Talk:Gulf War

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 Definition The conflict started by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and ended with the liberation of Kuwait and major damage to Iraqi forces, by a US-led UN coalition in 1991. [d] [e]

Please join in! I'd simply ask, in the interest of collaboration, that substantial deletions or rewrites first be discussed on the talk page.


Plans for the article

I know I need to work the diplomatic initiatives into it, with listing the relevant UNSC resolutions on a subpage.

It's a delicate balance of too much and not enough information on the military details. I'm also trying to find the right balance between the discussion of the KARI air defense system here, and in integrated air defense system.

Howard C. Berkowitz 01:23, 6 July 2008 (CDT)

Resolutions in subpage

OK; they are now listed. I'd especially welcome working some of them into the diplomatic maneuvering to prevent the war. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:12, 9 July 2008 (CDT)

Air defense

Does anyone know definitively if the SA-5 GAMMON SAM was used by the Iraqis? I've seen one or two references, but most references to their area air defense only mentions the SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:12, 9 July 2008 (CDT)

Nonstandard subpages

Hi Howard,

I don't see the point of the proliferation of nonstandard subpages. We have standardized subpages so that people know where to look for particular types of information. Their function is not to name subtopics, as "UNSC Resolutions," "Iraqi OOB," and "Code words" do. Unless you've got a really, really good reason for these idiosyncratic subpage names, please incorporate these into standardized subpages.

Where? "Code words" of course belong on Related Articles; "Iraqi OOB" looks like the beginning of a separate article (and no general, collaboratively-developed, unsigned article should be a subpage of another article); and "UNSC Resolutions" also looks like a separate article, although I can imagine people looking for such a list on a CZ:Catalogs subpage. (Increasingly, I'm coming to the view that we should simply name "Catalogs" something more intuitive, like "Tables" or "Data.")

CZ:Subpages should have a full list and discussion of subpage types and their functions. --Larry Sanger 09:31, 21 August 2008 (CDT)

My feeling is that we need to do more with the subpage option, and create logical clusters focused around a main topic. If the original named subpages are insufficient, surely this suggests that the original type identification was preliminary and incomplete? I really don;t see why a bureaucratic formality of the recent past should shape the structure of CZ. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:19, 21 August 2008 (CDT)

Subpages and code words

The codewords subpage was brought up, in the forum, as one way not to deal only with the capitalization issue but with code words in general -- although I'm frankly of the opinion that for those few that don't want to deal with code words, they aren't going to get far in reading.

Related articles, I suppose, is as good a place as any to put them. If there were a workgroup-specific convention on subpages, I'd consider having code words for military. Part of the reason is there is an inherent problem with having to do a whole cluster on something that isn't much more than a one-sentence, or a paragraph at most, meaning of a code word or defining of a term.

I'd again suggest having the technical means of searches turning up a definition "as if it were an article", in the specific case of there being no general article/cluster and it being hard to define a cluster. Redirects are another possibility, but it seems a little ugly to hit "Case White", be directed to "1939 invasion of Poland" and then have to read through text to find that was the German code word for the invasion.

It's my fairly strong belief that there is something that is an appropriate level between redirect and full cluster. Definition, if it wasn't so deprecated by the search engine, could well be right, if it could be taken up to no more than a paragraph. Perhaps there could be an option flag that indicates that "definition only" is intentional.

Order of battle? Fine with me to move it, although it is something that makes sense if there are ever workgroup-specific subpages; I think there should be. Chemistry, if anything, has too many, and I speak as a one-time chemist. There are a great many subpages for even one-word information that, IMHO, would be better as fields in a general chemical template.

Howard C. Berkowitz 10:50, 21 August 2008 (CDT)

Done. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:10, 21 August 2008 (CDT)

Howard, I'm trying to figure out how to reply to you without (1) committing myself to a lot more debate, (2) getting our rules respected, and (3) treating you disrespectfully.

I'm not having much success.  :-)

Let me put it this way, because I really don't have time to do your comment justice (though I did read it all). All I have time to do is to point out that, in my opinion, these subpages violate (did violate? There was just now an edit conflict and you wrote "Done"...) our current rules, for the reasons I stated. Since I do not have the time to convince you of this, nor am I willing to make a time-saving executive decision (after all, I could be wrong!), I must leave the matter to your conscience and to anyone else who might want to take up the issue. --Larry Sanger 13:42, 21 August 2008 (CDT)

Larry, is there still a controversy? I thought I moved the code words to related articles, removed the metadata references to the special purpose subpages, and tried to put speedydelete on them. I made separate articles of the subpages. Is there a problem? I thought I did what yu asked -- maybe this is out of sequence and you already answered in the forum.
When I said "fine with me" and "done", I thought I meant agreement.Howard C. Berkowitz 18:43, 26 August 2008 (CDT)

Missing background

I came to this article through a circuitous route, and I'm not even close to being expert in military history. However, while the article appears to be fairly well written and comprehensive, there is something missing in the Background section and/or the Hussein-Glaspie meetings subsection: Why did Iraq attack Kuwait? There's reference to brinksmanship, miscommunications, and the U.S. Army's forward planning, but the article jumps from there to Glaspie warning (or not) Hussein to not invade Kuwait. I have a moderately good idea why, but someone who doesn't won't find out from this article. Could someone please add this background? Anthony Argyriou 17:37, 26 August 2008 (CDT)

Perhaps someone can answer better, or conjure Saddam's ghost. I have never seen a better explanation of the invasion than Saddam thought he could do it and no one would interfere. By brinksmanship, I meant that he threatened, and no one told him, in language he would accept "invade Kuwait and you will be ejected."
All the U.S. could threaten, without Saudi consent, was air strikes. Any serious ground force would have to come through Saudi Arabia, and, even after the invasion, the Saudis thought long and hard before allowing infidels into their country.
If any of his surviving immediate circle knew, it hasn't been published. The U.S. only became certain he intended to attack about 3 days or so beforehand.Howard C. Berkowitz 18:50, 26 August 2008 (CDT)
THe background to the invasion of Kuwait is historical, in that the British created the country artificially in order to weaken the new state of Iraq. Thus, the Iraqis considered it to be their right to annex the territory, which they had been deprived of by western geopolitical interests. I agree that Saddam thought he could get away with doing so, and arguably he might have if the Kuwaiti Royal Family had not penetrated the US tv and media with (false) evidence of the brutality of the Iraqi invasion. Thus, the Gulf War is as much about American politics as it is about Iraq, and as much about Great Power manipulation in the past as it is about the present. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 21:50, 26 August 2008 (CDT)
As you say, the new state of Iraq, which was constructed by a country, other than the United States, that had the mandate to put together three former Ottoman governorates. Great power politics certainly are involved.
I do not, however, remember a huge public uproar in the U.S. to counter the Iraqi invasion. Oh, there was some propaganda about throwing babies out of incubators, but most of the command decisions were made before that surfaced. If that was the only reason, are you suggesting that the Kuwaiti Royal Family had set up the U.S. Central Command exercise, "Internal Look", which was specifically dealing with an Iraqi invasion? That exercise, however, did not assume that the Iraqis stopped at Kuwait.
The Central Command annual exercise, for years, dealt with the Russians coming south into Iran, and then pushing through the Zagros mountains to take the additional oilfields of Iraq. That scenario, after seeing Soviet/Russian performance in the comparable mountains of Afghanistan, was finally accepted as ludicrous.
Martin, I am really not trying to get into an argument about great power manipulation. Let's treat this in the U.N. context. Kuwait comes before the Security Council, as it did, and said it had been invaded, which invokes Article 51. What action would you have had the Security Council take? Kuwait was a national member of the UN. Article 51 says that it is very very naughty to invade your neighbor, and has not one word about brutality. Kuwait was militarily unable to resist the Iraqi forces. Was there any good option available?
If you can document the background, please feel free to add it to the article, although I would ask to put it in a subarticle as I did to manage the space. I am aware of the argument that Kuwait should have been the 19th governorate of Iraq. Is there evidence from Saddam's intimates that he truly believed this was a restoral of justice, or that it was a way to deal with his debt from the Iran-Iraq War? The latter debt certainly was a factor in Saddam feeling compelled to do something.
Serious question, to which I don't have an answer and felt was out of scope: was the invasion of Kuwait, preceded by a sudden peacemaking with Iran, an inevitable consequence of the Iran-Iraq War?
If you will permit an analogy, I'd look at Japan in 1940 and 1941, as they concluded they could not get the resources they needed from China. There were several factions in their government, but, certainly when they were given conditional embargoes contingent on their backing out of Indochina, the Strike-South faction obtained control. While Yamamoto, as Navy Vice-Minister, counseled against war, and then, reassigned to command the operational fleet, said he could give 12-18 months at best, he was overridden. In the Japan at the time, the Prime Minister rarely shot dissenters.
I do not feel competent to go back into the motivations and decisionmaking. I feel competent to describe actions. When I addressed coalition politics, and indeed U.S. military politics about the issue of having a Land Forces Commander (which was done at Normandy), I believe I had adequate sourcing. I would welcome a solid analysis of Saddam's decisionmaking, but I am unable to write it. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:54, 26 August 2008 (CDT)
Perhaps I wasn't clear on what I felt was missing. Why did April Glaspie talk to Saddam about Kuwait? When did Saddam start issuing threats, or making a point of claiming that Kuwait belonged to Iraq? Even if it's impossible to ascertain, or at least document, that the invasion of Kuwait was an inevitable consequence of the end of the Iran-Iraq war, some timeline is important - when did hostilities stop, when did the diplomats make it official, and when did the propaganda campaign against Kuwait start? There probably are books which attempt to explain Saddam's motivations - the need for a military victory after the draw in the war with Iran, the need for money, etc., but I haven't read them. I do remember that there was a prelude to the invasion - it wasn't completely out of the blue. And that needs to be explained, at least a little, in this article. Anthony Argyriou 23:34, 26 August 2008 (CDT)
One could argue that there has been a continuous war between the invasion of Iran in 1980 and the present, or easily before that from an Iranian standpoint -- certainly the great power overthrow of Mossadegh in 1952, the installation of the Pahlavis, their overthrow and the embassy takeover in 1979, and so forth. I had to pick an arbitrary date, and my expertise is much more on the military than the motivations--and yes, I have read quite a bit about Saddam's, and I make no excuses that I can't fathom the way his mind worked. If that's the sort of timeline you want, I can give you the key dates, but I don't try to get inside the minds.
Perhaps someone else feels competent to write about that. I am not, and I suspect that someone that is might not be comfortable writing about the mechanics of taking down an air defense system. At some point, which has been missed by a number of politicians, the policy is made and the execution begins. I can consider myself reasonably expert in how a war is fought; I understand a good deal of the psychology that keeps people in battle, but I don't pretend to understand Saddam's decisionmaking. If you asked about WWII Japan, I could give you a much better analysis, because there were competing factions and views. In this case, the key conversations were from Saddam to Saddam.
There's an excellent collection of essays and commentary in Ron Rosenbaum's book, Explaining Hitler. One leaves the book having read many viewpoints, gotten some new perspectives, but no closer to understanding why Hitler did what he did -- and I've read much more on Hitler than I have on Saddam, including Hitler's own writings and speeches. Indeed, I would recommend Fred Ikle's Every War Must End, which is an analysis of how many wars are started with no clear goal, or no real sense of what the Soviets call "the correlation of forces", with the eventual result often being disastrous for the invader. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:25, 27 August 2008 (CDT)
I am far from expert on Iraq, and really would not feel competent to write anything without doing an enormous amount of research. To answer one of your questions, Howard, about the Security Council: Yes, the Security Council had to denounce the Iraqi invasion. However, it was up to the current "Great Powers" (USA and its UK poodle, Russia, China) to decide on military action. In normal circumstances, neither of these 3 countries engages militarily just because some breach of international law has occurred. There has always to be some strategic interest, perhaps allied with domestic political issues. In the case of Kuwait, both conditions were satsified and the result was guaranteed. To your other question (the peacemaking with Iran), I am not sure but I think that this was happening. We need an expert on this difficult topic, really. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:05, 27 August 2008 (CDT)
I'm not looking for a blow-by-blow account of the internal machinations of Saddam's regime, just the external manifestations thereof. Iraq didn't invade Kuwait out of the blue, and the meeting with Glaspie was not the first anyone heard of the conflict. There were external signs before the invasion of tension between Iraq and Kuwait, including Iraq's public justification for the invasion, and those should be discussed, at least a little. I don't suggest we copy, or even need to be as comprehensive as Wikipedia, but they have a nice description of the prelude to the invasion here. Anthony Argyriou 18:27, 27 August 2008 (CDT)

We do need some specialized expertise

Martin and Anthony, I'm really not trying to avoid your questions. There are some historical periods and places where I think I have a fairly good understanding of the political dynamics. This is not one of them, and I would be delighted to defer to someone that, for example, can read Arabic and Farsi.

I believe that it is important, as well, to cover aspects of military doctrine and capabilities. Errors can be made in the diplomatic aspects of grand strategy. Equally, however, errors can be made in the military aspects from grand strategy down to operational art. Without discussing the political/grand strategic decision to invade Iraq in 2003, I believe I can say, with a fair bit of historical parallel and multiple expert sources, that the failure to make a peace, after the high-intensity combat, was Donald Rumsfeld refusing to accept expert opinion on the size and composition that would be needed for an occupation and nation-building force. In the war we are discussing, while the details can be argued, Bush the Elder and others in Washington were willing to accept an endstate that was possible, which did not involve ousting Saddam. Bush the Younger, and advisers whose names I prefer not to utter without mouthwash, were not willing to match the endstate with the requirements for the desired endstate. My strong reference here is Ikle's book, but there is some excellent analysis, available online, of the Allied planning for different endstates of the defeat of Nazi Germany, and the types of occupation forces that would be appropriate for rebuilding.

That particular discussion belongs to the Iraq War article, or that article perhaps split into one on major conventional combat and the other on the occupation.

I can speak, with competence, of some of the peace operations, as well as things that are or are not possible with advanced military forces. When I see an explanation for a battle that simply does not match the way the forces or the weapons worked, I feel comfortable with correcting this. I do not disagree that the explanations you seek are desirable, but I do not feel as qualified to explain them than, for example, in explaining how to take down a complex air defense system. I can point to other wars that went drastically wrong because incorrect assumptions were made about such things.

Howard C. Berkowitz 19:24, 27 August 2008 (CDT)

Fair enough! Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:03, 27 August 2008 (CDT)