Operation Desert Storm - a critical review

Pre-University Paper 2005 21 Pages

English - Literature, Works


Table of content

1. Introduction

2. The war
2.1 The history and the political situation of Iraq and Kuwait
2.2 The Second Gulf War
2.2.1 The Iraqi Army conquers Kuwait
2.2.2 The role of the UNO
2.2.3 Resolution 660 – Resolution 678: “Enforcement with all necessary means”
2.2.4 The behaviour of the UNO – a critical review
2.2.5 Oil: The reason why the USA intervened?
2.2.6 The development of war

3. The role of the media in the Gulf War
3.1. First Amendment: The freedom of the press
3.2 The pool system in the Gulf War
3.2.1 Vietnam, Grenada and Panama: Reasons for the pool system
3.2.2 The failure of the media: The acceptance of the pool system
3.3. How the war was made popular
3.3.1 An invented story: The Incubator Incident
3.4 Official justification of the pool system
3.5. The censorship in the times of the Second Gulf War – a critical review

4. Conclusion


1. Introduction

This research paper is about “Operation Desert Storm.” A war which took place in 1991 between Iraq and the allied troops of the United Nations Organization (UNO) under the command of the US Army after Iraqi troops had conquered Kuwait.

The second chapter is about the war itself and the origin of the conflict between Kuwait and Iraq. It also deals with the question of why the USA intervened and includes a short summary of the development of the war. The chapters 2.2.2, 2.2.3 and 2.2.4 detail the role of the UNO, an interesting point in this war.

The third chapter is about the disinformation of the public before and during the war. This topic is still not largely known about and is also very ongoing. It contains a detailed description of the pool system and its origin. It also shows how Kuwait became popular in the USA and gives an exact view on the “Incubator Incident” in 3.3.1.

The topic about the conflict at the Gulf is still up to date, especially since resistance against the American forces in Iraq after the 3rdGulf War is still growing today. Because of the immense size of the topic, this work shall not be a summary of the war but a work that gives an insight into certain aspects of this war, in particular the role of the UNO in the second chapter and the disinformation of the public in the third chapter.

2. The war

This chapter is about the origin of the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait, which had its roots in the beginning of the 20thcentury, after the end of the First World War and about the development of the war. It also includes one of the subjects that fits chronologically into the chapter: the role of the UNO.

2.1 The history and the political situation of Iraq and Kuwait

To understand the ideological significance of this war, the history of Iraq and Kuwait is important. Iraq had been part of the “Ottoman Empire”1until it was occupied and fell under the protectorate of the United Kingdom in 1920.2Until 1899 Kuwait had been part of the “Ottoman Empire” and concluded a contract with the British Empire to protect the land in the same year.3The British gave Kuwait the assurance of independence but in 1914 the British took the protectorate over Kuwait, too.4After Iraq had gained its independence in 1932, Kuwait still remained a self-governed part of the British Empire.5In 1961 Kuwait became independent from the United Kingdom6, but the borders to the neighbour countries had never been fixed in a contract.7After the Second World War oil became more and more important for the Western Hemisphere and in those times the main oil fields in Kuwait were discovered. The extraction of oil began in 1945. In 1961 Iraq emphasized its claims on Kuwait and British troops had to arrive to protect Kuwait.8The countries have never found a border that they both accept and international forces had to intervene earlier in history, such as the British in 1961.

Neither Kuwait nor Iraq was democratic in 1990. In Iraq Saddam Hussein has been the dictator since a putsch in his party, the Baath-party, in 1979.9In the conuntry the Shiites and the Kurds brutally were persecuted as minorities. Under the regime of Saddam Hussein one million Iraqis were killed.10

Kuwait on the other hand was not a democratic state either. The sheik family al-Sabah controlled the land and the parliament. The parliament can only be voted by 5% of the population and can be suspended at anytime, so it has no power at all.

2.2 The Second Gulf War

As you can see in 2.1 the borders between Kuwait and Iraq had always been an issue. In the First Gulf War against Iran, Iraq was supported by Kuwait and the USA.11In 1988, the war ended with numerous casualities; Iraq had foreign debts in the amount of 70 billion US-Dollar.12This situation was obviously not acceptable for Saddam Hussein and his people. Knowing that Kuwait, with its population of approximately 2 million13and an army of 13,000 men14, would be an easy victim for his own 800,000 men army15, Saddam Hussein started to plan a war against Kuwait.

2.2.1 The Iraqi Army conquers Kuwait

The issue of the oil fields of Rumailah was the official reason for the war. Ninety percent of this field is part of Iraq and 10 percent is under Kuwaiti control.16Iraq accused Kuwait of extracting oil without permission. The field of Rumailah with its resources of 14 – 30 billion barrels17is very important for both countries since 12% 26% of the total resources in Iraq and 14% 31% of those in Kuwait are located in this field.18For both countries the oil-exporting industry is the most important one. Saddam Hussein saw a chance to improve the bad economical situation in his country and he was sure that the USA would not intervene because of the following statement the USambassador in Iraq, April Glaspie, made on July 25th1990 in Baghdad: “We [The American government] have no opinion on inner Arabic conflicts like your discrepancy with Kuwait.”19Saddam probably interpreted this as an agreement of the USA to attack Kuwait. On August 2nd, 1990 the Iraqi Army completely overran Kuwait and the Second Gulf War started.

2.2.2 The role of the UNO

After the foundation of the UNO in 1949, its history has been affected by a politic of blockade. The reason for that is Chapter V, Article 27 of the UNO-Charter, saying that a resolution may only be passed by the UN Security Council, and only they have the power to impose sanctions and authorise war, if the five permanent members (China, Great-Britain, France, USA, Russia) give their approval.20In the times of the Cold War the two blocks cancelled out each other by using their veto right. In 1990, when the Cold War was over, the USA saw a chance to get their war authorised by the UN Secu- rity Council. The other permanent members were either allied with the USA (France and Great Britain) or had their own inner political problems (Russia and China). During this period the USA had the chairmanship over the Security Counsel. The nonpermanent members were: Ethiopia, the Cote d'Ivoire, Finland, Yemen, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Malaysia, Romania and Zaire.21

2.2.3 Resolution 660 – Resolution 678: “Enforcement with all necessary means”

On August 2nd, 1990, directly after the Iraqi invasion, the Security Council passed resolution 660 that “condemns the Iraqi invasion in Kuwait” and “demands that Iraq withdraw immediately”.22Unlike in the year 1980, at the beginning of the First Gulf War, the Security Council had a clear point of view and spotted Iraq as the aggressor in this war. In resolution 479, which was passed in 1980 after the Iraqi invasion in Iran, the Security Council did not condemn Iraq as the aggressor of the war, even though the situation was similar.23

On August 6ththe Security Council passed resolution 661 since Iraq had not fulfilled resolution 660 and still remained in Kuwait with its army. According to article 41 of the UN Charter it decided to impose economical sanctions against Iraq including all imports from and exports to Iraq and Kuwait apart from material intended for medical supply and urgent food deliveries.24

For countries like France, which took 31 % of their imports from the Gulf region, this was hard to accept, but in the end all countries followed the resolution.25On August 8thIraq decided formally on the annexation of Kuwait with the justifications shown in chapter 2.1.26The Security Council reacted immediately by passing resolution 662, which declares that the annexation of Kuwait is “null and void”.27A peaceful solution of this conflict became more and more improbable because Iraq neither tried to negotiate with the UNO nor started any attempts to leave Kuwait.

After the start of an American sea blockade on August 15th, which was not authorized by the Security Council, it was also obvious that the USA had the power to do whatever they wanted to solve the conflict in their interests.28 The Security Council just had the opportunity to react and passed resolution 665, ten days after the beginning of the blockade, which authorised the enforcement of the economical sanctions with military forces.29 Resolution 665 was actually a belated legitimation for the American blockade. The impression that the USA controlled the Security Council is self-evident and will be confirmed later on.


1 cf. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, Neunter Band, 1970, p. 221

2 cf. Arbeitskreis Hintergründe Nahost: Krisen, Konflikte, Kriege: Golf und Nahost, 1991, p. 14

3 cf. Geschichte Kuwaits – Wikipedia

4 cf. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, Zehnter Band, p. 831

5 cf. Arbeitskreis Hintergründe Nahost (1991), p. 22

6 cf. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, Zehnter Band, p. 831

7 cf. Mannes, Stefan: Die Rolle der UNO im Zweiten Golfkrieg, p. 1

8 cf. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, S. 831

9 cf. Bulloch, John/Morris, Harvey: Saddams Krieg, 1991, p. 62

10 cf. Navarro Ramil, Beatriz: Der Krieg am Golf und seine Präsentation im Fernsehen, 1995, p. 10

11 cf. MacArthur, John R., Die Schlacht der Lügen, 1993, p. 47

12 cf. Mannes (2002) p. 2 and „Why we fight“ minute 60

13 cf. Microsoft Encarta Weltatlas 2000, Kuwait

14 cf. Arbeitskreis Hintergründe Nahost (1991), p. 22

15 cf. documentary „Krieg am Golf“ minute 31 and Arbeitskreis Hintergründe Nahost (1991), p. 17

16 cf. Zeitenschrift: Der inszenierte Krieg

17 cf. Zürrer, Werner: Weltgeschehen III/90: Irak – Kuweit: Die neue Krise am Golf, p. 15

18 cf. Informationsdienst für Politik: Macht der Resourcen

19 dircetly translated from Bulloch/Harvey (1991) p. 38

20 cf. Charter of the United Nations

21 cf. Mannes (2002), p. 2

22 UN Securtiy Council resolution 660

23 cf. UN Securtiy Council resolution 479

24 cf. UN Securtiy Council resolution 661

25 cf. Bulloch/Harvey (1991), p. 49

26 cf. Mannes (2002), p. 3

27 UN Securtiy Council resolution 662

28 cf. Mannes (2002), p. 5

29 cf. UN Securtiy Council resolution 665


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Operation Desert Storm




Title: Operation Desert Storm - a critical review