In the ancient world, Iraq represented a civilized nation, but the post-Cold War world perceived it as a country, which initiates conflicts. It is a well-known fact that the United States of America together with its allies has been involved in combat activities in Iraq since the Gulf War. It was the longest period of America’s direct military intervention. American bombs and missile weapons have threatened Iraq every single year for more than two decades.
The people born in the peaceful Western countries or not far from the Near East at the end of the 20th century realized that Iraq was their personal experience of war in the contemporary world. Twenty-five years after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions and imposed a restrictive policy on Iraq, American forces still fight against the remnants of the former regime. The purpose of this essay is to examine the historical background of America’s military intervention in Iraq since the Gulf War until the present time coping with ISIS terrorists and to discuss its meaning and implication. The detailed study of this twenty-five-year struggle provides an understanding of American military strengths and limitations in the post-Cold War times. Moreover, it provides lessons that may be useful for the development and future use of U.S. forces in the 21st century.
Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait
Before the Gulf War, the administration of the United States of America wanted to improve the relations with Iraq. However, these hopes have never been justified due to the dark actions of the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.
In April 1990, he demanded that Americans should leave the region, including the Persian Gulf. He also stated that Iraq possessed a binary chemical weapon that he would use to fight Israeli nuclear one. The following month, he accused Kuwait’s government of stealing oil from Iraq. He also demanded to forgive all Iraqi debts as his country fought on behalf of all Arab nations against Iran. The economic situation in Iraq was devastating. In 1990, the country’s military budget was approximately thirteen billion dollars that are seven hundred dollars per citizen. However, the country’s annual income was nearly two thousand dollars. The inflation rate in Iraq was forty percent at that time.
All Saddam’s attempts to rescue his country from the economic and political disaster were desperate. He accused Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and the USA in being unfaithful in terms of the oil productions on the international market. This economic crisis sparked the war, which culminated in the Persian Gulf War.
The Gulf War
Thus, on August 2, 1990, Iraqi troupes initiated the invasion and occupation of the small country of Kuwait. This invasion was substantial because it was the first U.S. external policy crisis after the Cold War. Moreover, it was the biggest overseas military commitment of the nation since the Vietnam War. Unlike its former interventions such as Panama, and the Vietnam War itself, the USA did not act unilaterally in this one.
President George Bush coordinated thirty-eight nations in a coalition that opposed Iraqi invasion. It included the former Soviet Union that worked alongside the USA in the armed encounter with Iraq. Most importantly, the American policy implemented military involvement only after diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions, which the United Nations Security Council imposed. Unfortunately, they failed to affect Saddam Hussein.
American military men successfully concentrated in the Gulf region right before the beginning of the conflict. In a fortnight after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, George Bush ordered American troops to move to the Gulf. The brave military men supported and defended Saudi Arabia, which at that time was an oil-rich ally, from the possible overrun of Iraq. The Pentagon established this operation and called it Desert Shield. By the middle of October 1990, nearly a quarter of a million of theU.S. forces arrived in the Persian Gulf. By January 1991, there were more than half a million troops. Interestingly enough, this number was much higher than during the Vietnam War.
When the United Nations’ legacy of peace failed to solve the conflict, President George Bush announced the start of the consolidated offensive combat. The operation began on January 16, 1991, and the Pentagon entitled it the Desert Storm. After more than a month of intensified bombing attacks, on February 24, 1991, America together with its allies conducted a land attack and ended the war.
The estimated number of Iraqi casualties was more than a hundred thousand. Even though the USA and other nations entirely defeated the Iraqi army, their leader, Saddam Hussein, remained in power. The Gulf War resulted in more tense relations between the United States of America and Iraq.
Bombing of Iraq
At the end of the Gulf War, the United Nations Special Commission together with International Atomic Energy Agency demanded Iraq to disclose and dismantle its program of building biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons of mass destruction and other prohibited arms used during the war. They destroyed some of them or confirmed their destruction. By December 1998, Iraq had not met all the requirements and failed to solve the conflict diplomatically. Soon enough, Iraq interrupted this cooperation due to its mistrust towards the UN. Even though the United Nations Council members tried to foster Iraqi cooperation, the disarmament process of 1997 and 1998 did not bring any positive results.
In December 1998, the United States of America together with the United Kingdom decided to solve this issue by using military force. Thus, on December 16, 1998, they launched the operation called Desert Fox. Their aim was to strike Iraqi military and security targets that produced, stored, maintained, or delivered weapons of mass destruction.
The operation’s objectives were to mitigate Saddam Hussein’s ability to produce any kind of weapon and minimize the possibility to fight a war with his neighbors. Moreover, the UK and the USA wanted to demonstrate the implications of ignoring international obligations. The integrated air attacks lasted for four days and ending on the first day of the Muslim holy month – December 19, 1998.
This military operation was the U.S. and UK success. It was one of the most precise bombardments in the history of the world’s warfare. However, the successful completion of the air strikes was highly controversial. People also stated that Saddam Hussein weakened the unity of the 1991 Coalition and stopped the United Nations’ inspections in Iraq. However, the implications of this war were dreadful. The Iraqi leader moved mobile weapons into the exclusion zones and broke into the No-Fly Zones.