Views on the Persian Gulf War
One of the most significant historical events of the 20th century was the Persian Gulf War that took lasted from August 2, 1990, to February 28, 1991. It was initiated by the enforcement of defense by Saudi Arabia and then the attack against Iraq by the coalition of 34 nations, with the USA as the leader. The contention was that Iraq had invaded and annexed Kuwait and when asked to withdraw troops, it turned down the request. Saddam Hussein, the then leader of Iraq, attacked Kuwait in August 1990 and invoked the reaction of the Arabian powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who later requested the USA and other Western powers to intervene.
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Over the years, various participants have expressed opinions in regard to the war actively and passively. Consequently, various writers have documented differing views of the events before and after the war. This paper consequently illustrates an interview with one of the active participants of the war, Lieutenant Rhoda Cornum, who was an army surgeon during the war, assisting the soldiers injured in combat. Her views on the war will be contrasted with various scholarly literature written in line with the Persian Gulf War. A series of ten questions will be asked and then responses of the interviewee, as well as related literature analysis, will be depicted.
Question 1. What do You Think was the Genesis of the Persian Gulf War?
Rhoda was a captain in the army at the time the war had started as she worked as an intern at the Walter Reed Army Medical center. She agreed to go to the Gulf as a surgeon. In our interview, Rhoda described the invasion as the origin of the war given that Iraq had crossed the lines by disrupting Kuwait, which would not be tolerated by the international community. Iraq had considered Kuwait to be a part of its country; thus, this was the annexation of Kuwait.
She also advanced her opinion to insinuate that the Western powers had a desire to root out Saddam Hussein from power, thus acting quickly when requested to intervene. Similarly, Roberts (1993) in his article “The Laws of War” describes the invasion of Kuwait by Hussein as the core origin of the Gulf War. According to him, the invasion was the single case in the era of the United Nations of attempted annexation (Roberts, 1993). In the entire process of invasion, Iraq did not portray any indication that it would operate in accordance with the laws that governed military occupations. However, Rhoda suggested her opinion on the genesis of the war by pointing out that from 1980-1988, Iraq had been at war with Iran, where Saddam adopted a tendency to ignore the international institutions, including laws of war. Other countries felt that he was going rogue and that it was necessary to stop his impunity activities.
Question 2. There are People Who Feel that the War was President Bush’s Retaliatory Mission on Saddam since He had Tried to Assassinate President Bush’s Father? Do You Think so?
There had been a relation by most people of Bush’s action on the attack on Saddam to be personal, although Rhoda did not support this opinion. According to her, the attack on Kuwait was the basic source of war and that any vendetta by the president would only have been a derived advantage from the existing situation. As she denoted, Bush had spared Hussein’s life after the war, which would not have been the case if the war were personal to him.
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She also asserted that her acceptance to move to the Persian Gulf to fight was because she had trust in the intentions of the war as well as the intention of the president. Therefore, her opinion was that the war was too extensive and huge to be personal. Callanan and Weiler (2008) are also in support of Rhoda’s view in their work “War Budgeting Strategies. Case Studies of the Gulf War and the Iraq War”. According to the article, President Bush ordered a full-scale deployment of soldiers to the war “in the cause of peace” (Callanan & Weiler, 2008). However, the objective was to make sure that Iraq forces withdrew from Kuwait immediately and unconditionally. His focus was consequently not on the defeat of Hussein but on the elimination of invasion of Kuwait. No source highlighted Bush’s retaliation as a cause of a war or his desire for revenge.
Question 3. Most Americans Felt that It was Unnecessary for the American troops to Wage War in Iraq, did They?
Rhoda relayed her war experience as she had interacted with a significant number of patients within the medical camps. She remembered the cases of trauma among the children and victims of the war. She also shared her experiences where she had become a victim of the war in February 1991 in an attempt to rescue a pilot when her helicopter was shot down. After the crash, as she described, she had the feeling that she would die doing something meaningful.
She woke up realizing that she was not dead when five Iraqis soldiers had rifles pointed at her. Rhoda’s experiences denoted various consequences of the war, although she was of the opinion that the war was necessary for that it was important for the USA to show its solidarity with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Although there had been a good relationship between Iraq and the USA, the attacks on Kuwait were a violation of the existing agreement. Therefore, the war was necessary. Callanan and Weiler (2008) also highlighted the issue of describing the reason why Americans felt that the war was unnecessary. At the time, there were no finances appropriated for the deployment and that the president had to rely on reprogramming as well as emergency funds. However, the authorization by Congress urging the president to go to war indicated that the leaders saw it necessary that troops be sent to war against Iraq (Callanan & Weiler, 2008).
Question 4. Do You Believe that America should have Withdrawn Its Troops from Iraq?
Rhoda further relayed her experience with the helicopter crash where five members out of the eight in the crew had died, leaving her with a bullet lodged in her shoulder. She was taken to prison, where she was interrogated, but she did not disclose any information.
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Some soldiers were disrespectful to her and abused her, although there were those who treated her with respect. She was released on March 5, 1991, one week after the end of the war. Rhoda said that the USA should have withdrawn its troops from Iraq by the use of the recommended military and diplomatic approach. In the interview, Rhoda described the withdrawal of the troops to be effective in that it had happened gradually with the establishment of order and transition from the troops to the Kuwait government. At the same time, Roberts (1993) wrote that the intentions of the troops were to ensure that the civilians in the territory occupied by a belligerent power were protected. Since this had been already accomplished, it was necessary that the American troops, as well as these of other nations, withdraw from Iraq. At the time the troops began withdrawing, the belligerent power in Kuwait, in this case, Iraq had been already driven out of the country, so the rights of the neutral state had been attained. Nevertheless, Bacevich and Inbar (2003) were of a different opinion in that they illuminated the decline of the influence of the USA in the years that followed, with Saddam Hussein using the withdrawal to become a significant symbol of the resistance to the powerful USA. Thus, the USA should have retained its troops to sustain a significant influence in the East (Bacevich & Inbar, 2003).
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Question 5. What Makes You Think the Instability in Iraq would Affect the United States?
Our interviewee was of the view that the instability had significant effects on the USA in that the States was the major contributor of the war against the country in terms of resources. Various resources were destroyed, including aircraft. For instance, the helicopter Rhoda was on, when they had been attacked, was destroyed. The Americans who died in the war were a significant contributor to the economy of the country and she said that their demise had significant effects on the nation’s state. Similarly, Callanan and Weiler (2008) indicated that the Gulf War had seen various controversies emerge in the United States government, where the president used national security spending without the authorization of Congress. The authors described how Bush’s administration had taken all possible steps using statutory spending discretions (Callanan & Weiler, 2008). Over $700 billion was appropriated by Congress in support of the war. These figures are an illustration of the significant effect of the instability in Iraq in the USA.
Question 6. But the Instability in Iraq could also have been as a result of the United States Intervention through War?
In Rhoda’s opinion, the instability in Iraq was not in any way related to the United States intervention since it had been there even before. As she denoted, Iraq had had problems even before the war began. She described the usage of resources by Iraq to wage a war against multiple states, which led to the depletion of economic resources due to economic strain. According to Rhoda, the presence of the USA only aggravated what had already existed.
The level of instability increased due to various killings and even the defeat of the Iraqi government, which facilitated her release. Bacevich and Inbar (2003) were of a similar opinion that the instability in Iraq was not coined to the intervention of the USA. They described that the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980-88 had caused the country to spend significant resources on the purchase of arms, which happened to be the genesis of its instability. Roberts (1993) connected the instability in Iraq to its leader Saddam Hussein who had developed a tendency of disrespecting external authorities.
Question 7. Do You Feel that the Presence of the American Troops in Iraq only Made the Situation more Volatile?
According to Rhoda, the presence of the American troops evidently elevated the volatility of the situation in Iraq and Kuwait. She described having treated the patients who mostly had bullet-related injuries and thus, her main job was bullet removal and the stitching of wounds. She described that Iraqis felt that the war was a direct attack by the United States Army on their soil, which only increased their ruthlessness towards their enemies in the war.
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Roberts (1993) explained the conditions of the situation prior to the war, saying that the USA and Iraq had been in a good relationship but after Iraq had opposed propositions of the withdrawal of its army from Kuwait, war broke out, and volatility aggravated. Bacevich and Inbar (2003) advanced the issue by providing examples of the cruel treatment of criminals of war and inhumane handling of hostages.
Question 8. Do You Think the Government Made Mistakes in Declaring the War on Iraq?
Rhoda’s response to this question was delivered by describing the achievements of the war. She explained how Kuwait had regained its independence and the rogue Saddam had been defeated. She held on to her previous responses regarding the necessity of the declaration of war since the situation needed solving and the fact that the government needed to retain its alliances. Bacevich and Inbar (2003) also felt that the USA did not make a mistake in that it re-affirmed its already possessed political dominance in world politics. The lack of an intervention would have facilitated the ushering of an era of lawlessness and disorder, which would negatively affect the country and the world at large.
Question 9. What were the Exact Mistakes You Feel the Government Made?
As much as the declaration was not a mistake by the government in Rhoda’s view, she described the instances where the USA had made errors in that time. According to her, there was poor planning as well as advice from the government side. In her view, the synchronization of diplomacy and the closure of the battlefield as well as the end of the war were poorly done. She said that the US troops seemed to have been subdued as they ended the war instead of completing it on their terms and in the right manner. Similarly, Bacevich and Inbar (2003) share the opinion that the ending of the war was imperfectly done. Nevertheless, they argued that the US troops had made a mistake of withdrawing from Iraq in that this reduced the dominance of the USA in the region.
Question 10. Do You Think the United States Mission in Iraq was an Achievement in President Bush’s Administration?
Rhoda was of the idea that the success in Iraq was solely the result of American efforts without which different results would have been attained. She supposed that success was a significant achievement for the USA and consequently for President Bush’s administration. However, various scholars saw the success of the war as a joint effort with the other nations. Thus, the success of the USA was not necessarily an achievement but a correction of previous errors, in which it had supported the sale of weapons to Iraq (Bacevish & Inbar, 2003).
The Persian Gulf War was a significant war in that it had seen the union of various nations in their efforts to support a defenseless nation. The origin of the war depicted to be similar to Rhoda’s opinion and the literature report. Additionally, both the interviewee and the literature support the necessity of the US intervention to support its allies and fight Iraq. The interviewee as well as the scholarly sources depicted the instability of Iraq to have been present even before the intervention of the USA. Therefore, it was not associated with the intervention of the American troops.
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In line with the origin of the war, Robert had a differing view by depicting the genesis to be the war between Iran and Iraq. Bacevich and Inbar also supported this, stating that the USA had supplied Iraq with arms and when it became disrespectful, the war was inevitable. However, a difference was depicted in the decision to withdraw from the war. Rhoda was of the view that the withdrawal was necessary, but Bacevich and Inbar felt that the withdrawal was a mistake since it reduced the dominance of the USA in the region. The association of the success with President Bush’s administration had shown some differing opinions, with Rhoda feeling that the USA was solely responsible for the defeat of Iraq and therefore, it was the achievement of the Bush Administration. Nevertheless, the scholarly sources have shown the contribution of other nations and therefore, success was collective. They have also depicted that the USA had supplied Iraq with firearms before. Thus, the success of the war was the government’s way of cleaning up its mess.