Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


In any case, it is not clear that Saddam Hussein believed his

biological weapons in particular would be effective, because it

later became clear, in the mid-1990s, that Iraq had not made

great progress at the time of the 1990–1991 gulf campaign in

mating their experimental biological weapons program to an

effective delivery system. However, chemical weapons were another

thing entirely. His regime had manufactured tens of

thousands of chemical weapons and had used them to deadly

and strategic effect against Iran. As the CIA later concluded,

“In Saddam’s view, WMD helped save the regime multiple

times. He believed that during the Iran-Iraq War chemical

weapons had halted Iranian ground offensives and that ballistic

missile attacks on Tehran had broken its political will.

Similarly during Desert Storm, Saddam believed WMD had deterred

Coalition Forces from pressing their attack beyond the

goal of freeing Kuwait.” 48

Indeed, Iraq’s military had the most experience delivering

chemical weapons in actual battle conditions of any other military

in the world at the time of the 1990–1991 Gulf War. On the

other hand, it is not clear that Saddam and his commanders

believed his forces were superior to US forces on a toxic battlefield

where US forces, unlike most of his Iraqi military, were well

trained and relatively better equipped than the Iraqi forces to

fight in a chemical environment. US and NATO preparations

against the possible onslaught of the Warsaw Pact chemical

threat had equipped US forces to fight better than the Iraq Army

in this realm. Thus, it might have been that US forces’ passive

defenses played a major part in Iraq’s decision not to use chemical

arms, perhaps as great a role as President Bush’s implied

nuclear threat. At any rate, it is likely that the combination of

the implied US nuclear retaliatory threat, the superiority of US

training, and better protective gear against chemical effects

combined to keep the Iraqi chemical weapons out of play.

Iraqi Chemical and Biological Capability

Deterrent to US Nuclear Weapons?

What confidence did Saddam Hussein have that the United

States would not use its superiority in nuclear arms to destroy


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