The Persian Gulf War and its aftermath
With the End of the Cold War, the world should become safer. But instead of a more peaceful decade, the years following the Fall of the Berlin Wall were characterized by the same issues as before, like international terrorism or the endangered environment. More dangerously, new, more alarming problems emerged, such as nuclear capability of rogue states and exceedingly brutal local rivalries, where the most powerful nations of the world were seemingly helpless and sometimes experienced a nightmare, like the UN mission in Somalia. The first crisis in the Post-Cold War Era was the Persian Gulf War, where for the first time the U.S. President was able to act without paying too much attention to Russia. On the other side, he was aware of the need of consultation with other states. So Bush was wise enough to avoid the same mistakes other American presidents had done before him, e.g. Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War. Attention shall be given not only to the war`s aftermath, neccessity and success but also to its significance for U.S. foreign policy at the beginning of the Post-Cold War Era.
The Persian Gulf Crisis itself did not come out of the blue. In fact, Iraq`s history is characterized by many conflicts. Back in 1920, Iraq was ruled by a British mandate, but became independent twelve years later. After a military coup in 1958, Iraq was proclaimed a republic, which it remained despite some other coups. In 1970, a peace agreement was signed by the RCC, the Revolution Command Council, and the KDP, the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Nine years later, Saddam Hussein comes to power, and only one year after that, the Iran-Iraq War broke out, despite the border treaty both states had signed in 1975. First problems with international policy emerged in 1988, when Iraq was suspected of chemical weapons` usage against a Kurdish city. Iraq had also threatened Israel and other Arab states for years, and had worried some other governments with their unknown weapons.
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invades the tiny sheikdom of Kuwait, an oil–rich state on its southern border, with which it had struggles over oilfields and Iraqi debts. Iraq`s dictator Saddam Hussein also rejects Kuwait as an independent nation in regard of it being formed by Western imperialists, as he says, and claims the territory because of historic reasons. However, Iraq`s motive isn`t clear enough; no justification in respect of historic reasons can be found. So the invasion may have been Saddam Hussein´s personal ambition of becoming the leader of the Arab world and ruling over the Gulf oil wells, or out of an economic crisis which became visible in spring 1990 and which was a consequence of the long war with Iran in the 1980s. However, Saddam Hussein did surely not expect such a vehement reaction of the West, partially because he was used to the U.S. taking his sides, like it had been for years. It takes only 24 hours until Kuwait is totally under Iraqi control. Immediately, an official disapproval by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 660 follows, a full withdrawal is demanded, but to no avail. On August 8, Iraq declares the annexation Kuwait.
Saddam Hussein also appears to threaten Kuwait´s neighbour Saudi Arabia as he masses troops along the border between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. U.S. President George H. W. Bush believes that Iraq wants to take control of the region`s oil supplies and begins to form a coalition instantly. On August 6, the UN trade embargo is imposed on Iraq, and “Operation Desert Shield” begins: 230,000 troops are installed to defend the Kuwaiti-Saudi-Arabian border, which Saudi-Arabia has requested. Iraq goes on with sending more and more troops to Kuwait, so President Bush sends another 200,000 soldiers, which can lead an attak. Later in the year, in November, the UNSC authorizes all states in alliance with Kuwait to do everything to support Resolution 660, if Iraq has not withdrawn by January 15. By mid-January of 1991, the allied party consists of 34 nations, among them Arab States like Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates, and of 660,000 troops, of which only 160,000 come from the non-U.S coalition.
 Cf. The 1990-91 Gulf War: Crisis, Conflict, Aftermath. An Annotated Bibliography. Ed. Andrew Orgill. London/New York: Mansell, 1995, VIII.