The Persian Gulf War begins

The Persian Gulf War begins

At midnight in Iraq, the United Nations deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expires, and the Pentagon prepares to commence offensive operations to forcibly eject Iraq from its five-month occupation of its oil-rich neighbor.

At 4:30 p.m. EST, the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf on bombing missions over Iraq. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire in television footage transmitted live via satellite from Baghdad and elsewhere. At 7:00 p.m., Operation Desert Storm, the code-name for the massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, was formally announced at the White House.

The operation was conducted by an international coalition under the command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in a massive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure, and encountered little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force or air defenses. Iraqi ground forces were helpless during this stage of the war, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel to enter the conflict, thus dissolving Arab support of the war. At the request of the United States, however, Israel remained out of the war.

On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. Kuwait was liberated in less than four days, and a majority of Iraq’s armed forces surrendered, retreated into Iraq, or were destroyed. On February 28, President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms. One hundred and twenty-five American soldiers were killed in the Persian Gulf War, with another 21 regarded as missing in action.

On March 20, 2003, a second war between Iraq and a U.S.-led coalition began, this time with the stated U.S. objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power and, ostensibly, finding and destroying the country’s weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was captured by a U.S. military unit on December 13, 2003 and was executed three years later. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

The Persian Gulf War begins - HISTORY

Of all the policy successes during this era, the Department of State and President Bush are most clearly associated with the successful effort to roll back the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

When Saddam Hussein invaded his small, oil-rich neighbor in the summer of 1990, the Department faced its first full-scale post-Cold War international crisis. Bush’s foreign policy team forged an unprecedented international coalition consisting of the NATO allies and the Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia , Syria , and Egypt to oppose Iraqi aggression. Although Russia did not commit troops, it joined the United States in condemning Iraq, its long-time client state. The Department of State orchestrated the diplomacy for this grand coalition’s effective air campaign in January 1991, which was followed by “Operation Desert Storm,” a 100-hour land war, which expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

During the Gulf crisis, Secretary of State Baker relied heavily on two men—John Bolton, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, who played a significant role in coordinating relations with the United Nations, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt, who was Baker’s day-to-day crisis manager. One innovation that greatly facilitated decision-making during the Gulf War was the use of teleconferences, which saved many hours of travel time. Instead, Baker and others could communicate and display charts through cameras and television screens.

After the success in Kuwait, President Bush paid special tribute to the Foreign Service officers who labor in relative obscurity until they are caught up in a dangerous conflict or become the victims of international terrorism. President Bush made a special visit to the Department of State to honor 33 employees for their service at our embassies in Baghdad and Kuwait, which included finding food and supplies for trapped Americans in those countries and helping children to safe havens after fighting erupted. Acknowledging the peril most Americans never see, Bush said, “I know that often your jobs are not comfortable or safe.”

Iraq was not the only trouble spot in the Middle East during Bush’s four years in office. The perennial tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors continued to test the expertise of the many U.S. ambassadors and area experts. Baker’s personal involvement, reflected in numerous trips to the region, helped bring about the first face-to-face talks between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors in Madrid, beginning in October 1991. Secretary Baker’s “shuttle diplomacy” rivaled Henry Kissinger’s in 1974. From the beginning of Baker’s tenure until August 23, 1992, when he resigned to become White House Chief of Staff, he made 217 trips abroad.

Lawrence Eagleburger, who succeeded Baker, became the first Foreign Service officer to serve as Secretary of State. During a 27-year government career, Eagleburger had been a staffer for Kissinger’s National Security Council, and held numerous senior positions at the Department of State, including Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Deputy Under Secretary for Management, and Assistant Secretary for European Affairs. Eagleburger's appointment reflected Bush’s deep respect for the Foreign Service. Bush compiled an impressive record of nominating career officers to ambassadorships (72 percent), one of the best records for all Presidents in the post-1945 era.

The Persian Gulf War begins - HISTORY

Desert Storm begins at 7 p.m. EST (3 a.m. Jan. 17 in Iraq) with massive air and missile attacks on targets in Iraq, Kuwait.

President Bush: "We will not fail."

Day 2: Thursday, Jan. 17

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares: "The great showdown has begun! The mother of all battles is under way.''

Iraqi Scud missiles strike Israel.

Scud fired at Saudi Arabia is downed by U.S. Patriot missile - first anti- missile missile fired in combat.

Day 3: Friday, Jan. 18

Amid retaliation speculation, President Bush says Israel has promised not to respond to Iraq's attack.

Day 4: Saturday, Jan. 19

At least three Scuds explode in Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel vows to defend itself but refrains. United States rushes in Patriots, making Army crews first U.S. soldiers to defend Israel.

U.S. troops raid oil platforms off Kuwait, capturing first Iraqi prisoners of war.

Day 5: Sunday, Jan. 20

Iraqi TV airs interviews with captured allied airmen.

Iraq fires 10 Scuds at Saudi Arabia nine are intercepted, one falls offshore.

Day 6: Monday, Jan. 21

U.S. officials say despite more than 8,000 sorties in five days, elusive mobile Scud missile launchers remain a threat.

Iraq says it has scattered prisoners of war as shields at allied air targets.

Day 7: Tuesday, Jan. 22

Iraq fires six Scud missiles at Saudi Arabia one is destroyed by Patriot, others fall harmlessly.

Iraq torches Kuwaiti oil wells, tanks.

A Scud eludes U.S. Patriot missiles and hits Tel Aviv.

Day 8: Wednesday, Jan. 23

U.S. officials deny Saddam Hussein's claim that allies bombed baby-formula plant, saying plant was a chemical factory.

Iraq fires Scuds at Israel and Saudi Arabia.

President Bush urges Saddam Hussein be brought to "justice," suggesting removal of Iraqi president could be a goal.

Day 9: Thursday, Jan. 24

Number of allied sorties surpasses 15,000.

Saudi officials report two oil slicks moving south of Kuwait. Allies say Iraq released oil Iraq blames allied bombs.

Day 10: Friday, Jan. 25

Japan says it will send military aircraft to assist allies in non-combat situations.

Scud missiles are fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Day 11: Saturday, Jan. 26

Massive oil spill grows, threatening Saudi Arabia's industrial and desalination plants and gulf environment.

Iraqi warplanes land in Iran. Iran says it has seized them.

U.S. F-15s enter war's first major dogfight, shoot down three Iraqi MiG- 23s.

Pentagon confirms USS Louisville is first sub to launch cruise missile in combat.

Scuds fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia.

More than 75,000 protesters march in Washington, D.C.

Day 12: Sunday, Jan. 27

Allies bomb Iraqi-held oil facilities in Kuwait to stop Iraq from dumping oil into gulf.

Amid fears of terrorism, Super Bowl XXV goes off without a hitch.

Day 13: Monday, Jan. 28

Iraq says captured allied pilots have been injured in allied bombing raids.

Day 14: Tuesday, Jan. 29

In largest ground battle yet, battalion-size force of U.S. Marines (up to 800) fire artillery, mortars, TOW missiles, at Iraqi bunkers half-mile away in Kuwait.

United States, Soviet Union issue communique offering Iraq cease-fire if it makes "unequivocal commitment" to withdraw.

Day 15: Wednesday, Jan. 30

Scores of Iraqi tanks, thousands of troops advance into Saudi Arabia. Attacks are countered by U.S. Marines, Saudi and Qatari troops.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, allied commander, says allies have air supremacy and are reducing Scud threat.

Day 16: Thursday, Jan. 31

Saudi and Qatari troops, backed by U.S. artillery, retake Khafji, Saudi Arabia.

Sheik Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz, Saudis' leading interpreter of Islamic law, calls Saddam Hussein "enemy of God."

Day 17: Friday, Feb. 1

Allies bomb 10-mile-long Iraqi armored column headed into Saudi Arabia.

Day 18: Saturday, Feb. 2

Two Scuds hit central Israel. Patriot downs Scud over Saudi Arabia.

Day 19: Sunday, Feb. 3

Allied air campaign passes 40,000-sortie mark - 10,000 more missions than were flown against Japan in final 14 months of World War II.

Day 20: Monday, Feb. 4

Iran offers to mediate peace talks, resume official relations with United States.

Battleship Missouri fires at Iraqi positions inside Kuwait - first time ship has fired in combat since Korean War.

Day 21: Tuesday, Feb. 5

Iraq suspends fuel sales to civilians, worsening heating and transportation problems.

Syrian troops, in first combat action, repulse Iraqi probe at Saudi-Kuwait border.

Day 22: Wednesday, Feb. 6

U.S. F-15 fighters shoot down four Iraqi jets as they try to join 120 Iraqi aircraft that have been flown to Iran.

Day 23: Thursday, Feb. 7

President Bush's top two war advisers - Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell - leave for gulf to assess war.

Battleship Wisconsin joins Missouri in firing huge 16-inch guns at sites in Kuwait - first combat firing for Wisconsin since Korean War.

Day 24: Friday, Feb. 8

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, en route to Saudi Arabia, gives strongest indication to date ground war is coming. Open question: when.

Day 25: Saturday, Feb. 9

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell meet for more than eight hours with Desert Storm commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, other military leaders.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns that military operations in Persian Gulf war threaten to exceed U.N. mandate he says he's sending envoy to Baghdad for talks with Saddam Hussein.

Day 26: Sunday, Feb. 10

Saddam Hussein addresses his nation for first time since three days after war started, pledging victory and praising "steadfastness, faith and light in the chests of Iraqis."

Day 27: Monday, Feb. 11

President Bush, after meeting with top two military advisers, says alliance is in no hurry to begin ground war.

Day 28: Tuesday, Feb. 12

Allied forces open combined land-sea-air barrage against Iraqis in Kuwait - largest battlefield action to date.

Officials say cost of fighting effects of oil slick lapping at Saudi Arabia's coast will be $1 billion over next six months.

Day 29: Wednesday, Feb. 13

U.S. Stealth fighters drop two bombs on fortified underground facility in Baghdad. U.S. military officials release information they say proves underground facility was military command center.

Day 30: Thursday, Feb. 14

Pentagon says allied planes have destroyed at least 1,300 of Iraq's 4,280 tanks, 800 of 2,870 armored vehicles and 1,100 of 3,110 artillery pieces.

United Nations Security Council meets in closed session to discuss war.

Day 31: Friday, Feb. 15

Iraq says it is prepared to withdraw from Kuwait, but adds conditions, including Israeli pullout from occupied Arab territories, forgiveness of Iraqi debts and allied payment of costs of rebuilding Iraq. President Bush dismisses Iraqi offer as "cruel hoax." - Allied forces continue moving supplies toward front in preparation for launch of ground war.

Day 32: Saturday, Feb. 16

U.S. attack helicopters make first nighttime raids on Iraqi positions.

Iraq fires two Scuds at Israel, hitting southern part of country for first time.

Iraq's ambassador to U.N., Abdul Amir al-Anbari, says Iraq will use weapons of mass destruction if U.S. bombing continues.

Pentagon says Iraq deliberately staged damage of civilian areas as propaganda.

Day 33: Sunday, Feb. 17

President Bush says Iraq's takeover of Kuwait will end "very, very soon."

U.S. and Iraqi troops clash in seven incidents along Saudi-Kuwait border 20 Iraqis surrender to Apache helicopter fire.

Iraq's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, arrives in Moscow for talks with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. He is quoted en route as saying it's up to allies to act on Iraq's peace proposal.

Day 34: Monday, Feb. 18

Floating mines strike two U.S. warships in gulf. USS Tripoli and USS Princeton damaged but still operational.

Air Force helicopter search team rescues U.S. pilot who parachuted from disabled plane 40 miles north of Saudi border.

Day 35: Tuesday, Feb. 19

Baghdad Radio reports Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has returned to Baghdad with Soviet peace proposal.

President Bush says Soviet proposal falls "well short" of what's needed to end war.

U.S. Marines bombard Iraqi targets inside Kuwait with heavy artillery fire for second consecutive day.

Saudi officials say gulf oil slick is smaller than originally feared - 60 million gallons, not 400 million.

Day 36: Wednesday, Feb. 20

U.S. helicopters destroy Iraqi bunker complex up to 500 Iraqis taken prisoner.

U.S. planes attack 300 Iraqi vehicles 60 miles into Kuwait, destroying 28 tanks.

Baghdad Radio says Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz will travel to Moscow "soon" with Saddam Hussein's reply to Soviet peace proposal.

Allied commander Norman Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying Iraq's military is on "verge of collapse."

U.S. officials want Iraq to announce specific timetable for withdrawing from Kuwait as condition for peace settlement.

Day 37: Thursday, Feb. 21

Soviet spokesman Vitaly Ignatenko announces Iraq, Soviet Union have agreed on plan that could lead to Iraqi withdrawal.

Saddam Hussein declares Iraq remains ready to fight ground war.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney says allies are preparing "one of the largest land assaults of modern times."

Day 38: Friday, Feb. 22

President Bush rejects Soviet peace plan, deplores Iraq's "scorched- earth" destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields. He demands Iraq begin withdrawal from Kuwait by noon Feb. 23 to avoid ground war.

Iraqi information official brands U.S. position "shameful ultimatum."

Soviet Union announces eight-point withdrawal plan.

Iraq sets ablaze one-sixth of Kuwait's 950 oil wells.

Day 39: Saturday, Feb. 23

Allies' ground offensive begins at 8 p.m. EST (4 a.m. Feb. 24 Saudi time).

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney halts news briefings on war.

At 10:02 p.m. EST, President Bush tells nation, "The liberation of Kuwait has entered the final phase." Bush authorizes commander Norman Schwarzkopf to "use all forces available, including ground forces, to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait."

U.S. officials say Iraqi soldiers are rounding up Kuwaitis to torture, execute.

At least 200 oil wells and facilities are ablaze in Kuwait.

Day 40: Sunday, Feb. 24

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf hails first day of allied ground offensive as "dramatic success." More than 5,500 Iraqis are captured.

Saddam Hussein urges troops to kill "with all your might" in radio speech.

More than 300 attack and supply helicopters strike more than 50 miles into Iraq, largest such assault in military history.

Queen Elizabeth II, in first wartime broadcast of 39-year reign, tells her country she has prayed for victory.

Iraq fires two Scud missiles into Israel.

Day 41: MONday, Feb. 25

Baghdad Radio reports Saddam Hussein has ordered troops to withdraw from Kuwait in accordance with Soviet peace proposal.

Says White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater: "The war goes on."

On Kuwait's Independence Day, allied forces are reported on outskirts of Kuwait City, poised to liberate capital as more reports surface of Iraqi killings of civilians and torching of buildings.

Iraqi Scud missile hits barracks in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi-launched Silkworm anti-ship missile shot down by allied warships.

Day 42: Tuesday, Feb. 26

Brig. Gen. Richard Neal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, says Iraqi forces are in "full retreat" with allied forces pursuing Iraqi POWs number 30,000-plus, number to climb to 63,000.

Saddam Hussein announces Iraqi occupation forces will withdraw completely.

Residents of Kuwait City celebrate end to occupation. Resistance groups set up headquarters to control city.

U.S. Marine in Kuwait City says U.S. Embassy is back under U.S. control.

Day 43: Wednesday, Feb. 27

Kuwaiti troops raise emirate's flag in Kuwait City.

President Bush declares suspension of offensive combat and lays out conditions for permanent cease-fire.

The Arab/Muslim World: The Gulf War

The Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm or the First Gulf War, was a UN-authorized coalition campaign led by the United States in response to Saddam Hussein&rsquos invasion and annexation of neighboring Kuwait. While Israel did not take part in the war from a military standpoint, the home front was bombarded with SCUD missiles from Iraq after Hussein followed through on threats to target Israel if coalition forces invaded Iraq.

Saddam&rsquos Threats

Since coming to power, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had been a leader of the rejectionist Arab states and one of the most belligerent foes of Israel. On April 2, 1990, Saddam&rsquos rhetoric became more threatening: &ldquoI swear to God we will let our fire eat half of Israel if it tries to wage anything against Iraq.&rdquo Saddam said his nation&rsquos chemical weapons capability was matched only by that of the United States and the Soviet Union, and that he would annihilate anyone who threatened Iraq with an atomic bomb by the &ldquodouble chemical&rdquo (Reuters, April 2, 1990).

Several days later, Saddam said that war with Israel would not end until all Israeli-held territory was restored to Arab hands. He added that Iraq could launch chemical weapons at Israel from several different sites (Reuters, April 18, 1990). The Iraqi leader also made the alarming disclosure that his commanders had the freedom to launch attacks against Israel without consulting the high command if Israel attacked Iraq. The head of the Iraqi Air Force subsequently said he had orders to strike Israel if the Jewish State launched a raid against Iraq or any other Arab country (UPI, April 22, 1990).

On June 18, 1990, Saddam told an Islamic Conference meeting in Baghdad: &ldquoWe will strike at [the Israelis] with all the arms in our possession if they attack Iraq or the Arabs.&rdquo He declared &ldquoPalestine has been stolen,&rdquo and exhorted the Arab world to &ldquorecover the usurped rights in Palestine and free Jerusalem from Zionist captivity&rdquo (Baghdad Domestic Service, June 18, 1990).

Saddam&rsquos threat came in the wake of revelations that Britain and the United States foiled an attempt to smuggle American-made &ldquokrytron&rdquo nuclear triggers to Iraq (Washington Post, March 29, 1990). Britain&rsquos MI6 intelligence service prepared a secret assessment three years earlier that Hussein had ordered an all-out effort to develop nuclear weapons (Washington Times, April 3, 1990). After Saddam used chemical weapons against his own Kurdish population in Halabja in 1988, few people doubted his willingness to use nuclear weapons against Jews in Israel if he had the opportunity.

Israeli fears were further raised by reports in the Arabic press, beginning in January 1990, that Jordan and Iraq had formed &ldquojoint military battalions&rdquo drawn from the various ground, air and naval units. &ldquoThese battalions will serve as emergency forces to confront any foreign challenge or threat to either of the two countries,&rdquo one newspaper said (Al-Ittihad, January 26, 1990). In addition, the two countries were said to have formed a joint air squadron (Radio Monte Carlo, February 17, 1990). This was to be the first step toward a unified Arab corps, Jordanian columnist Mu&rsquonis al-Razzaz disclosed. &ldquoIf we do not hurry up and start forming a unified military Arab force, we will not be able to confront the Zionist ambitions supported by U.S. aid,&rdquo he said (Al-Dustur, February, 18, 1990). Given the history of Arab alliances forming as a prelude to planning an attack, Israel found these developments worrisome.

In April 1990, British customs officers found tubes about to be loaded onto an Iraqi-chartered ship that were believed to be part of a giant cannon that would enable Baghdad to lob nuclear or chemical missiles into Israel or Iran (Reuters, April 17, 1990). Iraq denied it was building a &ldquosupergun,&rdquo but, after the war, it was learned that Iraq had built such a weapon (Washington Post, August 14, 1991).

Iraq emerged from its war with Iran with one of the largest and best-equipped military forces in the world. In fact, Iraq had one million battle­tested troops, more than 700 combat aircraft, 6,000 tanks, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. Although the U.S. and its allies won a quick victory, the magnitude of Hussein&rsquos arsenal only became clear after the war when UN investigators found evidence of a vast program to build chemical and nuclear weapons (Washington Post, August 8, 1991).

Iraq also served as a base for several terrorist groups that menaced Israel, including the PLO and Abu Nidal&rsquos Fatah Revolutionary Council.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein consistently threatened to strike Israel if his country was attacked. If the U.S. moves against Iraq, he said in December 1990, &ldquothen Tel Aviv will receive the next attack, whether or not Israel takes part&rdquo (Reuters, December 26, 1990). At a press conference, following his January 9, 1991, meeting with Secretary of State James Baker, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz was asked if the war starts, would Iraq attack Israel. He replied bluntly: &ldquoYes. Absolutely, yes.&rdquo

Ultimately, Saddam carried out his threat.

The Nuclear Danger

In 1981, Israel became convinced Iraq was approaching the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. To preempt the building of a weapon that would undoubtedly be directed against them, the Israelis launched their surprise attack destroying the Osirak nuclear complex. At the time, Israel was widely criticized. On June 19, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the raid. Critics minimized the importance of Iraq&rsquos nuclear program, claiming that because Baghdad had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and permitted its facilities to be inspected, Israeli fears were baseless.

It was not until after Iraq invaded Kuwait that U.S. officials began to acknowledge publicly that Baghdad was developing nuclear weapons and that it was far closer to reaching its goal than previously thought. Again, many critics argued the Administration was only seeking a justification for a war with Iraq.

Months later, after allied forces had announced the destruction of Iraq&rsquos nuclear facilities, UN inspectors found Saddam&rsquos program to develop weapons was far more extensive than even the Israelis believed. Analysts had thought Iraq was incapable of enriching uranium for bombs, but Saddam&rsquos researchers used several methods (including one thought to be obsolete) that were believed to have made it possible for Iraq to have built at least one bomb.

American Interests Are Threatened

Prior to President George Bush&rsquos announcement of Operation Desert Storm on January 16, 1991, critics of Israel were claiming the Jewish State and its supporters were pushing Washington to start a war with Iraq to eliminate it as a military threat. President Bush made the U.S. position clear, however, in his speech on August 2, 1990, saying that the United States has &ldquolong­standing vital interests&rdquo in the Persian Gulf. Moreover, Iraq&rsquos &ldquonaked aggression&rdquo violated the UN charter. The President expressed concern for other small nations in the area as well as American citizens living or working in the region. &ldquoI view a fundamental responsibility of my Presidency [as being] to protect American citizens&rdquo (Washington Post, August 3, 1990).

Over the course of the Gulf crisis, the President and other top Administration officials made clear the view that U.S. interests-primarily oil supplies-were threatened by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Most Americans agreed with the President&rsquos decision to go to war. For example, the Washington Post/ABC News Poll on January 16, 1991, found that 76% of Americans approved of the U.S. going to war with Iraq and 22% disapproved (Washington Post, January 17, 1991).

It is true that Israel viewed Iraq as a serious threat to its security given its leadership of the rejectionist camp. Israeli concerns proved justified after the war began and Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at its civilian population centers. The Bush Administration had promised to prevent Iraq from attacking Israel, but the U.S. troops assigned to scour the desert for Scud missiles had poor intelligence and failed to destroy a single real missile (they did destroy several decoys) in nearly 2,500 missions (Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2003).

Israel has never asked American troops to fight its battles. Although Israeli forces were prepared to participate in the Gulf War, they did not because the United States asked them not to. Even after the provocation of the Scud missile attacks, Israel assented to U.S. appeals not to respond.

Israel Aids Allied War Effort

Israel was never expected to play a major role in hostilities in the Gulf. American officials knew the Arabs would not allow Israel to help defend them they also knew U.S. troops would have to intervene because the Gulf states could not protect themselves.

Israel&rsquos posture reflected a deliberate political decision in response to American requests. Nevertheless, it did aid the United States&rsquo successful campaign to roll back Iraq&rsquos aggression. For example:

  • The IDF was the sole military force in the region that could successfully challenge the Iraqi army. That fact, which Saddam Hussein understood, was a deterrent to further Iraqi aggression.
  • By warning that it would take military measures if any Iraqi troops entered Jordan, Israel, in effect, guaranteed its neighbor&rsquos territorial integrity against Iraqi aggression.
  • The United States benefited from the use of Israeli-made Have Nap air-launched missiles on its B­52 bombers. The Navy, meanwhile, used Israeli Pioneer pilotless drones for reconnaissance in the Gulf.
  • Israel provided mine plows that were used to clear paths for allied forces through Iraqi minefields.
  • Mobile bridges flown directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia were employed by the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Israeli recommendations, based upon system performance observations, led to several software changes that made the Patriot a more capable missile defense system.
  • Israel Aircraft Industries developed conformal fuel tanks that enhanced the range of F­15 aircraft. These were used in the Gulf.
  • General Dynamics has implemented a variety of Israeli modifications to improve the worldwide F­16 aircraft fleet, including structural enhancements, software changes, increased capability landing gear, radio improvements and avionic modifications.
  • An Israeli-produced targeting system was used to increase the Cobra helicopter&rsquos night-fighting capabilities.
  • Israel manufactured the canister for the highly successful Tomahawk missile.
  • Night-vision goggles used by U.S. forces were supplied by Israel.
  • A low-altitude warning system produced and developed in Israel was utilized on Blackhawk helicopters.
  • Other Israeli equipment provided to U.S. forces included flack vests, gas masks and sandbags.
  • Israel offered the United States the use of military and hospital facilities. U.S. ships utilized Haifa port shipyard maintenance and support on their way to the Gulf.
  • Israel destroyed Iraq&rsquos nuclear reactor in 1981. Consequently, U.S. troops did not face a nuclear-armed Iraq.
  • Even in its low-profile mode, Israeli cooperation was extremely valuable: Israel&rsquos military intelligence had focused on Iraq much more carefully over the years than had the U.S. intelligence community. Thus, the Israelis were able to provide Washington with detailed tactical intelligence on Iraqi military activities. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said, for example, that the U.S. utilized Israeli information about western Iraq in its search for Scud missile launchers (UPI, March 8, 1991).
  • Before, during and after the war, Israel also contributed intelligence to the United States.
  • Rafael designed the Litening Targeting Pods used to fire precision weapons from the Marines&rsquo AV-8B Harrier jets, as well as F-15s and F-16s. Limited use was also made of an Israeli helmet system that allows a pilot to more easily target the enemy without maneuvering the aircraft into attack position.

During a visit to Israel May 30, 1991, Defense Secretary Cheney said: &ldquoWe think that the cooperation that we were able to engage in during the war in the Gulf. emphasizes how important the [U.S.-Israel] relationship is and how well it works when put to the test.&rdquo

Critics have argued that the U.S. desire for Israel to maintain a low profile to facilitate holding the coalition of Arab states opposing Iraq together reflects a diminution of Israel&rsquos strategic value however, Israel was never expected to play a major role in hostilities in the Gulf. American officials knew the Arabs would have to be prepared to defend themselves. Moreover, the fact that it was possible to build this U.S.-Arab coalition at the same time U.S.-Israel strategic relations are closer than ever, illustrates the two are not contradictory. The United States can continue to strengthen its ties with Israel without worrying about jeopardizing ties with the Arab states.

The Cost of War

Israel benefited from the destruction of Iraq&rsquos military capability by the United States-led coalition, but the cost was enormous. Even before hostilities broke out, Israel had to revise its defense budget to maintain its forces at a heightened state of alert. The Iraqi missile attacks justified Israel&rsquos prudence in keeping its air force flying round the clock. The war required the defense budget to be increased by more than $500 million. Another $100 million boost was needed for civil defense.

The damage caused by the 39 Iraqi Scud missiles that landed in Tel Aviv and Haifa was extensive. Approximately 3,300 apartments and other buildings were affected in the greater Tel Aviv area. Some 1,150 people who were evacuated had to be housed at a dozen hotels at a cost of $20,000 per night.

Beyond the direct costs of military preparedness and damage to property, the Israeli economy was also hurt by the inability of many Israelis to work under the emergency conditions. The economy functioned at no more than 75 percent of normal capacity during the war, resulting in a net loss to the country of $3.2 billion.

The biggest cost was in human lives. A total of 74 people died as a consequence of Scud attacks. Two died in direct hits, four from suffocation in gas masks and the rest from heart attacks (Jerusalem Post, January 17, 1992).

A U.N. committee dealing with reparation claims against Iraq dating to the 1991 Gulf War approved more than $31 million to be paid to Israeli businesses and individuals. The 1999 decision stemmed from a 1992 Security Council decision calling on Iraq to compensate victims of the Gulf War (JTA, April 14, 1999). In 2001, the United Nations Compensation Commission awarded $74 million to Israel for the costs it incurred from Iraqi Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War. The Commission rejected most of the $1 billion that Israel had requested (JTA, June 21, 2001).

The PLO Backs Saddam

The PLO, Libya and Iraq were the only members who opposed an Arab League resolution calling for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The intifada leadership sent a cable of congratulations to Saddam Hussein, describing the invasion of Kuwait as the first step toward the &ldquoliberation of Palestine&rdquo (Mideast Mirror, August 6, 1990).

PLO leader Yasir Arafat played a critical role in sabotaging an Arab summit meeting that was to have been convened in Saudi Arabia to deal with the invasion. Arafat, the New York Times observed (August 5, 1990), &ldquodiverted attention from the planned summit and helped capsize it&rdquo by showing up in Egypt with a &ldquopeace plan&rdquo devised by Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

According to an eyewitness account by Al-Ahram editor Ibrahim Nafei, Arafat worked hard to &ldquowater down&rdquo any anti-Iraq resolution at the August 1990 Arab League meeting in Cairo. Arafat &ldquomoved from delegation to delegation, hand in hand with Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, who was openly threatening some Gulf and other Arab delegates that Iraq would turn them upside down,&rdquo Nafei wrote (Al-Ahram, August 12, 1990).

In Amman, Jordan, a PLO official warned that Palestinian fighters had arrived in Yemen. &ldquoWe expect them to take suicidal operations against the American troops in Saudi Arabia if the Americans move against Iraq,&rdquo he declared. &ldquoThere are more than 50,000 Palestinian fighters&rdquo in both Kuwait and Iraq, he said, who &ldquowill defend the interests of Iraq&rdquo (UPI, August 10, 1990). Abul Abbas, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, threatened that &ldquoany American target will become vulnerable&rdquo should the United States attack Iraq (Reuters, September 4, 1990).

In Jenin, August 12, 1,000 Palestinians marched, shouting: &ldquoSaddam, you hero, attack Israel with chemical weapons&rdquo (Associated Press, August 12, 1990).

According to some sources, the PLO played an active role in facilitating Iraq&rsquos conquest of Kuwait. The logistical planning for the Iraqi invasion was at least partially based on intelligence supplied by PLO officials and supporters based in Kuwait. One Arab diplomat was quoted in the London Independent as saying that on arrival in Kuwait, Iraqi officials &ldquowent straight to their homes, picked them up and ordered them to go to work.&rdquo The Iraqi Embassy had compiled its own list of key Kuwaiti personnel, said the diplomat, &ldquobut who helped them? Who were the skilled technicians who worked alongside the Kuwaitis and knew all this information?&rdquo he asked. &ldquoThe Palestinians&rdquo (Jerusalem Post, August 8, 1990).

When the U.S. began massing troops in Saudi Arabia, Arafat called this a &ldquonew crusade&rdquo that &ldquoforebodes the gravest dangers and disasters for our Arab and Islamic nation.&rdquo He also made clear his position on the conflict: &ldquoWe can only be in the trench hostile to Zionism and its imperialist allies who are today mobilizing their tanks, planes, and all their advanced and sophisticated war machine against our Arab nation&rdquo (Sawt al-Sha&rsquob, September 4, 1990).

Once the war began, the PLO Executive Committee reaffirmed its support for Iraq: &ldquoThe Palestinian people stand firmly by Iraq&rsquos side.&rdquo The following day, Arafat sent a message to Saddam hailing Iraq&rsquos struggle against &ldquoAmerican dictatorship&rdquo and describing Iraq as &ldquothe defender of the Arab nation, of Muslims and of free men everywhere&rdquo (Agence France-Presse, February 26, 1991).

Arafat&rsquos enthusiasm for Hussein was undaunted by the outcome of the war. &ldquoI would like to take this opportunity to renew to your excellency the great pride that we take in the ties of fraternity and common destiny binding us,&rdquo he said in November 1991. &ldquoLet us work together until we achieve victory and regain liberated Jerusalem&rdquo (Baghdad Republic of Iraq Radio Network, November 16, 1991).

Israeli Plan to Assassinate Saddam Hussein

IDF Special Forces had plans to assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1992. Special Forces trained to assassinate Saddam in an operation that would have landed commandos in Iraq and fired missiles at him during his father-in-law&rsquos funeral. The plan was called off after five soldiers were killed in a training exercise, in which a dummy missile was replaced with a real missile. Ephraim Sneh, formerly Minister of Transportation and a sitting member of the Knesset&rsquos Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in 1992, said that the late-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin had ordered the operation. Critics warned that the plan, whether successful or not, could bring an Iraqi biological weapons attack on Israel.

Israeli military censors had censored the story until Saddam&rsquos capture by U.S. forces. IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya&rsquoalon called the release of the story &ldquoirresponsible.&rdquo

U.S. Arms Couldn't Save Gulf States

Iraq had one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world prior to its invasion of Kuwait. None of the Gulf states could have challenged the Iraqis without direct U.S. intervention. Kuwait is a tiny nation, which had received $5 billion worth of arms and yet never had any chance to stop Iraq.

Similarly, the United States has sold Saudi Arabia more than $40 billion worth of arms and military services in the last decade, yet, it too, could not have prevented an Iraqi invasion. It was this realization that ultimately led King Fahd to allow U.S. troops to be based in his country. No amount of military hardware could compensate for the small size of the standing armies in these states.

Moreover, the rapidity with which Iraq overran Kuwait was a reminder that U.S. weapons could easily fall into hostile hands. For example, Iraq captured 150 U.S.-made HAWK anti­aircraft missiles and some armored vehicles from Kuwait.

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Persian Gulf War, 1990-91

In 1991, Canada joined an international military coalition to confront Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. Canada contributed warships and fighter aircraft to the successful campaign to liberate Kuwait. It was the first time Canada sent women to war in combat roles, and it was the first time in decades that Canadian air and naval forces supported each other in a war zone. More than 5,100 Canadian military personnel served in the war, with a peak of about 2,700 in the region at one time. No members of the Canadian armed forces died during the conflict.

A Canadian Naval Task Group conducts an underway replenishment at sea (RAS), enroute to the Persian Gulf in September 1990. From left are HMC Ships Athabaskan, Protecteur and Terra Nova.

Invasion of Kuwait

The Persian Gulf War erupted after Iraqi military forces invaded the tiny but rich nation of Kuwait on the night of 1–2 August 1990. Despite its size, Kuwait is one of the world’s largest oil producers and exporters. In 1990, Iraq was heavily in debt due to its involvement in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88. Iraq had financed the war by borrowing heavily from its neighbours, including Kuwait. When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein demanded they forgive the debt, Kuwait and the other Gulf states refused. A long-standing territorial dispute between the two countries, as well as the lure of Kuwait’s large oil reserves, also contributed to Hussein’s decision to invade the country.

United States President George H.W. Bush, backed by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, quickly began to assemble a multinational coalition of 35 nations to demand an Iraqi withdrawal and prevent a further military thrust into Saudi Arabia. Backed by United Nations Security Council Resolutions, Operation Desert Shield soon was launched to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.

The UN resolutions authorized an embargo of Iraq, as well as a naval blockade in the Persian Gulf to enforce the embargo, and “all necessary means” to ensure Iraqi compliance if its forces were not withdrawn from Kuwait by 15 January 1991.

When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein failed to respond to this mounting pressure, the US-led coalition launched Operation Desert Storm. It began with a massive aerial bombing of Iraq on 17 January 1991, followed by a campaign with troops, tanks and other ground forces beginning on 24 February.

New York Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, June 22, 1988 (public domain).

Canada's Role: Operation Friction

At the time, Canada held a seat on the Security Council, the UN's most powerful decision-making body. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney supported a UN-mandated coalition to oppose Iraq's aggression. Most expected Canada to take a leadership role in a peacekeeping mission to the region, after Iraqi forces had been removed from Kuwait. Instead, Mulroney ordered a naval task group to join the embargo forces in the Persian Gulf. The destroyers HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Terra Nova, and the supply ship HMCS Protecteur, with five CH-124 Sea King helicopters on board, sailed from Halifax on 24 August and began operations in the Gulf on 1 October.

The Canadian warships carried out more than a quarter of the total coalition inspections of cargo ships and other vessels suspected of trying to run the blockade. They were assisted by an air task group of 24 CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft, which began flying combat air patrols on 14 October. Most were from 439 Squadron in Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen, Germany. The air task groupbecame known as the “Desert Cats” after the device on the 439 Squadron badge.

A CF-18 Hornet fighter taxis along a temporary trackway laid by Canadian military engineers to increase the available space at the airport in Doha, Qatar, during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War.

For the first time since the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, naval and air units directly supported each other in a war zone. A joint Canadian headquarters was opened in Manamah, Bahrain, on 6 November, to provide oversight and co-ordination. It was commanded by Commodore Kenneth J. Summers. The Canadian Forces code name for these collective efforts was Operation Friction.

Midnight on 17 January 1991: Canadian Commodore Ken Summers addresses the staff of Headquarters Canadian Forces Middle East, to alert them that the allied air campaign in the Persian Gulf War will be commencing.

Canadian roles changed with the launching of Operation Desert Storm in mid-January. The naval task group commander, Captain Duncan “Dusty” Miller, was tasked with protecting and scheduling the coalition's navy replenishment (refuelling) force in the southern Gulf and Arabian Sea. And as the coalition had established air superiority by then, the Desert Cats switched to offensive operations—first with sweep and escort missions into Iraq and later actual bombing missions. The Desert Cats' one confirmed “kill” was an attack by Major Dave Kendall and Captain Steve Hill on an Iraqi fast patrol boat on 30 January.

No Canadian ground forces participated in the invasion of Iraq, largely because the army was preoccupied with the Oka Crisis. However, 1 Canadian Field Hospital from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa (530 personnel) began arriving at al-Qusaymah in northern Saudi Arabia on 24 January. The hospital was attached to a British army unit and cared for coalition and Iraqi wounded. Members of the Royal Canadian Regiment and Le Royal 22e Régiment also provided security at the Canadian facilities in Doha, Qatar.


On 28 February 1991, about 100 hours after the Operation Desert Storm ground invasion began, President Bush declared that Kuwait had been liberated and ordered an immediate ceasefire. An armistice was negotiated on 3 March.

After the ceasefire, Canadian forces helped re-establish the Canadian diplomatic mission in Kuwait City. They also helped dispose of land mines and other unexploded bombs from the Kuwait oilfields, which had been heavily mined by Iraq forces. And they helped fly humanitarian aid and security to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. Canadian civilians also played an important role, helping to put out oil fires set by retreating Iraqi forces. In total, over 600 oil wells had been set on fire in an effort to slow the allied advance and destroy Kuwait’s oil infrastructure. The Calgary-based company Safety Boss capped many of the oil wells, finally putting out the last fire in November 1991.

From May 1991 to August 2001, Canadian forces also participated in the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), while the Navy contributed a warship on an irregular basis to the continuing UN embargo against Iraq.

Visibly worn from her seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, which included 49 days straight at sea, HMCS Athabaskan returns to Halifax, April 1991 (DND, SWC-91-156-26).

Women in Combat

The Gulf War was the first conflict in which female members of the Canadian Armed Forces served in combat roles. When the supply ship HMCS Protecteur deployed to the Gulf, it had a mixed-gender crew. Although women had served on Canadian naval ships for several years, this was the first time they had done so in a combat zone. The Canadian Armed Forces had opened all military occupations to women in 1989, except submarines (which were opened to women in 2001). The Protecteur’s female crewmembers drew a lot of media attention, including a feature article by Sally Armstrong in the January 1991 edition of Homemaker’s Magazine. Women also served in the air task group, at headquarters and with 1 Canadian Field Hospital during the war.


More than 5,100 Canadian military personnel served in the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War, with a peak of some 2,700 in the region at one time. Along with the first deployment of a joint headquarters, this also was the first time that women in the Canadian Forces were sent to a war zone in combat roles.

Americans Believe U.S. Participation in Gulf War a Decade Ago Worthwhile


PRINCETON, NJ -- Today marks the 10th anniversary of the end of the Persian Gulf War, when U.S. and allied troops forced the Iraqis out of Kuwait and a cease-fire was declared. According to a new Gallup poll, conducted February 19-21, as Americans reflect on their country's participation in that action a decade ago, they believe the situation in the Gulf region at that time was worth going to war over by a two-to-one margin, 63% to 31%. And by a much smaller margin, 52% to 42%, they say they would favor sending U.S. troops back to the Persian Gulf in order to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power.

By the end of the Persian Gulf War, there was widespread public support for U.S. participation in the war and approval of the way President George Bush was handling the situation. In fact, in the wake of the cease-fire, Bush received the highest job approval rating any president has received since Gallup began asking the question in the 1930s, with 89% of Americans indicating their approval and just 8% disapproval. President Harry Truman received his highest rating (87%) in June 1945, right after Germany's surrender in World War II. The only other two presidents to receive approval ratings of at least 80% are Franklin D. Roosevelt , who received his highest rating (84%) in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and John F. Kennedy, whose highest approval rating (83%) came after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.

Despite the eventual popularity of the Persian Gulf War, Americans had to be coaxed into support for that effort. In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, they did give immediate support to President Bush's decision to send American forces to Saudi Arabia in early August 1990, by 78% to 17%, but they were about evenly divided over whether the situation there was really worth going to war over, and a majority opposed the United States' initiating military efforts to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

Four polls conducted between mid-August and November 1990 showed a divided public on whether the situation was worth going to war over or not. On average, 47% thought it was, while 43% thought it was not. And when Americans were first asked -- in a Gallup poll conducted right before Thanksgiving 1990 -- about U.S. forces being used to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait, they opposed such action by 51% to 37%.

The Bush administration put considerable effort into persuading U.S. allies about the need to oppose Saddam Hussein, and its success in that effort was reflected in a November U.N. resolution that authorized the use of "all means necessary" to evict Iraq from Kuwait. Following that resolution, a new Gallup poll showed a 27-point swing in public support, with a majority of Americans now in support of military action against Iraq if it did not leave Kuwait. (See Table)

If the current situation in the Middle East involving Iraq and Kuwait does not change by January, would you favor or oppose the United States going to war in order to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait?

^After U.N. resolution authorizing use of "all means necessary" to evict Iraq from Kuwait

As the above example makes clear, the Bush administration's successful efforts to involve U.S. allies and the United Nations in the war against Iraq helped persuade Americans to support the effort as well. That point is reinforced by results of a January 3-6, 1991 Gallup poll, shortly before the start of the air strikes against Iraq. When Americans were reminded of U.N. resolutions on the matter and of the fact that allies were involved, support for military action was about two-to-one in favor -- 62% to 32% -- while a question that did not refer to the U.N. or to American allies elicited a lower level of support at 52% to 39%.

Americans Still Reluctant to Begin War
Despite the U.N. resolution and growing American support for military action against Iraq, the public still seemed ambivalent about going to war if there were some reasonable possibility of avoiding it. In a November 29-December 2, 1990, poll, for example, 9% of Americans said the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia altogether, while another 46% said the U.S. should continue to enforce sanctions and seek a peaceful resolution no matter how long it would take and without initiating a war to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Just 42% said the U.S. should initiate a war to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait if Iraq did not change its position within the next several months.

The results from the question that presented three options -- withdraw now, wait indefinitely for sanctions to work, or initiate war if Iraq does not leave Kuwait -- showed Americans wanting to avoid war, by 55% to 42%. The question that presented only two options -- going to war or not -- showed a reversal of opinion, with Americans opting for war by 53% to 40%. These different results suggested a public that was somewhat conflicted about the issue, and thus perhaps not as steadfast in its support for the war as the Bush administration would have liked. A Gallup analysis of public opinion as it was measured in December 1990, only a month before the war was expected to begin, painted a somewhat bleak picture of possible public support:

"More than four months after President George Bush's initial decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia, the American public is deeply split over the implications and future of U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf. The latest Gallup poll finds that a majority still approves of the initial deployment, but there is no emerging consensus about what should be done next.

"This could mean that if the United States initiates a war against Iraq in January, President Bush inevitably will face a sizable opposition. As many Americans think the situation is not worth going to war over as think it is. Depending on how the scenario plays out, anywhere from 40% to 55% will not approve of initiating military action.

"Moreover, approval for the way President Bush is handling the crisis is down more than 20 percentage points from August, to 57%, and is now in the range maintained by President Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam and by President Richard Nixon at various points in his prosecution of that war. In short, respondents give Bush only an average -- not exceptional -- level of support for his handling of the Persian Gulf crisis."

The analysis also pointed out that support even for the deployment of U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia had declined, from the initial 78% level in August to 63% in December. In some respects, Americans seemed to be "souring" on the possibility of war.

In mid-January, just a couple of days before the air strikes actually began, the Bush administration had made considerable progress in persuading the public about the importance of forcing Iraq out of Kuwait. The three-part question revealed a 16-point swing toward the administration's position from the previous month. Now 50% of Americans supported military action, up seven percentage points from mid-December, and only 44% wanted either to wait indefinitely for sanctions or to withdraw immediately from Saudi Arabia, down nine percentage points from the same December poll.

Gallup's overall analysis of polling results in January was much more positive about public support for the Bush administration's effort than it had been in December. The January analysis concluded that "The American people back President George Bush on the Persian Gulf situation at this tense point in history." It went on to note that "if war does break out, the United States will begin with the support of 50% to 60% of its citizens and with the opposition of little more than a third of the population."

American Support Surged During the War
Bush's decision to launch air strikes on January 16, the day after the deadline set by a U.N. resolution calling for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, prompted a surge in public support for the war effort. Typically, the public will rally around the president when he makes a decision as important as going to war, and in this case, the rally was immediate and widespread: by 80% to 15%, Americans expressed support for "the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq in order to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait." Another poll a week later found no ambivalence by the public about whether the situation was worth going to war over, as 71% of Americans said it was and just 24% said it was not -- a far cry from the evenly divided public measured by Gallup on this matter in the months leading up to the war.

Despite overwhelming support for the air strikes, their apparent success and the low casualties, Americans were still not ready to support a ground war. In a poll conducted February 7-10, after three weeks of bombing, only 17% of Americans felt "the United States and its allies should begin a ground attack soon to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait," while 74% said "we should hold off for now and continue to rely on air power to do the job."

A week later, a peace proposal offered by Saddam Hussein was immediately rejected by the U.S. and its allies, and the public concurred by a 79% to 13% margin. A few days after that, the Iraqis and Soviets offered a new peace proposal, also rejected by the U.S. and its allies. On February 22, Bush set a deadline of noon the next day for the Iraqis to begin immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, a proposal supported by 84% of Americans and opposed by just 10%, according to a one-night Gallup/CNN poll. Nevertheless, that same poll showed that Americans were still reluctant to start a ground war, as 46% said that even if Saddam Hussein did not comply with the deadline requirements, the U.S. and its allies should continue with air strikes only, while 41% said the U.S. and its allies should begin the ground war if the deadline was not met.

The ground war was launched the next day as promised by Bush, and a Gallup one-night poll on February 24 showed another rally effect, as 84% of Americans supported the decision, while just 11% were opposed. Two days later the war was over, and American support for that effort has remained strong ever since. The following year, two polls in January and February showed an average of 63% of Americans who said the war was worth fighting, and just 35% who said it was not -- very similar to the numbers found by the most recent Gallup poll on the 10th anniversary of that war.

Americans Willing to Start War to Remove Saddam Hussein From Power
From the beginning of his efforts to oppose the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, President Bush personalized the war by his verbal condemnation of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Given the absolute political power exercised by Saddam Hussein in his country, such attacks seemed justified and resonated well with the American public. In most polls conducted from 1991 until now, a majority of the public has expressed support for efforts to remove the Iraqi leader from power, even to the point of initiating another war.

Immediately after the air-strike phase of the war began, a Gallup poll found only 30% of Americans saying that military action should stop when Iraq was forced out of Kuwait, while 65% said it should not stop until Saddam Hussein was also removed from power. A week later, a new Gallup poll found the same degree of support for removing the Iraqi leader from power. In early February, when reminded of the U.N. resolutions that required an end to the war when Iraq was out of Kuwait, Americans still wanted to go "beyond the U.N. resolutions" and -- by a margin of 62% to 34% -- continue fighting until Saddam Hussein was removed from power or until his war-making capability was destroyed, rather than stop once the Iraqis were out of Kuwait.

That public commitment to continue the war until Saddam Hussein was removed from power seemed somewhat faint-hearted, however, as a Gallup poll a week later found that Americans would favor an immediate cease-fire by the U.S. and its allies, if Saddam Hussein agreed to withdraw all Iraqi troops from Kuwait. And a poll conducted right after the cease-fire was declared found only 46% of Americans saying "the United States and its allies should have continued fighting until Saddam Hussein was removed from power," while about the same number -- 48% -- disagreed.

When the same question was asked the following July, however, support for going after the Iraqi leader had rebounded, as Americans now said that fighting should have continued until Saddam Hussein was out of power, by 76% to 20%. Similar results were found in Gallup polls in October 1994 and November 1997.

After news stories in June 1993 revealed that Iraq had set in motion an assassination attempt of former President George Bush, the Clinton administration bombed an Iraqi intelligence site in retaliation. In the wake of that action, a Gallup poll found Americans in support of sending American troops back to the Persian Gulf in order to remove Saddam Hussein from power by 70% to 27%, the largest margin in favor of that kind of action ever measured by Gallup. When asked directly if the U.S. should take the "extreme" step of assassinating Saddam Hussein, support was considerably lower, but still with a majority in favor -- 53% to 37%.

Racial and Gender Gaps Found on War Issue
The current results about whether it was worthwhile to fight the war show major differences between black and white Americans, and between men and women. While whites say the war was worthwhile by a margin of 67% to 27%, blacks take the opposite point of view by 51% to 37%. Indeed, on virtually all questions about U.S. participation in the Persian Gulf War (as with most military conflicts) asked by Gallup over the years, the views of blacks and whites reflect deep differences -- with blacks generally much more opposed than whites. By a two-to-one margin, 61% to 33%, blacks today oppose sending American troops to remove Saddam Hussein from power, while whites express support by 56% to 38%. During the Persian Gulf War, similar divisions were found.

The "gender gap" is not as pronounced as the racial gap, but consistently Gallup has found significant differences between men and women on whether the war was worth fighting. The current poll shows that men feel the war was worthwhile by 74% to 24%, while women agree by the much smaller margin of 53% to 37%. In the months leading up to the Gulf War, women consistently expressed mild opposition or ambivalence, while men generally expressed strong support.

There is no gender gap, however, on the question of sending troops to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Current results from The Gallup Poll are based on telephone interviews with -- 1,016 -- national adults, aged 18+, conducted February 19-21, 2001. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Now thinking back to the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991,

All in all, do you think the situation in the Persian Gulf region was worth going to war over or not?

Persian Gulf War Begins, Jan. 16, 1991

On Jan. 16, 1991, 30 years ago this year, the Persian Gulf War started when President George H.W. Bush, in a speech from the Oval Office, announced the start of Operation Desert Storm. The attack featured the &ldquoshock and awe&rdquo precision bombing of Baghdad by U.S. F-117 Nighthawk twin-engine stealth aircraft.

In response to Iraq&rsquos invasion and annexation of Kuwait, coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States &mdash including Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt &mdash pushed the Iraqis out of the tiny oil-rich country.

An Amphibious Assault Ship cruises the waters of the Persian Gulf

When Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait the previous August, Bush said: &ldquoThis will not stand.&rdquo He had the backing of Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, who told him in a phone call, three weeks after the invasion, &ldquoRemember, George, this is no time to go wobbly.&rdquo

They had disagreed about how to respond to oil tankers leaving Iraq in defiance of U.N. sanctions. The Bush administration, at the urging of Jim Baker, the secretary of State, sought a brief delay to win support from the Soviet Union through the U.N. Security Council &mdash a collaboration that Baker later said marked the true end of the Cold War. Thatcher, for her part, urged prompt action.

Over the next six weeks, the Iraqis responded to the attack by firing 88 Scud missiles into Saudi Arabia and Israel, hoping to provoke a military response from the Israelis and thereby splintering the coalition.

After a five-week bombing campaign and a ground war that lasted 100 hours, Bush ordered an end to the hostilities, declaring Kuwait to be liberated. Two days earlier, on Feb. 26, Iraqi troops had begun to depart from Kuwait, after they had set 737 of its oil wells on fire.

A massive convoy of retreating Iraqi troops formed along the main Iraq-Kuwait highway. Although the Iraqis were retreating, they were bombed so heavily that their exodus became known as the &ldquoHighway of Death.&rdquo Hundreds and maybe thousands of Iraqi troops were killed or wounded. In armored columns, American, British, and French forces pursued retreating Iraqi forces over the border, moving to within 150 miles of Baghdad before withdrawing back to Iraq&rsquos border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

In all, 125 U.S. soldiers of the 540,000 deployed for the conflict were killed, with another 25 declared to be missing in action.

Bush encountered some criticism for having chosen to allow Saddam to remain in power instead of pushing on to capture Baghdad and overthrowing his regime. He defended his decision publicly by saying that going further would have fractured the coalition and privately by saying that doing so would likely have exposed the pursuing forces to a nerve gas attack.

Dick Cheney, the Defense secretary, said it wasn&rsquot worth &ldquogetting bogged down.&rdquo

Source: &ldquoThis Day in Presidential History,&rdquo by Paul Brandus (2018) and Politico

The Gulf War

Anthony H. Cordesman's book, The Gulf War, was published in October 1994, and was the first comprehensive analysis of the strategic and military lessons of the Gulf War. Unlike previous studies, which concentrated primarily on the diplomatic and policy decisions affecting the war, or decisions at the high command level, Cordesman provides a detailed analysis of all of the military trends and actions that occurred during Desert Shield, a net assessment comparing Iraqi and each of the major Coalition military forces, and a detailed analysis of the history and lessons of each phase of Desert Storm.

List of Chapters: (Click to Download)

Unlike books issued shortly after the war, or which focus largely on decisions at the high command level, Cordesman provides the first detailed analysis of the war that draws fully on the official histories and data bases the US government has issued in the years following the conflict. At the same time, he draws on his experience as ABC's military analyst during the Gulf War, tours of the battlefield shortly after the war, and extensive interviews with British, French, Saudi, and US officials and commanders.

The Gulf War is written as a reference book as well as an analysis and history. It draws largely on official data bases, many of which have never been fully published. It provides comprehensive tables, figures, and maps of the forces on each side, on the statistics and character of the fighting, and on the importance and effectiveness of key new weapons systems and tactics. The footnotes provide a research guide for further study in many areas, as well as citation that allow the reader to explore the additional material available in unpublished studies and data bases.

The Gulf War provides new data and insights into virtually every aspect of the war and the size and nature of the forces engaged. It examines each of the major new tactics and technologies that shaped the outcome the war. At the same time, Cordesman stresses the importance of human factors and the different levels of training and effectiveness of each major national contingent. His analysis not only examines the events of the Gulf War, but their implications for future conflict and the course of the "military revolution" that shaped much of the air campaign and air-land battle.

The Gulf War also provides a detailed and objective analysis of each of the major issues and debates affecting the war -- ranging from the problems intelligence analysts had in estimating the total size of total Iraqi forces to the debates over the effectiveness of the "Scud hunt" and the Patriot. New data are provided on the problems in the Coalition build-up, problems in tactical communications and intelligence, and on the true effectiveness of the F-117, Tomahawk, strategic bombing campaign, close air support, armored combat, heliborne assault forces, mine warfare systems, amphibious operations, friendly fire, reserve forces, and battle damage assessment efforts.

Separate chapters analyze command and control, intelligence, the battle for air supremacy, the offensive air campaign, the air-land battle, the key lessons of the land campaign, the war at sea, the battle against Iraq's Scud missiles and weapons of mass destruction, and the strategic and grand strategic lessons of the war. The book concludes with an analysis of the lessons of the war regarding deterrence, the use of decisive force, the role of coalition warfare and cooperative security, the importance of US and other Western power projection capabilities, the lessons of the war for counter-proliferation, and the implications of the war for regional warfare and countervailing strategy.

Persian Gulf War

The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), code-named Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) in its combat phase. On August 2, 1990, President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Kuwait. Hussein’s assumption that his fellow Arab states would stand by in the face of his invasion of Kuwait, and not call in outside help to stop it, proved to be a miscalculation. On January 17, 1991, a massive U.S.-led air offensive hit Iraq’s air defenses, moving swiftly on to its communications networks, weapons plants, oil refineries and more. The coalition effort, known as Operation Desert Storm, benefited from the latest military technology, including Stealth bombers, Cruise missiles, so-called “Smart” bombs with laser-guidance systems and infrared night-bombing equipment. Though the Gulf War was recognized as a decisive victory for the coalition, Kuwait and Iraq suffered enormous damage, and Saddam Hussein was not forced from power. There were 125 American soldiers killed in the Persian Gulf War and an additional 21 soldiers were deemed missing in action.

Essay on the Gulf War

Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait so as to enhance his power base in the region. Such aggression had to be counted with the full force of the UN led primarily by the USA. The Gulf War was a classic case of good versus evil. Is this an accurate assessment of the Gulf War?

The second Gulf War began on August 2, 1990 with an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and ended on March 3, 1991 when Iraq accepted a cease-fire. It began as a local war and ended as a United Nations attack on Iraq. It resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians and soldiers and the effects of the brutal weapons used are continuing today.

Before the Gulf War, Iraq was a rich and prosperous nation that had all its basic needs such as sewage, clean water, electricity, etc and more. Its ‘downfall’ started in 1980 with a war against Iran. The local war officially began on September 22nd with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein claimed that the reason for the attack was because of a territorial dispute over the Shatt al Arab, a waterway that empties into the Persian Gulf and forms the boundary between Iran and Iraq. There is a possibility that this is true since the two states had issues about it back in 1975. The United States and many other Western European nations became involved in the war in 1987, in response to Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti oil tankers traveling in the Persian Gulf. In 1990 Iraq agreed to the terms of the 1975 treaty with Iran and withdrawed its troops from Iranian territory. Back in 1975 this treaty, named Algiers, was signed to state that the Shatt-El-Arab waterway, was to be the border. Unfortunately it didn’t last long.

August 2nd 1990 was the beginning of the Gulf War. There are three basic causes of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait:
· First, Iraq had long considered Kuwait to be a part of Iraq. This claim led to several fights and arguments over the years. After Saddam Hussein’s failure in the attempt to invade Iran, he sought easier conquests against his weak southern neighbors.

· Second, rich deposits of oil is found on the border between the two countries and Iraq constantly claimed to the UN that Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally pumping oil out of Iraqi oil fields. Middle Eastern deserts make borders hard to recognize and this has caused many conflicts in the region.

· Third, during the Iraq-Iran war, many Arab nations extended loans to Iraq, one of them being Kuwait. When the war was over all the countries gave Iraq time to pay off the loans so it could recover except for Kuwait, which demanded the repayment.
We shouldn’t blame Iraq to fight for its oil or ask for a loan extension but declaring war on a nation weaker then itself it sought of unfair.

Since Kuwait was breaking an OPEC agreement and pumping out extra oil, oil prices slumped and to make maters more complicated the US increased import of oil from Kuwait. Many believe that the US wanted the war to take place because of the April Glaspie incident. Glaspie was the American ambassador at the time and when Saddam asked America’s opinion on him attacking Kuwait, she said “we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts”. When interviewed after the war, Glaspie told the media that they didn’t know Iraq was going to take ‘all’ of Kuwait. Obviously there was something fishy going on.

After several attempts to negotiate, the Iraqi military invaded Kuwait and quickly took control of the tiny nation. If Saddam wanted to take Kuwait as to enhance his power, then he wouldn’t have attempted to negotiate the oil and border matters. In a matter of days the United States together with the United Nations, demanded that Iraq immediately withdraw or face the threat war with the UN. The U.S. and other UN member nations started sending troops to Saudi Arabia within the week, and the worldwide coalition began to form.

The military coalition consisted of 36 countries which included the UK, Turkey, France and Australia. The war was also financed by countries that were unable to send in troops. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were the largest donors. Surprisingly Switzerland also contributed to the allies, this after being neutral during both World War 1 and 2. Many of these countries were bribed by the US to vote ‘yes’ (for the war resolution) in the UN meetings. An estimated 45billion dollars (minimum) was spent just on bribes.

By January 1991, a minimum of 500 thousand troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. After more attempts to negotiate, U.S. and Iraqi officials failed to bring an Iraqi withdrawal, maybe because Saddam didn’t want to look like a coward or because the US refused to negotiate on fair terms. So on January 16, allied forces began the bombing of Iraq and its forces in Kuwait as Iraq went from the fourth-largest army in the world to the second-largest army in Iraq in 100 hours The question is, why did the US attack Iraq if its mission was to get Iraqi soldiers out of Kuwait? Here are some of the excuses that the White House has given to back up their ‘war resolution’ outcome:
· They had to protect human rights in Kuwait and the Middle East. Funny thing is nothing got to do with human rights has changed in the Middle East since the war ended.

· They had to protect Saudi Arabia from an Iraqi attack. This statement is also false because if Saddam were to attack Saudi then it would’ve right after it had taken over Kuwait, not wait until the US forces had come.

· Iraq posed a nuclear threat. This is another lie because the Americans had already said that it was impossible for Iraq to get the needed materials to make a nuclear bomb. If they were to buy the materials then it would’ve have to been from the Allies! (or western states).
Just about all of the excuses the US has given are either fake or lies, this just proves how desperate they were for a war to take place.

The UN Security Council resolution was only to expel the Iraqi forces in Kuwait. Now to do that 88,000 tons of bombs were dropped over Iraq, civilians were killed and civilian structures were turned to dust. The US also fired on retreating and defenseless Iraqi soldiers and used very brutal and ugly weapons. Such as fuel-air explosives, cluster bombs, depleted-uranium shells, and many more. All of the things above are completely illegal and was against the UN constitution.

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Watch the video: Ο Πόλεμος του Κόλπου. The Gulf War