Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


the coalition if he widened the war beyond such legal limits.

UN resolutions limited coalition actions to expelling

Iraq from Kuwait.

3. The United States did not want the war to be perceived as

a war of conquest for oil.

4. Pres. George H.W. Bush did not want to incur the costs of

occupying, pacifying, and rebuilding Iraq.

5. President Bush wished to limit the economic and human

costs of the war, not only to the coalition but to Iraq as

well. He believed that entering Iraq would increase the

will of the Iraqi Army to fight, since they would be defending

the homeland rather than Kuwait. President Bush

and his advisers also felt that they did not want to get

into an urban house-to-house war, or a chemical or biological

weapons war, with increased US casualties.

6. The US leaders did not expect Saddam Hussein to stay in

power once the dimensions of his defeat were felt in his

country. Carrying the war into Iraq might have made him

a national hero in Iraq, rather than a defeated adventurer.

As James Baker wrote in his memoirs, “Strategically,

the real objective was to eject Iraq from Kuwait in a

manner that would destroy Saddam’s offensive military

capabilities and make his fall from power likely.” 39

7. US leaders wanted to prevent Israel from intervening in

the conflict and thereby undermining the Arab ally participation

in the war. Also, had Saddam ordered chemical

and/or biological attacks on Israel as the war continued,

the Israeli leadership might have responded with a nuclear

attack on Baghdad. What might have occurred after

such an exchange would have been uncertain, but it was

not a problem the Bush administration wished to risk.

8. An invasion of Iraq might have backfired politically in the

United States and triggered major political opposition to the

president. Halting at the border left the United States and

the Bush administration with ultra-high approval ratings.


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