Second Gulf War in History

The Second Gulf War took place in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. What led to the Iraq war was what took place on September 11, 2001. The deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil was the biggest reason the Second Gulf War took place. This war was set out to accomplish a set of goals; one was to dethrone Saddam Hussein and his regime as Iraqi dictator. The second primary goal was the threat that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as well as weapons programs (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002). One major question loomed, was this the best thing the United States should have done following the terror attacks in 2001?

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         The Second Gulf war took place for about eight and a half years. Not only was it a long war, but it had also become the largest, longest, and most costly use of armed forces by the United States since Vietnam. It was also the first major post-Cold War U.S. military action taken apart from an international organization, and the first U.S. experience as an occupying power in a Middle Eastern country (Lieberfeld, 1). One of the major reasons that made Iraq such a threat was due to previous encounters. While Iraq was not the ones who carried out the attacks on September 11th, they were one of the biggest threats against the United States. Saddam Hussein acted very suspiciously years after the First Gulf War, such as not allowing inspectors from the United Nations into Iraq following an incident in 1998. That grew to be very suspicious to the United States and also drew a major concern. Saddam Hussein also had a history of using chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds. After the First Gulf War, there were rumors of Saddam Hussein creating a nuclear weapons program (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002). It seemed to be pretty clear that the United States, as well as President Bush, wanted to start a major war with Iraq and their regime. President Bush mentioned Iraq, as well as Saddam Hussein, in his presidential campaign. Bush stated Building durable peace will require strong alliances.It will require firmness with regimes like North Korea and Iraqregimes that hate our values and resent our success. and later in his speech when asked if Saddam Hussein would continue to work on his weapons of mass destruction, Bush expressed that he would take him out (Kikalishvili, 39-40). While President Bush had strong feelings about Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq, he certainly had mixed reactions from people close to him. Former president Bill Clinton had a talk with President Bush after his campaign. Bill Clinton talked about what President Bush’s main concerns should be, and he had Iraq listed at the bottom.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that Iraq was a preoccupation of the national security team from the very beginning of the administration and in 2001, Bush’s main mission was not to confront Saddam Hussein, but, instead, to confront the new and rising threat in al Qaeda and its extremist kin. (Visser, 146). Bush’s vice president Dick Cheney was on board with the president, which provided relief to Bush about the actions that he was taking. There were a lot of mixed feelings about what the United States should do, and the United States decided to go to war.

        It was clear that President Bush wanted to move quickly about getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime. In 2002, President Bush moved to Congress and drew up plans to use force against Iraq. If Iraq caused problems for inspectors during their visit by looking for weapons of mass destruction as well as having a weapons program, there would be a problem (Visser, 144). Congress had fully supported President Bush and his wishes, and President Bush gave the people the opportunity to either side with him, or with the terrorists (Visser, 144). United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair gave full support to the United States if they would take military action against Iraq. While that was undoubtedly good for the United States, getting support from other nations did not come so easy. France and Germany both stated that they would not support any force against Iraq without a UN mandate (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002). It started to seem that Iraq was willing to comply with the commands made by President Bush. Iraq had agreed to allow the UN inspectors back in to look over their programs. The Iraqi government had provided the inspectors with a 12,000 page report on their weapon capabilities, and when UN inspectors looked over the report, they noticed minimal changes since the last time they were in Iraq. Once again, this report that had minimal changes to it raised eyebrows as to whether the Iraqi government had been lying about their weapons capabilities. At that time, the United States issued a breach on the resolution that was agreed upon between the two nations and everything that was starting to look better ended up turning back to being bad, maybe even worse. (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002). After the disappointment of the progress made, Bush stated to the secretary of state Colin Powell, The inspections are not getting us there and from this point on, it had become a crisis for the United States (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002).

        With the new year beginning, the United States along with their supported ally, the United Kingdom, efforts to get a second Security resolution was underway. Also during this time, the U.S. along with the U.K. continue placing troops in and around the Gulf in case of a possible attack. United Nations inspectors had not found any weapons of mass destruction as well as no weapons programs; however the U.S did not care and were still ready to go to war whether there was a second resolution or not (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002). In the following days, the allies supporting the United States in full out war had given Saddam Hussein and his sons forty-eight hours of an ultimatum, to leave Iraq or to face an attack. When Hussein and his sons chose to stay, what has become known as Operation Iraqi Freedom had begun in the following days. The plan was laid out, first was to rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime, the second was to rid the country of its weapons of mass destruction, and third was to free the Iraqi people (ICB data, Iraq Regime Change2002).

        While it was evident when the war started, dethroning Saddam Hussein and his regime was the number one priority. The United States was able to do that in about two and a half weeks of entering the war known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The next most important task to do was to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence agencies believed that Iraq had weapons programs as well as any nuclear or chemical type weapons in their possession. Intelligence agencies thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and they also shared the same mindset as the president of the United States. They had come up with many different assessments of what they really believed was going on in Iraq. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, agencies thought that Baghdad had chemical and biological weapons and missiles that went well beyond UN restrictions. They also believed that if these weapons, as well as their missiles, were not checked from inspectors of the UN, then Iraq would be able to create a nuclear weapon in a short period (National Intelligence Estimate, 9). What also drew the eyes of intelligence agencies was the oil that Iraq has. With Iraq being a major player in the oil industry, and being able to sell oil to other countries raised eyebrows. Listed in the key judgments, Iraq’s growing ability to sell oil illicitly increases Baghdad’s capabilities to finance WMD programs: annual earnings in cash and goods have more than quadrupled, from $580 million in 1998 to about $3 billion this year (National Intelligence Estimate, 9). For Iraq to increase as much as they did in profits from oil to where they were at during this report is remarkable. It was also a growing concern to the U.S. because growing that much in that short of time can certainly help either start or improve programs of weapons of mass destruction. The agencies had come up with what they believed was the knowledge or confidence of Saddam Hussein and Iraq on using any weapons of mass destruction. There was a specific criterion of confidence levels (high, moderate, and low) about what they believed to be true. Some of the issues that they felt high confidence was the thought that Iraq was improving on their weapons programs, that Iraq possessed chemical, biological, and missiles. They were also high on the idea of precisely when Iraq would be able to produce a nuclear weapon, and they believed that it could be in a very short span. What they had knowledge on but were not exactly sure about was whether they could make one in such a short span, but they could have a nuclear weapon in the upcoming years. Lastly, what they did not precisely know was if or when Saddam Hussein would use these weapons, whether he would engage in an attack such as what Al-Qaeda had done to the United States, and whether he would share these weapons with Al-Qaeda (National Intelligence Estimate, 13).

        Even though we know the truth of the matter that we found out that Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction, nor were they in the midst of making any in their weapons programs, they certainly drew red flags to the United States and their intelligence agencies. Whether it was not cooperating with the UN inspectors back in 1998 or Saddam Hussein’s previous use of weapons of mass destruction a decade earlier, they continued these types of actions. Up until this point, Iraq never has never fully accounted for major gaps and inconstancies in its declarations and has provided no credible proof that it has destroyed its weapons stockpiles and production infrastructure (Department of Central Intelligence, 3). Iraq has also never accounted for missing materials used in the making of chemical weapons. Chemical precursors and unfilled munitions are not accounted for because inspectors have no idea where they are and if they have destroyed them. They also do not know where 15,000 artillery rockets are or where 550 artillery shells filled with mustard agent are (Department of Central Intelligence, 10). Iraq even upgraded one of their chemical production facilities, with bringing in more product of reactor vessels. Iraq has shown support for weapons of mass destruction programs, Iraq has been able to import dual-use, WMB-relevant equipment, and material through procurements both within and outside the UN sanctions regime. Baghdad diverts some of the $10 billion worth of goods now entering Iraq every year for humanitarian needs to support the military and WMD programs instead (Department of Central Intelligence, 23). Iraq has also seemed to have worked around some of the guidelines concerning what the UN inspectors look at when materials come into the country. Inspectors do not check any of the cargo that enters through the country, and some of the cargo that comes through make intelligence agencies believe that the unchecked cargo is used to support the weapons of mass destruction programs. Also, Iraq uses many different travel methods to get the imported goods through the country without that cargo getting inspected from UN inspectors, which is a violation regarding the UN Security Council resolutions. Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, has mentioned in the past that the goods that they receive are designed to rehabilitate facilitiessuch as the Al Qa’im phosphate plant and Fallujahthat in the past were used to support both industrial and weapons of mass destruction programs (Department of Central Intelligence, 25).

        The people looking into all of Iraq’s potential weapons of mass destruction came from Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Vice Chairman. What exactly they were looking for was the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein’s threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his people (Select Committee of Intelligence, 1). There were still many questions about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was continuing the programs that they already had. Issues about exactly how long it would take for Iraq to build a nuclear weapon stating that IC analysts believed that Iraq had started reconstitution efforts in 1999 by starting to put the nuclear program back together.The five to seven-year clock started in 2002in other words, the time of the estimate (Select Committee of Intelligence, 86). The committee had also given multiple reasons why they considered Iraq to build up their nuclear program. Aluminum tubes, used for uranium enrichment, was one of the major reasons why they believed Iraq was building its weapons program. The second observation that the committee had come to was magnets, third was a high-speed balancing machine, machine tools, Iraq’s support of wanting better weapons personnel, and activity at several suspect nuclear sites. The CIA even published a one-page article about the reasons they believed that the aluminum tubes were brought there specifically for their weapons program, stating In August of 2002, the CIA published its first detailed paper explaining its assessment that the aluminum tubes were destined for Iraq’s nuclear program.provided a one-page outline of the CIA’s assessment that the tubes’ materials, exceedingly stringent tolerances, high cost, and the secrecy surrounding procurement attempts, indicated that the tubes were destined for Iraq’s gas centrifuge program (Select Committee of Intelligence, 93). U.S. intelligence agencies also believed that Iraq was high on their biological weapons program. Analysts were a little frightened that Saddam Hussein may have got his hands on a clandestine BW production capability which increases to turn out several hundred tons of unconcentrated BW agents a year (Select Committee Intelligence, 144). Agents had also become concerned with the fact that Iraq did not get rid of their biological weapons. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) had truly believed that Iraq’s BW program was more equipped than it was before the Gulf War, and they had come up with a list of reasons of why they believe that. The facilities that Baghdad has for producing their BW agents raise a concern to the NIE. Baghdad has moved to bigger facilities to produce their production. Also, with UN inspectors not being in Iraq since 1998, Iraq has helped maintain the BW program, as well as being able to develop genetically engineered BW agents (Select Committee Intelligence, 147-148). As far as Iraq’s chemical weapons program goes, analysts were also unsure about their program but had suspected that after the First Gulf War, nothing much has changed with their chemical weapons. The NIE’s report on their chemical weapons remains exactly unsure stating We have seen no indication since the Gulf War that Iraq has engaged in large-scale production of CW agents, but we cannot rule out the small-scale production has occurred (Select Committee Intelligence, 196). As with the other intelligence report, this report also lists what the analysts had high confidence, moderate confidence, and low confidence. One of the reports listed in the high confidence part was we are not detecting portions of these weapons programs (Select Committee Intelligence, 208). The major problem with all of these reports from the NIE is that they believe or assume that Iraq has weapon programs, and it seems none of them are certain of what Iraq is doing. It even states in the report that None of the intelligence reporting provided to the Committee showed that Iraq was expanding its chemical infrastructure primarily to support CW production (Select Committee Intelligence, 204).

        Overall, after the war had ended in December 2011 reports had come out about the war. When President Bush entered the White House, one of his main goals was to dethrone Saddam Hussein as president of Iraq. All of the reports leading up to the war of Iraq having a weapons program were not true. From the Origins of the Second World War, reports of the weapons of mass destruction were not confirmed even after the end of the war. In 2008 while the war was still going on, President Bush talks about his biggest regret during his presidency, and he replies I don’t knowthe biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq (Kikalishvili, 41). President Bush also spoke a lot about Iraq in his memoir, Decision Points, where he talks about Saddam Hussein stating Before 9/11, Saddam was a problem America might have been able to manage. Through the lens of the post-9/11 world, my view changed. I had just witnessed the damage inflicted by nineteen fanatics armed with box cutters. I could only imagine the destruction possible if an enemy dictator pass his WMD to terrorists (Bush, 229). Former Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush, James Baker, brought to light of the brilliance of the First Gulf War. He also talked shortly about the Second Gulf War, stating that by 2003, Saddam Hussein had violated numerous United Nations resolutions, that Congress authorized military action and that intelligence agencies believe (erroneously) that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (Jackson, Academic OneFile). There is one major part to take away from this war, that it was a crisis created by the United States.

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Second Gulf War In History. (2019, Aug 16). Retrieved December 7, 2022 , from

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