The US and its allies were justified in taking military action against Iraq following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait
According to the Just War Principles, enumerated below, the First Gulf War was a just war. The Just War Principles are: Last Resort, Legitimate Authority, Just Cause, Probability of Success, Right Intentions, and Proportionality. These principles are not a checklist of things that are needed to make a war just, but rather guidelines. It is possible for a just war to not meet one of the Just War Principles. The basis of our argument is that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was unjust, and subsequent military action by the coalition led by the US and Saudi Arabia was just. There are many reasons why Iraq’s invasion was unjust, and also many reasons why the US-led coalition should have taking military action, as opposed to economic sanctions.
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Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait was unjust
Iraq used exaggerated accusations of slant drilling and oil overproduction to justify its invasion of kuwait. This invasion does not meet the criteria of a Just War, as it was not waged by a legitimate authority, and there was no just cause or right intentions. Traditionally there are 3 “just” causes to going to war: to protect people from unjust attack, to restore rights that have been wrongfully taken away, and to defend or re-establish a just political order. The unjust Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the fact that the invasion was condemned by the United Nations, was President Bush’s main reason for United States involvement.
The US’s choice to go to war was a last resort
Immediately after Iraq invaded Kuwait, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 660, which demanded Iraq withdraw “immediately and unconditionally.” It also stated that Iraq and Kuwait should “begin immediately intensive negotiations for the resolution of their differences and supports all efforts in this regard.” After Iraq obey this resolution, the Security Council implemented Resolution 661, which placed a number of economic sanctions on Iraq. The following were banned by the resolution: “(a) the import of all products and commodities originating in Iraq or Kuwait; (b) any activities by their nationals or in their territories that would promote the export of products originating in Iraq or Kuwait, as well as the transfer of funds to either country for the purposes of such activities; (c) the sale of weapons or other military equipment to Iraq and Kuwait, excluding humanitarian aid; (d) the availability of funds or other financial or economic resources to either country, or to any commercial, industrial or public utility operating within them, except for medical or humanitarian purposes.” Further negotiations failed when Saddam Hussein demanded that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories in West Bank, Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon is exchange for its withdrawal from Kuwait. The US demanded that Iraq’s withdrawal remain a separate issue. Another attempt at negotiation failed when Iraq demanded that it be given the Rumaila oil fields, which were partially in Kuwaiti territory. Dispute of the Rumaila Oil Fields, specifically Iraqi accusations of Kuwait drilling across the border and stealing Iraqi oil, were a major cause for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The Security Council implemented a naval blockade in Resolution 665, but this failed to deter Iraq. Finally, Resolution 678, issued on November 29, 1990, gave Iraq one last chance to withdraw by giving them until January 15 1991 to do so, but still Iraq refused. When the deadline passed, it was clear that Iraq would not accept reasonable peace terms, and the coalition had no choice but to use military action.
The US had Legitimate Authority to go to war
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, a coalition of 34 nations, including the US, drove Iraq out of Kuwait. The coalition was made up primarily of UN nations, and Military action was authorized by United Nations Security Council resolution 678.
US had International Support
The fact that 34 nations contributed military forces to the coalition, along with economic support from a handful of other nations, show that the war was justified. Even the Arab League, which Iraq was a member of, condemned Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
The Coalition had a high probability of success
With 34 different nations contributing nearly 1,000,000 soldiers, Iraq had little chance of continuing their occupation of Kuwait. The size of the coalition’s army, coupled with its dominant air force, destroyed any chance Iraq had of holding onto Kuwait.
Iraq could have posed a threat to other US allies in the region, e.g. Saudi Arabia and Israel
During the lead up to the war, it was accused that Iraq might invade Saudi Arabia. President Bush stated "Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression." During the war, Iraq launched Scud missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia and Israel, despite the fact that Israel was not part of the Coalition that invaded Iraq. Israel deliberately stayed out of the war, despite these attacks, because of fears that the coalitions Arab nations would not fight alongside Israel. 74 Israeli civilians died in these attacks, and 230 others were injured. Iraq also attempted to invade Saudi Arabia early in the war, but were defeated at the Battle of Khafji.
Iraqi occupation of Kuwait would have driven up oil prices, hurting the US economy
Following the Iran Iraq War, which lasted nearly 8 years, from 1980 to 1988, Iraq was deeply in debt to a number of different countries. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were the two countries owed the most money, and Iraq refused to pay back the debt. Kuwait began exceeding OPEC oil production quotas, in part to earn back some of the money it was owed by Iraq, which contributed to low oil prices in the 1980’s. There were other factors that caused the low prices, including lower demand from the US and Europe as a result of the 1970’s oil crises, and the rise of alternative forms of fuel, such as Nuclear and Natural Gas. The low oil prices were great for western countries like the US and UK, but harmed oil producers like Iraq. Kuwait, according to Iraqi accusations, was also slant drilling across its border into Iraq controlled parts of the Rumaila oil fields. During the failed negotiations leading up the the war, Iraq demanded full access to all of the Rumaila Oil fields, even the parts located within Kuwait. Adding Kuwait's oil fields to its own would have given Iraq a huge chunk of the worlds oil reserves. Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait also put it in position to possibly attack Saudi Arabia, and if they were successful taking over Saudi Arabia, and their oil fields, Iraq would have held the majority of the the worlds oil reserves. This would have given Iraq tremendous influence over the global economy, given the worldwide dependence on Oil. Given Iraq’s volatile history, this could harm not only the US and other western powers, but also other oil producing countries neighboring Iraq. Iraq could have dramatically reduced its oil exports, while building massive reserves, which would have drove prices up, harming oil consuming nations. Or it could have increased exports, keeping prices low and harming other oil producers, especially its fellow OPEC members
The Coalition withdrew after Liberating Kuwait
After freeing Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, the President Bush declared a ceasefire and the Coalition ended its combat operations. The strength of the Coalition would have allowed it to occupy Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein, take Iraqi oil, or pretty much anything else it wished to do. However, the Coalition ended the war after completing its mission of liberating Kuwait. This made the war proportional; Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait was countered by the liberation of Kuwait, nothing further.
Precedent established that unjust aggression would not be accepted.
This war showed the world that unprovoked aggression and blatant land grabs by countries would not be accepted by the international community. Resolutions passed by the Arab League and the UN, followed by 34 nations giving military support to the coalition, showed that actions like those taken by Iraq would be swiftly punished.
Iraqi troops commited Human Rights Violations
There was also strong evidence that human rights violations were taking place in Kuwait by Iraqi troops, such as arbitrary arrest, death penalty or execution of unarmed civilians including children, and many more.
The Coalition had far superior equipment
The utilities and tools that the Coalition had compared to Iraqi forces were much greater. The Coalition forces in the air campaign had access to roughly 2,250 aircraft, whereas the Iraqi air forces had access to roughly around 500 aircraft; in addition the aircraft of the coalition was more advanced than the aircraft of the Iraqi. The land forces of the coalition had access to more vehicles and in greater variation than the Iraqi ground forces. These vehicles include Main Battle Tanks, Humvees, Anti-Artillery Craft, LAV’s, and other utilities. The Coalition’s forces also had access to more weaponry, which was more accurate, precise, had less recoil, and was simply more efficient than the weaponry of the Iraqi forces. Some of the technology and artillery that the Coalition had, also heavily favored them. The Coalition had access to the newly developed Tomahawk missiles and had used this war as a test for the missiles; over 280 were launched, and 256 had been used effectively. The Coalition also had access to Hellfire missiles; it has multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike capability, and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms. The Hellfire missile is the primary class air-to-ground precision weapon for the armed forces of the United States and many other nations. The United States forces had also brought several naval ships to aid in the war against the Iraqi forces, even though Iraq had no existing naval force. In contrast to the utilities available to the Coalition, the Iraqi army was limited to Main Battle Tanks and old French fighter jets. This lead to the Iraqi forces having great disadvantages during battles, making the battles heavily one-sided, in favor of the Coalition. This is one of the reasons to why it was not justified for the United States to enter the First Gulf War.
The US did not have the right intentions
People believed that the United States was only entering the war because of our own self interests, oil. It was believed that we entered for the sole reason to protect our own oil and gain control over energy resources. One of America’s stated reasons for entering the war was to protect its ally Saudi Arabia. President Bush stated that Iraq had a massive troop buildup near the Saudi Arabian border and was poised to invade, but satellite images did not back up this claim. The Bush administration also used false stories of human rights abuses by Iraqi troops to gain public support for the war.
The Coalition was too big
In the First Gulf War, the coalition was made of 34 allied nations and forces, whereas the Iraqi forces had fought alone. The sizing of the opposing countries was completely unproportional with a 34:1 ratio. With this, in moments of desperation the Iraqi's had no one to turn to, whereas the coalition had several dozen.
The US did not have legitimate authority
The Arab League opposed western intervention in the conflict. Libya was the only country other than Iraq to oppose the Arab League resolution that demanded Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. Because the conflict was contained within Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, who are all Arab League members, the Arab League, not the UN, should have resolved the conflict.
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