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On August 2nd, 1990 the first Iraqi tanks crossed into Kuwait, as part of an invasion that marked the start of a six-month conflict between the United States and Iraq. These tanks were ordered to invade Kuwait by Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator of Iraq. The Iraqi troops looted Kuwaiti businesses and brutalized Kuwaiti civilians. Saudi Arabia began to fear that they may be invaded as well, and on August 7th they formally asked President Bush for US assistance. (World Book, vol. 4 e. 1) The US pledged to defend the Saudis, and to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait. Great masses of troops from many different nations were deployed in the Persian Gulf area. At 4:30 PM EST on January 16, 1991, the first aircraft with orders to attack Iraqi targets were launched from Saudi Arabia, marking the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. (Quinson, 17)
Dictators like Mr. Hussein cannot be allowed to take advantage of smaller countries like bullies after lunch money. There has to be someone to stop them, or they will gain more and more power and land, just as Adolph Hitler tried to do in World War II. That someone, in the case of Mr. Hussein, was the United States, along with a multinational coalition. The US had just cause in entering a war against Iraq because of Iraq's invasion of the small and defenseless nation of Kuwait. Actions such as that must be repulsed. Iraq had no just cause in invading Kuwait; their reasons were either obscure or for their benefit. The US had to help Kuwait regain their nation.
In protecting the Saudis from invasion and removing the Iraqis from Kuwait the US had the right intention. The real reason the US decided to fight the Iraqis was to restore Kuwait's government and to defend Saudi Arabia. (Abraham 31-34, 36) There was no underlying reason, such as to receive better prices on oil or to make the Kuwaitis indebted to the US so as to receive favors. Throughout the war, the US made clear their purpose and intent in fighting the Iraqis, and not once did they stray from it.
Legitimate authority was established when the Congress voted to follow United Nations resolution 678, section two of which "Authorizes Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the foregoing resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." (Richelson, 24,26) The vote to follow the resolution was as good as a declaration of war, as far as legitimate authority is concerned, and is in some ways better. The adoption of the resolution only authorized the use of force to remove Iraq from Kuwait. This limited the ability of our military to completely destroy Iraq's military or to drive Hussein from power. (World Book) Our authority to remove Iraq from Kuwait was clearly legitimate.
The Gulf War was fought with proportionality clearly in the leadership's mind. President Bush planned to get Iraq's troops out of Kuwait and then stop. (Abraham 97) He had no intention of carrying the war further. Although Bush would have dearly liked to have marched US troops toward Baghdad to destroy Hussein's government, he did not, because of the risk of heavy casualties, and because it went against the proportionality idea.