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President Richard Nixon, facing growing opposition to the Vietnam War, knew that sending U. combat troops into this volatile region would not be politically feasible.By the early 1970s, antiwar sentiment had lessened, due in part to Nixon’s Vietnamization program, whereby the reliance on South Vietnamese conscripts and a dramatically increased air war had minimized American casualties.
Washington downplayed and even covered up the use of chemical weapons by Saddam’s armed forces against the Iranian military and Kurdish civilians during this period, and the U. opposed UN sanctions against Iraq for its acts of aggression toward both Iran and its own population. Even prior to the Gulf War, the United States had thrown its immense military, diplomatic, and economic weight behind the monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Though there appears to be a bipartisan consensus in Washington that there is a clear strategic imperative to maintaining such an American presence, there are critics—even among conservatives—who argue that such a presence is too costly for the American taxpayer and creates a situation where American military personnel are effectively serving as a mercenary force for autocratic sheikdoms. In addition, Iraq’s middle class, which would have most likely formed the political force capable of overthrowing Saddam’s regime, has been reduced to penury. officials have stated that sanctions would remain even if Iraq complied with United Nations inspectors, giving the Iraqi regime virtually no incentive to comply. Nor have such air strikes eliminated or reduced the country’s biological weapons capability. also usurped UN Security Council authority with a series of air strikes against Iraq in September 1996, justifying them on the grounds that Iraqi forces had illegally moved into Kurdish-populated areas of the country that had been under UN protection since Saddam’s brutal repression of the Kurds at the end of the Gulf War.
It was only after Iraq’s invasion of the oil-rich, pro-Western emirate of Kuwait in August 1990 that Saddam Hussein’s regime suddenly became demonized in the eyes of U. Though they rule over less than 10% of the Arab world’s total population, these regimes control most of its wealth. The financial costs are extraordinary—running between $30 and $60 billion annually, according to conservative estimates—and are shared by the U. Most Persian Gulf Arabs and their leaders felt threatened after Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait and were grateful for the strong U. leadership in the 1991 war against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Gulf Arabs, and even some of their rulers, cannot shake the sense that the war was not fought for international law, self-determination, and human rights, as the Bush administration claimed, but rather to protect U. It is not surprising that most of Iraq’s opposition movements oppose the U. policy of ongoing punitive sanctions and air strikes. For sanctions to work, there needs to be a promise of relief to counterbalance the suffering; that is, a carrot as well as a stick. air strikes against Iraq subsequent to the inspectors’ departure has not garnered much support from the international community, including Iraq’s neighbors, who would presumably be most threatened by an Iraqi biological weapons capability. Furthermore, only the United Nations Security Council has the prerogative to authorize military responses to violations of its resolutions; no single member state can do so unilaterally without explicit permission. There is reason to believe, however, that these air strikes were not so much for the defense of the Kurds as simply another futile attempt by a frustrated administration to strike back at an upstart dictator who continues to challenge the United States.
In cue: "Waiting in Aspen for the president..." Out cue: "..Camp David alone with him." If time permits, have students watch the entire first program which focuses on the decision to go to war.
Suggested questions to pose: As a large group, brainstorm what leaders need to consider before going to war. Some suggestions might be: strategic goals and purpose; military capability; morale; economic infrastructure; sensibility regarding casualities; domestic politics.
From Washington’s strategic vantage point, it worked well. global power, just as its former superpower rival was collapsing, and it consolidated the U. position as the region’s most important outside power. Furthermore, as they are now more dependent than ever on the government for their survival, the Iraqi people are even less likely to risk open defiance.
The massive international mobilization led by the United States forced Iraqi occupation forces out of Kuwait and severely damaged Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure in less than six weeks and with only several dozen American casualties. Ironically, the United States had been quietly supporting Iraq’s brutal totalitarian regime and its leader, Saddam Hussein, through financial credits and even limited military assistance during its war against Iran in the 1980s, including offering components and technical support for programs bolstering the development of weapons of mass destruction. Unlike the reaction to sanctions imposed prior to the war, Iraqi popular resentment over their suffering lays the blame squarely on the United States, not the totalitarian regime, whose ill-fated conquest of Kuwait led to the economic collapse of this once-prosperous country. In light of Washington’s tolerance—and even quiet support—of Iraq’s powerful military machine in the 1980s, the Clinton administration’s exaggerated claims of an imminent Iraqi military threat in 1998, after Iraq’s military infrastructure was largely destroyed in the Gulf War, simply lack credibility.It was then that the Carter Doctrine came into being with the establishment of the Rapid Deployment Force (later known as the Central Command), which would enable the United States to strike with massive force in a relatively short period of time. This was precisely the scenario for Operation Desert Storm. presence is welcome only as long as Arabs feel they need a foreign military presence to protect them. has insisted on maintaining strict sanctions against Iraq to force compliance with international demands to dismantle any capability of producing weapons of mass destruction. However, Washington’s policy of enforcing strict sanctions against Iraq appears to have had the ironic effect of strengthening Saddam’s regime.Though the exact circumstances that would trigger such a war were not known, the military response had in effect been planned for more than a dozen years prior to the Gulf War and was designed in part for domestic political impact. Iraq still has not recovered from the 1991 war, during which it was on the receiving end of the heaviest bombing in world history. With as many as 5,000 people, mostly children, dying from malnutrition and preventable diseases every month as a result of the sanctions, the humanitarian crisis has led to worldwide demands—even from some of Iraq’s historic enemies—to relax the sanctions.Prior to the war, it was difficult for the United States to engage in military exercises or even arrange a port call without asking for permission months in advance. Sources: BP Amoco, Statistical Review of Worl Energy 1999 (Chicago: BP Amoco, 1999) Available on the internet at: Energy Information Administration, “Imports of Crude OIl and Petrolium Products into the United States by Country of Origin.” Available on the Internet at: petrolium_supply_annual/psa_volume1/current/txt/table21There is now an effective, permanent U. At the same time, there is an enormous amount of cynicism regarding U. Indeed, it was the failure of both the United States and the United Nations to explicitly spell out what was needed in order for sanctions to be lifted that led to Iraq suspending its cooperation with UN inspectors in December 1998. The Kurds are a nation of more than 20 million people divided among six countries and containing nationalist movements rife with factionalism. Turkey receives large-scale military, economic, and diplomatic support from the United States; during the 1990s, U. military aid and arms sales totaled about .5 billion.The worst repression against the Kurds in recent years has come from Turkey, a NATO ally, which the U. On several occasions in recent years, thousands of Turkish troops have crossed into Iraqi territory to attack the Kurds., the new Foreign Policy In Focus book that features major foreign policy analysts charting the dimensions of U. Now, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the triumph in the Gulf War, the United States stands—at least for a time—as the region’s dominant outside power. For certain periods of time they have succeeded, only to find themselves at the receiving end of a popular and oftentimes violent backlash.Though these incursions also took place in the UN safe zone and have been far greater in scope than Saddam’s 1996 forays, President Clinton supported the Turkish attacks, making his harsh response to Iraq’s incursion appear to be motivated by other than humanitarian or legal concerns.Although the United States clearly wants Saddam Hussein removed from power, the U. and other countries may not want to risk Iraq’s total disintegration.The British had been the dominant power in the Persian Gulf for most of the 20th century, but—in recognition of their decline as a major world power—they announced their military withdrawal from the region in 1969.The United States, which had been increasing its presence in the Middle East since the end of World War II, was determined to fill the void.