Global Policy Forum

Gulf War and a Decade of Sanctions

Picture Credit: APF

US high-pressure tactics in the Security Council lined up support for the war that ousted Iraq from Kuwait. A punishing air campaign, followed by years of sanctions, took a heavy toll on civilians. Though Council resolutions focused on weapons, and said nothing about regime-change, the US and UK announced in 1991 that their policy aimed at nothing less than overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

The Gulf War of 1991 | A Decade of Sanctions

The Gulf War of 1991


Reasons Not to Invade Iraq, by George Bush Sr. (April 19, 2003)

George Bush Sr. and his National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft explained in a Time magazine article from 1998 why they did not remove Saddam Hussein, stating unbalance in the region as one of their concerns. (Memoryhole)

Baker Presses Security Council Members For a War Resolution in November, 1990

In his autobiography, former US Secretary of State James Baker tells how he undertook a process of "cajoling, extracting, threatening, and occasionally buying votes" on the Council, to win support for a resolution authorizing a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Baker Twists Arms of Yemen, Colombia and Malaysia for UN Resolution

To win votes on the Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in the first Gulf War, US Secretary of State James Baker met with officials of every country on the Council. This excerpt, from his autobiography, gives a glimpse of the pressure he used in three such meetings.

US Juggling Iraq Policy (April 12, 1991)

After the Persian Gulf War, the Bush administration continued to ponder toppling Saddam Hussein despite obvious problems. Said Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, "Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it (. . .) How much credibility is [a new] government going to have if it's set up by the US military?" (New York Times)

Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq; Officials Acknowledge Strategy Went Beyond Purely Military Targets (June 23, 1991)

The US and its allies "sought to achieve some of their military objectives in the Persian Gulf War by disabling Iraqi society at large." They hoped to create postwar leverage over Iraq through targeted bombings combined with the economic and psychological impact of international sanctions. (Washington Post)

A Decade of Sanctions


Baker Says Sanctions Must Stay as Long as Saddam Holds Power (May 23, 1991)

US Secretary of State James Baker admitted in a testimony on Capitol Hill in 1991 that the US's goals in Iraq exceeded the terms of the UN ceasefire resolution. Baker stated that the US would never permit the UN to lift its sanctions against Iraq as long as Saddam Hussein remained in power. (Times)

UK Maintains Tough Line on Sanctions Against Iraq (May 11, 1991)

UK Prime Minister John Major stated soon after the Gulf War that Britain would veto any attempts to lift sanctions against Iraq ''for so long as Saddam Hussein remains in power.'' It has long been clear that the sanctions aim at removing Saddam Hussein rather than disarming him. (Independent)



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