The historic incident of the U.S attack on the Iraqi Ba’arthist troops headed by Saddam Hussein on 1991 and the annexation of the country in 2003 have generated different debates on the actual intention of the stakeholders. Critics in favor of America’s action opine that these incidents were actually moral projects undertaken by America in order to release the Iraqi civilians from the claustrophobic ambiance prevailing in the country because of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. These critics believe that America took over the ethical duty to organize the law and order of Iraq and establish a democratic government in Iraq. However, this notion is severely criticized by political realists and theorists of other discipline who state that it was sheer selfish motive for testing military might, tightening its security and expanding its resource of acquired oil wells that prompted America to wage repeated attacks against Iraq and annex the country. They further remark that diplomacy of America was foiled under the veil of ‘moral duty’. The principles of political realism apply ideally in this case of the second Gulf War in 1991 and invasion of Iraq in 2003 from American perspective.
Various commentaries on the Gulf Wars and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 present various perspectives on America’s motive behind the annexation and the warfare and the outcome of these events on Iraq. While some comments are in favour of the fact that these actions reveal America’s moral duty, others suggest that the country attempted at testing its military might and expanding its oil resources.
- First Gulf War and various point of views
The history of Gulf War is long and eventful. The first Gulf War of 1990 was fought between a coalition of thirty-four countries headed by the United States and Iraq. The context that led to this warfare was Iraq’s expulsion from Kuwait. This historic warfare has been referred to by different names, such as Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, Persian Gulf War, etc. However, there are several disagreements and disputes regarding the different names that have been assigned to the Gulf war of the 90s because the starting date of the names of each of these warfare vary from each other.
This Gulf War had proved to be in favor of the coalition of nations right from the beginning , and Iraq was always at the receiving end.
Thus, history suggests that the warfare commenced with aerial bombardment on Kuwait with an aim to evacuate the area of the Iraqi army. This victory of the coalition troops provided them the opportunity to advance into Kuwaiti territory with much conviction and dispel the Iraqi troops. However, the coalition troops faced a ground campaign from the Iraqi army much to their surprise. Although the resistance from the Iraqi troops were restricted to regions like Kuwait, Iraq and certain bordering areas of Saudi Arabia, the coalition troops experienced resistance in the form of Scud missile attack. This was followed by a hundred hours cease fire declaration by the United Nations Security Resolution in 687 that was passed in 1991. However, this status quo was prevalent only for a limited span as it set the ground for another gulf war that the history witnessed twelve years after this.
If judged from the perspective of Iraq, the Gulf war was supposed to bring about positive change on the lives of those in the Kuwait and Iraq. However, the outcome of the war was mixed in nature. Majority of the financial lossesincurred at the Gulf War had to be borne by Iraq. The total loss of Iraq on military equipment surmounted to over $50 billion, and estimates are that it will take years to bring Iraq back to its original pre Gulf War state. In order to make matters even worse, it was realized by the Iraqi government lately that the process of reinstating the original financial position of the state seems bleak due to the pending arms prohibition on the state.Thus, the effects of Gulf War was detrimental for Iraq. In case of Kuwait it can be said that in spite of having better position than Iraq, the state has also suffered from financial blow after the war.
Before the warfare began most extensive damage was brought upon the state by unnecessary oil installations. There was steep rise in oil prices immediately after the invasion of Kuwait. Researchers suggest that the approximate price of each barrel of oil rose from $20 to $30 “in the spot marker.” Oil dealers became skeptical about Saddam’s intension from the Gulf War and started thinking that pursuing this was would become burdensome on them. The entrance of United Nations and USA was a solace for these oil suppliers because the suppliers were assured now that they need not be afraid due to a leader who is against Western interests. While this was the conceptions of the Kuwaitis during the prewar situation of the state, the real picture became different for them after the Gulf War. During the tenure from 1991-1992 there was severe deterioration of the oil industry of Kuwait. Coupled with this was the massive decrease in production of oil due to destruction of Kuwait’s oil wells.
Again, a striking aspect of the post-Gulf War situation on Kuwait was that from late 1992 to the entire part of 1995 an increase in the GDP of the country could be witnessed. The major catalyst behind this unexpected boom in the state’s economy was growth of the oil industry. Nevertheless, if judged from the angle of Kuwait’s’ economic status it can be said that Kuwait has not recovered completely from the financial blow it encountered at the Gulf War (Environmental and Economic Repercussions of the Persian Gulf War on Kuwait, ). In sum, The Gulf War of 1991 brought about both environmental and economic consequences. Moreover, the controversies following the enforcement of ceasefire and its terms after the ground combat created grounds for warfare after a period of twelve years, the Gulf War II.
1.2 Second Gulf War and various points of view
The second Gulf War that was commenced on March 2003 and continued until December 2011 was primarily marked by the invasion of the Iraqi territory by the coalition troop of the militia of United States, United Kingdom, Poland and Australia along with the start of the Iraq War. America referred to this warfare as Operation Iraqi Freedom; a mission to free the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein’s regime. By presenting this aim, United States continued its tradition of projecting that its intention was to benefit Iraq like the way it had planned during the Afghan war (Salazar Torreon, 2012). Thus, the invasion of Iraq by the coalition troops was followed up with a twenty one days of combat operation and ended with the overthrow of the Ba’arthist government of Saddam Hussein. Hence, this conventional warfare between Saddam’s troops and the coalition troops ended with the annexation of Baghdad, the capital of Iraq by the American army. As presented by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the U.S President George W. Bush, the purpose behind the invasion of Iraq and dismantling of the Ba’arthist government of Saddam Hussein was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.Further intentions were to put an end to Saddam Hussein’s government as it supported for terrorism (The White House, 2003).
The United States referred the second Gulf War as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. According to the American perspective, this war against Iraq was waged by the coalition of nations in order to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and benign the weapons of mass destruction used by the Saddam’s army. USA further believed that an important measure behind this activity was to stop Saddam Hussein government from making the weapons of mass destruction accessible to terrorists and furthering the process of worldwide annihilation.
However, there was shift in this primary intention of American troop after some time. At a later stage, the purpose of Operation Iraqi Freedom got shifted. It became more of an “open ended mission” for assisting the Government of Iraq for enhancing its security, establishing a proper system of governance and promoting the process of economic development (Dale, 2009).Those who oppose the declared purpose of the coalition troops behind the invasion of Iraq consider it as a selfish act. For instance, Richard A. Clarke, the chief counter terrorism adviser of the National Security Council, remarked that annexation of Iraq underlines the emergence of much more problem for America than in case of Saddam ruled Iraq(Buncombe, 2004). According to this commentary, when Bush took his office at the U.S government he already made a plan to invade Iraq and extend the US hold further. Unfortunately, the Bush government failed to foresee the problems it was inviting.
Surprisingly, the root causes behind this warfare was also the same as that of the aftermath of the warfare. If judged from the perspective of the Iraqi people, it will be seen that there was great deal of financial mess and frustration among people. Saddam Hussein’s inability to generate funds for supporting other Arab states for the earlier warfare of Iraq with Iran made some of these states turn against him. They showed disinterest in helping Saddam Hussein any further when he got involved in the warfare against the coalition troops. While distrust in Saddam was one reason, the other reason was that they could apprehend the outcome of the war from the strength of the countries involved in the coalition. Therefore, for Saddam oil export was a way of obtaining revenue. Unfortunately, the quota regulations of the OPED nations impeded the process. In addition to this was the surplus oil production in Kuwait that further dropped the oil prices and pushed Saddam into further economic crisis (Wilson, 1995).
This section presents the impact of Gulf War and invasion of Iraq by the coalition troops and perceptionsof different countries from different angles on these historic events. As already pointed out, the coalition troops and USA believed that the war would have positive contribution on the country’s economy, politics and environment, the-then Saddam government showed concern for the negative aspects of the war. Nevertheless, the reality also shows mixed outcome of the Gulf War, the effects of which were felt by Iraq, Kuwait as well as other Gulf countries like UAE. The arguments and counter arguments in favour of America’s mission to invade Iraq believe that it was necessary for this powerful country to consolidate the oil resources of the latter, stabilize its political environment, and improve its financial might by displacing the Ba’arthist government of Saddam Hussein. However, the introduction also presents that the opposing views reflect the Gulf War gave birth to several geographical, financial and political issues in Iraq.
This paper offers insight upon different consequences of the invasion of Iraq, the Gulf War and different perspectives onAmerica’s role in the entire incident. It needs attention thatrealism has been identified as one of the major theories here, and will be used to explain international relations, the political realistic perspective thus can be a framework for elucidating existence of America’s in the Middle Eastern region during the twenty first century(Özdemir, 2011).Further, the paper will seek to evaluate whether the realist perspective on both the wars was correct when compared to the other perspectives discussed such as the Marxist perspective, theory of capitalistic imperialism and the Neo-conservative perspective.
This section will conduct a thorough research on the outcome of the Gulf War of 2003 and the invasion of Iraq in order to analyze the fruitfulness of different perspectives on this historical event. Since this dissertation is a qualitative research project in nature, different academic and scholarly sources will be employed for analyzing the American and non-American perspective on the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq. In precise, a thorough study of different books, reviews, scholarly journals, research materials and news releases will be made in order to come to a concrete conclusion about the pre-second Gulf War projections and post-second Gulf War outcome on America and Iraq and other connected Gulf countries.
It needs awareness here that the process of recursive abstraction will be executed here to establish the commentary made in this dissertation on varying views regarding Gulf War and invasion of Iraq. This specific method of qualitative analysis has been adopted as it has been realized that almost all the secondary sources on invasion of Iraq and second Gulf War are bound by time and specific perspectives of each of the researcher. Therefore, total reliability on the conceptions presented through these sources will be a permanent concern. Moreover, the chances of the formation of biased opinions on a specific perspective on Gulf War and invasion of Iraq by coalition troops in 2003 can only be avoided by acquiring enough data from all these scholarly sources, comparing them with each other and summarizing the final inferences from there.
The primary merit of this format of research methodology is that it will be content-based and centered upon universally accepted realistic perspectives on the invasion of Iraq and the Gulf War. The write-up will not try to draw any personal and undependable personal opinion on any matter connected to this historic event. Assumptions are that qualitative research methodology that will be adopted here will lead deep understanding of the topic in discussion and presentation of a realistic picture. The conclusion reached at the end of the research will, in some respects, be a disciplined reflection of the different views of the authors of different scholarly materials used here. The major issues that will be addressed in this dissertation in order to establish a concluding summary on the invasion of Iraq and Gulf War of 2003 are the following:
- What is the practical issue that gave rise to contradictory perspectives on second Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq in 2003?
- What were the central and the actual phenomenon that led to the invasion of Iraq by America?
- How did the Iraqi masses perceive the invasion?
- What were the consequences of the invasion on Iraq and America?
- Did America’s role justify the political realistic perspectives concerning the state and its political actions?
Although qualitative research will be helpful in drawing a closer-to-reality conclusion on the American perspective on the second Gulf War and invasion of Iraq, it has been simultaneously taken into consideration that this methodology suffers from certain limitations. It has been acknowledged that there are numbers of secondary sources available on different perspectives of the Gulf War and invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, as the research is limited by time, word limit and accessibility to these resources, only some selected sources were used for the work.
Therefore, the conclusion drawn at the end of the dissertation cannot be considered as self sufficient, and the concluding commentary presented here should not be generalized. Moreover, the findings presented through the method of recursive abrasion that has been specifically adopted in this dissertation as a method of qualitative research cannot be taken as an autonomous research on the Gulf War of 1991 and invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is because the recursion it is exclusively dependent upon secondary data as there are practical adversities in interviewing persons directly.
2.1.1 The Realist Perspective
“Realism, also known as political realism, is a view of international politics that stresses its competitive and conflictual side.” This theory presents state as the principle actor in the sphere of international relations further stresses that the state is primarily concerned about its own security, pursues its own national interest and struggles to attain and hold power (Korab-Karpowicz& Julian, 2013).
Realism, as described by Haslam, is a spectrum of ideas that have four dominant propositions: Egoism, international Anarchy, Political Groupism, or formation of groups with a central political theory, and Power politics (Goodin, 2010). The theory of political realism had its origin in the 20th century. This theoretical concept found its reflection in the works of Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes that were based on international relationship during inter-war period. As put forward by Baylis, Smith (2001) the theory of classical realism states that it is an ideology that initiates the hunger for acquiring power, and this interest is the dominantcharacteristic of human nature. Morgenthau presented an elaborate description of classical realism in context of explaining Aristotelian politics in the book, Political Theory and International Politics. There he has emphasized upon the need of centrality of power and rational judgment in politics (Morgenthau and Lang, 2004).
Classical realism entered its transitional phase in order to be identified as modern realism or modern political realism during the time of World War II. Since then, it became a dominant ideology United States in the field of research. The major proponent of modern realism is Hans Morgenthau. He presented six vital principles in order to explain political realism.
According to the first principle of modern political realism the society is governed by objective laws with their roots inherent in the human nature.Therefore, the endeavor to change a society can only prove successful if concise understanding of the dominant laws prevailing in that particular society is understood. The second principle states that in the landscape of international politics talks about interests that is actually defined in terms of power. This establishes a link between rationales that attempt at understanding international politics and the facts that actually need to be understood. As per this principle, politics is a self-governing sphere of actions (Morgenthau, 1978).
The third principle states that the primary concept of interest in realism is power. This interest belongs to an objective category that is universal. Nevertheless, this does not provide the notion with a meaning that is unchanging. Thus, the essence of politics is this very idea of interest that remains impervious against the ravages of time and changes of place. Moreover, this identity of interest is the bonding that establishes link between different states or different individuals(Morgenthau, 1978).
According to the fourth principle, political realism makes the principle actor aware of the moral implication of a particular political action. This key stakeholder is simultaneously aware of the vital requisites that would make a political action successful. A noteworthy characteristic of politics is thatpressure situation exists between the moral command and actual requirement. The major stakeholders intentionally conceal their inherent moral and political issues with an intention to make it appear to the minor stakeholders that the actions are ethical. Therefore, a political realist would always think of political interests in terms of power. The fifth principle of Morgenthau attempts at unraveling the truth behind the idolatry action of a nation. Lastly, the sixth principle asserts that the interest of nations is defined in terms of power. However, elaborate discussion on poweras the key interest of nations in this principle has been made by comparing political realism with other theories (Morgenthau, 1978).
All the six principles of Morgenthau will be useful in analyzing the American perspective behind invasion of Iraq and the Gulf War. Thus, there are opposing opinions of the American policy makers in context to the invasion of Iraq. The opinions in favour of America’s action suggest that the intention of the action was to overthrow an irrational leader and make Iraq an example of democracy in the Middle East. But “American unilateral action in Iraq in spite of domestic and foreign opposition for the sake of world hegemony is nothing more than a reflection of realist principles (Özdemir, 2011).” Therefore, the main theoretical perspective behind Gulf War and invasion of Iraq is acquisition of power.
2.1.2 Theories relevant to the Realist Perspective
In this section, a summarized understanding of other recognized theories on the invasion of Iraq and Gulf war will be presented. The purpose of this section will be to present that the theories of world politics presented by realistic perspective correlate with other important theories. The summation of these theories converges to the universal concept of power hunger in politics.
A Marxist perspective of The Gulf War and invasion of Iraq has also been provided. It highlights upon the class basis of the Iraqi war in order to explain the cause of the war and the invasion of Iraq. According to the Marxist concept, the Iraq wars were “a rich “first world” country in the “global north” was attacking a relatively poor but resource rich country.(The Invasion of Iraq: Realism vs. Imperialism, 2014).”
The neo-conservative theory believes that international politics function as per the format of the bandwagon logic. When a militaristically powerful country like America attacks or threatens its opponents, those who are its allies or those who favour the country immediately understand that United States means serious business out of the endeavor. However, they become simultaneously aware of the fact that “if they cross mighty Uncle Sam, they will pay a severe price.” Eventually, the rest of the world fear the big power, United States and do not dare to challenge the country. Rather, they prefer joining America and safeguard their position Here, a similarity with the realistic theory can be seen in the manner in power in international politics has been acknowledged. USA is one of the super powers, and Iraq’s political status in world politics cannot be equated with USA. Hence, winning the favour of other important countries by USA is self-explanatory. This endeavor will simultaneously strengthen the political footings of these supporting countries as well.
The theory of capitalistic imperialism identifies the process of takeover of one state by the other as a means to gain control over the dominated state’s resources. The outcome of this takeover always proves beneficial for the superior state that dominates the weaker one. This often leads to overpowering of the administration of the weaker. Imperialism looks for opportunities that would lead to private gain. Yet, it attempts at convincing the public that the undertaken endeavor is to bring about general wellbeing of all (The Invasion of Iraq: Realism vs. Imperialism, 2014).
Parallel analysis of the theory of capitalist imperialism with that of realistic perspective circulates around the same topic that power dominates international political relations. A powerful state always tends to dominate the weaker one in an attempt to prove its supremacy in international politics. However, the powerful state would never present its actual intention and try to influence the masses that its actions will benefit them.
3.1 American and anti-American standpoint on Gulf War
Scholarly sources such as that of Özdemir (2011) suggest that analyzing Gulf War and invasion of Iraq fromRealistic has to be acknowledged as the primary theory for understanding fundamental characteristic of international relationships. According to the realistic perspective, invasion of Iraq by America wasperformed in an inhospitable situation that was characterized by domestic opposition from the local Iraqis. These actions also faced international opposition from many countries because it was perceived as the manifestation of crave for supremacy. Nevertheless, America presented to the world that the country took active role in the Gulf War because it wanted to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq because he was irrational and undemocratic in nature (Özdemir, 2011). Saddam’s previously committed unethical action in the form of possessing weapons of mass destruction and oil spillage served as a strong foundation for supporting America’s actions (Mearsheimer and Walt, 2003). Thus, it became an apt background for the American policy makers to describe the Gulf War and invasion of Iraq as an endeavor to reinforce democracy in the country.
Opposing views suggest that there was a nascent interest of America behind this invasion of Iraq. Americans were aware of the fact that the defense system of Iraq was much weaker for them in comparison to that of countries like Iran or North Korea. Therefore, attack on these countries would cost America quite a lot in terms of military resource and capital investment. Hence, they found it best to attack Iraq in the name of moral concerns like the country was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, democracy was at stake, etc. Thus, if the realistic angle is taken into account then it can be found that the Americans did what their own national interest prompted them to do (Özdemir, 2011).
3.2 Realistic perspective on the second Gulf War in respect to other theories
3.2.1. Realistic perspective on the second Gulf War
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 has been denoted as the largest and the longest of wars where America used the most expensive arms and ammunitions since the Vietnamese war. However, this US decision of invading Iraq has been denoted as an unprecedented one by many. The perspective of Gulf War can be better understood in light of different theories concerning the causes of warfare. For instance, the theory of realism stresses upon factors like national security, resources and power in order to explain the causes of war.
If these are applied to the American perspective of invasion of Iraq then it can be found that the primary motives were to maintain unipolarity and hegemony and avoid the declination of post 9/11 by presenting the willingness of America to use military force. Other factors of realism that prompted the warfare were elimination of the Iraqi WMD threat, restrict nuclear proliferation, reduce energy dangers and gain enhance military power. According to the liberal perspectives the difference between democracy and non-democracy is the root cause of warfare. In case of the Gulf War and invasion of Iraq, it was the fear within the mind of the Iraqis that the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein will attack their freedom, security and human rights as Saddam was charged with the accusation of keeping connections with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda (Woods, 2007).
Thus, Americans thought it was their moral responsibility to spread the message of democracy through the Gulf War. The 2003 invasion of Iraq would perhaps be able to arouse the conscience of the Iraqis and denounce dictatorship by opposing Saddam’s rule on them. However, ideational viewpoints take into consideration the ideologies, beliefs, and worldviews that contribute to war. Thus, the vengefulness of the American nationalism after the 9/11 attack was exposed with the act of the invasion of Iraq. Neoconservatives like Kristol and Kagan (1996) explain that America was aware of its role as a leader. Therefore, waging war against Iraq and annexing the country was actually a method of exercising American influence.
The primary reason that was provided to the world by the Bush government for justifying the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was that Saddam Hussein and his reign was a threat to the security of USA as Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and was a support for several terrorist guilds. Therefore, as per the American perspective this war and the invasion of Iraq would lead to the establishment of a stable government in the country. Realistic perspective explains that US attempted to crush the emergence of any major regional power so that it could be successful in maintaining hegemony over the region (Mearsheimerand Walt,2003).
Thus, in a way it can be said that invasion of Iraq was actually an American ploy to deal with Iraqi power in major Gulf regions like that of the Middle East. The desire to overthrow dictatorship and establish democracy was an attempt to counterbalance emergence of any other hostile power in regions like Iran. As per the realistic perspectives, the Bush administration thought that that triumphant preliminary invasion and conquer of the Iraqi army would cause other countries to automatically join the bandwagon to support America (Understanding and Applying Theoretical Lenses, n.d.).
3.2.2.Comparing Marxist perspective with realistic theory
According to the Marxist perspective, the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq presented the coalition troops as an apt example of transnational capitalist class that conspired to inspire the US government to get involved in the warfare at Iraq. It further outlines that the aggressive behavior of America and the attitudes as regards its militarism and the elevated status of the armed force in American society were results of the ideological elements of the superstructure. Thus, Marxist ideologists emphasized upon the role of class and material basis behind this historical incident in order to analyze the Gulf War, invasion or Iraq and the varying perspectives of America, other Gulf countries and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (Understanding and Applying Theoretical Lenses, n.d.). They see a scenario of class struggle as the basic foundation that encourages war (Lenin and Zinovyev, 1952).
3.2.3.Comparing Neo Conservative perspective with Realistic Theory
The invasion of Iraq and the Gulf War has been analyzed by some critics from a neo-conservative angle. The role of America in the aforesaid warfare gives indications of the belief of Bush government in the “utility of military force(Understanding and Applying Theoretical Lenses, n.d.).” The primary reason that was presented to support America’s action to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s rule and invade Iraq was to establish systematic democratic government. America’s action proved that it favoured military force over diplomacy in making its intentions come true. During the Gulf War Bush administration functioned unilaterally and depended heavily on its military might in order to make its envisioned goal come true and indirectly give to the world the hint that its military resource is overwhelming.
Further, joining the American bandwagon is exactly what happened in case of the Gulf War and invasion of Iraq. The international community did not take any concrete measures to prevent the US invasion and chose to be allies instead. In spite of objecting Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass weapons, America’s parallel action during that phase could not be favoured too as it was providing Iraq with overhead satellite imagery so that it could use its chemical weapons more effectively against the Iranian army(Mearsheimer, 2005).
Thus, when Iraq came in for condemnation for the use of weapons of mass destruction at the United Nations and the US Congress, attempts were made by Reagan and first Bush administration to defend Saddam’s from criticisms.
3.3 Establishment of democracy and Gulf War
The real intension of America behind the invasion of Iraq has been explained in yet another manner from a different angle. Democracies that present themselves as white hats have the tendency to go on crusades in order to mash the non-democratic governments and turn the world into a consolidated zone of white hat democracy.This is exactly what the United