of Iraqi goals set off bombs in Athens, Greece; Spain; and Istanbul. From near Sidon, Lebanon, PLO guerrillas launched unsuccessful rocket attacks on supporters of Israel in Lebanon (e.g., the "South Lebanon Army"); Israel retaliated against PLO sites there, though not against Iraqi SCUD attacks. On January 30-31, Iraq launched an invasion of Saudi Arabia that stalled and was repelled at Khafji; over 40 Iraqi tanks were destroyed. In this battle the first US ground combat casualties were taken: 12 Marines died.
February 1-22: Massive Allied bombardment of strategic sites in Iraq continued, unperturbed by the absent Iraqi Air Force. (Over 140 Iraqi aircraft in all fled to Iran, where they were impounded). Entirely free to select bombing targets at will, the allies proceeded to demolish the infrastructure of Iraq. Transportation facilities, bridges, airports, water and power systems, all communications facilities and most public buildings were destroyed by early February. Intermittent Iraqi SCUD attacks on Saudi Arabia and Israel continued, inflicting few fatalities but creating considerable material damage and sowing fear in those civilian populations. Israel continued to refrain from retaliation. Much effort in the Allied air war by mid-February focused on the bunkered Iraqi troops in southern Iraq and Kuwait. These were subjected to continuous, 24 hour a day bombardment for many weeks. Large percentages of Iraqi artillery, tanks and other key equipment were destroyed. On Thursday February 21, assisted by his key negotiator for the Middle East, Yevgeny Primakov (Prime Minister of Russia, 1998), Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, producing an eight point proposal for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. While claiming to be a plan for an "unconditional" pullback, the Soviet proposal called for a cease fire, called for lifting of UN economic sanctions (authorized August 6, 1990 under UN Resolution 661, 665, and 670) after withdrawal of only two thirds of the Iraqi forces, permitted a 21 day Iraqi evacuation, and called for cancellation of all other UN Resolutions (e.g., 674 which demands Iraq pay compensation to those damaged by their actions in Kuwait). Each of these elements were defined to be unacceptable by the Bush Administration which, on the next day issued an ultimatum to the Iraq government demanding that proper Iraqi authorities formally announce and on the ground commence withdrawal by noon EST of the next day, Saturday February 23, 1991. The Bush ultimatum provided only for a seven day evacuation; too short a time for Iraq to escape with much of its armored power.
V. The Persian Gulf War of 1991: The Ground War.
Washington heard no authoritative Iraqi commitment announcing it would submit to President Bush's final ultimatum. Thus, in the evening (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) of February 23 the ground war began. In a series of lighting, coordinated across-border tank invasions and airborne helicopter-ferried raids deep into southern Iraq, Allied forces knifed through Iraqi defenses, enveloped others and crushed all they encountered. Deception played a key role: no major amphibious invasion occurred, though sea-based US Marines feigned this, forcing Iraq to deploy oceanfront defenses far away from the actual invasion. Air support continued decisively to magnify the power of the Allied ground assaults. Within three days more than 30,000 Iraqis had surrendered; by war's end, 65,000 (estimated) Iraqis were prisoners. More significantly, at the conclusion of the fourth day of ground war much of Iraq's army had been destroyed. This section of the reading recounts the major features of this stunning military victory by the US and its allies.
The ground war featured penetration of Kuwait by the full coalition's forces, and of Iraq, by the U.S., Britain and France. A series of coordinated but separated armored forces accomplished these invasions under heavy air cover supplied by the allied air forces. Coastal Kuwait was penetrated by the US first and second Marine divisions, Egyptian, Saudi and Kuwaiti-exile forces. Deception played a key role: a feigned attack on the Wadi al Batin canyon was executed by the US First Cavalry. This caused nearby Iraqi forces to misjudge the real thrust of the attack until it was too late to avoid being encircled. This encirclement of the entire Iraqi contingent in Kuwait, the real thrust of the attack, was accomplished by a massive invasion into Southern Iraq. Its main thrust had two components which, in net, encircled the Iraqi forces to their Southwest and West. A Syrian and Egyptian contingent also invaded the southwestern corner of Kuwait. Taken in combination with the closure of escape routes to the north owing to the destruction of all bridges on the Euphrates river during the preceding air war, the invasion of Southern Iraq effective blocked all lines of the Iraqis' retreat. Once this noose was tightened, US and allied air power combined with tanks and artillery on the ground to annihilate disorganized, fleeing Iraqi units and to root out dug in forces that failed to flee. Capitulation or death were the only choices left to the Iraqi Army.
Instrumental to the US-allied victory was the Seventh Corps. The Seventh Corps attacked southern Iraq well to the west of the westernmost point of the Iraq-Kuwait border. This contingent included US 3rd Cavalry, the US 2nd Armored Division and the British 1st Armored Division; it numbered over 100,000 men. The Seventh Corps blocked the Iraqi Republican Guard from advancing on the coastal invasion while also preventing their retreat to the west.
To the north and west of the Seventh Corps were two further Allied elements. The 24th Mechanized Infantry proceeded toward Nasiriyah, Iraq, further blocking Iraqi retreat up the Euphrates River valley (also to the west). The 82nd Brigade, along with French units advanced to the Iraqi city of As Salman, effectively blocking any Iraqi counterattack from the north and west. Both of these elements formed reserves that could come to the aid of the Seventh Corps as it attacked, prevented the retreat of, and ultimately destroyed the Republican Guards.
Thus, in the first three days of the war, the Allies penetrated through Iraqi defenses, encircled all of their remaining elite units and blocked the retreat toward Baghdad of all Iraqi forces in the entire region. Faced with imminent destruction of his armies, Saddam ordered his forces to withdraw from Kuwait early Tuesday Feb. 26. But the Bush Administration refused to accept these gestures as a sufficient basis to call a cease fire. While White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater assured all that unarmed Iraqis moving north would not be attacked, the Allied war continued to be prosecuted against all armed Iraqi units, whatever their location or direction of movement. Later on the 26th, Vice President Quayle echoed Gen. Douglas MacArthur's 1951 speech to Congress when he summed up the buoyant optimism of the time, telling a New Jersey crowd that "Saddam will have to accept our terms.... There is no substitute for victory."
On February 27th, Saudi and Kuwaiti forces liberated Kuwait City, after US Marines had retaken the airport. Outside the city, Iraqi armor and stolen civilian vehicles --all crammed full of looted goods-- formed a crowded traffic jam in retreat up highways toward Basra, Iraq. US and allied air power focused on this miles-long column, disabled vehicles at its front and rear, then proceeded to destroy every last vehicle trapped in it. Returning time and again to strafe and bomb the hapless Iraqi troops, US aircraft annihilated the trapped soldiers, killing them and turning their vehicles into piles of rubble. Critical to this rout were the cannons of the A-10 "Wart hog" attack aircraft. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Iraqi soldiers perished on this "Highway of Death." The Republican Guard in northern Kuwait and Southern Iraq also was forced to surrender or was destroyed. Far to the Northwest, the 24th infantry took the airfield at Jalibah, Iraq, then turned east to engage and destroy the adjacent Republican Guard units. The Republican Guard also was viciously savaged that day from the west by XVII Corps, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and from the south, by the VII Corps' First and Third Armored Divisions. US tanks literally annihilated all Soviet and Chinese made armor that the Iraqi Army and Republican Guards futilely attempted to throw at them. Later it was revealed that one of the reasons for this lay in the very thick clouds of smoke from oil well fires deliberately set by the Iraqis, a camouflaging tactic that turned to their own deadly disadvantage. While Iraqi tanks could not see their enemy, due to high-tech equipment the US tanks and artillery were able precisely to target Iraqis at great range without need to actually see through the smoke. As in the air war, decisive advantage on the ground battlefield had been provided by US high-tech weaponry systems.
The air war itself never abated, but instead was also an integral part of the ground campaign, as long had been planned under the U.S. military concept of the Air-Land Battle. Allied Commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (Shen: C5) on May 29 summarized some of the dimensions of this air campaign as he spoke to graduating Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy: "Some 450 aircraft, from six carriers turned out 140 sorties of combat capability each day... Add to that over 280 Tomahawk Cruise Missile launches... Combine that with Air Force and Allied air support, and you have 3000 pounds of bombs falling on the enemy every minute throughout the 42 day gulf air war." It was the heaviest aerial bombardment in the history of air warfare.
Hostile action was halted on President Bush's instructions at 8 AM February 28. Bush has strongly maintained that this decision was the wise course; he and his defenders have pointed to the absence of U.N. authorization to pursue broader goals, such as the removal of the Saddam Government by a land march on to Baghdad. Other Bush National Security team members have cited the political/diplomatic costs that were feared if the U.S. were seen by other governments as "piling on" an already defeated Iraq by continuing to reduce his war-making potential. These explanations proved sufficient in their time, though their measure appears less full with the benefit of hindsight then not available.
Though casualties from unexploded mines and from Iraqi soldiers not aware of the cessation of hostilities continued at a low level for several days, and while other battles were fought after this time, the Feb. 28, 1991 date marks the official end of the Gulf War. Air raids over Baghdad, continuous nightly from January 16 until February 27, also came to an end. Iraqi generals on the battlefield soon met with Allied Commander Schwarzkopf at Safwan (March 3) and acceded to each and every allied stipulation of conditions needed before the pause could become lasting. US prisoners of war promptly were released.
VI. The Aftermath of the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
On the ground, hostilities clearly began to end on February 28, and a battlefield ceasefire was signed (March 3). Formally, it took until April 11 for the written terms ending hostilities to be accepted by the Iraq Government in Baghdad. In the US, victory quickly was recognized, and parades to this effect soon were scheduled. On March 6, President Bush reported (WP 1991: 32) to a joint session of Congress, and the nation, that "Aggression is defeated. The war is over... Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin. His war machine is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroyed..." The bare facts of the Allied victory were starkly obvious: Iraqi losses in the weeks of air war and in the four days of ground war were well over 50,000 dead. A mere 139 to 146 (Sterner: 15) US personnel had perished; only 260 battlefield deaths had been suffered by all of the allied armed forces. This kill ratio represents one of the most --and perhaps the most-- lopsided victories in the history of war. Defeat wore many faces. In the Kuwait theater, Iraq had lost 75 percent of its tanks, 50 percent of its armored personnel carriers, 90 percent of its artillery (Sterner: 16). Virtually every bridge over the Euphrates river had been destroyed. The damage done extended far outside Kuwait. Iraq, once one of the most rapidly modernizing states in the Arab world had been reduced in a matter of weeks to a pre-industrial level of life. Water, telephone, electric, sewer and other basic public works systems were inoperative. Basic necessities everywhere were in short supply, and would long remain so.
Criminal Charges against Iraqis. On the same date as fighting stopped, February 28, 1991, a 347 count criminal indictment was issued against four Iraqi officials in the BNL case. The head of the Iraqi central bank, Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kemel, was also named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the plot to defraud BNL and to illegal obtain from US sources more than $5 billion, 1984-90. Ultimately, a criminal trial which began on June 1, 1992 produced convictions of BNL officials in Atlanta and elsewhere. Wider, war crimes charges against Iraqi leaders, however, never have been tendered in any U.N. tribunal.
Chaos within Iraq. In Iraq, the destruction created by the war soon was compounded by social chaos. Uprisings of Shi'ite Muslims in Basra and elsewhere in Southern Iraq erupted, soon to be followed by renewed efforts by armed Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy in their Northern Iraqi areas. The allied coalition, while continuing to occupy nearly a fifth of Iraq, assumed a pose of neutrality regarding these manifestations of discontent with Saddam. President Bush declared it a violation of informal terms of the cessation of hostilities for the Iraqi air force to undertake combat sorties against these rebels. But the battlefield cease-fire terms signed by the generals on March 3 had included only fixed wing aircraft in this ban; helicopters were excepted from the ban, ostensibly to "assist in communications" but actually soon to be used in combat support by Iraq. In the words of Gen. Schartzkopf "I was suckered." The surviving remnants of Iraq's ground armor were conspicuously omitted from Bush's first post-war threat. In March 1991, this bruised and battered force, assisted by the exempted helicopters, proved more than a match for the spirited but untrained and uncoordinated rebel groups. By early April, rebels' cities in both areas had been retaken by the Iraqi Army, driving several hundred thousand Kurdish non-combatants to flee into the mountainous areas adjacent to the Iraq-Iran and the Iraq-Turkey borders. There, outside the attention of the once-so-interested world community, Iraqi helicopter gun ships and ground armor massacred thousands. Iran and Turkey responded ungenerously, too: their borders at first were sealed shortly after the first human wave of refugees had crossed into their apparently safe havens. The direct result of Iraqi butchery, when combined with the indirect effect of Allied inattention and Turkish/Iranian callousness, was a calamity for the Kurdish people of immense proportions. In the cold Spring in the high mountains of Northern Iraq, Kurdish burn victims and children, old people and the infirm, starved and died of minor wounds and easily preventable parasitic infections. Meager airdrops of food fell largely into the hands of the strong. The New World Order proclaimed in the preceding months initially had proven, for all its promise, to have been as ineffective in protecting victims within the sovereign state of Iraq as it had been effective in ending the victimization of peoples suffering from Iraq's international aggression. Thus did the "New World Order" begin to resemble the world of disorder known for centuries.
Haste caused problems. The Allied Forces acting under UN auspices appear to have been more deeply concerned with setting conditions for their own speedy withdrawal from the theater of war. Even before the formal cease-fire went into effect on April 11, US troop strength was reduced from a wartime peak of 540,000 to just over 300,000. Other nations in the coalition withdrew their forces more quickly still. As had been the case in the aftermath of both twentieth century World Wars, the perception in civilian and military leadership circles was that there existed strong US domestic pressures to demobilize and return to peacetime conditions. These beliefs sharply constrained leaders from following the advise of those who counseled vigorous further efforts to insure that a real peace was as secure as that which had been decisively won on the battlefield.
The Terms of the War's End.
UN Resolution 687 passed the Security Council on April 3, 1991 to formally end the war against Iraq; Iraq's National Assembly accepted its terms three days later and the Iraqi Ambassador, Abdul Amir al-Anbari, delivered the official letter of acceptance "without conditions" to the UN that same day. Evasion was present from the outset, though few perceived it at the time. Contemporaneously, the Iraqis' sent a separate 27 page letter to the president of the UN Security Council which contained objections to nearly every condition of these Resolutions, but concluded that Iraq "has no choice but to accept" (quoted in Rowe: 32). Among the U.N.'s terms were the requirement that:
- all weapons of mass destruction in Iraq be destroyed;
- that Iraq recognize the 1963 border with Kuwait and permit a 6 mile demilitarized zone within Iraq adjacent to it;
- that Iraq permit a U.N. peacekeeping force to monitor this border; and
- that Iraq set up a reparations program to compensate the victims of its aggression.
Destruction of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (hereafter WMD). International norms about WMD are quite explicit: under a 1925 Geneva Treaty and under the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention, states are barred from using chemical and biological weapons under any circumstances; and from building or stockpiling such weapons. Iraq had flaunted this international norm repeatedly in its war with Iran in the 1980s, firing more than 100,000 chemical rounds at Iranian troops and territory (Duelfer), but in the 1991 war it had not used them. After its conclusion, Iraq was in no position to continue to so threaten. Accordingly, by April 18, 1991, Iraq was required to submit to the U.N. Security Council a list of the locations, amounts and types of all its chemical, biological and "nuclear-weapons-usable" materials; and the locations of all its SCUD and other missiles with ranges over 90 miles. Saddam's letter to the U.N. which was released on that date enumerated that Iraq then possessed 1,000 tons of nerve and mustard gas, about 10,000 nerve gas warheads, and 52 Scud missiles. The Iraqi leader also flatly stated that Iraq had no biological weapons and "denied that they had any nuclear materials that fell under UN Resolution 687" (Kay: 11). These latter two denials proved to be false statements; and the enumeration of the chemical weapons arsenal by Saddam also substantially understated the true extent of the Iraqi programs.
This deceptive initial comunique by Saddam set the confrontational tone of UN-Iraqi interactions over the coming years. By May 18, 1991, the UN Secretary General was required, pursuant to 687, to submit to the Security Council proposals on establishing a commission to develop a plan for inspecting and destroying the weapons which the UN was convinced Iraq nonetheless possessed. That commission, which came to be known as UNSCOM, then was to have 45 further days to come up with the actual plan for destroying Iraq's arsenal. Under this mandate representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A, a Vienna-based U.N.-affiliated international organization) formed the core of the UNSCOM team which visited Iraq in Fall 1991 for the purpose of assessing their nuclear programs; and other UNSCOM experts headed up teams that targeted the declared chemical and the undeclared but suspected biological weapons programs.
Though ill-prepared for the project, hastily assembled, and repeatedly harassed by Iraqi troops, the IAEA-UNSCOM teams eventually would uncover clear proof of a sophisticated atomic and thermonuclear weapons development project, hidden carefully within dozens of Iraqi bureaucracies. Though many served this project well, special mention should be made of its leaders: initial efforts were led by American David Kay. Later efforts, under the UNSCOM were headed by Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekeus (1991-97), and the final phase was headed by Australian Richard Butler (1997-99). Among UNSCOM's early discoveries were the fact that, surprisingly, many of the related WMD facilities had survived the war unscathed. Convinced by preliminary findings from the UNSCOM reports that pointed toward a $7 to $10 billion secret nuclear program, and disturbed by the continuing evasion of 687 indicated by Iraq's non-cooperation with the UNSCOM team, in October 1991 the UN Security Council authorized the destruction of all nuclear facilities and projects there. Later, in April 1992, US Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates "told Congress that Iraq would have possessed a nuclear weapon this year [i.e., 1992] if it had not been for the Gulf War" (Broad: 5). In this context and with this knowledge, the once vilified June 1981 Osirak raid by Israel appears to have not only been eerily prescient: it clearly appears to have saved American lives.
During the years after 1992, Iraq remained obdurate: e.g., Gen. Rashid Amer in December 1992 threatened to "drink the blood" of UN inspectors, and vowed further non-cooperation (Kay: 11). Several more tense confrontations between UN inspectors and Iraqi officials occurred in 1992-98, a time in which 72 separate inspections were conducted by UNSCOM (Mangold and Goldberg: 292). On many occasions, UN inspectors sought evidence of the programs' existence; on others their task was to destroy weapons without Iraq's agreement to permit this. Confrontations and stalling occurred throughout these visits, suggesting that weapons were being moved out of inspectors' reach during each delay. US intelligence gamely attempted to monitor these developments and to support the UNSCOM and I.A.E.A. officials with information gleaned in continuing over-flights by U-2 spy planes and other measures. By and large, the U.S. and the U.N. worked effectively as a team attempting to assimilate this intelligence and marry it up with the directives of the Security Council to destroy all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. However, the most critical ingredient discovered to then exist in Iraq, the scientists in possession of the knowledge of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons production, could not be eradicated. As one Iraqi scientist put it, according to UNSCOM's Kay (12) nearly two years after Iraq's apparent defeat "He told us that new guidelines had just been issued by the Ministry of Military Industrialization so that 'next time' they would better survive cruise missile and cluster bomb attacks."
Confirmation of Iraq's concealment of a broad range of Banned Weapons possessed by Iraq. Key defections corroborated that Iraq continued after the 1991 war to possess banned weapons. In November 1994, Saddam's former director of military intelligence, Gen. Wafiq al-Samarra'i, defected and provided Britain and the U.S. with key information (Mangold and Goldberg: 293). Then, in August 1995, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kemel al-Majid, a son-in-law of Saddam (sometimes spelled "Kamel"), and sixteen others defected to Jordan and confessed in broad terms about the continuing nature of all of Iraq's programs of weapons of mass destruction. Fearing a detailed exposure that Kemel in fact had not provided, the Baghdad regime then spilled forth dozens of tons of documents marginally related to these programs, programs which they earlier had made assurances to UNSCOM to the effect that such programs never had existed. A bare one hundred documents seemed to detail, but in fact evaded reporting about essential elements in the biological program and arsenal, especially the weaponization of alfatoxins and viruses, though some did describe work with bacteria (such as anthrax). Iraq claimed that it had been fooled by Kemel as well, and invited UNSCOM to visit Kemel's chicken farm where Iraq claimed Kemel had undertaken the biological weapons projects without the knowledge of the Iraqi Government. Ekeus' inspectors found evidence at that chicken farm which showed a years long, broad program of research and development in the area of biological agents. Carefully expunged before UNSCOM arrived, however, was all evidence of the weaponization of this research, but five further research facilities involved in the project were identified through the documents. These facilities were at Salman Pak, Al-Hakam, Taji, Fudaliya, and at the Daura Foot and Mouth Institute. These facilities then rose high on the list of facilities believed to be in need of being inspected and destroyed; but owing to Iraqi non-cooperation, they never were. Thus, suspicions continued to grow.
In another revealing example of the unchanged nature of Iraqi politics, Gen. Kemel had a change of heart in February 1996 and returned to Baghdad. He and his co-defector Col. Saddam Kemel were separated from their wives --Saddam Hussein's daughters-- and within days were murdered in a hail of gunfire that consumed many of their relatives as well. His body then was unceremoniously thrown on a rubbish pit. The programs of weapons of mass destruction he had confirmed that he had supervised, however, then became even more problematic for Western observers after his death. The sixteen others who defected with the brothers Kemel remained outside Iraq, working with Western intelligence agencies' anti-Saddam efforts (Mangold and Goldberg: 294), reinforcing this impression of a large and substantial Iraqi menace.
Conflict Resumed in 1997 when Iraq succeeded in efforts to divide the Security Council. Recognizing that UNSCOM would not stop seeking the destruction of the banned WMD, Iraq changed tactics. It began to attempt to undermine the credibility of UNSCOM so to divide political support for that U.N. organ in the Security Council. To this end, Iraq focused world attention away from its violation of UN 687 and toward the "bias" of UNSCOM against Iraq due to excessive U.S. influence. On October 29, 1997, Iraq announced it would expel all American nationals working for UNSCOM, an act of non-compliance with U.N. Resolutions 686 and 687. This provoked renewed conflict with the U.N, but of varying intensity depending on the nationality, and future business interests, of the affected states. The resolve of several members of the Security Council concerning Iraq's banned WMD, notably the resolve of Russia, China and France, had slackened in the years since the 1990-91 round of war. With the assistance of Russian diplomacy, and especially with the personal assistance of Saddam's Russian friend, Foreign Minister (and soon-to-be Prime Minister) Yevgeny Primakov, the first stage of the crisis initially was calmed, but hardly resolved, by late November. Duly instructed by the Security Council to be more sensitive to Iraqi "dignity," UNSCOM officials eventually returned to Iraq, with a reduced number of Americans among them.
Quickly, however, the recomposed UNSCOM teams also were rebuffed from being allowed access to eight "presidential palaces" of President Hussein: these Iraq unilaterally declared to be off limits to the inspectors. Some of these "palaces" once were defined as being larger than the entirety of Washington DC, and many skeptical observers deduced that these exclusions from the inspection regime, coupled with the several weeks the crisis made available for Saddam to move the banned materials in and out of them, called into question the efficacy of further UNSCOM work. In the face of Iraq's defiance, the U.S. mobilized for a resumption of military conflict with Iraq. Two American aircraft carriers were dispatched to the Persian Gulf, soon to be joined by one British aircraft carrier. Throughout January and February 1998, frantic diplomatic activities accompanied the steady growth of U.S. and U.K. military assets in the region. Again, China, Russia and France continued to oppose any military response to Iraq's defiance of the UNSCOM inspections regime. The strategic position from which the U.S. and Britain might have proceeded alone also was weakened by a clear absence in public support from the formerly allied regional governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt: only Kuwait granted the Anglo-American allies rights to base military attacks on Iraq from its territory.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan encouraged the members of the Security Council to define conditions for a diplomatic mission he would head to Baghdad. Despite emphatic American insistence that no concessions to Iraq were acceptable and that no concessions be made, Annan inked an agreement with Saddam's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, which not only included the requirement that UNSCOM be accompanied by "senior diplomats" appointed by the Secretary General when visiting the presidential sites, but which also held out the promise of the lifting of sanctions against Iraq upon the prompt completion of UNSCOM's work "expeditiously" (USA Today: 6A). Thus, Iraq had succeeded in both dividing the Security Council and in making progress toward its two goals of ending sanctions (so to finance a military revival) and of ending the UNSCOM regime so to reconstitute its military as a military capable of possessing weapons of mass destruction.
UNSCOM uneasily operated under this tightened supervisory leash throughout 1998. Credible evidence had emerged that a bureaucracy close to Saddam had been tasked with the assignment of operating a "Concealment Mechanism" to twart UNSCOMs searches for WMD. In August, the principal UNSCOM inspector pursuing the Concealment investigation, American Scott Ritter, resigned. After his return to the U.S., Ritter detailed to the Congress, and to the American people in penetrating articles in The New Yorker (i.e., Bowyer) and The New Republic (Ritter), the ways in which unlimited U.S. support for an ineffective UNSCOM actually retarded achievement of U.S. goals. Alarmingly, Ritter also confirmed Saddam's charge that UNSCOM was supplying information to U.S. intelligence agencies (Mangold and Goldberg: 294). Using this as its pretext, in August 1998, Iraq virtually blocked all further UNSCOM efforts. Finally, in late October 1998, Iraq formally ended all cooperation with UNSCOM.
By mid-November 1998, Pres. Clinton had mobilized a substantial American and British air force for the purpose of eliminating by air raids that which UNSCOM could not destroy. Once more, Saddam capitulated --a bare twenty minutes before the scheduled firing of the first cruise missiles, on November 16, 1998. Again, Saddam promised complete compliance with the U.N. resolutions, and with UNSCOM. But Pres. Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated, in backing down from a war policy, that no further warning, and no further negotiation would occur if non-cooperation with UNSCOM recurred. One month later, after repeatedly having been denied documents it had requested, and after having been blocked from entering numerous sites in Iraq, Richard Butler abruptly pulled the UNSCOM team from Iraq. That same day, December 16, 1998, Clinton and Blair authorized massive new air attacks throughout Iraq, and the war of 1990-91 which had been suspended on the basis of Iraq's promises to disarm, resumed for four days of intensive air raids. After they were suspended (December 19, 1998), on two more occasions that year U.S. fighters bombed Iraqi air defenses (see Appendix).
Throughout 1999-2002, frequent U.S. and British air attacks on Iraq's air defense systems continued on an intermittent basis, and some Iraqi casualties occurred during these operations. In the first two months of 1999 alone, Iraq was attacked on more than thirteen days, a pace that continued, more or less, for the next two years. It is important to emphasize that the primary stated goal of the Anglo-American air campaign after 1998 was to degrade the capacity of Iraq to produce weapons of mass destruction in light of the suspension of UNSCOM inspections during that entire period, and thus targeting was somewhat broader than earlier. On December 17, 1999, the U.N. Security Council created a successor agency to the UNSCOM, the "U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission" or UNMOVIC, and former Swedish foreign minister Dr. Hans Blix was chosen to lead its attempt to complete the disarmament work. The U.S. was no enthusiastic supporter of his appointment, but agreed nonetheless. Blix had headed the IAEA from 1981 to 1991, a period in which Iraq routinely was certified to have been in compliance with the requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Later evidence proved those IAEA findings to have been in error. Moreover, in the 1990s (to 1997) Blix continued to head an IAEA which would certify that Iraq's previously concealed and still secret programs again had been terminated, a finding directly contrary to that enunciated by the UNSCOM in regard to the secret biological, chemical, and missile forms of Iraqi programs to create weapons of mass destruction. But, however cooperative it might have been, the Blix-led UNMOVIC mission was stuck at the starting gate: Iraq would not agree to its presence; and in 1999-2002, UNMOVIC never visited Iraq.
In October 2001, weaponized anthrax was used to attack the office of U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, Majority Leader of the Senate, arousing strong suspicions of an Iraqi role. On October 17, twenty nine staff members were reported to have tested positively to that exposure. Conclusive evidence has not been made public which links terrorist groups to this campaign, or to the Iraqi Government program in biological agents weaponization. What was more certain was that across the U.S. intelligence community, and even in the U.N., a belief hardened that Iraq's biological weapons program had survived the Persian Gulf war, had survived the UNSCOM inspection regime, and continued to menace U.S. and allied armed forces in the region as well as their homelands. Weaponized anthrax was a key part of Iraq's biological weapons program, and it is at least an interesting coincidence that it was the chosen tool used by the anthrax terrorists in 2001. Given the evolving strategic calculations guiding American national security policy, an Iraq that could not prove it did not have anthrax and other biological weapons was an Iraq perceived as increasingly threatening. Iraq did little to quiet these fears despite the new U.S. mood.
The September 2004 Duelfer Report determined that the measures taken, 1991-2003, fully had achieved the U.S. and U.N. goal of Iraq's complete WMD disarmament. Its analysis delved into the odd behavior of Iraq that consistently undermined that reality being perceived prior to 2003. For reasons ranging from internal political control, to prestige with neighbors, to deterring U.S. attack, the myth of Iraqi WMD continued to have value to the Saddam regime after the actual WMD had been destroyed. Ironically, the incomplete weapons systems Saddam had started for the purpose of intimidating neighbors so to protect his regime proved to the the cause of his undoing and overthrow.
Other outstanding grievances with Iraq: Reparations. But beyond this new, post-2003 perception of Saddam-without-WMD --a perception virtually no one in any Western intelligence agency had prior to the 2003 war-- there remained several other areas of disagreement with Saddam's Iraq that festered, 1991-2003, stirring international animosities that also could not be brought to a conclusion. Under the terms of the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had obligations beyond mere destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was required to account for persons abducted from Kuwait during its 1990-91 occupation there, and it was required to compensate those it damaged. By May 3, 1991 the UN Secretary General was required to submit to the Security Council for approval a plan to create a special fund to regulate Iraqi reparations payments to Kuwait, funded by Iraq's future oil revenues. Initially, it was not clear whether other nations damaged by the Iraqi aggression (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Israel) would be compensated through this fund. Due to Iraq's strapped financial position (owing to continuing U.N. economic sanctions against it, below), no significant reparations actually were ever paid, 1991-98. An "Oil-for-Food" program was authorized by the Security Council in 1996, however, and some funds earned by Iraq began to be set aside for these purposes.
Related to the issue of reparations was the demand for the return of property stolen during the occupation from Kuwaiti citizens and their government. Graphically, Western television viewers were shown in February-March 1991 the goods pillaged by Iraqi thieves-in-uniform --Mercedes, televisions, luxury goods of all kinds-- before they were caught red-handed in the open desert by U.S.A.F. "Warthogs" and riddled with machine-gunners' bullets along the so-called "Highway of Death" leading to Basra. Iraq's occupation of Kuwait thereby was revealed to be an episode in land-based piracy. In 1995, according to (then) U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine K. Albright (who served, 1997-2001, as U.S. Secretary of State), Iraq was in non-compliance with UN 687 since it continued to retain Kuwaiti government property including 215 armored personnel carriers, 15 FROG ground-to-ground missiles, 55 M-901 mobile missile launchers, 4000 TOW anti-tank missiles, 3 portable anti-aircraft systems, 27 Hungarian-made buses, 100 Mercedes trucks, 60 forklifts, and hundreds of other articles owned by private citizens (Preston 1995: 12). No serious efforts to return stolen goods were undertaken by Saddam's Iraq; and no credible accounting ever was made by it regarding the fate of the missing abducted persons from Kuwait. Some reparations, however, were withheld from profits made from the sale of Iraqi oil that, after 1996, the U.N. permitted Iraq in order (primarily) to set up escrow accounts for the purchase and distribution of food and medicine inside Iraq by the U.N. Iraq from time-to-time has suspended even these limited sales, e.g. late in 1997 and in late 1999, in protest over U.N. "interference" in Iraq. Thus, the reparations demanded of Iraq in 1991 and to which Iraq agreed, never were fully paid.
Sanctions. By June 2, 1991, the UN Secretary General was required to submit to the Security Council a new set of guidelines for enforcing the existing, and continuing, arms embargo against Iraq. The Security Council agreed periodically to review the continuing embargo against export to Iraq of non-essential civilian goods. By August 1, 1991, the Security Council also agreed to review the arms embargo against sales of new arms to Iraq, "taking into account Iraq's compliance with this resolution and general progress towards the control of armaments in the region" (Rowe: 32). In the years 1991-96, comprehensive sanctions were not modified, and most trade with Iraq remained interrupted. Small scale smuggling into Jordan and Iran, however, continued. The solidarity of the UN Security Council on this matter, however, cracked as credible reports of hungry children dying in Iraq prompted some major powers to rethink sanctions. In Fall 1994 both Russia and France first expressed reservations with the continuation of the comprehensive sanctions regime. The US continued to insist that near total sanctions be retained until Iraq fully complied with all elements of UN 686-687, and threatened to use its power of veto in the Security Council to insure continuation of the policy.
Oil For Food. On November 25, 1996, the Security Council and Iraq agreed to permit $2 billion in Iraqi oil to be sold on world markets each six months (Current History 1997: 45), provided that the proceeds be used to purchase food and prescription medicines, only. UN observers supervised this process and the distribution of the food inside Iraq. As part of the crisis Iraq set off in late 1997, Iraq suspended this oil-for-food program in November 1997, and at the conclusion of the crisis was rewarded by having the program increased in its potential size. In February 1998, Iraq announced that unless the U.N. permitted it to import equipment for repair of its oil industry, Iraq lacked the production capacity to meet the requirements of the enlarged oil-for-food U.N. program. Thus, while sanctions technically remained in effect barring trade with Iraq, exceptions to them (i.e., the U.N.'s own oil-for-food program) and outright evasion by neighbors (e.g., Jordan, Iran) and others weakened their effectiveness. This was illustrated early in 2000 when U.S. Navy SEALS seized the Russian oil tanker Volga-Neft-147 in international waters off the Iranian coast, and after the oil was determined to be of Iraqi origins, sold the oil and the boat at Oman (NYT 2000: 14). Later, in 2004, substantial corruption in the U.N. "Oil for Food" program was exposed to have taken place and the chief U.N. administrator was forced to resign over broad financial irregularities that involved not only suspicious payments to the Saddam regime but suspicious payments to government officials in states trading with Iraq, and to U.N. officials.
Interference with Iraq's Sovereignty Over the Kurds. A rebellion in Iraqi Kurdistan had begun as the Gulf War wound down and, as it continued throughout April 1991, the condition of the hapless Kurds worsened. At the UN, Security Council Resolution 688 was passed on April 5. It recognized for the first time the authority of that organization to instruct member states to "interfere" in the internal affairs of a member state (i.e., Iraq) due to the gravity of the humanitarian condition of its besieged subjects (i.e., the Kurds). Predictably, three radical Third World governments were the only nations to vote against the resolution: Cuba, Yemen, Zimbabwe. Even China --which only two years before had ignored world opinion so to better mow down students at Tiananmen Square-- declined to veto UN 688; it merely abstained (Bettati: B7). But the UN coalition that again had condemned Iraq remained hobbled by the enduring large fact of the 1991 war: while unanimity of outrage had come easily, American and British willingness to sacrifice ultimately had provided the real and the necessary ingredients. Only several weeks later, finally, did President G. H. W. Bush declare the US again to be ready to intervene, this time in northern Iraq for the purpose of creating the safe havens for the Kurdish refugees authorized in UN 688. Iraq predictably objected to this further intervention, but also was little disposed to confront again either the authority of the UN, or the might of the US and allied armed forces. Late that month, small numbers (i.e., about 800) of US Marines reentered Iraq for this purpose, even as US and allied forces were turning over their positions in southern Iraq to the tiny UN force designated to patrol the Kuwait-Iraq frontier under Resolution 687. As UN officials struggled to fashion a means through which that organization's forces also could replace the new US, British and Dutch marines protecting the Kurds of northern Iraq, nearly 500 refugees continued to die each day of injury, disease or exposure in the mountains.
In time, the safe havens promised by the UN uneasily would come to exist as a state-within-a-state, a de facto Kurdistan inside Iraq. Periodic skirmishes between UN and Iraqi forces peppered the next several years and, on occasion, US air power (i.e., planes and unmanned cruise missiles; see APPENDIX I, below) was used to punish Iraq for these and other provocations (e.g., a plot to kill ex-President Bush while he visited Kuwait in 1993 led to an air raid on Baghdad authorized by Pres. Clinton). In the Fall of 1996, Saddam's forces nevertheless succeeded in backing a Kurdish faction which militarily succeeded in expelling pro-US Kurdish groups from parts of Northern Iraq. Full rule of the Saddam regime in the region, however, was not established, and the region continued to be semi-autonomous, 1997-2003. Reports of Turkish troops inside this area of northern Iraq numbering 5000 (2002) and up to 20,000 (1997) may have been exaggerated, but the collision of interests between the U.S., the Kurds, and the Turks in the area were real. Caught between support for its new Kurdish clients and support for its traditional N.A.T.O. ally Turkey, a state beset by its own Kurdish rebellion --rebels aided from the Northern Iraqi sanctuaries once under U.S. protection, the Americans were in a dilemma. That dilemma ultimately was managed but not fully resolved by the 2003 war: Turkey refused to permit U.S. invasion forces to enter Iraq from its territory. Thus, when U.S. forces ultimately made their way to northern Iraq through the circuitous route of entry via Kuwait and Southern Iraq, they were greeted by Kurdish militiamen eager to participate alongside the Americans in their nation's liberation. Turkey had remained on the sidelines. These points were not lost on the Bush Administration, and U.S. regard for Kurdish interests continued to be among the themes central to the construction of post-war Iraq: in 2005 a Kurd leader, Jalal al-Talibani, became Iraq's first post-Saddam President.
On all of these concerns of the US (nuclear weapons; biological and other weapons of mass destruction; reparations to Kuwait and others; respect for minorities' rights), Saddam's Iraq had remained defiant well into the new millennium. While many of these originated as UN goals it is clear that only the U.S. and the U.K. continued to place high priority on their achievement. This has been the case despite the fact that only partially were the goals achieved. The larger point was that verified full compliance had remained elusive. For example, only late in 1994 --fully three and one half years after the Gulf War's fighting ended-- did Iraq recognize the UN-drawn Kuwait-Iraq border, and begrudgingly announce its recognition of the sovereignty of Kuwait. Some missile and nuclear weapons programs were destroyed, and those facts almost had achieved verified consensus: the I.A.E.A. was near to certification of the end of the nuclear program when the crises of 1998 erupted, for example. But the U.N. resolutions were about all WMD not just nuclear WMD, and the strong evidence possessed by UNSCOM pointing to the existence of ongoing chemical and biological weapons' programs could not be dismissed however expedient that might have been for the advancement of French, Chinese, or Russian interests. Moreover, it was American national interests that collided with those states' perceptions on matters with Iraq, especially on the issue of WMD. The needed proof of the full destruction of all weapons of mass destruction remained unavailable, and in this atmosphere doubt was problematic and the risk of error too controversial after September 11, 2001. Decisions makers operated in the known universe of their time, not ours.
The aggressive nature of the Saddam regime remained the one constant. It must be remembered that only minor progress ever was made to compensate victims of Iraq's aggression; and no significant progress ever was forthcoming in regard to the missing Kuwaitis kidnapped and taken to Iraq in 1990-91. Iraq's aggressive international record continued to be written down to the end of the Saddam regime (April 2003). In 1993, its agents attempted to assassinate former Pres. George H.W. Bush when he was visiting Kuwait. On numerous occasions in the 1990s it menacingly mobilized significant armored forces on the Kuwaiti border (i.e., during Fall 1994); and it used military aid to pro-Baghdad groups of Kurds to militarily achieve expulsion of the U.N. from Northern Iraq (Fall 1996), though Kurds retained meaningful autonomy in other parts of northern Iraq in large part due to continued U.S. aid. Iraq continued to pay sums to international terrorists committing suicide bombings elsewhere in the Middle East (i.e., in Israel). Iraq on thousands of occasions in the 1990s shot at U.S. military aircraft, and in November 1997 even threatened to fire on an unarmed U.S. U-2 spy plane which was photographing Iraq in support of the UNSCOM effort. Each of these acts confirmed not a new pattern of changed behavior but underlined the record of aggression.
Available U.S. responses in the 1991-2001 era also appeared to have run their course and seemed to be decreasingly effective at reshaping this pattern. Periodic, limited U.S. missile attacks and air raids proved to be a limited deterrent to this pattern of Iraqi belligerence (see appendix, below). Costly remobilizations of air and ground forces by the US 1994, 1997-98, 2002-2003 may have obstructed Saddam's return to the world stage. But unlike the mobilization in 1990-91, in these efforts the U.S. acted largely alone, with only Britain putting significant military forces at risk beside U.S. armed forces. The lukewarm support the U.S. was given in the region for its redeployment of military force in 2002-03 thus illustrated a longer and larger problem inherent in relying on multilateral coalitions to advance U.S. national security interests.
Perhaps most disturbing to the region's long term security was the fact that, more than a decade after the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein continued to rule Iraq. Indeed, his mandate was reinforced by two rounds of ballots (1995, 2002) in which some 99.96 percent (1995), and 100 percent (in 2002) of Iraqi voters in referenda were reported to have affirmed his leadership for seven more years (Current History 1995a: 445; WP 2002). What once had been believed in America to be among our finest hours, the victory of 1991, had become something less.
George W. Bush and the Saddam Regime.
It is useful at this point to pause to recap the situation circa 2001, for the decisions of the George W. Bush Administration in the first decade of the new millennium grew from both personal disinclination to value international institutions and from a decade-long erosion in U.S. relations with the leading international institution, the United Nations. In America in the 1990s, Iraq's pattern of non-cooperation with the U.N. had created the impression of evasion of these responsibilities to which it agreed in 1991. But the global community had reacted with several voices to these evasions.
The August 2, 1990, conquest of the Middle Eastern state of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq had challenged global institutions and states' leaders to define the new forms international relations would take in the post-Cold War era. At first, it appeared a consensus existed: a global community united against international aggression committed by Iraq. Ultimately authorized by the U.N. Security Council to act, it nevertheless was primarily the power of the sole remaining superpower, the U.S., which led a coalition that reversed that aggression by expelling Iraq from Kuwait, in 1991. Constrained by U.N. mandates to accept an Iraqi surrender that nonetheless left Hussein in power in Baghdad, the U.S. continued for more than a decade to be the prime actor to insist that all terms of the 1991 Iraqi surrender to the U.N. be adhered to by Iraq.
In the years that followed 1991, further aggressive tendencies of the Saddam regime, and the fear that weapons of mass destruction would be used to attempt to extend its influence, challenged the role of the U.N. in an increasingly unipolar international system, one in which the U.S. enjoyed preponderant power. Similarly, Iraq's early and repeated violation of the terms of the 1991 surrender challenged the U.S. to find more effective measures through which it could achieve protection of American national interests, with or without U.N. support. Yet, for a time, a symbiosis seemed to exist between U.S. goals and U.N. goals. Trade embargoes that had been begun prior to the 1991 air and ground war were continued without challenge within the Security Council, and these economic pressures were augmented by denial of Iraq's sovereignty over much of its airspace, 1991-2003. To address concerns about Iraq's programs to produce weapons of mass destruction, the 1991 terms of surrender had compelled Iraq to identify and destroy these weapons. Intrusive U.N. inspections systems were authorized by the Security Council to enter Iraq for the purpose of destroying all banned Iraqi weapons, and Iraq was compelled to cooperate in this process. We now know that by the mid-1990s, these Iraqi programs had in effect been destroyed, but few in the military or intelligence communities of the outside world, including the U.N., recognized this.
All these efforts to implement U.N. mandates ultimately aimed at containing Iraq's influence and limiting its power, not at overthrowing the Saddam regime. This larger goal increasingly tempted the U.S., however, especially after a 1993 Iraqi plot against the life of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush was revealed. This was clearly an act of war by Iraq against the U.S. In public, however, the U.S. continued to support U.N. goals, and largely expressed preference for multilateral means to enforce them, right across the 1990s. For a time, a policy of "dual containment" of both Iraq and its hostile neighbor, Iran, served as stated U.S. policy as well.
But as time wore on, the unity of 1990-91 in support of effective implementation of the U.N. mandates faltered in the U.N. Security Council, and a divergence in views between Washington and certain other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, especially France, Russia, and China, gradually emerged. Acting at times with broad support in the Security Council, and at other times only with the active support of long term ally Great Britain, for more than a decade the United States attempted by various measured means to both work through the U.N. and to protect its own interests through a policy of containment. By 1997-98, the once solidly anti-Iraq consensus at the U.N. Security Council, however, had slipped away; and for more than four years, October 1998 to late in 2002, no U.N. inspections of Iraqi weapons sites were permitted by Iraq.
The attacks on the U.S., September 11, 2001, substantially altered U.S. strategy worldwide. Unwilling any longer to rely on a failed policy of deterring attack on the American mainland, the George W. Bush Administration quickly adopted a war policy toward states the U.S. previously had been satisfied simply to contain. Swiftly, in October-December 2001, by military force it removed the anti-American regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the regime that had given safe harbor to the Al Qaeda organization responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks, setting the stage for a bold new U.S. Iraq policy.
George W. Bush's Iraq Policy: End the Saddam Regime. U.S. policy in the 2000s represented a break from the recent past, and this appears to have been not solely a function of the changes brought about by the events of September 11, 2001. The George W. Bush Administration broke from the policy of containment of Iraq prior the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. when, in February 2001, it made the decision to give direct aid to the Iraqi opposition, an act that pointed toward deepened pursuit of a different ultimate goal first flirted with during the Clinton years: regime change. U.S. statements of this as the goal of its policy was neither strictly presidential, nor particularly new: Congress in 1998 had embraced regime change in the Iraq Liberation Act passed that year; and Pres. Clinton had signed the bill. But because no significant resources were devoted to the goal of regime change in Iraq in 1998-2001, or by Pres. Bush in February 2001, these earlier steps had not produced a major bilateral crisis in U.S.-Iraqi relations. Each step did, however, sharpen the tone of U.S.-Iraqi relations, setting off new diplomatic maneuvering throughout the region, and world.
Meanwhile, a tense level of military confrontation between the U.S. and Iraq had become almost routine in the skies over Iraq. Begun in 1992, "no fly" zones enforced by coalition aircraft denied Iraq control of the air over the ostensibly sovereign nation. By 2001-02, the aerial confrontations between U.S. and U.K. fighter aircraft on the one hand, and Iraqi air defenses on the other, were frequent. But such exchanges of fire were limited, and had been known both preceding and following Sept. 11 under both Clinton and the first Bush Administration (i.e., George H. W. Bush's administration, during 1991-93). All this would change in 2003.
Discussions within the Bush Administration began almost immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks regarding whether the existing containment policy toward Iraq was adequate to the changed security situation confronting the U.S.. In January 2002, pointing principally to the continuing threat believed to be posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Pres. Bush publicly zeroed in on Iraq, calling one of three parts of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address. (The other "Axis" members were identified to be Iran and North Korea). U.S. Armed Forces then were tasked to come up with a plan to implement the four year old policy goal of regime change in Iraq.
During the late Spring or early Summer of 2002, policy options began to jell. In the view of Vice President Richard Cheney (August 26, 2002) and others in the Administration (e.g., Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld), Iraq policy needed to be joined to a broadened anti-terrorism policy; and U.S. anti-terrorism policy was conceived as primarily a policy of military action (and more), not one of mere law enforcement measures or containment of threats. These views ultimately were embraced at the top: in 2002, officials of the Bush Administration repeatedly called for "regime change" to end the rule of Saddam Hussein, describing this goal as part of a wider U.S. policy in the war on terror. At first, the message was indirect, as in June 2002, when Bush said:
"... Our war on terror is only begun... If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long... [O]ur security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.... There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name." (Bush, 2002)
On Sept. 12, 2002, extending from this logic Bush delivered his ultimatum on Iraq at the United Nations General Assembly. Advocating U.N. action consistent both with the numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Iraq and with the new U.S. doctrine of preemption, Bush stated that "[w]e cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather," repeatedly using the term "immediately" to shorten any perception of American patience with formulae built around extended Iraqi deliberation. By way of both a stirring speech and an accompanying 21 page dossier that enumerated "defiance of the United Nations" by the Iraqi regime, the U.S. Government sought U.N. legitimization for its pending action against Iraq. Britain quickly came to his support, publishing a still more detailed British dossier on Iraq's threat.
Within the U.S. the impact of Bush's U.N. speech was substantial. In his Sept. 12, 2002 address, President Bush had challenged the United Nations to implement its many resolutions against Iraq or demonstrate its irrelevance by inaction. This juxtaposition neatly reinforced Bush's argument with critics of action inside the U.S., painting opponents of war into a corner of defending the efficacy of the toothless U.N. After an initial White House draft of legislation calling for war authority over the whole Middle East had to be withdrawn and narrowed, the U.S. Congress came around to Bush's point of view. Nearly a month after the U.N. speech, on October 10, 2002, the U.S. Congress again authorized military action, though only against Iraq. This was a small modification, for language included in the final version of the law spoke only of trying to "work with" the U.N., and did not condition military action on obtaining U.N. authority for war. All that was required was a Bush report to Congress within 48 hours of his initiating hostilities, stating that the national security of the U.S. could no longer be protected by further diplomatic action alone. These provisions underline that Congressional support existed not just for war with Iraq but also for Bush's emerging hard line of doing so unilaterally. (Go here for a chart analyzing this Congressional action).
The U.N. was not wholly resistant to persuasion. On November 8, 2002, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441. It demanded Iraqi commit to full disarmament, giving one last chance to Iraq to fulfill its 1991 disarmament obligations under vigorous inspections, or to face ill-defined "serious consequences." U.N. inspectors then arrived in Baghdad late in November; a final Iraqi report enumerating weapons --fully 12,000 pages in length--, was presented to the Security Council on December 8, 2002. When the U.N. inspectors reported to the Security Council (Jan. 27, 2003) that Iraqi compliance was incomplete, a rift developed between the U.S. and U.K. (on the one hand) who favored prompt military action, and France, Germany and Russia, who favored giving inspections more time. Master diplomat and Secretary of State Colin Powell then urged the Security Council to take 1441 and its responsibilities more seriously in a stirring Feb. 5, 2003 presentation, one that for the first time presented evidence of Iraq's evasive deception of inspectors and evidence of the Saddam regime's ties to Al Qaeda terrorists on its soil (a tie Prof. Bowen had written of on January 19, 2003).
Curveball. A key part of Powell's presentation to the U.N. hinged on the claim made that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories in which it had deployed a capability to manufacture biological weapons. Later, it was revealed that the source of this claim arose not from the U.S. intelligence community, but from the intelligence agencies of the German Government, and that their evidence consisted entirely of the claims of one former Iraqi chemical engineer, code named Curveball, who subsequently recanted his claims and acknowledged that they were lies he told in order to help bring down the Saddam regime, which he hated. This man, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, later claimed to be surprised that the U.S. Administration took his lies to be truthful information about Iraq's program of WMD (Chulov 2011).
Others found a more cooperative Iraq in early 2003. On February 14, 2003, chief inspector Hans Blix reported again to the Security Council, this time finding improvement in Iraq's compliance. In disagreeing with Blix, the U.S. noted Iraq's failure to permit U-2 over-flights, and its failure to provide full unimpeded access to interview Iraqi weapons scientists. But the real and deeper U.S. worry concerned the Iraqi weapons it was by then certain did exist, and the fear that they might fall into terrorists' hands.
Additional justifications for new policy against Iraq also were evident. Iraq was a known sponsor of terrorists, if not the terrorists identified shortly after the dark day of September 11. It long had harbored Palestinian terrorist organizations headed by 1986 Achille Lauro hijacker Abu Abbas and by terror mastermind Abu Nidal, who had killed several hundred in his career, including nine Americans. By early 2002, Iraq exacerbated matters not only by shooting more often at U.S. aircraft on patrol over it but by declaring publicly its ongoing policy of rewarding financially the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, a popular stance (incredibly) throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Within the Bush Administration a sharp debate behind the scenes foreshadowed a second major engagement in the war on terrorism, one which focused on a goal outside Afghanistan: a change of regime in Baghdad. The terrorism - Saddam connection deepened when a Pentagon office headed by Douglas Feith led much press attention to turn to the charge that Al Qaeda operatives were reported to have found sanctuary in Iraq. After an Al Qaeda attack on the French supertanker Limburg (October 2, 2002) appeared to have been conducted with assistance from Iraqi military intelligence agents in Yemen, global energy supplies appeared threatened by new Iraqi aggression. These and other connections Feith's office highlighted appeared to join together two major U.S. worries: terrorist groups and states with weapons of mass destruction. Each shared as their primary enemy the United States.
These terrorism ties were related to the new U.S. national security doctrine. In June 2002, Bush had foreshadowed a general U.S. policy of pre-emptive war against states possessing weapons of mass destruction which are tied to global terrorism; in September pre-emption officially was declared to be U.S. doctrine. In August, notorious terrorist Abu Nidal was found shot to death in his Baghdad safe haven, with Iraqi officials dubiously claiming it to have been a suicide despite the cadaver having endured several shots made to the head! Throughout Washington, as summer 2002 slipped toward fall, debate raged after a Defense Policy Board briefing suggested that not only Iraq but Saudi Arabia also was then a U.S. enemy and potential target. At the highest levels of the U.S. Government, few endorsed the wider, anti-Saudi view of the overall conflict, but the Abu Nidal incident clearly showed the ongoing ties between Saddam and global terrorism, as did the insistent Feith reports of numerous Al Qaeda terrorists who found sanctuary in Iraq after the fall from power of the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2001.
Under several auspices, the Bush Administration presented a strong case that hostilities against Iraq were legal. Under U.S. law, a war policy was authorized by the U.S. Congress on October 10, 2002, with very substantial majorities, majorities larger than were found to authorize the 1991 war with Iraq. In the Senate in 2002, by a vote of 77 to 23 (Republicans: 48 to 1 in favor; Democrats: 29 to 21 in favor of the resolution; one Independent, voting no) the war resolution passed. In the House of Representatives in 2002, by a vote of 296 to 133 (Republicans: 215 in favor to 6 against; Democrats: 81 in favor, 126 against; one independent against the resolution) the war resolution also passed. Language in that law cited U.N. resolutions dating from 1990-91, including specifically the language of Security Council Resolution 678, which authorized "the use of all necessary means." Thus, the 2002 U.S. authorization of the use of force against Iraq based itself in part on U.N. authority granted to member states and never rescinded by that body. Moreover, the legitimacy under U.S. law of such a decision by the U.S. was reinforced by the clear fact that a U.S. general election in early November 2002 produced a narrow but important victory for political forces backing the President.
These actions by voters and by Congress ratcheted up the pressure on the U.N. to act. After weeks of intense diplomacy, on November 8, 2002, the Security Council unanimously endorsed a final round of intrusive inspections largely of U.S. design. The resolution passed, U.N. 1441, gave Iraq but one week to accept all new conditions, and thirty days to declare once and for all every last site and program involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country. Thereafter, intrusive and unlimited U.N. inspections of WMD sites designed to lead to Iraq's complete disarmament were authorized. An inaccurate report to the Security Council, if paired with non-cooperation in any respect with the U.N. inspectors, would trigger "serious consequences," under U.N. 1441. Under clear threat of a potential unilateral American attack, the Security Council attempted to finesse the dangerous situation, even though other members of the Security Council, notably France, voiced a belief that further deliberations and U.N. resolutions were to be preferred.
U.S. Iraq policy in 2003 thus contained new elements. While not forsaking U.N. guidance, it no longer depended solely on guidelines set by that body. Having rejected continuation of a U.S. policy of merely containing Saddam that had been pursued by the first Bush Administration and by former President Clinton, and with the full authority of enacted law of the United States behind him, the George W. Bush administration turned up the pressure on Iraq by threatening full scale war. This more aggressive approach appeared to be a direct byproduct of the demonstrated breakdown in the credibility of U.S. deterrent policy that served to preserve peace during the Cold War. Deterrence of the U.S. from attack dramatically had failed, as was illustrated in the September 11, 2001 events. In terms of general foreign policy doctrine to achieve national security, Bush offered a new, alternative vision: a policy of pre-emptive war, first outlined at West Point on June 1, 2002, and affirmed as basic U.S. policy in a September 2002 official position paper known as the National Security Strategy. Iraq would be the first test of the efficacy of this doctrine as a means to advance U.S. national security.
Ramifications. As winter 2003 wore on, the stated U.S. policy, while backed up by Congressional authorization, produced significant change. First, Iraqi cooperation with U.N. weapons inspections appeared greatly to increase under this new pressure. Second, this newly cooperative Iraqi pose, paired with ill ease over the prospect of a war not endorsed by the Security Council, led to a substantial rift between the U.S. and two of its most important European allies, France and Germany, whose governments openly opposed any unilateral U.S. war. Russia, too, openly rejected U.S. efforts to enlist the authority of the world body; and China also expressed no support. Only the U.S. and the U.K. (among the Permanent Members of the Security Council) and only Spain and Bulgaria (among the elected members of that body) favored war. The outcome of the crisis hung heavily over the world as winter 2003 turned toward Spring. Basic features of the international system (e.g., the European- U.S. alliance; Turkish- U.S. ties; the reputation of the U.S.) appeared in jeopardy as the U.S./U.K. challenge to U.N. authority grew more direct.
War of 2003. Viewing the threat posed by a potential Al Qaeda - Iraq connection, one linked to what were believed to be arsenals of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the Bush Administration found the danger to be too great. After a final round of diplomacy at the United Nations in February 2003 proved unable to overcome French, German and Russian objections to war with Iraq, the U.S. withdrew earlier requests that the Security Council explicitly authorize war. Relying on language in November's resolution (i.e., U.N. Sec. Council 1441) that threatened Iraq with "serious consequences" if it did not immediately disarm, Bush set his own deadline. Iraq failed to comply and on March 19, 2003, the U.S. and the U.K. began bombing and simultaneously mounted a land invasion of Iraq.
The war strategy was built on the assumption that swift changes on the ground in Iraq would lead to the collapse of the regime, and in this the strategy proved correct. In three swift weeks of rapid advance, the U.S. Armed Forces swept across Iraq from the south, bypassing many cities, and taking the city of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. Displays of jubilation spontaneously followed, as Iraqis celebrated the defeat of the Saddam regime by pulling statues of the dictator through the streets of the capital. These disorderly celebrations masked a broader disorder, as looting broke out not just in the capital city but across the nation. The war strategy of rapid "shock and awe" leading to the collapse of the regime had failed to anticipate the need for "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" to maintain an orderly occupation of the population centers after the fall of the regime. Indeed, on Feb. 22, 2003, Gen. Eric Shinseki, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, 1999-2003 (who was quoted in the sentence immediately above), had told Congress just that (USA Today 2003). But he and other generals who before the war had advocated a heavy post-war footprint for the U.S. Armed Forces had been ignored, and commanders in favor Bush's lean strategy, notably Gen. Tommy Franks, implemented Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's plan for the post-war. It was built around a nimble 130,000 troops.
Soon, documents were uncovered that seemed to establish that Saddam was indeed linked to Al Qaeda. On April 27, 2003 documents were published in London that had been recovered from the ruins of one of Iraq's security agencies, the Mukhabarat. They confirmed that in the 1990s the Saddam regime had had a series of meetings with Al Qaeda's representatives. Most observers expected a similarly quick confirmation of hidden WMD, but in this they were disappointed as military resources were required for other tasks.
Though the Saddam regime collapsed as Baghdad fell, resistance to the invasion mixed with celebrations of liberation. Looting broke out where the authority of U.S. armed force was too distant to influence matters. Moreover, not all of Iraq was as swiftly liberated as Baghdad: British forces laying siege to the important southern Iraqi city of Basra encountered several weeks of resistance before that second largest Iraqi city fell. Some areas in Northern Iraq also were briefly a problem. Denied a northern invasion route by a newly reluctant Turkish Government, U.S. Special Forces and Kurdish militias tied up Saddam's forces in Northern Iraq until forces of the 101st Airborne Division could supplement there. Once Baghdad had fallen, however, Iraqi defenses of the key northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul swiftly collapsed. Joint forces of Kurds and U.S. Special Forces briefly occupied these large urban areas until regular U.S. Army troops could take control. In Mosul, Iraqi commanders surrendered; in Kirkuk, they fled. Pres. Bush soon declared "major combat operations" to have been completed in a dramatic --and clearly premature-- but much photographed statement aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003.
Over the next several months, an American administration was established, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and was recognized by the U.N. as the legitimate occupying authority. Several additional allied nations (e.g., Spain, Italy, Poland) contributed small contingents of armed forces to assist. But allied unity soon was shaken when Spanish voters, reeling from a March 2004 Al Qaeda attack on the Madrid railroad stations that killed 190, voted in a new Government committed to complete Spanish withdrawal from Iraq; Spain pulled out by summer 2004, and other allies would follow suit in the following years.
Throughout 2004, occupying troops continued to be harassed by guerrilla-type acts of terrorism stemming from several sources: disgruntled Ba'athist supporters of the fallen Saddam regime; energized Shi'ite militias operating under influence of radical clerics and with Iranian aid; and internationalist fighters drawn to Iraq as part of an anti-Western jihad. These later forces appeared to be led by Al Qaeda-linked terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who later was killed by coalition troops in summer 2006. As in most insurgencies, these diverse opponents of a U.S.-backed Iraq won no significant military engagements, but created a steady stream of deadly casualties to U.S. armed forces. In the first two years, 2003-05, over 1500 U.S. military personnel died in operations in Iraq, the great majority in dealing with the insurgency that sprang up after the April 2003 fall of the Saddam regime. No less than ten times this number of Iraqis also perished in the violence in those first two years of the insurgency.
These human costs troubled the American people. But equally important to the erosion of public support for the Iraq project was the problem of the missing WMD, a chief rationale for the war in the first place. The political costs of this realization took some time to be fully clear. From the start, firm evidence of weapons of mass destruction eluded American search teams, but initially the chief of the U.S. search team, David Kay, presented an October 2003 interim report that found many indications that a banned weapons program had indeed existed. Clearly confirmed was strong evidence of Iraq's continuing evasion of its obligations under U.N. 1441 to declare all of its banned weapons programs, an evasion that continued right down to the fall of Baghdad (April 9, 2003). These views combined with the fuller picture of Iraq's ties to international terrorism to convince the Bush Administration of the correctness of the course it had followed.
By 2004, however, the administration's key weapons expert, Bush-appointee David Kay, himself became less convinced that banned weapons did exist in any substantial quantity: he resigned in January 2004. Though small quantities of explosive weapons using banned sarin gas were used in terrorist actions against U.S. occupation forces in Spring 2004, and while a handful of WMD equipped munitions did turn up, no major cache of banned weapons was unearthed despite U.S. rule in Iraq and unlimited searching. In the absence of such finds, doubt grew in other nations and among substantial numbers of Americans regarding the wisdom of this first application of the doctrine of preemption. In September 2004, the CIA issued the Duelfer Report which found no WMD to have existed in Iraq in 2003. Despite these embarrassing revelations, Bush narrowly was re-elected U.S. President a bare two months later.
In attempting to create and maintain as secure an Iraqi environment as possible, managing the transition to Iraqi self-government became a prominent challenge for the U.S.. In October 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a U.S. goal of an Iraqi-authored Constitution for Iraq within six months, a timetable that later was amended to include a transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi Government on June 30, 2004. A high point of this phase of the U.S. occupation era came in December 2003, when U.S. forces captured the former dictator Saddam Hussein, hiding in an unguarded hole in the ground near his home town of Tikrit; later he was tried by an Iraqi court, found guilty of numerous crimes, and executed December 30, 2006. Despite having this symbol of victory in hand, strong resistance to U.S. occupation continued. Though the scope of the insurgency briefly was reduced later in 2004 when Shi'ite rebels were induced by community leaders to lay down their arms to join a political process pointing toward elections, fighting never fully ended. Moreover, the turn toward elections was not without risks: Iraqis associated with the U.S. military occupation were targeted in a series of vicious bombings that struck many targets, especially police and military recruits and officers trained by the U.S., and others. One bombing killed the president of the Iraqi Provisional Authority, but dozens of average Iraqis also were injured or killed in random bombings by terrorists virtually every day.
Between late 2004 and 2007, the insurgency increasingly took on the character of a civil war, with Iraqis killing Iraqis in far greater numbers than were Iraqis killing Americans. These events were predicted in a document captured in January 2004 that outlined a sectarian strategy for international terrorists linked to Al Qaeda; their leader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, also declared his loyalty to Osama bin Laden and renamed his group "Al Qaeda in Iraq" in 2004. Zarqawi, a Sunni, would foment civil war against Shi'ites in order to produce social chaos. Initially, major U.S. counter-insurgency operations in Fallujah (a major city in western Al Anbar province) in 2004, brought substantial progress toward socially isolating these insurgents. Elections and other elements in a democratization process elsewhere in the country also showed promise. In January 2005, a general election was held despite Zarqawi's threats and bombings, electing a constituent assembly for a new Iraqi constitution. While participation rates varied widely among regions (and was particularly low in the predominantly Sunni Al Anbar province), most groups and faith traditions participated. International observers found the 2005 election to be credible, freely conducted and the votes fairly counted. (for further analysis of the conflict and its relationship to the wider War on Terrorism, go here).
But democratization could not thrive in a charnel house. By late 2006, sectarian violence, suicide bombings by internationalist supporters of "Al Qaeda in Iraq," kidnappings for profit, and inter-tribal blood feuds, racked the country. Only in the northern Kurdistan regions did the U.S. troops retain substantial public good will. Bush opted for a change in approach early in 2007. Something new needed to be attempted.
Enter "The Surge." Politically unpalatable as it would turn out to be, Bush determined that more troops would be needed if the U.S. was to avoid defeat in Iraq. In January 2007, General David Petraeus, an expert in counterinsurgency warfare, was nominated and unanimously was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new commander of multinational forces in Iraq, taking his post in February 2007. Twenty thousand additional Army and Marines were sent to the war zone, upping the U.S. contingent to 160,000. Petraeus repositioned U.S. forces to work visibly and in public with the new Iraqi Army, securing neighborhoods in small units. Large scale U.S. fortresses were de-emphasized. Smaller outposts were constructed and jointly manned by Iraqi Armed Forces and U.S. troops, the two now allied armies. This approach at counterinsurgency took risks in order to convey to the Iraqi people that the U.S. was going to stay until meaningful security was obtained for most Iraqis. A primary focus of the Surge was the city of Baghdad, where large numbers of U.S. troops initially took control of the streets from the rival militias.
Political changes had to follow from the changed military approach. At one important level, the gamble paid off: militias that had been waging civil war and attacking Americans throughout 2005-06 backed off in the face of larger numbers of U.S. troops. Suicide bombings fell in their number and their effect, as Sunnis began to reappraise their earlier support for extreme measures. As security advances accompanied these changes, the strategy was substantially embraced by Shi'ite militias by mid-summer 2007. On the Shi'ite side of the sectarian divide, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr declared a six month truce, ordering his followers to step aside and refrain from major retaliation against Sunni militias, leaving the Shi'ite controlled Iraqi Army and its U.S. allies to wage a war now focused against al Qaeda in Iraq. Noticeably higher levels of cooperation with U.S. troops began to occur in Sadr City neighborhoods of Baghdad, as Shi'ites showed less resistance to Americans when they were accompanied by Iraqi Army troops, many commanded by Shi'ites. Outside of Baghdad, meaningful reductions in violence were achieved through a U.S. political opening toward Iraqi Sunni leaders, many of whom had supported al Qaeda in Iraq only a year earlier. Petraeus' forces began to arm and train these Sunni militia, and a great reduction in violence took place across Al Anbar province, the setting of 2004-05 fierce fighting between American armed forces and the combined fighters of the Sunni militias aligned with Al Qaeda in Iraq. This "Anbar Awakening" spread from Fallujah and Ramadi to other Sunni areas, and by the turn of calendars to 2008, only in the Mosul area were substantial Sunni forces still resisting what had come to be known as Petraeus' "Surge" strategy. In February 2008, the strategy received a further boost when al-Sadr renewed his truce for an additional six months, extending into summer 2008. Buttressed by this progress, legislators in the Iraqi parliament began serious work on reconciliation and major legislative initiatives that had been stalled for three years were passed early in 2008.
While allies inside Iraq were a key to the progress made under the Surge strategy, support for the new strategy from international allies was harder to find. In February 2007, British Prime Minister Tony Blair (who would resign his office later that year substantially under pressures felt within his own Labour Party over what was perceived as his mishandling of the Iraq issue) announced a substantial reduction of British forces in the Southern Iraqi Basra region, claiming their mission there to have been successful, a conclusion at complete variance with extensive British Government and think tank studies documenting growing lawlessness and violence among Shi'ites in Southern Iraq (Knights). Poland and Ukraine also reduced the numbers of their forces serving in the multinational coalition commanded by Petraeus.
Yet, the Surge strategy bore substantial fruit, as levels of violence continued to decline. November 2008 had the lowest U.S. casualties of the entire war, and attacks on U.S. forces were down eighty percent just since March 2008, according to U.S. commanders (Reid). Ironically, American war-fighting techniques seemed most to be succeeding just in time for a presidential election (2008) in which the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq was featured as the most popular theme in an election campaign overshadowed by Americans' new fear fixation: economic recession and loss of jobs at home in the U.S.A. For the first time, in Fall 2008 U.S. voters would be presented a clear policy choice about Iraq as embodied by the pro-Surge Republican nominee John McCain and his Democratic Party rival, Barack Obama. Obama won in a landslide. But the Bush Administration pressed on with its strategy, and during the transition to the Obama Administration was able to gain agreement with the Iraq Government and Parliament. On December 4, 2008, the Status of Forces Agreement legally authorizing the United States military to continue its presence inside Iraq was ratified. The occupiers had become the partners of the Iraq Government; and it was agreed policy of the two governments that American troops would leave Iraqi cities by the end of 2010.
President Obama declared the U.S. combat role in Iraq to be over on September 1, 2010. Unable to reach agreement with the Government of Iraq regarding terms and conditions for extension of the Status of Forces Agreement due to expire at the close of 2011, Obama ordered withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces, who in fact did withdraw in mid December 2011, ending over 20 years of U.S. military campaigns focused on that nation. Within six weeks, Sunni radicals who were alienated from the ruling Maliki Government began a series of suicide attacks and other bombings targeting Shi'ite neighborhoods and Shi'ite pilgrims on their way to Karbala. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed credit, though it was not clear if they or other Sunni groups actually had committed the attacks. The largely Shi'ite backed Maliki Government responded by arresting Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni and Vice President of Iraq, alleging vague crimes involving corruption and ties to terrorist groups. These events contributed to a weaking security situation for all Iraqis, and part of the frustration of government supporters then focused on the remaining foreigners, including foreign diplomats of the U.S. Embassy, several of whom were detained on trumped up charges of failing to possess proper documents to be in the country. Only in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq were most Iraqis still supportive of cordial post-war relations with the United States. Thus is the legacy of the costly U.S. involvement in war with Iraq.
Gordon L. Bowen, February 1, 2012
go here for Prof. Bowen's editorials on Iraq since 2003
go here for Prof. Bowen's editorials on Iraq prior to the start of the 2003 war there
go here for Prof Bowen's January 11, 1991 editorial on Iraq
1. E.G., the 1981 U.N. Security Council Resolution passed at the time condemned Israel, but imposed no sanctions against it (Deming: 40; U.N. 1981: 7). Ironically, Kuwaiti Ambassador Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah joined in this premature chorus, saying "Israel considered all Arab countries to be a target for its strikes, irrespective of the distance that separated it from them... The installation was an enterprise serving certified peaceful purposes" (U.N. 1981: 9). More hypocritically, Soviet representative Oleg Troyanosky claimed "the raid of the Israel Air Force represented a new stage in Israel's policy of international terrorism against Arab states, [backed by]... Washington" (U.N. 1981: 65). No mention, of course, was made of the thousands of bombing raids against Islamic peoples in Afghanistan then being conducted by the air forces of the Red Army. US Representative to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, also joined in to express that the US was: "shocked by the Israeli air strike on the Iraqi nuclear facility and had promptly condemned the action, which reflected and exacerbated deeper antagonisms in the region. ...[T]he US believes the means that Israel had chosen to quiet its fears about the purposes of Iraq's nuclear programme had hurt the peace and security of the area" (U.N. 1981: 71). A somewhat different emphasis may have guided President Reagan, who later opined that "I sympathized with [Israeli Prime Minister] Begin's motivations and privately believed we should have given him the benefit of the doubt. I had no doubt that the Iraqis were trying to develop a nuclear weapon (Reagan: 66)." Publicly, however, his administration deemed it politic to condemn the prescient action of the Jewish state. As columnist George Will would in 2001 (35) remind us, in 1981 the leading beacon in the American press interpreted matters similarly. The New York Times in 1981 had said: "Even assuming that Iraq was hell bent to divert enriched uranium for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, it would have been working toward a capacity that Israel itself acquired long ago. Contrary to its official assertion, therefore, Israel was not in 'mortal danger' of being outgunned. It faced a potential danger of losing its Middle East nuclear monopoly, of being deterred one day from the use of atomic weapons in war." In the years since, some U.S. officials seem later to have thought further about these issues. Do Israeli weapons which pose no threat to U.S. Armed Forces and to U.S. national security interests really equate with the Iraqi weapons that demonstrably are controlled by a proven anti - U.S. aggressor? Some policymakers think they do not. On the wall of 2001 Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. David Ivry's office in Washington D.C. hangs a satellite picture from 1991 of the same Osirak reactor. Ivry was commander of the Israeli Air Force at the time of the Osirak raid. The picture depicts trees growing within the wrecked area where the reactor dome once had stood. Inscribed on the picture is the following: "For Gen. David Ivry, with thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job he did on the Iraqi nuclear program in 1981-- which made our job much easier in Desert Storm." It is signed: "Dick Cheney, Sec. of Defense, 1989-93" (Will: 35). Cheney served as Vice President of the United States, 2001-09.
2. The actual number of Iraqi dead in 1991 may never be fully known. Saddam's Iraq for quite obvious reasons maintained complete silence on this issue. For other reasons, U.S. Department of Defense also refused to go beyond Secretary of Defense (now Vice President) Dick Cheney's remark the day the war ended: "we have no way of knowing precisely how many casualties occurred" (Gellman: 6). The U.S. Census Bureau, however, in 1992, sketched the broad outlines of the war's impact as it prepared its routine update of Iraq's population. Researcher Beth Osborne Daponte estimated that 158,000 Iraqis died of causes related to the Gulf War: 40,000 military from direct combat causes; 13,000 civilians from direct wartime causes; 35,000 postwar deaths in Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings; and 70,000 deaths due to public health consequences of wartime damage to electricity, sewage and other systems (Gellman: 6). Of these war-related deaths, the Census Bureau estimated that 86,194 were men, 39,612 were women, and 32,195 were children. The release of these unclassified routine figures apparently so offended some high in the Administration that they caused Ms. Daponte briefly to be fired for releasing them.
3. The military coalition arrayed against Iraq in 1990-91 consisted of: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Murphy). Financial support for Desert Shield and Desert Storm came from throughout the military coalition members, plus others. All told, $54 billion was pledged to the operation by allies; the U.S. spent approximately $7 billion. Significant financial contributors included: Kuwait $13.5 billion; Saudi Arabia $13.5 billion; Japan almost $9 billion; Germany almost $9 billion (Spanier 1996: 351).
For information about international jihadists in Iraq, see: "Papers Paint New Portrait of Iraq's Insurgents." In the 2007 article, de Young analyzes evidence about foreign fighters in Iraq gathered from Al Qaeda papers seized in a raid on a safe house there, and put online by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (U.S. Military Academy). The CTC also has other collections about Al Qaeda, known as the Harmony collection; it is also worth looking over.
U.S. Military Confrontations with Iraq, 1992- March 2003: Various Mobilizations and Uses of Military Power
At the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War in Kurdish Northern Iraq, and in August 1992 in Southern Iraq, the U.S. had established "No Fly" zones. Initially, British and French aircraft joined American forces in this operation; after early 1993, France pulled its forces out (Byman: 53). The zone in Southern Iraq, at the 32nd parallel, was to protect Shi'ites south of this line, much as protecting Kurds was said to be the purpose of the Northern zone. The policy stated that no Iraqi aircraft would be permitted in the air in this area. In August 1992, enforcement of this policy began in earnest.
Iraq never accepted the "No Fly" zones. In December 1992, challenges of various sorts began, with Iraqi planes briefly entering the zones, and with threats being made by officials to the effect that U.S. aircraft would be shot down. Approximately at this same time, Iraq began obstructing the work of the weapons inspectors from the United Nations, known as UNSCOM, on the ground. The "No Fly" zones policy had teeth and was not merely symbolic: on December 27, 1992, a U.S. jet shot down Iraqi plane in the southern "no fly" zone.
As the lame duck administration of George H. W. Bush wrapped up, on January 13, 1993, the U.S. launched a major air raid: 115 U.S. Aircraft bombed missile sites in Iraq.
The policy extended beyond the declared "no fly" zones and had offensive elements that went beyond merely responding to threats posed by Iraqi radar. On January 17, 1993, 40 cruise missiles attacked the Zaa'faraniyah nuclear complex and other sites in the Baghdad region (Byman: 52); U.S. planes also downed an Iraqi jet, and destroyed a missile site in northern Iraq.
On January 18, 1993, eighteen U.S., UK and French jets attacked Iraqi air defense centers. The next day, January 19, 1993, U.S. planes dropped cluster bombs, and launched air-to-ground missiles on Iraqi anti-aircraft and missile sites. Right to the end of the first Bush Administration, on January 21-22, U.S. jets attacked radar sites in northern Iraq.
(end of George H. W. Bush Administration)
Iraq then suspended its open defiance of UNSCOM, but resumed its tactics of evasion. After a brief pause during the early days of the Clinton Presidency, on April 9, 1993, the implementation of the "no fly" policy continued: 4 U.S. planes dropped cluster bombs near Mosul, in northern Iraq. On April 18, 1993, U.S. jets again attacked near Mosul. Between May 13-20, 1993, Iraq fired on U.S. aircraft four more times.
U.S. responses again went beyond mere enforcement of "no fly" zones. On June 27, 1993, in retaliation for Iraq's attempted assassination by car bomb of former U.S. Pres. George H. W. Bush during his visit to Kuwait, U.S. Tomahawk Missiles hit Baghdad, destroying the headquarters of Iraq's intelligence service. But the aerial enforcement policy also continued, as two days later, on June 29, 1993, U.S. plane fired on Iraqi antiaircraft battery in Southern Iraq. Similar raids occurred on July 24, 1993 (when a U.S. airplane fired on sites in southern Iraq); July 29, 1993 (when two U.S. Navy jets fired on Iraqi antiaircraft batteries); and August 19, 1993 (when U.S. planes attacked near Mosul).
Though the over-flights continued, the largest U.S.-Iraq confrontation in 1994 occurred during the Fall when, after Iraq mobilized significant armored forces near the Kuwaiti border, the U.S. mobilized air and ground forces in "Operation Vigilant Warrior", and Iraq pulled back. The crisis began early in October when intelligence picked up movement of two armored divisions of the Iraqi Republican Guard on the move near the Kuwait border. As the U.S. undertook massive mobilization, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 949, demanding an immediate Iraqi pull back from the region; Chinese and Russian support for the resolution, however, was unenthusiastic. The mobilization consisted of an additional carrier group to the region, the U.S.S. George Washington, a Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit, and an Army Mechanized task Force (Byman: 55-56). French and British warships also joined the mobilization. After five days of tense standoff, the Iraqis announced they would withdraw, and stated that they recognized both the border and Kuwait. These were, of course, among the terms required more than four years earlier under their 1991 surrender.
In August 1995, U.S. intelligence detected unusual Iraqi troop movements: 13 US warships were mobilized in Persian Gulf in response.
In March, 1996, a coalition of Kurdish fighters and militants of the Iraqi National Congress had defeated Saddam's forces in a skirmish in Northern Iraq, embarrassing the regime. But, on July 25, 1996, U.S. personnel also had suffered a setback: at Khobar, Saudi Arabia they had come under terrorist attack, and a car bomb had killed 19 U.S. servicemen. With some attention diverted from Iraq, Saddam was poised to move. Factional fighting among Kurdish groups created an opportunity of the Saddam regime to re-enter the region which had been under nominal U.S. protection for five years. On August 29, 1996, Iraq moved approximately 30,000 troops and several hundred tanks into the Kurdish North, taking quickly much of the region, including the city of Irbil. Hundreds of supporters of the U.S. and opponents of Saddam were rounded up and imprisoned or killed. In response to these advances, the U.S. launched 44 cruise missiles and began aircraft bombardments of radar and other military installations, not in Kurdish areas but in Southern Iraq. The existing "no fly zone" was extended northward to the 33rd parallel, practically to the suburbs of Baghdad. These limited U.S. responses produced a response by Saddam: his forces in the north withdrew to the earlier ceasefire lines, and he dispersed his Republican Guard units in the region (Byman: 59).
At the diplomatic level, the U.S. responses to the Kurdish crisis of 1996 had carried costs. Neither Saudi Arabia nor Turkey would permit the U.S. to use bases on their soil in this attack on Iraq. They each attempted to define Kurdish Iraq as an "internal" Iraqi matter; Egypt pointedly stated that no U.N. resolution barred the Saddam government from Kurdish areas (Byman: 60-61). Even Spain blocked passage of U.S. 117A aircraft through bases there. France criticized the U.S. action at the U.N. Security Council discussion of the topic.
Throughout the year, U.S. intelligence worked with U.N. inspectors to try to discover the extent to which Iraq had ongoing programs to build weapons of mass destruction. In April 1997, a raid by UNSCOM at Baghdad University found evidence that ricin research was being conducted there. That raid was conducted by Terry Taylor, an UNSCOM inspector and former British Army colonel. The evidence of ricin research was found in the office of microbiologist Shahir Al-Quedi, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology (Mangold: 301-304). The Chief UNSCOM inspector, Richard Butler, on October 6, 1997, told the U.N. that Iraq's version of its biological weapons program was not credible, and that the UNSCOM was being deceived by Iraq. Iraq attempted to change the subject. In its view, the close U.S. intelligence relationship with UNSCOM was what was unacceptable. So, on October 29, 1997, Iraq announced it would expel American members of the UNSCOM inspection team then in Iraq. The U.N. Security Council denounced the threat and imposed limitations on travel by Iraqi officials, but failed to grant explicit new authority for a more forceful response. Unilaterally, the U.S. dispatched two aircraft carrier groups to region, and additional aircraft were deployed to Turkey. A poll taken at the time showed 53 percent of Americans favored using force if Saddam continued to block UNSCOM, and 82 percent would favor force if Iraq shot down any U.S. spy plane (Bymam: 2). Unmoved, Iraq expelled the Americans on November 13, and UNSCOM withdrew for three weeks. The crisis ebbed when Russian diplomacy produced a formula allowing UNSCOM, including the Americans, to return. Iraq then declared "presidential palaces" off limits to UNSCOM, setting the stage for two crises in 1998.
In February 1998, the impasse over inspectors nearly led to major military action. Only intervention by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan defused this crisis, but his intervention "greatly weakened the inspection effort" (Byman: 65). The terms of this agreement contained concessions to Iraq: Presidential sites would require special treatment; advanced warning of an inspection to them would be required; and diplomats would be required to accompany UNSCOM inspectors to insure Iraq's dignity was being respected. Iraq then placed the eight sites, with more than one thousand buildings, under this "Presidential sites" designation; one site was larger than the land area of the entirety of Washington D.C. In August, Iraq found even these terms too onerous, and ended all cooperation with UNSCOM. A crisis was building: "The Senate and House passed a resolution, signed on Aug. 14, declaring Iraq to be in 'material breach' of the cease-fire" (Kelly: 29) of 1991. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1194 (September 9, 1998) suspended all review of sanctions but in October, Iraq was again offered a chance to comply by that same Security Council. Iraqi dithering continued: in late Fall, after months of obstructing and obfuscating, Iraq announced a complete end to all cooperation with UNSCOM and that specific U.N. Commission never would return to the defiant nation. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1205 then declared Iraq in "flagrant violation" of the February 1998 agreement. Pres. Clinton threatened air strikes, and on November 14, Iraq again announced it would cooperate; U.S. B-52s then in the air on their way to attack were called back, and a planned air raid was cancelled. Nearly all states in the Middle East supported the U.S. diplomatically in the November 1998 crisis; none blocked use of U.S. bases. One month later, on December 15, 1998, UNSCOM declared that Iraq had refused to deliver requested documents, and that Iraq again was blocking inspections.
Operation "Desert Fox." This impasse precipitated, from December 16 to 19, a four day period of large scale U.S. and British air raids over the whole of Iraq unlike any earlier raids since the Gulf War of 1990-91. Approximately 600 aircraft sorties were flown, and about 400 cruise missiles were launched (Byman: 68). After delivering the message of U.S. and U.K. resolve, the Clinton Administration then suspended bombing, ostensibly because the Muslim holy month of Ramadan soon was to begin. Three fourths of Americans, when polled, supported the Desert Fox action (Byman: 2), even though many commentators speculated that its timing was to divert attention from the ongoing impeachment scandal then reaching its nadir with President Clinton.
Popular in the U.S., outside the U.S., Desert Fox played somewhat differently. Saudi Arabia limited U.S. flights from its soil, obstructing the operation. Russia and China denounced the attacks vehemently; but so did U.S. allies France and Egypt. The Russian - Chinese condemnation appears to have been part of a general warming in those two states' relations. On November 23, Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin had made a joint nine point statement calling for the emergence of a "multi polar world" (RFE 1998). Clinton would never again choose to use force on so great a scale in Iraq.
1999-2002: Desert Fox appeared to have had no positive impact on Iraqi behavior, and the conflict continued. Mass arrests within Iraq, and new Iraqi provocations in the air, suggested that Saddam's determination was hardened by the more robust air raids. Over the next four years, Iraq did not permit UNSCOM or any UN inspectors to return. If anything, he was rewarded for his intransigence. In response to continued Iraqi demands for greater accommodation of its perspective, in December 1999 the Security Council passed Resolution 1284, creating a U.N. successor agency (e.g., UNMOVIC), to resume inspections focused on the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In exchange for Iraqi cooperation, discussions on ending sanctions were promised. Iraq blocked UNMOVIC from entering Iraq, 1999-2002, but did commence conversations with the U.N. Secretary General in February 2001 for the purpose of linking the lifting of sanctions to Iraqi cooperation with UNMOVIC. The U.S. took the view that such negotiations amounted to appeasing Iraq, and would not permit sanctions to be lifted.
In this context, the joint U.S.-British policy of aerial surveillance and protection of "No Fly" zones continued. These flights continued to be a flash point in U.S. relations with the Saddam regime. According to a news release of Jan. 21, 2002 from the U.S. Central Command, between the end of the Dec. 1998 air raids and January 2002, the U.S. fired on Iraqi sites 1050 times (Graham: 12).
In most instances, the U.S. raids were in response to Iraqi provocations. According to the U.S. European Command (Loeb 2002: 23), in the Northern "No Fly Zone" in calendar 1999, Iraq took aggressive actions against U.S. and/or U.K. aircraft 143 times; did so 145 times in calendar 2000; 97 times in 2001; and 32 times in 2002 (through late June, only).
In 1999: These virtually continuous over-flights of Iraq were conducted under orders to US/UK flyers to use their aircraft to attack if so menaced. This policy led to frequent air attacks on Iraq, throughout each year. In the Northern "No Fly Zone," only, the U.S. and U.K. returned fire 102 times in 1999, 48 times in 2000, and 11 times in 2001 (Loeb 2002: 23).
Some examples from 1999 (Loeb 2002; and WP 1999: 24) will indicate the large scale of the operations. Bold indicates one of these more robust raids involving more than 5 bombs/missiles in the Northern "No Fly" Zone; Bold italicized indicates one of these more robust raids in the Southern "No Fly" zone).:
On January 5, 7, 12, 13, 23, 24, 25 (and 25), 26, 28, 30 and 31(and 31), the U.S. and/or the U.K. conducted air attacks. Among these, the U.S./U.K. flyers launched more than 5 bombs or missiles on 5 occasions.
On February 2 (and 2), 4, 10 (and 10), 11 (and 11), 12, 13 (and 13), 15, 19, 21 (and 21), 22 (and 22), 23, 24 (and 24), 27 (and 27), and 28, the U.S. and/or the U.K. conducted air attacks. Among these, the U.S./U.K. flyers launched more than 5 bombs or missiles on 12 occasions.
Similar patrols occurred between March and December, and the U.S. and/or the U.K. flyers continued to conduct air attacks when menaced by ground radar or by other threats.
Despite Iraq's non-cooperation, on December 17, 1999, the UN Security Council lifted the limits on "Oil for Food" sales by Iraq on condition that the weapons destruction work of the suspended UNSCOM be resumed under a new agency, UNMOVIC. Iraq rejected UNMOVIC, and no inspections occurred.
Thus on December 28 and 30, the U.S. and/or the U.K. again conducted air raids.
The air raids continued in 2000-2002:
Continuous over-flights of Iraq and orders to US/UK aircraft to attack if menaced led to frequent air attacks on Iraq, throughout these years. Aircraft of the U.S. and/or the U.K. returned fire 48 times in 2000 and 11 times in 2001 (Loeb 2002: 23).
Iraq and the U.S. War on Terrorism. The decade old policy of containing Iraq continued after September 11, 2001. Attacks that day on the U.S. by Al Qaeda terrorists led on September 15 to the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 23, the formal U.S. Congressional authorization to use force against terrorists and against the states that harbor and assist them "...in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States..." Iraqi connections to the Al Qaeda were not quickly established, but by mid October 2001 the use of weapons grade anthrax in further terrorist attacks against the U.S. Senate offices of Senate Majority Leader Daschle, and elsewhere, raised suspicions of an Iraqi connection. Reports of meetings between Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague deepened these suspicions, but by May 2002 could not be fully verified. In August 2002, reports of the presence of Al Qaeda inside Iraq reinforced perceptions among Americans that war with Iraq was coming, a hypothetical war supported by a majority that month.
Meanwhile, the ongoing policy of attacking Iraqi air defenses when they menaced U.S. and/or U.K. aircraft continued. On Nov. 27, 2001, the U.S. attacked an Iraqi anti-aircraft site in first post Sept. 11 raid, one of 11 such air raids during calendar 2001 (Loeb 2002: 23).
After the success of the first stage of the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, the U.S. policy toward Iraq stiffened in 2002. On January 21, 2002, the U.S. attacked Iraqi anti-aircraft site in near Tallil, 170 miles southeast of Baghdad. Between January and July, on 14 occasions in the southern zone and on 8 occasions in the northern zone, U.S. and/or U.K. jets bombed Iraqi positions.
As U.S. relations with Iraq became more strained in the latter part of the Summer of 2002, U.S. and/or U.K. air raids became more frequent. On Friday July 19, and on Tuesday July 23, allied jets struck radar repeater stations in southern Iraq. In August: on August 23, U.S. aircraft flying out of Incirlik, Turkey, attacked radar installations near Irbil, Iraq; on August 25, two sites in southern Iraq were hit, including an Iraqi military intelligence headquarters in Basra used to monitor U.S. activities in the region. On August 27, radar installations near Mosul were bombed. Also on August 27, U.S. and/or U.K. aircraft struck An Nukhayb in southern Iraq, a raid unrelated to a specific provocation originating that day in that place and said to be in retaliation for a series of actions by Iraq.
The situation sharply intensified in September - October 2002. After the U.N. passage of Security Council Resolution 1441 (November 8, 2002), any further Iraqi interference with the implementation of all U.N. resolutions could be interpreted as a violation of 1441, setting in motion the "serious consequences" mentioned in that Resolution. Accordingly, repetition of the routine Iraqi firing on U.S. and U.K. aircraft patrolling the "No Fly" zones brought broader U.S. responses. On ten days in September 2002, 17 different air strikes occurred. In October, allied planes bombed nine targets on six of those 31 days. November 2002 was the busiest month yet, with eighteen targets hit on eleven separate days. The holiday month of Ramadan/December 2002 also knew no respite: on 11 separate days eighteen more targets were hit (Loeb 2003: 12).
2003: On seven of the first 13 days of January 2003, Allied aircraft attacked eighteen separate Iraqi sites (Loeb 2003: 12). Air raids continued into mid February.
After the U.S. invaded Iraq (March 19, 2003) and roundly defeated the Saddam regime by taking Baghdad (April 9, 2003), the policy of aerial enforcement of "no fly zones" over Iraq ended. Bases from which the "no fly" policy was carried out (in Turkey and Saudi Arabia) were announced to be closed within a few months. In August 2003, the U.S. air forces based at the main U.S. airbase in Saudi Arabia were relocated to Qatar.
Notifications Sent to Congress Under the War Powers Resolution of U.S. Military Actions that had the Effect of Aiding Iraq in Its War against Iran, 1980-88.
1. On July 14, 1988, President Reagan reported to Congress that U.S. boats and helicopters engaged in gunfire with Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf.
2. On July 4, 1988, President Reagan reported to Congress that, "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," the USS Vincennes and the USS Elmer Montgomery sank two Iranian boats and shot down a civilian Iranian airliner.
3. On April 19, 1988, President Reagan again reported that, "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," five days earlier the USS Samuel B. Roberts had struck a mine in the Persian Gulf and had attacked and destroyed two Iranian oil platforms in retaliation, but that these actions were then completed.
4. On October 20, 1987, President Reagan reported that, "consistent with the War Powers Resolution," the U.S. armed forces had destroyed an Iranian oil platform in the Persian Gulf.
5. Ten days earlier, on October 10, he used the same language to report on U.S. responses to Iranian attacks, responses that had led to the sinking of an Iranian boat.
6. On September 23, 1987, Reagan reported to Congress that U.S. forces had fired on an Iranian boat laying mines in the Persian Gulf on September 21. The War Powers Act, however, was not mentioned in this report.
Source used in Appendix II:
Ellen C. Collier, "The War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance," Congressional Research Service Study No. IB81050 (Washington DC: Library of Congress/CRS, December 4, 1989): 14pp.
sources in main essay and Appendix I:
ABC News, "Line in the Sand," (television news special, New York: ABC News, September 9, 1990).
James Adams, "The Real Lesson of the Gulf War," The Atlantic (November 1991): 36-50.
Amnesty International 1989, Amnesty International Report 1989 (London and New York: Amnesty International, 1989): 257-260.
James Baker, with Thomas DeFrank, The Politics of Diplomacy (NY: Putnam's and Sons, 1995).
Mario Bettati, "The Right to Interfere," Washington Post (April 14, 1991): B7.
Jonathan Birchall, "Iraq's Turning to the West Starts to Pay Off," Business Week (March 25, 1985): 51.
Gordon L. Bowen, "Israel Destroys Iraqi Nuclear Reactor" in Great Events: 1900-2001 revised edition, v. 5 (Pasadena CA: Salem Press, 2002): 2026-2028.
Gordon L. Bowen, "Israel Destroys an Iraqi Nuclear Reactor" in The Twentieth Century: Great Events (Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1993): pp. 1114-1116.
Peter J. Bowyer, "Scott Ritter's Private War." New Yorker 74 (November 9, 1998): 56-74.
William J. Broad, "Warning on Iraq and Bomb Bid Silenced in '89," New York Times (April 20, 1992): 1, 5.
George H. W. Bush (U.S. President), "Bush Letter Warns Saddam of Stakes: War 'Choice is Yours to Make,' President says in rejected message," Washington Post (Jan. 13, 1991): A20.
George W. Bush (U.S. President), "A Decade of Deception and Defiance: Saddam Hussein's Defiance of the United Nations" (September 12, 2002).
George W. Bush (U.S. President), "President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly," (Sept. 12, 2002).
Richard Butler, The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security ( NY: Public Affairs, 2001).
Daniel L. Byman and Matthew C. Waxman, Confronting IRaq: U.S. Policy and the Use of Force Since the Gulf War (Santa Monica CA: RAND/National Defense Research Institute, 2000).
Gerard Chaliand, ed., The People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan (London: Zed Press, 1988).
Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd, "Curveball: how U.S. was duped by fantasist looking to topple Saddam," The Guardian (London, UK: February 15, 2011): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/15/curveball-iraqi-fantasist-cia-saddam
Cordesman, Anthony, "The Fog of War and the Fog of Politics," New York Times Book Review (April 5, 1992): 7.
Alan Crowell, "Iraq Chief, Boasting of Poison Gas, Warns of Disaster if Israelis Strike," New York Times (April 3, 1990): 1.
Alan Colwell, "Iraqi Leaders Take Trash Line at Meeting," New York Times (May 29, 1990): 8.
CQ7: Editors of Congressional Quarterly, The Middle East seventh edition (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1991).
CQA 1985; Congressional Quarterly Almanac 1985 (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1986).
CQA 1990; Congressional Quarterly Almanac 1990 (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1991).
CQWR 1980; Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (May 30, 1980): 1519.
CQWR 1989; Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 47, 13 (April 1, 1980): 714.
CRS, "Iraq-Kuwait Crisis: A Chronology of Events, July 17, 1990 - February 7, 1991," (Washington DC: US Library of Congress/Congressional Research Service, February 9, 1991): 52pp.
Current History 1995a: "The Month in Review," Current History (December 1995): 445.
Current History 1995b: "The Month in Review," Current History (October 1995): 351.
Current History 1997: "The Month in Review: November 1996," Current History (January 1997): 45.
Agnus Deming, "A Vote Against Israel," Newsweek (June 29, 1981): 40.
Daniel Diller, The Middle East seventh edition (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1991).
Michael Dobbs, "U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup," Washington Post (December 30, 2002): 1.
Michael Drew and James Schwartz, "The Brewing Confrontation (a time line)," Washington Post (January 15, 1991): 14-17.
Charles Duelfer, Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD (Washington: C.I.A., September 30, 2004).
Kitty Dumas, "Hill Members Renew Attempts to Impose Trade Sanctions," CQWR (April 28, 1990): 1281-2.
Nader Entessar, "The Kurdish Mosaic of Discord," Third World Quarterly 11 (October 1989): 83-98.
Europa, "Iraq," The Europa Yearbook 1988 v.1 (London: Europa Publications, 1988): 1411-1420.
Glenn Frankel, "Britain Reclaiming Role As Top US Ally, Cooperation Has Returned to World War II Level, Analysts Say," Washington Post (January 19, 1991): 23.
Frances Fukuyama, "The End of History?" The National Interest (Summer 1989).
John Gaddis, "The Long Peace: Elements of Stability in the Postwar International System," International Security 10, 4 (Spring 1986).
Barton Gellman, "Census Worker Who Calculated '91 Iraqi Death Toll Is Told She Will Be Fired," Washington Post (March 6, 1992): 6.
Alexander George, "The Persian Gulf Crisis, 1990-1991," in Avoiding War: Problems of Crisis Management Ed. Alexander George (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991): 567-576.
Patrick Glynn, "Bombs Away," The New Republic 205, 22 (October 28, 1991): 13-16.
John Goshko, "Military Gear Transferred by Saudis, U.S. Confirms," Washington Post (April 21, 1992): 15.
Bradley Graham, "U.S. Planes Hit Antiaircraft Site in Iraq," Washington Post (January 22, 2002): 12.
Ahmed Hashim, "Iraq: Fin de Regime?" Current History (January 1996): 10-15.
S. Henderson, Instant Empire: Saddam Hussein's Ambitions for Iraq (San Francisco CA: Mercury, 1991).
Historic Documents of 1984 (Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1985).
Mark Hosenball, "Blind Eye: Ignoring the Iraqi Bomb," The New Republic 205, 22 (November 25, 1991): 20-24.
Bruce W. Jentleson, With Friends Like These: Reagan, Bush and Saddam, 1982-1990 (NY: Norton, 1994).
Robert D. Kaplan, "Kurdistan: Sons of Devils," The Atlantic Monthly 260, 5 (November 1987): 38-44.
David Kay, "Bomb Shelter," The New Republic 208, 11 (March 15, 1993): 11-13.
John H. Kelly, "US Diplomacy in the Middle East," Department of State Bulletin (October 1989): 45.
Michael Kelly, "A Chronicle of Defiance," Washington Post (Sept. 18, 2002): 29.
Michael Knights and Ed Williams, "The Calm Before the Storm: The British Experience in Southern Iraq," Policy Focus No. 66 (Washington: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 2007).
Morton Kondracke, "Saddamnation," The New Republic 202, 19 (May 7, 1990): 9-12.
Lardner 1992a: George Lardner, "Gonzalez's Iraq Expose," Washington Post (March 22, 1992): 1, 28.
Lardner 1992b: George Lardner, "CIA Shared Data With Iraq Until Eve of Invasion," Washington Post (April 28, 1992): 6.
Lardner 1992c: George Lardner, "Bush Aides' Ethics Questioned Over Loans to Iraq," Washington Post (April 29, 1992): 6.
LAT; Los Angeles Times, "White House Reportedly Let Saudis Transfer U.S.-Made Arms to Saddam," Washington Post (April 19, 1992): 18.
Ralph B. Levering, The Cold War, 1945-1987 second edition (Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1988).
Flora Lewis, "Baghdad Rages On," New York Times (April 28, 1990): 25.
Vernon Loeb, " 'No Fly' Patrols Praised; U.S. Says Effort Pressures Iraq, Yields Intelligence," Washington Post (July 26, 2002): 23.
Loeb 2003: Vernon Loeb, " Airstrikes in Southern Iraq 'No Fly' Zone Grow," Washington Post (January 15, 2003): 1, 12.
A. S. MacKenzie, Life of Decatur chap. 14.
Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg, Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Biological Warfare (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999): 283-351.
David McDowall, The Kurds (London: Minority Rights Group, 1988).
Gary Milhollin, "Building Saddam Hussein's Bomb," New York Times Magazine (March 8, 1992): section 6, 30-36.
Richard W. Murphy, "The Persian Gulf War," Grolier New Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-ROM (1994).
Williamson Murphy, "Lessons Learned or Not Learned: The Gulf War in Retrospect," in The Use of Force After the Cold War (College Station TX: Texas A and M Press, 2000: 93-110.
Stephanie Neuman, Military Assistance in Recent Wars: The Dominance of Superpowers (New York: Praeger for the Center for Strategic and International Studies of Georgetown University, 1986).
NYT 2000: ___, "Russian Tanker to Unload Its Oil in Oman," New York Times (February 7, 2000): 14.
Edgar O'Ballance, The Kurdish Revolt: 1961-1970 (London: Archon Books, 1973).
Jay Peterzell, "The Life and Crimes of a Middle East Terrorist," Time 137, 2 (January 2, 1991): 28-30.
Julia Preston, "U.S. Says Iraq Still Has Kuwaiti Arms," Washington Post (January 11, 1995): 12.
Ronald Reagan, "Memoirs: An American Life," Time (November 12, 1990): 66.
Robert H. Reid, "Iraq OKs pact with timetable, attacks kill 17" Washington Post online (Dec. 4, 2008): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/04/AR2008120400562.html
RFE 1998: "Russian-Chinese Declaration Released," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline v2, n 277, Part I (November 24, 1998).
Scott Ritter, "Saddam's Trap," The New Republic 219, 25 (December 21, 1998): 16-21.
Trevor Rowe, "UN Security Council Declares Cease-Fire Ending Gulf War," Washington Post (April 12, 1991): 32.
William Safire, "Iraq's U.S. Support," New York Times (May 4, 1990): 35.
H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Peter Petre, It Doesn't Take a Hero, (NY: Bantam, 1993).
Elaine Sciolino, The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis (NY: Wiley, 1991): 166.
Jean Edward Smith, George Bush's War (New York: Holt, 1992).
John Spanier, Games Nations Play ninth edition (Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1996).
Michael Sterner, "Closing the Gate: The Persian Gulf War Revisited" Current History (January 1997): 13-19.
Harry G. Summers, Jr., On Strategy II: A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War (NY: Dell, 1992).
U.N. 1981: United Nations, "Council Condemns Israel's Air Attack on Iraqi Nuclear Reactor," United Nations' Monthly Chronicle (August 1981): 7.
U.N. 1990: United Nations, The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-keeping (New York: United Nations, 1990).
USA Today: "The Agreement" USA Today (February 24, 1998): 6A.
USA Today 2003: "Army Chief: Force to Occupy Iraq Massive," USA Today (February 25, 2003): http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-02-25-iraq-us_x.htm
Stephen M. Walt, "The Iranian Revolution," in Walt, Revolution and War (Ithaca NY: Cornell U.P., 1996): 210-268.
I.R. Watson, "Public Enemy No. 1," Newsweek (April 9, 1990): 26.
George F. Will, "The F-16 Solution," Washington Post (November 1, 2001): 35.
Bob Woodward, The Commanders (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991).
Francis D. Wormuth and Edwin B. Firmage, To Chain the Dog of War: The War Power of Congress in History and law (Dallas TX: Southern Methodist University Press, 1986).
WP 1991: Washington Post (March 7, 1991): 32.
WP 1999: "After Operation Desert Fox," Washington Post (March 7, 1999): 24.
WP 2002: David Montgomery, "Saddam in a Landslide! Florida Ballots Not Yet Counted," Washington Post (October 17, 2002): C1.
WP 2003: "Corrections," Washington Post (January 8, 2003): 2.
This essay last updated February 1, 2012
return to Professor Bowen's main page