Last updated on: 6/3/2008 12:40:00 PM PST
Did the US initially attempt to resolve the Iraq-Kuwait conflict peacefully?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
C-SPAN, a cable news station, on Mar. 21, 1991 reported the following from a summary of testimony from April Glaspie, former US Ambassador to Iraq, before two congressional committees:

"A transcript released by Iraq of a July 25, 1990 meeting between Amb. Glaspie and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was used by Iraq to claim that Amb. Glaspie told Saddam the U.S. would not be concerned if Iraq entered Kuwait.

In an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on March 20 [1991], Amb. Glaspie said the Iraqi transcript was inaccurate and failed to mention her repeated warnings to Saddam Hussein that the U.S. would retaliate to secure its interests.

In her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs committee, Amb. Glaspie said about 20 percent of the Iraqi transcript was distorted or dropped. She admitted that she had never told Saddam the U.S. would fight if Iraq invaded Kuwait, but said Saddam Hussein understood her statement that the U.S. would defend its vital interests. She also said she said [to Saddam Hussein] she could not determine U.S. policy, to the extent of directly threatening force, on her own without consulting the president."


Mar. 21, 1991 - C-SPAN 

Jude Wanniski, former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, wrote in a Feb. 19, 1998 article "Where Did Saddam Hussein Come From?":

"On July 24, 1990 two Iraqi armoured divisions moved from their bases to take up positions on the Kuwaiti border. Later the same day the U.S. State Department spokesman Margaret Tutwiler, asked whether the U.S. had any military plans to defend Kuwait, replied: 'We do not have any defense treaties with Kuwait, and there are no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait.'

The next day [July 25, 1990] Saddam Hussein summoned U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie to his office in what was to be the last official contact between Baghdad and the United States before the invasion of Kuwait. Even at this late stage, with an obviously deteriorating situation in the Gulf, Glaspie still made efforts to placate Saddam Hussein. She emphasized that President Bush had rejected the idea of trade sanctions against Iraq...Glaspie was quick to reassure the Iraqi leader: 'I have a direct instruction from the President to seek better relations with Iraq.'

Later Glaspie added that 'President Bush is an intelligent man. He is not going to declare an economic war against Iraq...'; and then the ambassador produced the much-quoted comment that was perhaps the biggest 'green light' of all: 'I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. I know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

On July 31, two days before the invasion, Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly testified before Chairman Lee Hamilton of House Foreign Affairs committee. Asked repeatedly if we would come to the defense of Kuwait if it were attacked, he insisted there was no obligation on our part to do so."


Feb. 19, 1998 Jude Wanniski




PRO (yes)

Joseph Wilson, former US Ambassador to Iraq, on May 14, 2004, stated the following in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:

"I met with him [Saddam Hussein] about four days after the invasion of Kuwait ... He said, if you do not resist my occupation of Kuwait, do not try to drive me out of Kuwait, I can guarantee you a steady supply of oil at a good price and I will serve essentially as your interests here in the gulf. If, on the other hand, you decide to drive me out of Kuwait, you will not be able to sustain the losses of 10,000 of your soldiers in the Asian desert. You have neither the political will nor the intestinal fortitude to accept those losses. In response, my response was get out of Kuwait. You're in violation of the U.N. Charter, the OAU [Organization of African Unity] Charter and the Arab League Charter. Two, quit looting American properties, and quit threatening our embassy down in Kuwait, our diplomats in Kuwait. Three, you need to let all foreigners, particularly all Americans, leave the region. You're in violation of the various conventions regarding getting civilians out of harms way. Those are the points that I made. I left it to the President [George H.W. Bush] to decide what the military response was going to be."

May 14, 2004 - Joseph Wilson 



Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, stated in a Jan. 9, 1996 interview on PBS's Frontline: The Gulf War:

"...there had been no suggestion that we were going to undertake any political or diplomatic activity to issue a warning or a threat to him. Quite the contrary, all those political signals we were getting were to the contrary. And so we were uneasy about starting military actions that might make a bad situation worse.

The third of August [1990], Friday, Saddam Hussein had said he was going to be withdrawing soon and this was just a temporary thing, which was nonsense but nevertheless it's what he said. And our Arab friends were still saying there would be an Arab solution and so we had to make some decisions. Not one troop had been ordered to go anywhere yet."

Jan. 9, 1996 - Colin Powell, MBA 



George H.W. Bush, former US President, on Nov. 16, 1990, stated in a letter to Congressional leaders concerning the deployment of US Armed Forces to the Persian Gulf:

"I want to emphasize that this deployment is in line with the steady buildup of U.S. Armed Forces in the region that over last 3 months and is a continuation of the deployment described in my letter of August 9.

I also want to emphasize that the mission of our Armed Forces has not changed. Our Forces are in the Gulf region in the exercise of our inherent right of individual and collective self-defense against Iraq's aggression and consistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions related to Iraq's on-going occupation of Kuwait.

The United States and other nations continue to seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis. We and our coalition partners share the common goals of achieving the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government, the protection of the lives of citizens held hostage by Iraq both in Kuwait and Iraq, and the restoration of security and stability in the region."

Nov. 16, 1990 - George H. W. Bush 



George H.W. Bush, former U.S. President, on Aug. 2, 1990, stated the following to reporters in Aspen, Colorado, following a meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the UK:

"I would like to see him [Saddam Hussein] withdraw his troops and the restoration of the legal government in Kuwait to the rightful place, and that's the step that should be taken. I might say that I am somewhat heartened by the conversations I had with Mubarak [Egypt] and the King Hussein [Jordon], Mr. Salih -- all of whom I consider friends of the United States -- and all of them who are trying to engage in what they call an Arab answer to the question, working diligently behind the scenes to come to an agreement that would satisfy the United Nations and the rest of the World.

So, there are collective efforts beginning to be undertaken by these worthy countries, and let's hope that they result in a satisfactory resolution of this international crisis."


Aug. 2, 1990 - George H. W. Bush 



George H.W. Bush, former US President, stated in an Aug. 9, 1990 letter to Congressional leaders on the Deployment of US Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East:

"In the period since August 2, Iraq has massed an enormous and sophisticated war machine on the Kuwait-Saudi Arabian border and in southern Iraq, capable of initiating further hostilities with little or no additional preparation. Iraq's action pose a direct threat to neighboring countries and to vital U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf region.

In response to this threat and after receiving the request of the Government of Saudi Arabia, I ordered the forward deployment of substantial elements of the United States Armed Forces into the region. I do not believe involvement in hostilities is imminent; to the contrary, it is my belief that this deployment will facilitate a peaceful resolution of the crisis."


Aug. 9, 1990 - George H. W. Bush 



CON (no)

James Akins, former Attaché at the US Embassy in Baghdad and former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, stated in a Jan. 25, 2000 interview on PBS's Frontline: The Survival of Saddam:

"I thought this could have been handled in the Arab context. He [Saddam Hussein] certainly had to leave Kuwait, no question about that. There wasn't a single person in the entire region who thought that he should be allowed to incorporate Kuwait into his country. Prince Sultan, the Saudi defense minister, said right after the [Aug. 2, 1990 Iraq invasion into Kuwait] invasion that this has to be handled in the Arab context. Clearly Saddam must leave, but this also has to be handled in a brotherly fashion, and Iraq needs to develop the port.[on the Persian Gulf].

There was a call at a very high level, obviously to the Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who was told to bring his brother [Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia] into line….I presume it was from the [United States] president, but I'm not entirely sure. It almost certainly was from the [United States] president.

Because we [United States] didn't want him [Saddam Hussein] to withdraw. We were already going forward preparing for a war [with Iraq], and we wanted to do what we ultimately did, and he [Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia] would have screwed up everything [if Kuwait allowed Iraq to lease part of the islands in the port].

Our nightmare in the last days [Jan. 15, 1991 deadline set by U.N. Security Council Resolution 678] was that Saddam would withdraw [from Kuwait], and then we wouldn't be able to go forward with our grand plans to destroy Iraq and the [Iraq] infrastructure."


Jan. 25, 2000 - James E. Akins 



James A. Baker, III, JD, former US Secretary of State, stated an interview on, PBS's Frontline: The Gulf War on Jan. 9, 1996:

"[I]n fact our Arab allies in the region were saying 'Don't over react, don't push him [Saddam], if you push him then you're likely to encourage him to do something'. I remember we even conducted some military exercises with the United Arab Emirates which was a pretty darn good signal to him I mean I think you'd have to acknowledge that was a fairly a clear signal. He certainly responded to it, he didn't like it a bit. And frankly some of our Arab allies suggested to us that we were doing too much by conducting those exercises."

Jan. 9, 1996 - James A. Baker, III, JD 



Noam Chomsky, PhD, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stated in a May 1991 Z Magazine article titled "What We Say Goes":

"Washington moved resolutely to bar the success of peaceful means [international condemnation, followed by sanctions and diplomatic efforts]. Following the prescriptions of the National Security Policy Review, it ensured that this 'much weaker enemy' would be punished by force. On August 22 [1990], New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman outlined the Administration position: the 'diplomatic track' must be blocked, or negotiations might 'defuse the crisis' at the cost of 'a few token gains' for Iraq, perhaps 'a Kuwaiti island or minor border adjustments.'"

May 1991 - Noam Chomsky, PhD 



Richard H. Curtis, a journalist, stated in Mar. 1991 article titled "Who Caused the War in the Gulf? Five Versions of History," published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA):

"On Nov. 8 (1990), the U.S. president more than doubled the U.S. troop commitment to the Gulf and thus transformed the military force there.

Initially, it was a force capable of defending Saudi Arabia from an Iraqi military invasion while the world waited a year or so for the embargo and sanctions to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. Doubling the U.S. military commitment changed it to an offensive force too large to stay idle without politically destabilizing the area it had come to defend. It made American use of military force, if Saddam Hussein refused to withdraw from Kuwait by Jan. 15, virtually inevitable."


Mar. 1991 Richard H. Curtis




Howard Levine, a journalist, in a Jan. 9, 1991 San Francisco Bay Guardian editorial titled "Mr. President, There are Alternatives to War," stated:

"There is a better way for Bush to achieve his goal of a free Kuwait. Many Middle East experts say that through genuine peace talks, involving the messy give-and-take of international politics, Iraq would leave Kuwait without anyone shedding another drop of blood.

Hussein has made clear his demands for pulling out of Kuwait. Of course, whether or not he is sincere has yet to be tested. But that's what true negotiations would reveal. However, it's a sign of U.S. warmongering that our officials and media rarely, if ever, mention Iraq's straightforward demands...

Now, it's time to make
[George H.W.] Bush understand that Iraq's demands are within the range of negotiations. The border dispute between Iraq and Kuwait could easily be settled. Iraq could be allowed to lease the two islands in the Gulf, and an international conference could be called to begin the difficult process of peace talks between that Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel."

Mar. 9, 1991 Howard Levine