CHAPTER 6 AMERICA. NEW WORLD ORDER AND THE GULF INTRODUCTION As the Cold War ended, and East-West rivalries diminished, the new global conflict now ...
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As the Cold War ended, and East-West rivalries diminished, the new global conflict now seems to be involving selected actors in the vital regions of the Third World. The new conflict between US and the emerging Third World powers may usher in a “new world disorder” in which the US would find itself confronting a myriad of regional conflicts whose management requires innovative strategies that go beyond the usual military thinking that was prevalent during the Cold War contest.

The Kuwait crisis (90-91) presented the US with it is first major military crisis in post Cold War era. The US deployment in the region and Washington’s dominant role in leading multifaceted military attack against Iraq was major test of “Bush Doctrine.” This doctrine envisioned a new global arrangement dominated politically and militarily by the US, with Western Europe, Japan, China and reformed Russia acting as “junior partners” in managing Third World conflicts. The strategic and economically important region of the Third World such as Gulf could become a testing ground for Washington’s search for order and its firm determination to inaugurate a new era in “Pax Americana.”1


The gradual transformation of NATO from western alliance system designed to confront the Warsaw pact forces in Europe to, a military pact with outside - Europe responsibilities will undoubtedly have an important impact on the future of US-Third World relationship. NATO military commanders consider the future enemy as being very elusive and not easily identifiable. Hence, about 160,000 troops would remain in Europe, available for rapid deployment in out-of-area conflict such as the Gulf.2 NATO’s new strategy provides, a clear paradigm for future American action against any Middle Eastern country with military capability and readiness to challenge any outside hegemony in the region. This strategy' also requires a coordination between the US, European and regional allies with financial contribution coming from Germany, Japan and Wealthy Gulf monarchies.3 NATO’s new strategic concept adopted in early 1990s insisted that, “The stability and peace of the countries on the southern periphery of Europe is important for the security of the alliance. As the 1991 Gulf war has shown. This is so because of the threat caused by the build-up of military power and the proliferation of weapon technologies in the area including ballistic missile capability and weapons of mass destruction.”4


Since 1950s and throughout 80s, the Middle East politics has been characterized by the predominance of the two external superpowers (USA and USSR) with the regional states acting as proxies. This has been changing since late 1980s with certain changes underway as the position of the Soviet Union weakened and the Cold War gave away to perceived accommodation and detente. Tire Gulf crisis (1990-91) accelerated these trends 227

with important implications for the weak Arab system in particular and the regional order in general

The idea of “New World Order” came into existence with Iraqi tanks and artilleries rolling into Kuwait as early as August 2, 1990 In his address to the Congress on September 11, 1990, President Bush declared the following basic and immediate objectives of American policy in the Gulf: (a) immediate and unconditional Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait; (b) restoration of Kuwait legitimate government; (c) greater stability and security in the Gulf; and (d) protection of American citizens and interests in the region.5 Bush further added, “We stand today at unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the (Persian) Gulf offers us a rare opportunity towards a historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective - a new world order - can emerge. A new era freer from threat of terror, stronger in pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.”6

In the post-Gulf war, Bush defined the new world order as: “The New World Order doesn’t mean surrendering our national sovereignty and our interests. It really describes a responsibility imposed by our success. It refers to new ways of working with other nations to deter aggression, to achieve stability, prosperity and above all, to achieve peace. It springs from hopes for a world based on shared commitment among nations large and small set of principles that underline our relations - peaceful settlement of disputes, solidarity against aggression, reduced and controlled arsenals and just treatment of all peoples.”7


Coinciding with the concept of new world order, is the notion of unipolar world as articulated by Bush himself. The president declared on February 1991 that the war would create a new world order based on collective security and rule of law. Few days later, he made another statement saying that the self-doubt created by Vietnam war was removed by the ongoing performance of the American forces and its being buried into the vast sand of the Arabian Peninsula.

The idea of a unipolar world was supported by Charles Kramthammer who argued that America’s prominence in the world was based on its considerable diplomatic, political, economic and military assets which enabled it to take military action in any part of the world. This multi-dimensional power, wielded by America alone, gave it the means and the right to lay down the rules of the ‘New World Order.’ Kramthmmer’s thesis was totally criticized by Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State. Kissinger wrote that it was not possible for America to fulfill the role of world policeman because of its financial and economic constraints. He reiterated that President Bush has relied upon the tune of $ 50 billion from the industrialized world and Gulf countries to execute the operations of GulfWar.

Background of Conflict

In the aftermath of the war with Iran, instead of being an ally, Traq emerged as a liability for the West and the single most potential power in the region, capable of altering the existing balance of power. By early 1990, Iraq possessed a large battle-tested army possibly the fifth in the world after the USA, USSR, China and India. It was the first Arab


army to develop a satellite launching capability. It had acquired long-range weapons’ delivery system and long-range missiles like scud, capable of carrying chemical, biological and nuclear war heads.8 Interestingly, the Iraqi war’s capability was developed with assistance given by some western countries such as France and the US.9 In the pre-crisis period, Iraq had a strength of 550,000 troops, 480,000 reserve army, 4208 tanks, 2700 armoured vehicles, 3100 artillery pieces and 650 operational aircrafts.10 Iraq’s strong military machine posed a potential security risk, capable of jeopardizing, the interests of the West and other pro-West Gulf states in the region. Iraq even exposed Israel to a potential danger of being hit by Iraqi long-term missiles loaded with chemical weapons. Before the war started, Saddam Hussein threatened to destroy half of Israel if it would dare to attack any Iraqi installations.11

The pro-US Gulf monarchies particularly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait gave generous monetary help to Iraq during the years of the war with Iran when its financial position was very bad due to the reduction of its oil sales. It was mainly due to this help that Iraq could survive its eight year war with Iran.12 Iraq’s war debt crossed $ 100 billion and the bulk of it came from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the shape of interest-free loans and part of it was given as gifts by the Saudis. The end of Iran-Iraq war had created a dilemma for the Gulf states because Iraq began looking at them contemptuously and demanding more money as a matter of right for the Iraqi military and economic reconstructions. Iraq claimed that it had fought the war on behalf of these states and acted as a strong buffer between Iran and oil-rich region of Arabian Peninsula.13 Boosted by having the strongest army in the region i

and frustrated by the aggravated economic problems at home, Iraqi forces invaded and


occupied Kuwait on August 2, 1990. From Iraqi point of view, this extreme step was justified on the following grounds: (a) Iraq accused Kuwait and UAE of undermining its economy by robbing it of $ 14 billion by decreasing oil prices in international market because of their continued plan to produce more oil than the quota fixed to them by Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). (b) Iraq accused Kuwait of illegally drilling oil from the disputed Rumailah oil field located near Iraq-Kuwait border. Iraq estimated that Kuwait had pumped more than $ 2.4 billion worth of oil between 1980-1990.14 (c) Few months before the crisis, Kuwait had denied Iraq the use of Warbah and Bubiyan islands at the Gulf. These two islands were used by Iraq for military strategic purposes during its war with Iran. (d) Kuwait’s decision to press Iraq for the repayment of its war debt, estimated at $ 30 billion.15 (e) Iraq claimed that Kuwait is historically a part of southern Iraqi province of Basrah when the whole Iraq came under the control of Ottoman Empire. It was only Britain, for clear imperial reasons, that separated Kuwait from the motherland and accorded it an independent entity.

American Predominance

The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait was a clear violation of the norms, rules and laws of the state-centric international order of contemporary times. This made the Iraqi position morally indefensible and gave the United States the much, needed opportunity of undoing


all that Iraq had achieved in terms of military build up and economic development. The United States explained the moral and legal issues involved and subsequently united the whole world in condemning Iraqi action and in restoring Kuwaiti independence. The situation became a watershed in world affairs as all five members of the UN Security Council agreed to act in a concrete manner for the first time. They passed many resolutions including one authorizing international community to use force to repulse Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.16 Saddam failed to understand that in the changed international scenario, the Soviet Union had neither the will nor the means to support a morally indefensible issue. Iraq’s treaty Of friendship with the Soviet Union, signed in 1972, was not of any use. The Gulf war was a milestone in evolving security cooperation between the US and the former USSR. A number of aspects of this cooperation emerged during the Gulf crisis are worth highlighting: 1. A joint, statement by Secretary of State James Baker and the Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Sheverdnadze in Moscow condemned Iraqi invasion. This was the first time the Soviets publicly condemned a treaty ally, Iraq; 2. Moscow’s support for the economic sanctions and other measures adopted by the UN against Iraq; 3. The Presidential Summit between Bush and Gorbachev in Helsinki which served to dramatize the new superpowers’ understanding over regional security issues. 4. US acceptance of a new Soviet political and security role in the Middle East after the end of the Gulf war. Russian participation as a co-sponsoring state of the Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991 is one aspect of this new role;


5. The offer by the Soviet military and the KGB (Soviet Intelligence Service) to provide the US with vital information regarding the capabilities of weapons sold to Iraq and other Iraqi military secrets.17

The war had shown that the US was the only dominant external power in the region.lg Such undisputed predominance was evident at several levels during the crisis: (a) the US demonstrated the will to deploy troops in any area of the world. The US forces constituted overwhelming majority of coalition forces as a decisive factor in the allies victory. Moving quickly to liberate Kuwait, George Bush managed a coalition of more than 28 Arab and non-Arab countries to assert US global leadership.19


Table 6.1 Multinational Forces in the Gulf, November 1990

Country USA UK France Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey Argentina Egypt Kuwait Pakistan Morocco Bangladesh Czechoslovakia Italy Canada Austria Belgium Netherlands Spain Soviet Union Denmark Greece Norway Portugal Poland Total Deployment

Tropps Deployed 250,000 15,000 13,000 60,000 100,000 100 30,000 7,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 ~



500 56 75 180 —

56 16 16 8 2

— —



8 18

— —

18 18

------- ■



4 3 3 3 3 3 4 I 1 1 1 1 1 1 128

Source: Based on estimates from New York Times, October 2L 1990 and Centre for Defense Information, November 9, 1990. Quoted in Current History, Vol. 90,. 552,.Januaiy 1991, p. 8.

United States large force which crossed more than 250,000 at the end of the October was sent to the region armed with the latest and sophisticated equipments. An allied force was deployed by 25 countries along side the American troops in the 234

region. The Americans could deploy their forces and managed an international coalition within short period of time. This indicates the psychological readiness and military preparedness on the American part as if they knew from the beginning that the crisis would occur. Many Middle East analysts argued that US indirectly encouraged Saddam to invade Kuwait in order to eliminate Iraq’s military arsenal and its ambitious nuclear program. This goes back to a meeting between American Ambassador in Baghdad, Ms. April Galspie and Saddam Hussain in July 20, 1990. In that meeting many things were discussed including Iraq-Kuwait dispute over oil. Galspie reportedly conveyed to Saddam that America has no opinion about the inter-Arab disputes such as the quarrel between Iraq and Kuwait and these should be solved by the Arabs themselves. This hint was understood by Saddam that America would be neutral in case of future military Iraq-Kuwait clash.20


American military technology was superior to that of any other major power. The US strategy in the war was centred arouhd launching preemptive and decisive attacks against Iraq strategic locations, military bases and industrial establishments. The Amerieans-did not exercise any qualitative or quantitative restrictions on the weapons system in the conduct of the war. US spokesman of Defence Department has called this war as the largest conventional war in modem history.


Politically, the US was a major driving force in the formulation of international coalition and played a dominant role in setting coalition tactics and strategies. The American role was also very crucial in framing and passing all resolutions, including the one that authorized the use of force against Iraq, by UNSC.



The American also displayed considerable leverage and influence over a number of states. Globally, the US was able to secure the cooperation of USSR and China in legitimizing the international action against Iraq. Seen in the context of a huge deficit and economic decline at home, America obliged Germany, Japan and other non­ military power to finance the war.21

Table 6.2 Financial contribution in the Gulf War in $ million

Financial Contribution $ 16839 $ 16000 $10740 $ 6572 $ 4000 $ 385 $ 54536

Country Saudi Arabia Kuwait Japan Germany UAE South Korea Total

Source: Taken from “United States Security Policy in the Gulf : Predicaments and Prospect” article by Noor Ahmed Baba, Strategic Analysis, Vol. XV, No.5, August 92, p. 391.

Regionally, America convinced major Arab and Islamic countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey) of the necessity to confront Iraq and was successful to dissuade Israel from doing so. At the same time, America was determined to remove any threat to Israel which is considered a “strategic client state” in the Middle East.22



The Iraqi move into Kuwait proved to be a great blunder on Saddam’s part as he ignored many ground realities. Iraq faced condemnation from almost entire world and was humiliated by being forced out of Kuwait. Iraq was also reduced from being “the worlds largest fifth military power” to a position where its military capability was severely constrained. Its economy is still in shambles. Worst of all was, its position as a sovereign state, not being free to decide on internal and external affairs, stands considerably undermined by number of UN resolutions imposing control and sanctions on it. Iraq cannot sell oil freely. The quantity of oil, Iraq is permitted to sell and the money obtained therein is to be spent according to the directives of the UN. Iraq could sell oil only to buy food and medicine and to pay off large share as war damages to Kuwait.

The Gulf Wan Israel and Islam

The Gulf crisis had altered the political map of the Middle East and divided the Muslim world to a great extent. Similarly, it had witnessed multiple appeals to Islam by Muslim political and religious leaders to legitimize both sides of the conflict and to test the ideology and loyalties of divergent Islamic movement. Saddam Hussain’s annexation of Kuwait marked for the first time in modern Arab and Muslim history, that one nation could “swell up” another country. Interestingly, being the head of a socialist/secular regime, who suppressed Islamic movement at home, Saddam appealed to Muslims all over the world for Jihad (holy war) against the West. He failed to win a substantia! support in the Arab and Muslim world, but enjoyed remarkable degree of popularity among Muslim masses.


Saddam stepped into “a leadership vacuum” in the Arab world with deteriorating economies and long-standing political and socio-economic grievances. He appealed to many issues and conditions that had led and accelerated the growth of Islamic revivalism and fueled anti-western sentiments. Saddam talked frankly and publicly about economic hardship, poverty, corruption and maldistribution of wealth, the plight of the Palestinians and Arab dependency on the West.23 After his appeal, Saddam was portrayed as the “champion of the poor and oppressed and the liberator of the holy places in Mecca and Madinah from the pouring devilish forces of the West.”

Having precipitated the crisis, Saddam immediately turned to tend and attract the Arab masses to his side. His attempts alarmed their religious and nationalistic feelings and turned them against the existing Arab regimes, US and Israel. He spoke about the unpopular, evil and surrogate regimes of the US. He also stressed on the inequitable distribution of wealth and claimed the slogan “Arab wealth for all Arab masses.” He called for holy war against the new invaders and penetrating crusaders.”24

In a message

broadcasted on August 10, 1990, Saddam thundered: “Arab, Muslim believers in God; wherever you are: This is a day for you to stand up to defend Mecca which is a captive of the spears of the Americans and the Zionists. Revolt against the spears of the foreigners that defiled your holy places. Keep the foreigners dear of our sacred places.”25 Saddam also made blatant attack against the Saudi monarchy accusing them of being “the servants of America, who are serving the interests of their satanic masters.” He further described them as “the desecrater of K’abah and prophet tomb, armies of atheism, infidels, traitors and enemies of Islam.”26


Saddam denounced the West because it created modem Muslim states with artificial boundaries as a policy to keep the Muslim world weak and divided. He considered the presence of foreign troops in Saudi Arabia as a new form of colonial occupation. Saddam’s perception of the conflict was totally welcomed by both Arab nationalistic and Islamic activists. Various Islamic movements supported Saddam’s call for Jihad. This was evident in the attitudes adopted by the Islamists in Algeria, Jordan and Egypt Initially, these movements denounced Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait, but later condemned the presence of foreign troops in Saudi Arabia, As one observer noted that: “people forgot about Saddam’s record and concentrated more on America. Saddam might be wrong but its not America who should correct him.”27

Many Islamists criticized America’s double standard i.e. fighting Saddam for violating International Law and annexation of Kuwait while not taking the same stand with regard to UN Resolutions condemning Israeli occupation of West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon. Instead of economic sanctions, Israel receiving an increasing amount of aid which is totalled at $ 4 billion a year,28

Popular support for Saddam was marked by pro-Saddam and anti-America rhetoric. There had been large-scale demonstrations and protests marches in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, Nigeria, Lebanon, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and even in South Africa. Scud missiles attacks on Tel Aviv fired by Iraq were celebrated by both Nationalists and Islamists.


Given the historical enmity between Israel and Muslim nations, it was not surprising that this became a useful slogan for Saddam Hussain to divert International attention away from Kuwait. Saddam had attempted directly to play with the Arab and Muslim masses by linking his move into Kuwait to the larger issues of Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestine question as its core. Saddam reinforced his position by linking the demand for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait with Israeli withdrawal from the Arab occupied land. By bringing the Palestinian factor into play, he sought political legitimacy for his invasion of Kuwait and from then onwards the Palestinians became his ardent supporters.29 The most concrete Iraqi attempt to drag Israel into the conflict was through hitting it directly by scud missiles. Between January 1991 to 25th February 1991, Iraq launched around 200 scud missiles at Israeli strategic and military targets to get Israel involved in the war in order to ignite an Arab-Israeli war. Israel’s entry into war would inevitably put pressure upon the coalition forces and would ultimately cause its disintegration, Saddam had believed that Arab members would not be able to remain in the US-led alliance once Israel joined the fray. At the end, Israel, with clear American guidance and calculation, did not retaliate or join the war against Iraq but left it for America to act.

At the time, when massive Iraqi troops were pouring into Kuwait, the 19th meeting of the foreign minister of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) was in session in Cairo. The General Secretary of the OIC issued a statement in the aftermath of the session expressing regret and pain over the latest tragic developments in the Gulf. The OIC expressed its support for all Arab mediatory efforts and called on the Muslim nation for help in resolving the crisis. In its brief resolution, OIC called for immediate Iraqi


withdrawal from Kuwait and peaceful settlement of the disputes between the two countries concerned. OIC resolution supported the legitimate system of government in Kuwait under the leadership of Sheikh Jabar Al-Sabah and reaffirmed its solidarity with the government and people of Kuwait.30

In a countermove to challenge Saddam’s using Islamic credentials, Saudi Arabia arranged for a 3-day World Islamic Congress Conference in Mecca (10-12) September 1990 to discuss the Gulf crisis. The conference was attended by 480 Muslim intellectuals and dignitaries representing 86 countries around the world including India, USA and USSR. The 14-point Mecca Document adopted by the conference rejected the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and considered it “as a flagrant violation of rights as preserved by Islam.” The invasion was looked upon as a serious sin, major corruption and a crime against the Muslim people of Kuwait. It condemned Iraqi regime for its attempts to involve the Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia (Mecca and Madina) in the current crisis. The ulama viewed the Saudi move to seek the aid of foreign non-Muslim troops in selfdefence, as legal because it was dictated by legitimate needs. The ulama acknowledged that the Iraqi action had distorted the image of Islam and Muslims internationally and caused a great disunity among the Muslims. The conference called for formation of permanent Islamic forces under the supervision of OIC which the Islamic state could use, in case of disputes between themselves.31

In order to “challenge Saddam Hussain propaganda,” the Islamic countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Indonesia - coopted by the US to enforce embargo against Iraq and joined the multinational force in the Gulf.


Post-Gulf War Environment and American Obiectives

The United States and its allies reacted swiftly to the invasion because their basic economic and strategic interests were at stake. The Americans in particular considered oil, arms market and recycling of petro dollars as the major determining factors in their Gulf policy. The US policy makers realized the fact that the denial of access to the Gulf oil would mean a big blow to the security and economic health of the developed world. In the early 1990’s the US imported about 40 % of its oil requirement with 29% coming from the Gulf. While Western Europe and Japan have imported 49% and 62% of their oil requirements from the Gulf respectively.32 In this context, Zbigniew Brezezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter, argued that “the liberation of Kuwait is the responsibility of the international community. The vital American interest in Kuwait crisis is the secure and stable source for the industrialized West of reasonable priced oil.33 As similar argument was sounded by the former Defence Secretary Dick Cheney who pointed out that the major American goal behind this military presence is to maintain continuous supply of oil. He further said: “Given the enormous resources that exist in that part of the world, and given the fact that those resources are in decline elsewhere, the value of those resources are going to rise in the years ahead. The United States and our major allies can’t afford to have those resources controlled by somebody who is fundamentally hostile to our interests.

The arms sales and recycling of petro-dollars are two major American considerations. The accumulation of billions of petrodollars in the hands of oil-exporting countries has always been a cause of anxiety in the western world, which has already


caused a deficit in their balance of payments. The oil-consuming countries have been trying to direct these petro-dollars to their own markets by selling sophisticated arms to the oil-producing countries and by pursuing modem monetary policies. Since the oil boom of 1973, the Middle East generally has emerged as the most important region in the Third World in providing market for western arms. The Middle Eastern countries have been spending an annual average of 14.5% of their GNP on arms purchases.35 In July 1991, the \

American Administration declared arms package to the Middle East countries totaling $ 4 billion. The package included, aircraft delivery bombs, cluster bombs, air to air missiles, tanks and military vehicles. Saudi Arabia’s share in this deal was amounted at $ 838 million. Defence Department said that the Saudi arms sales was “consistent with the stated policy of assisting friendly nations to provide arms for their own legitimate defense ” The Department rejected the Congress criticisms of this package which was depicted as “undermining international efforts to slowdown arms proliferation in the region.”36

Immediately after the Gulf war, negotiations had begun between the United States and the Gulf countries to coordinate their mutual security arrangements. Kuwait responded positively; on September 19, 1991, U.S. signed a 10-year security agreement with Kuwait under which the US was granted the access to some Kuwaiti military installations. The agreement also envisaged joint military exercises and joint military planning between the two countries. But Saudi Arabia did not do the same. The Saudi leadership was apprehended by the growing strong Islamic anti-westem sentiments that developed during and after the war with Iraq. Saudi Arabia found it politically inexpedient to accord high visibility to its need for foreign assistance in external defence. Instead of security agreement, the 1977 US-Saudi Mutual Security Agreement was extended in 1992


for another five years. Under new arrangements, Saudi Arabia permitted the stationing of US military equipments and personnel and allowed the use of its Riyadh and Dhahran airports for the US, British and French aircrafts monitoring Iraq compliance with “No over-fly” zone south of 36 parallel.37

On his visit to the Gulf in May 1991, Cheney told reporters that he had reached abroad agreement with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the storage of American military equipments in the region including divisions of tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and joint military exercises involving American troops. Cheney enunciated this strategic goal in the following way: “The president has made it clear that we are not interested in a permanent or long-term US ground presence. But we are interested in an enhanced naval presence. We think we can do that softly. We think there is great receptivity on the part of our friends in that part of the world to an occasional US presence - A tactical squadron, for example, deployed from time to time on temporary basis to work out exercises jointly with our friends in the region; pre-positioned equipment, both for air and ground forces; those kinds of arrangements we think make sense and would remind and reassure every one of our commitments.”38

On March 1991, Thomas Pickering the then US Ambassador to the UN, listed the following four goals that had to be achieved by the Administration at the end of the Gulf war:



Achieving greater security for the Gulf, including post-war security arrangements among the Gulf nations themselves;

2. Strengthening arms control regime within the region; constraints should be focused on weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, missiles and advanced delivery vehicle; 3. Promoting economic reconstruction and recovery to correct serious disruption in employment, trade and financial flow; and 4. Serious search for just peace and real reconciliation between Israel and the Arab states.39


With the collapse of Soviet Communism, the doctrine of containment, articulated by Kennan in 1947, became irrelevant. However, the present Clinton Administration reformulated containment as a fresh strategy to isolate certain Third World countries that pose threats to American interests and influence world-wide. Anthony Lake, Assistant to the president for National Security Affairs, has attempted to follow the step of George Kennan. He envisaged “an enlargement of family of nations committed to the pursuit of democratic institutions, the expansion of free market, the peaceful settlement of conflicts and the promotion of conflict resolution.” 40 Lake warns against what he calls “rogue states,” outlaw states” or backlash states” that choose to remain outside the family and threaten its basic moral values. He described the behaviour of these states as aggressive and defiant. In Lakes view, the backlash states are Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Iran and 245

Iraq.41 The American officials claim that these states control power through coercion, suppress basic human rights and promote radical ideologies. Further, these states exhibit chronic inability to engage constructively with the outside world and are embarked upon ambitious programs to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

According to Anothony Lake, the American strategy is tailored to “neutralize, contain and eventually transform these states into constructive members of international community.”42 Each “backlash state” is unique in its history, culture and circumstances and US strategy has accordingly been designed. In each case, the US can maintain alliances and deploy military forces sufficient to respond to any “aggressive act.” There are several instruments to contain these states such as, isolation, pressure, diplomacy, economic sanctions, military presence, and encouragement of internal opposition groups. The Americans would try to convince international community to join them in their endeavour i.e. international consensus backed by UN resolutions has emerged in the case of Iraq and Libya.

Coming down to the Gulf, the Clinton Administration was clear in formulating foreign policy framework and security doctrines to deal with the turbulent waters of the Gulf. The Administration has identified both Iran and Iraq as formidable threats to the American interests in the region. It has developed a strategy known as “Dual containment” (containing Iran and Iraq) to deal with the threat, by isolating both the countries regionally and cutting them off from the world economic and trading system. It has vigorously 1



supported the continuation of UN sanctions against Iraq, made efforts to persuade Europe, Russia and Japan to deny Iran access to international capital, arms market and


technology and at the same time continued American military commitments to Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries.

On May 1993, Martin Indyk, the Special Assistant to the President for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, outlined the dual containment policy in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East policy. He said that USA would no longer play the game of turning these two countries against each other. The strength of the USA and its friends in the region - Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and GCC- would allow Washington to counter and challenge both Iran and Iraq. The Administration doesn’t need to depend on any one of them to counter the other. While dealing with Iraq, the Administration’s ultimate goal is to bring about regime change in Baghdad; this is the crucial goal of American policy. However, Indyk warned that the Administration should not exclusively focus on the Iraqi threat because the balance of power would tilt in Iran’s favour. Indyk considered the containment of Iran as more important and decisive than that of Iraq because he felt after the war Iraq was left weak and its economy in shambles. To contain Iran, Indyk emphasised that the Administration had to work energetically to persuade other countries not to engage in military relations or normal commercial transactions with Tehran because he considered “Iran as bad investment in both commercial and strategic terms for all responsible members of international community.”43

With the end of the Cold War, the major American interests in the Gulf remained unchanged: guaranteeing uninterrupted flow of oil to the world market at prices that don’t harm the economies of the United States and its allies in the advanced world. What has


changed is the perception of the threats, to those interests. It was the perceived Soviet threat to the region that dominated the American political-economic and security strategies, framed to protect American interests. It was the Soviet threat that prompted the initial American commitments to Iran after World War II (when Iran was included in Baghdad Pact and CENTO) and American covert involvement in 1953 coup that overthrew the Iranian nationalistic government of Mohammed Mossadegh. The American airbase in Dharan in Saudi Arabia built after the World War II and lasted till 1962, was part of American global strategy of containing the Soviet Union. Similarly, in 1987-88, due to the prospect of increased Soviet role in the Gulf, the Reagan Administration was forced to provide naval protection to Kuwait and Saudi oil tankers during the last year of Iran-Iraq war.

The emphasis on the Soviet-imagined threat proved to be irrational on the part of American Administration and damaging to the broader American interests because the most three events, that hindered America’s oil interests arose from local circumstances in which Moscow had hardly anything to do with them. Firstly, the hike in oil prices in 197374 caused by Saudi Arabia, who led production cut and embargo against the US during 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Secondly, the doubling of oil prices in 1979-81 was a result of disruption in the Iranian oil production caused by the Iranian revolution. Thirdly, the interruption in oil supplies from the Gulf in 1990-91 was a direct result of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Hence, the significant part of the containment is that it does direct more American efforts towards the region itself rather than looking at perceived outside threat.


Briefly, dual containment has the following main elements: 1. preventing any power from supplanting the United States as a dominant force in the Gulf; 2. protection of Saudi Arabia and other members of GCC from outside and inside threats; 3. the policy rejects any kind of political relationship with Iran and Iraq and doesn’t hypothesize that military balance between them is an important element in Gulf stability; and 4. the US has much larger unilateral role in managing Gulf affairs with the help of friendly governments in the region.44

A. Containing Iraq

Dual containment does not mean duplicate containment. The basic purpose of this American strategy is to counter the challenges posed by Baghdad and Tehran in two distinct approaches. Although neighbours, the two states are quite different in cultural and historical experience. Iraq is a modernist and secular country while Iran is a theocratic and ambitious one, with a sense of cultural and political destiny and visible antagonism toward the US. Hence, containing Iraq posits a different kind of challenge to American policy than containing Iran.

During the Gulf War (1990-91), the allied air power systematically destroyed or crippled the Iraqi infrastructure and industry. The superior air force on the allies side succeeded in, destroying 92% of Iraqi power capacity, 80% of oil refineries, 135 telecommunication centres, more than 100 roads, highways and bridges, hundreds of


petrochemical complexes, locomotives and boxcars foil of goods, radio and T.V. broadcasting stations, cement plants, aluminum factories, textiles, electric cables and medical supplies. The losses estimated by the Arab Monetary Fund were about $ 190 billion.45 The magnitude of destruction inflicted on Iraqi economy was in confirmation with secretary of state, James Baker’s statement warning Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on the eve of Gulf war, “that the US will bomb Iraq back to the pre­ industrial revolution ”

The collapse of Iraqi economy was aggravated by the imposition of UN sanctions. They were more than 30 resolutions and declarations that put Iraq under multifaceted embargo, an air and naval blockade. In this regard, the Clinton Administration contended that it would continue to lead international efforts aimed at ensuring that Iraq doesn’t threaten Gulf peace and security. To that end, Clinton emphasized that “we will maintain our insistence on full Iraqi compliance with UNSC resolutions. We will work with international community to ensure that the integrity of the UN sanctions regime which is the best means to promote Iraqi compliance.”46

The Iraqi state was furthered weakened when western allies had created “Haven Enclaves” for Kurdish in the north and “No Fly Zone,” for the Shia in the South. The Kurdish groups currently enjoyed semi-independence under American protection. Clinton Administration also channelled moral and material supports to the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an exile opposition organization that represents religious, secular and ethnic communities. The INC established broader bases in Northern Iraq and deepened its ties with the neighbouring Arab governments. The American officials


explained the importance of these autonomous zones and enclaves as instruments to topple Saddam regime in Baghdad in the following way:

“The No-Fly-Zones” over northern and southern Iraq permit the monitoring of Iraq’s compliance with security council resolutions 687 and 688. These zones have deterred Iraq from major military offensive in the region. Since “No Fly-Zone” was established in southern Iraq, Iraq’s use of aircrafts against its population in the region has stopped, as also large scale troops movements. However, the c