Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

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Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press

DETERRENCE AND SADDAM HUSSEIN

about his army’s ability to inflict 5,000 or more coalition casualties

in that war. The US personnel killed in action were 148

battle-related deaths and 145 out-of-combat deaths. 34 In addition,

the United Kingdom suffered 47 deaths, 38 from Iraqi fire.

France suffered two deaths, and the Arab countries, not including

Kuwait, suffered 37 deaths. 35 On the other hand, it is

clear that Pres. George H.W. Bush was seeking to minimize

both coalition and Iraqi casualties, and one reason he halted

the war after only 100 hours of fighting was to stop the slaughter

on both sides—even at the price of not directly toppling

Saddam’s regime in Baghdad, despite having that possibility

well within his grasp when he ordered the cease-fire. 36

Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worried

also about the downwind effects of targeting Iraqi biological

warfare laboratories and facilities. He feared for civilians

and coalition military personnel operating downwind, yet he

felt that these sites still needed to be neutralized in the air campaign,

if possible. Powell was even more concerned about the

effects of possible biological weapons attacks on allied troops

than he was about those of chemical attacks. 37

And who can say if the Iraqi military had been able to fight a

much more protracted war that the Bush administration might

not have called a cease-fire and settled on a compromise peace

as the US casualty toll reached Saddam’s estimate of 5,000

dead Americans? Note that in the present war in Iraq, in mid-

2009, US casualties have yet to reach 5,000 killed, but the

United States is withdrawing without having completely defeated

the Iraqi insurgency, as the cost of continuing indefinitely

is perceived as unacceptable. 38

Once the shock and awe of the coalition combined arms attack

sent the Iraqi forces into precipitate retreat, there was little

to stand between the United States–led forces and Baghdad.

However, President Bush was deterred from going beyond the

Kuwait borders with Iraq for several reasons.

1. The United States did not want Iraq to dissolve, but rather

wanted it to serve as a balancer to Iranian power in the

region.

2. President Bush wished to stay within the limits of the UN

mandate given him and feared he would lose the unity of

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