Saddam Hussein's Gulf Wars: Ambivalent Stakes in the Middle East

Saddam Hussein's Gulf Wars: Ambivalent Stakes in the Middle East

Saddam Hussein's Gulf Wars: Ambivalent Stakes in the Middle East

Saddam Hussein's Gulf Wars: Ambivalent Stakes in the Middle East


This book deals extensively with Iraq and Saddam Hussein--his rise to power, his mastery of Iraqi statecraft, his pan-Arab proclivities, and his two Gulf wars: the first against Iran and the second against the U.S.-led multinational coalition in 1991. The book portrays a multidimensional Saddam Hussein: good and bad, strategic and human. It throws light on the reasons the U.S. went to war against Saddam, and presents an in-depth analysis of the United States' policies, which at one time supported Iraq's cause, in the Gulf region. A valuable feature of the book is the detailed discussion it presents of the psychology of all the participants before, during, and after the Gulf War.


The U.S. secretary of state, James Baker, the most committed person in the entire American government to deal-making and to political settlements in the volatile Middle East, actually played a far weaker role in the events of the Gulf conflict than President George Bush. Harmony between the White House and the U.S. State Department in framing foreign policy was not always apparent. In this last war against Saddam Hussein, it was not expected to be. Nor did it matter in the end. For the result of that last war was an opportunity gained by the United States and an opportunity lost by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Both countries had valuable stakes to fight for.

When the war ended, political analysts wanted to explain it; historians were seeking reasons why it began. Mideast leaders were anxious to capitalize on it, and U.S. war heroes were prepared to write their reminiscences about it.

Less than a year after the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi stran-glehold, an international Mideast peace conference opened in Madrid—this time largely the fruit of James Baker's peace shuttles to the Arab capitals and to Israel. The conference aim was to discuss the many insurmountable problems of the Arab-Israeli conflict, at the core of which lay the Palestinian issue. The very fact that the conference could be held was in itself one of the aftereffects of the two Gulf wars. It is sad for the world, I must say, that neither Iran nor Iraq was at this time involved in the peace deliberations. These two Gulf powers have remained on the sidelines, opposed to any peace settlement and committed to supporting the hard-line segment of the Arab populations.

This particular development, in addition to the revelation about General Norman Schwarzkopf's contract with Bantam Books for a defin-

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