Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf an Exception: Military Solution Won't Work Again

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gulf an Exception: Military Solution Won't Work Again

Article excerpt

THE United States and its allies are currently fighting a just war against Iraq, one sanctioned by international law and supported by the United Nations. But the diplomatic conditions that paved the way for allied intervention are quite unique and unlikely to be replicated in the future. Consequently, the effort by some in Washington to resuscitate the cold war norm that force constitutes a viable policy tool is misguided. Vietnam, with its high casualties, allied dissension, and Soviet obstructionism, is the more probable model for future wars, not the Gulf war (I am assuming that the allied coalition will hold together and successfully expel Iraqi forces at what are considered acceptable costs).

The circumstances that allowed multinational intervention in the Gulf are quite extraordinary. The Soviets were preoccupied with their mounting economic and ethnic problems and could not afford to antagonize the West. But with the growing political ascendency of the Soviet military combined with Gorbachev's inability to extract economic concessions from the United States, the Russians are unlikely to sacrifice another military client for abstract "new world order" goals.

Moreover, coalition bonds have been strengthened by the unusual cruelty of Saddam Hussein. No avuncular revolutionary like Fidel Castro here, but rather a mustachioed fifth horseman of the Apocalypse armed with chemical weapons. Saddam's atrocities have been complimented by one of the most inept displays of diplomacy in modern times. Parading beaten Western airmen before television cameras, poisoning the Persian Gulf, and other such tactics have cemented the somewhat tenuous coalition of Western and third world states. And smaller Iraqi demands, such as a slice of oil-rich Kuwait instead of the whole pie, would have fractured the coalition right from the start of the crisis. …

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