Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

DETERRENCE AND SADDAM HUSSEIN

Sometimes, an adversary leader may operate in a world of his

or her own, surrounded by yes-men and cut off from realistic

intelligence about the United States, its allies, and their intentions.

This appears to be the case with Saddam Hussein at the

time of Desert Storm. Such an enemy leader may disregard the

messages and intelligence reports he or she receives, preferring

instead to follow his or her own thinking and adhering to previous

stereotypes or misinformation.

US Attempts to Deter Iraq from

Invading Kuwait (July–August 1990)

When trouble brewed over rights in the Rumaila oil fields, a

disputed area along the Iraq-Kuwait border, President Bush

sent his ambassador, April Glaspie, to see if the dispute could

be settled peacefully. Her meeting with Saddam Hussein appeared

to be cordial and gave no hint of his inclination to take

military action against Kuwait nor did it say much about the

US interest in backing Kuwait in the dispute. Indeed, according

to reports, “US Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam that ‘We

have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border

disagreement with Kuwait.’ ” 18 Later, the US State Department

followed with another message that said that Washington had

“no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait.” Saddam

must have seen this as an indication that he would have

little to fear from the United States if he intervened in Kuwait.

Although it is likely that Saddam Hussein had already decided

on the invasion of Kuwait at that time, Ambassador

Glaspie reported that he seemed inclined to negotiate. This was

communicated to President Bush, who then had the US State

Department transmit the message to the Iraqi leader stating

that “I am pleased to learn of the agreement between Iraq and

Kuwait to begin negotiations in Jeddah to find a peaceful solution

to the current tensions between you. The United States

and Iraq both have a strong interest in preserving the peace

and stability of the Middle East. For this reason we believe

these responsibilities are best resolved by peaceful means and

not by threats involving military force or conflict.” 19

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