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The First Gulf War

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  • The First Gulf War

    Why didn't the US take out Saddam in 91?

    Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds in 88 and for sure had WMD's. Would it of been a mistake by George Bush to takeout Saddam in 91?

  • #2
    The quick answer is that we valued stability more than the right and smart thing to do.

    -dale

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    • #3
      1. Bush 41 was a realist. Realists look at states as black boxes, so what goes on inside isn't necessarily a concern. Also, realists look hard at balancing power. Hence, the decision to not only not go to Baghdad, but to stop at 100 hours, allowing much of the Republican Guard to escape the wrath of the coalition. This was to provide a balancing force against Iran.

      2. The knowledge about the extent of Saddam's WMD programs wasn't fully known until after the inspectors hit the ground. For example, IIRC, I believe he was considered to have been within a year of producing a nuke once we had access to his programs.

      3. The coalition and UN effort was developed solely for the purpose of evicting Saddam from Kuwait.

      4. Vietnam was still only 16 years removed and was a scar engrained in all civil-military leaders at the time.

      These are a few reasons why we didn't go in and remove Saddam then.
      "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Semper Fi
        Why didn't the US take out Saddam in 91?
        ?
        Why not get the answer from the mouths of some of the horses?

        "Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.

        We discussed at length the idea of forcing Saddam personally to accept the terms of Iraqi defeat at Safwan just north of the Kuwait-Iraq border--and thus the responsibility and political consequences for the humiliation of such a devastating defeat. In the end, we asked ourselves what we would do if he refused. We concluded that we would be left with two options: continue the conflict until he backed down, or retreat from our demands. The latter would have sent a disastrous signal. The former would have split our Arab colleagues from the coalition and, de facto, forced us to change our objectives"

        from George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, "A World Transformed"

        "If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein,you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?"

        from Dick Cheney, April 1991 (sorry, do not have actual citation!)
        Pharoh was pimp but now he is dead. What are you going to do today?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Semper Fi
          Why didn't the US take out Saddam in 91?

          Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds in 88 and for sure had WMD's. Would it of been a mistake by George Bush to takeout Saddam in 91?


          yeah..I heard that before. It was on the year of 1990. If I am not mistaken..that was Saddam Hussein who launched the war upon Kuwait..with the intention to snatch off their oil field...

          Recently..the people who responsible for the usage of chemical weapon...who was known as CHEMICAL ALI was prosecuted...

          Personally...i think that George Bush Sr. was still daydreaming of getting the reach oil resources in Kuwait "legally"...therefore he forgot to catch Saddam that time...and now Saddam may have kept them off or sent to Iran..Turkey..

          It was the big mistake that he ever made....

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          • #6
            We refer to that war as the 'War To Liberate the Filipino House Servants". There was hardly a Kuwaiti in the entire country. They were vacationing in the UK and Switzerland at the time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Semper Fi
              Why didn't the US take out Saddam in 91?

              Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds in 88 and for sure had WMD's. Would it of been a mistake by George Bush to takeout Saddam in 91?
              We had no mandate and the coalition would've crumbled instantly.

              Most of the Arab states that commited forces did so with the explicit understanding that we would NOT go into Baghdad.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by shek
                For example, IIRC, I believe he was considered to have been within a year of producing a nuke once we had access to his programs.
                I find that hard to believe considering there were no WMDs in Iraq when we invaded in 2003. I would have expected to find some kind of paper trail or remnants of technology. While it isn't too hard to build a nuclear bomb, its pretty hard to get uranium and be able to enrich it.

                I agree with your other points though. I think that you have to consider the thinking at the time. Looking back its easy to say, "Why the hell didn't we take over Iraq and depose Saddam?" But it was a much more dicey situation at the time.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by barrowaj
                  I find that hard to believe considering there were no WMDs in Iraq when we invaded in 2003. I would have expected to find some kind of paper trail or remnants of technology. While it isn't too hard to build a nuclear bomb, its pretty hard to get uranium and be able to enrich it.

                  I agree with your other points though. I think that you have to consider the thinking at the time. Looking back its easy to say, "Why the hell didn't we take over Iraq and depose Saddam?" But it was a much more dicey situation at the time.
                  I was referring to 1991 and not 2003 when I was speaking about Iraqi nukes.
                  "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by M21Sniper
                    We had no mandate and the coalition would've crumbled instantly.

                    Most of the Arab states that commited forces did so with the explicit understanding that we would NOT go into Baghdad.
                    As I understand it, the American/British logistical tether was just about taunt as well. Can anyone confirm this?

                    (I say American/British because I doubt ANYbody else would have followed them to Baghdad.)
                    “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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                    • #11
                      Iraqi air force and scud missiles as long with 3 million soldiers and civillian guerilla fighters is hard enough for any coalition.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Commando
                        Iraqi air force and scud missiles as long with 3 million soldiers and civillian guerilla fighters is hard enough for any coalition.
                        Umm, in 1991 the Iraqi air force flew to Iran to keep from getting completely shot down.

                        -dale

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