COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE 1990 GULF WAR TO THE 2003 IRAQ INVASION. DID THE POSITION OF ARAB REGIMES DIFFER?
The Gulf War in 1990 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 both had a profound impact not just on the countries directly involved - primarily Iraq and the United States (US) - but also on the geo-politics of the world. Arguably, the War ended in a stalemate because the Iraqi regime that had started the War by invading Kuwait remained in power. Perhaps inevitably then, in March 2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq with the stated aim of overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein and destroying that regime's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Some similarities between both Wars are immediately obvious: for example, the same country, the US, led both wars against the same country, Iraq. There are, however, significant differences between the Wars. Accordingly, this essay compares and contrasts some key aspects of the wars: their military aspects, the use and abuse of intelligence services, causes and outcomes, differences in media coverage, and the changing views of different Arab regimes. It argues that the military outcomes were very much the same and that western intelligence essentially continued to offer wrong advice and analyses; in contrast, the roles of the media diverged significantly between both wars as did the political outcomes and the views of Arab regimes. Overall, comparing and contrasting both Wars highlights their major impact on world politics and power, with their consequences playing a significant role in shaping today's contemporary world.
Militarily, the Gulf War and the Iraq War have much in common. Both wars were fought by predominantly the same nations, with similar outcomes achieved. What distinguished these wars at was the acute asymmetry in fatalities with many thousands slaughter edon the Iraqi side, as opposed to minor death toll on the side of the coalition. The Persian Gulf War was undoubtedly one of the most swift and successful military operations in history. Coalition troops effortlessly crushed Saddam Hussein's armed forces. In the Gulf Conflict, "Iraqi troops numbered approximately 545,000 to 600,000."� While this figure closely approximated the number of US military personnel, many of the Iraqi troops were young, under-resourced, and poorly trained conscripts. The one-sided nature of the conflict is best summarised in estimates of casualties: US Department of Defence reported that "U.S. forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths. Some estimate that Iraq sustained between 20,000 and 35,000 fatalities."� In addition, "civilian fatalities were estimated at about 3,500 from bombings and some 100,000 from other effects of the war."� Casualty figures on the US side in the Iraq war were very similar to those of the Gulf war: according to CNN, the US government reported "that 139 American military personnel were killed."�
For the US, the Iraq War was equally as effective as the first war in achieving its military objective. The US-led Coalition forces toppled the Hussein government and captured the key cities of a large nation in only 21 days. There is little doubt in terms of military successes the Gulf and Iraq Wars were both triumphs of American preparation and execution. This success extended into the political arena. As Reilly noted the fact that "the United States could reconfigure the Persian Gulf's balance of power underscored its evolution since World War II into the area's de facto arbiter."�
While the Gulf conflicts were a military success for the Americans and their allies, the very need for a second war - at least as perceived by the US - points to some major failings in the outcome of the first war. Arguably, political decisions based on faulty intelligence led to an unacceptable outcome in the Gulf War. Further, intelligence, particularly around the issue of weapons of mass destruction, was equally faulty in the Iraq War.
In the months...
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� Coyle, James J, and Roskin, Michael G., Politics of the Middle East: cultures and conflicts, Pearson/Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2004, 96.
� Halliday, Fred, "The Gulf War and its Aftermath: First Reflections", International Affairs, Vol. 67, No. 2, 1991, 231.
� Hiro, Dilip, Desert Shield to Desert Storm: The second Gulf War, Routledge, New York, 1992, 169.
� Dobbins, James, "Iraq: Winning the Unwilling War", Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 1, 2005, 19.
� Reilly, Marc J., Unexceptional America: Empire in the Persian Gulf, 1941-2007, Lexington Books, New York, 2008, 2.
� Baxter, K., and Akbarzadeh, Shahram, US foreign policy in the Middle East, Routledge, London, 2008, 141.
� Freedman, Lawrence and Karsh, Efraim, The Gulf conflict 1990-1991: Diplomacy and war in the new world order, Faber & Faber, London, 1993, 49.
� Seliktar, Ofira, The politics of intelligence and American wars with Iraq, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2008, 80.
9 Kirshner, Jonathan, "Political Economy in Security Studies after the Cold War", Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1998, 74.
� Cerf, Christopher and Sifry, Micah L., The Iraq war reader: History, documents, opinions, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007, 45.
� See Khadduri, M. and Ghareeb E., War in the Gulf 1990-91.The Iraq-Kuwait conflict and its implications, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997.
� Boyle, Francis A, Destroying world order: US imperialism in the Middle East before and after September 11, Clarity Press, Atlanta, 2004.
� Heikal M., Illusions of triumph: An Arab view of the Gulf War, Harper Collins, London, 1992.
� Haass, Richard, War of necessity, war of choice: a memoir of two Iraq wars, Simon and Schuster, America, 2009, 154.
� Reilly, Marc J, Unexceptional America: Empire in the Persian Gulf, 1941-2007, Lexington Books, New York, 2008, 168.
� Coyle, James J, and Roskin, Michael G., Politics of the Middle East: cultures and conflicts, Pearson/Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2004.
� Gordon, David, "Iraq War and Morality", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 38, No. 12/13: 1117-1120, 2003.
� Yetiv, Steve A., The absence of grand strategy: The United States in the Persian Gulf 1972-2005, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, 2008. See also Johnstone, Ian, Aftermath of the Gulf War: An assessment of UN action, Lynne Rienner, Colorado, 1994.
� Matthews, Ken, Gulf Conflict and international relations, Routledge, New York, 1993.
� Carlson, Timothy & Katovsky, Bill, Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, The Lyons Press, Guilford, 2003, 87.
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