Statecraft of Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War, 1990-1991   [open pdf - 619KB]

This essay examines the statecraft of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the context of his invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and his subsequent confrontation by the US-led coalition that culminated in the Desert Storm Campaign the following year. Three "lessons" will be highlighted in this paper from the many that can be drawn from the events during and after his invasion of Kuwait. First, from Saddam's perspective, is the danger of war by miscalculation. Second, the Bush Administration failed to warn Saddam adequately before he invaded Kuwait of the grave consequences of that action. This calls attention to the importance of unambiguous communication of intent in time of crisis to deter action which could lead to armed conflict. Third, the fact that Saddam remains in power and continues to threaten U.S. interests in the Gulf underlies the importance of carefully formulating and implementing political objectives in wartime. The lack of a war-termination strategy and the failure to impose political conditions on Saddam commensurate with the decisive outcome of Desert Storm deprived the military victory of its political fruits. Perhaps the Administration believed that Saddam could not survive politically after the enormity of his defeat, and that they should not take responsibility for a successor regime. If so, this underestimated the staying power of a ruthless dictator.

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