Why did President Bush not invade Iraq after he had won so easily in Kuwait
Part A: Plan of the Investigation
Why did President Bush not invade Iraq after he had won so easily in Kuwait?
The President Bush of today is in Iraq finishing what his father refused to do twelve years ago, which is to take over Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein. The question remains, however: why did not President Bush simply move into Iraq and take over after he had defeated the Iraqi army in Kuwait so quickly and effortlessly? This investigation will use a variety of sources to formulate a fair and accurate response, including firsthand accounts from soldiers who participated in the war, and accounts from Kuwaiti and Iraqi civilians who lived through the horror of the war.
Primary sources obtained from the American government, including White House memos, speeches, and letters will also be used. It does so by examining a variety of theories in section B, where the facts of the war will be summarized, along with how it went, and various people’s opinions on the war. In Section C, two books will be compared, one written by an experienced war veteran who participated in the Gulf War, and the other written by a respected war expert. In Section D, why President Bush stopped at Kuwait and the various reasons behind his decision will be analyzed. Finally, in Section E the research question will be answered and justified with a thesis. President Bush did not invade Iraq, because it would have reflected negatively on the country in the international scene by giving it the appearance of an imperialist nation taking over anyone it wanted.
Part B: Summary of Evidence
Once the war ended, people back in the United States were ecstatic that the war was finally over and that their boys were coming home. Had President Bush announced that although the objectives of saving Kuwait had been achieved, a new objective of taking Kuwait was being started, chaos would have ensued back home.1 Since the start of the war, there had been many protestors asking whether the war was really necessary. These protestors would have had much more credibility and confidence in the President would have dropped.2 The major argument that the critics had, was that Saddam Hussein posed no direct threat to the United States and so there was no need to send soldiers to fight another countries war.
It helped slightly that they were helping a country that clearly could not defend itself in Kuwait, and thus the war seemed somewhat noble. However, once Kuwait was defended and Iraq no longer posed a threat towards them, the war was over and the soldiers could come home.3 The idea that Iraq should be invaded without any direct threat towards the US was simply unacceptable, as most people back home only knew what they saw on TV, which wasn’t very much.4 Most Americans had no idea of Saddam’s cruel attacks on the Kurds, and thus saw no reason to continue the attack on Saddam and his regime.
Although there was little question as to whether the American forces could take over Kuwait, the question that remained to be answered was what the Americans would do once Saddam was taken out of power. Would the Americans set up their own government to allow them to control the country as they saw fit? Or would they let the country decide and finally install a democracy in a country that had a history of dictators.5 Whichever solution was chosen, the fact remained that an American force would have to remain in the country.
This then raised another question, who would stay and who would be allowed to come home? This would inevitably cause more arguments as families would want to see their boys safe back at home.7 President Bush had two options, he could go with popular opinion and stop the war once Kuwait was safe, or he could go with what many of his advisers including General Schwarzkopf was telling him and that was that the long term goals of taking over Iraq would greatly outweigh the negative opinions of the public.8 Although it appeared controlling Iraq would be a positive thing for the United States, as they would have control of practically unlimited amounts of oil, the negative aspects simply outweighed them.9
The United States helped boost their reputation with their decision to defend Kuwait from the evil tyrant Saddam Hussein. They were seen as noble for helping out a country that clearly could not fend for itself, which helped lessen their reputation as a country that only fought when something could be gained.10 The rest of the world felt that the only reason the Americans had for invading Iraq would be to take it over and thus control the majority of the oil in the world.11 Even if the US had allowed the Iraqi people to vote for their own leader, there would have still been doubts as to the legitimacy of the election and whether the new leader was acting under his own power, or was simply a puppet of the US government.12 The United States could not afford to risk any loss in trade partners, as already their reputation around the world was anything but favourable.13 Bush could simply not afford to risk his relationships around the world to take over a country that the majority of people felt was best left alone.
Part C: Evaluation of Sources
Clancy, Tom. Into the Strom: a study in command. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997)
Summers, Harry. A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War. (New York: Dell Publishing, 1992)
Into the Storm, and A Critical Analysis of the Gulf War, are both books written on the Gulf War by two men who are very knowledgeable in war, but for very different reasons. Tom Clancy, who wrote Into the Storm, is one of the most well-known writers of military fiction in the world, and has written countless books that have made the best-seller list. The thesis of this secondary source is that the US did not invade Iraq as it would have cost too much money, and the US was in no position to continue spending the amounts they were spending daily on the war effort.
Clancy uses many speeches and financial figures to support his point by showing how much trouble the US was in. Clancy is traditionally a fiction writer who usually writes novels about wartime situations, which could indicate that some of his points are exaggerated for effect. The main strength of this source is that since it was written so long after the war, Clancy had access to documents previously sealed by the government. Its main weakness, however, is that many of the points seem as though they are a bit farfetched and that Clancy was more interested in selling a book then in writing accurate information.
Harry Summers on the other hand, has fought in every major conflict the US has been in since the Korean War and has written many highly acclaimed documentary books on these battles. The main thesis of this primary source is that Bush did not invade Iraq as it would not have been productive for its cost, as it would have been a lot more trouble to control the country rather than simply let it be. To support this claim, Summers uses many statistics and projections to illustrate how much it would cost and how long it would take if the US were to invade Iraq. Summers was a colonel who served in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf war and therefore is clearly a supporter of war, leading to a strong bias towards the American side of the argument. The strength of this source is that not only was it written by someone who lived through the Gulf war, Summers actually fought in it and therefore we get a first-hand account of what was happening. The main weakness however, is that Summers is strongly in favour of war and therefore is clearly biased towards the Americans.
Part D: Analysis
After the Gulf War ended, Iraq was clearly in turmoil, so the question remains, why did Bush not move in? There are many answers to this question that have come from a variety of sources. When asked himself, Bush replied that, “the war was for Kuwait, not against Iraq”.14 In an interview with Dick Cheney, he said that if they had invaded Iraq and found Saddam, they would have had to put in a new government, then left troops there to keep the peace, and he was simply unwilling to risk more American lives in another conflict.15 General Schwarzkopf, commander of the American forces, said he knew he could have invaded Iraq with relative ease, but did not want to shed any more blood then was needed.
These views clearly show that going to Iraq was not an option, and that apparently it was because American leaders did not want to lose any more lives. This reason seems very fair and noble, but is it really true? The US was spending millions of dollars every day on the war effort and they realized that they could not justify raising taxes to the American people to prolong the war.17 Polls near the end of the war clearly showed that American support for the war had dropped drastically, and that more than anything; the American people simply wanted their boys back home. When President Bush announced the cease-fire, there was rejoice throughout the United States, but not because Kuwait had been liberated, or Saddam had been defeated, or anything like that. They were happy because they knew their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers were all coming home.18 If President Bush had announced plans to invade Iraq and continue to fight Saddam, there would have been riots in the streets.
The other main reason that the US did not invade Iraq was because they were seen as heroes to the rest of the world by the end of the war, and attacking Saddam would have lowered them to his level.19 America was seen as the courageous kid sticking up for the weaker child against the playground bully, but once the bully was defeated, there was no need kick while he was down. America had been fighting to abolish colonialism at the time of the war, and by taking control of Iraq; it would have been doing exactly what it was condemning other countries for.20 The US realized that it could not force other countries to adapt its way of life and government, and simply had to accept that Saddam was the leader of Iraq and he could run it how he saw fit.21 Americans were seen as freedom fighters for liberating the helpless people of Kuwait, but had they invaded, would have only been seen as imperialist intimidators.
The final reason Bush did not take out Saddam is that it would have taken too much work and too much time to install a new government and to maintain it once Saddam’s regime was gone. To find Saddam would have taken perhaps months and many American soldiers’ lives would have been lost.22 Once he was found and extradited from the country, a new government would have had to be put in his place. A problem would have arisen however, as to what religion should the new government be, Shiite, Kurdish, Muslim, or Sunni? Once that decision was made, there would inevitably be some sort of uprising and therefore American troops would have to remain in Iraq indefinitely to maintain the peace, costing even more lives.23
This serves as a perfect explanation of why Bush is now invading Iraq, he is simply finishing his father’s work. This also explains why Saddam continued his atrocious acts; he knew he could get away with it without any repercussion.
Part E: Conclusion
In Conclusion, President Bush did not invade Iraq, because it would have reflected negatively on the country in the international scene by giving it the appearance of an imperialist nation taking over anyone it wanted. This issue is significant because it helps to explain the actions of the current President and his foreign policy.