Analysis of United States performance in 1990 Gulf War

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Operation Desert storm in 1991 has since then brought mixed reactions concerning its effectiveness and the poor strategies that were evident after the war. The operation was aimed at curbing the Strength of the Iraq military in the gulf region especially after invasion of Kuwait was later to be a major conflict that would be expose the poor strategies and the unilateralism of US in Iraq. Largely, the Dessert storm operation succeeded in uprooting Saddam occupation from Kuwait territory, but this operation that  was otherwise supposed to be lead by the United Nations forces become a triggering conflict that was drawn down to relations between the US and Iraq. Therefore, despite the destruction of Iraq military forces and the overwhelmingly defeat of Saddam Hussein’s war effort, the dessert Storm operation proved to be a limited operation that proved the failure of US, and led to serious strained relations with Iraq, that would lead to  a protracted war against a fractured stratified Iraq, the end portrays operation desert storm as a success in uprooting Saddam regime but  a failure in strategies to initiate a new successful regime with cordial relations with US.

The operation dessert storm form January 1991 took only 42 days before the surrender of Saddam’s regime and this was highly viewed as a success of Bush regime after suffering humiliation in Vietnam just before the Dessert Storm operation (Mirra 2006, 99). The failure in strategies was however evident  from the onset of the operation.  Despite the military claiming to handle all applications fairly, most CO applicants do testify to serious procedural irregularities, and this was testified in 1991 by the Marine Corps commandant who ordered all CO applications to remain on active duty…up to a time when all the applications would have reached the appropriate commanding general(Mirra 2006, 99).  This led to many CO who renounced their beliefs and deactivation of several units despite the marines still reporting to duty. These were some of the strategic operations that set for a poorly strategized war with Iraq that lead to more strained Iraq-US relations. With the UN success in Iraq in the Desert Storm, the events in Iraq were however characterized by unilateral actions by some of the western members of the Security council, an effect that was clear after the Operation Provide Comfort to protect the Kurdish refugees in the Northern parts of Iraq (Melone and Cockayne 2006, 124).The unilateralism decisions after the dessert operation are explained as actions that were taken without recourse to international or multinational authority (Sands 2002, 89).  This means that the state practices its interests in triumph of the collective interests. This singled the US as a country that had other motives after the Operation apart from the UN Security Council Resolution, and this was viewed with much suspicion by the Iraq people.

Despite Bush declaring that they would not send the lives of precious American to form enclaves in protecting the Kurdish minorities, the US later gave in to join UK and France in Kurdish safe havens. However, by June 1991 Hussein entered into an agreement with the Kurdish minority, in a move that was seen as a way to get rid of the western forces including the US from northern Iraq (Hiro 1992, 417-418). This was however taken with amusement by the western forces especially the US who asserted that   UN Resolution 688 offered them the mandate to remain in Iraq, though the motive became ambiguous as their mandate to protect the Kurdish had expired with the agreement between Saddam and the minorities Kurdish (Harden 1991, 41). This made Saddam to declare the occupation by the western forces in Iraq as interference with the Iraq internal affairs and illegal, a situation that was supported by the UN which declined to support these countries with any assistance (Doyle 1991, 15). This occupation raised much concerns most importantly concerning the Council’s tolerance for Unilateralism. Largely, there were intrigues concerning the facts that could be given to support this occupation by the three western powers. The legal bases for this intervention has therefore never been clear (Murphy 1996, 182-197).

Importantly, the strategic occupation was being hampered by contracted wars between the state department and the department of defense in the US, and this strained the relief efforts in the whole operation making conditions to be difficult in coordinating the entire operation (Meek 1994, 53). The no fly zones that were declared by US and the UK in Iraq therefore continued to soar relations between the two countries, with the latter clinging to Resolution 688 and Iraq taking this as internal affairs interference. The coercive protection in the pretext of safe haven and no fly zones were therefore to brow another round of conflict between the two, with UN finding itself engaged through the 1990s (Weiss 2004, 47). This conflict degenerated and was later to be worsened by the propaganda on weapons of mass destruction that was fabricated to heighten the tension and justify a UN backing for removal of Saddam Hussein. The draft resulting by the US, Britain, Spain and that was amended by the UK that stated of the failure by the Iraq government to ratify resolution 1441 (2002) on or before March 17, 2003 stating that Iraq would demonstrate full and unconditional support for the UN weapons inspection became the last level of conflict that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the three countries in justification of removing Saddam’s Hussein from power in Iraq (Pro-con, 2011).

Therefore for as observed, though the US backed by the UN succeeded in crushing the Iraq military prowess in the Dessert Strom operation in 1991, poor strategies followed and instead of enhancing a cordial relationship with the western powers especially the US, Iraq degenerated to a Iraq-US conflict that was worsened by the campaign against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This was the justi9cation that led to another war in 2003, though with a badly configured Saddam administration and led to his removal from power in Iraq. This proves the inefficient use of strategies by the US throughout the 90s from the Dessert Storm operation.

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  1. Cockayne James and Malone David, 2006. Creeping Unilateralism: How Operation Provide Comfort and the No-Fly Zones in 1991 and 1992 Paved the Way for the Iraq Crisis of 2003. Security Dialogue, 37, 1: pp. 123-141
  2. Doyle, Leonard, 1991. ‘West and UN Shamed into Aiding the Kurds’, The Independent, 18 April
  3. Harden, Blaine, 1991. ‘U.S., Iraqi Officers To Meet on Aid Plan; Americans To Stress “Noninterference”’, Washington Post, 19 April.
  4. Hiro, Dilip, 1992. Desert Shield to Desert Storm: The Second Gulf War. London: Harper-Colins
  6. Humanitarian Relief and Foreign Assistance’, Air Force Law Review 37: 225–238.
  7. International Law Annual Meeting 96: 85–94.
  8. Meek, Colonel Philip A., 1994. ‘Operation Provide Comfort: A Case Study in
  9. Mirra Carl. 2006. Conscientious Objection in Operation Desert Storm. Journal of Social Justice, 18:199–205
  10. Murphy, Sean D., 1996. Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations in an Evolving World
  11. Order. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  12. Pro-Con 2011. US-Iraq war timeline, 1990-2011. ProCon Org. Retrieved 1st Dec. 2011 from.
  13. Sands, Philippe, 2002. ‘American Unilateralism’, Proceedings of the American Society of
  14. Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century. Boulder, CO : Lynne Rienner (37–54).
  15. Weiss, Thomas G., 2004. ‘The Humanitarian Impulse’, in David M. Malone, ed., The UN
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