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Defense and Arms Control Studies Program, Annual Report 1991-1992

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Annual rept.

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By any standard 1991 was an incredible year, containing as it did the Gulf War, the failed Soviet Coup, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Although we have a long term research agenda for our program, we could not ignore the three most significant developments in international security of the last several decades. Each told us something important about security problems of the future and provided directions for research. The Gulf War was a lesson in the wonders and limits of collective security. Aggression was stopped through the coordinated action of many nations. The operation was, in nearly all aspects, brilliantly conceived and carefully conducted. The United States had the cooperation of all the major power and several of the lesser ones as it assembled a powerful international force to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Warnings were issued, sanctions imposed, diplomacy explored, and then in January measured force was applied. With precision unmatched in history, the U.S.-led coalition destroyed the main military assets of Iraq and compelled that country to abandon Kuwait. But the limits of collective action were also apparent in the crisis. Nothing would have happened to liberate Kuwait without the determined exercise of U.S. military power and logistical capabilities. Every other participant in the coalition, including the British and the French, helped legitimize the action, but offered what in essence were only token military contributions. Two of the worlds leading economic powers, Japan and Germany, were constitutionally unable to participate directly, and decided only after much urging to pay others to carry their burdens. And, in the end, the coalition buckled when important decisions had to be made about the political future of Iraq. While the coalition forces watched, the troops of Saddam Hussein were allowed to destroy independence movements of both the Kurds and the Shiites, with great loss of life.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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