Desert Shield at Sea: What the Navy Really Did

By Marvin Pokrant | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Tightening the Noose

Between 18 September and 8 November 1990, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq began to solidify on two fronts—first with additional UN Security Council resolutions against Iraq and second with improved naval enforcement procedures. These actions closed loopholes and tightened the economic noose around Iraq.

Given the enormity of the task of forcing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, the United States needed to convince Iraq that it would enforce sanctions established through UN Resolutions 661,665, and 670, and that other countries would support the U.S.-led effort. Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, wanted to make the Americans look like the bad guys. He counted on the U.S. public to experience Vietnam flashbacks, on Arab countries not to support outside interference in Arab quarrels, and on Moslem countries not to support infidels, thus leading to the demise of the coalition. NavCent forces, by enforcing the sanctions, would play a key role in sustaining the coalition. The additional resolutions, combined with the refined techniques of intercepting suspect merchant vessels, contributed to the long-term stability of the coalition.

Throughout this period, the previous tentative signs of Iraqi cooperation, as seen in chapter 4, subsided, and Iraqi resistance to sanction enforcement seemed to increase. Whether acting as individuals or collectively under orders from the Iraqi leadership, the masters of Iraqi ships pushed for a confrontation. For the United States to disable a merchant ship would surely fuel the Iraqi propaganda machine.


INTELLIGENCE

To allow advance planning and coordination, NavCent forces needed early information concerning a merchant ship’s identity, destination, cargo, location, course, and speed. A P-3 maritime patrol aircraft operating from Masira, Oman,

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