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Archive pour le 14 March, 2015

Just War Theory and Political Economy of In Kuwaiti Invasion

INTRODUCTION

The Just war doctrine and realism assumed that war should be justified by a convincing motive. The motive may be either ethically driven or rational. At least, conflicting parties should build “a foundation of a case of war” (Frowe, 2011, p. 51).  In the 1970s (Walzer, 1977, pp. 297-298), specifically in the post-Cold War area, the notion of “responsibility to protect” emerged as the “ultimate just cause” to protect civilians and legitimize third-party intervention. Sometimes this has created a “political conflict” or “political dilemma” between the unconditional sovereignty of a state and the state’s adherence to minimum international humanitarian norms (Falk, 1998, p. 13).

Beyond this dilemma, there is a new factor that influences third party intervention namely the precious natural and key resources. In the many wars that have been fought in the aftermath of the Cold War, precious  materials such as oil, diamonds, coltan, cobalt, and the like  have been among the just causes “for third-party intervention within “the emblematic prize of so called resource war” (Le Billon & El-Khatib, 2005, p. 109). According to Peters (2005), the resource war has become a threat to global security and therefore defies the morality, legitimacy and legality for the just war doctrine.

The scramble for oil and the counterterrorist activism in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East are among the various controversial debates on the presence of Western and USA pro-active military p in the Persian Gulf. According to Le Billon and El Khatib (2005), “Western diplomatic and military support of friendly local regimes in the Persian Gulf was closely linked to the protection of Western oil interests” (p. 109).  The West and the USA are perceived to be looters and imperialists of the black gold.

But the West and the USA do not see that way. They justify their long standing military intervention under the label of humanitarian intervention and the fight against terrorism in order to restore international peace and security (UN Charter, 1945: principal objective).

This paper raises a debate between the “economic invasion” of oil reserves in the Gulf, termed as war economies (Coulomb, 2004) and the possible ethical evaluation on resource war. More specifically, how war was dehumanized by the notion of national interest (Peter, 2005) during the war in Kuwait war between the United Nations’ coalition that was led by the USA against Iraq.

We will first discuss the normal trend of just war theory in the context of Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait and the counter aggression act of the UN coalition. Thereafter we will engage in the debate of trying to review how the political economy of the Gulf War distanced from meeting the standards of just war doctrine and the challenges that the post reconstruction encountered.

1.      An History of Aggression in the Gulf

According to (Mokhtari , 2010, p. 1), Iraq was created in 1919 from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and is a collection of three former Ottoman provinces. Kuwait was claimed to be part of the Iraqi territory, specifically the province of Basra in the coastline of the Gulf. All Iraqi governments have claimed this province which was made worse by discovery of oil in Kuwait.

Kuwait’s autonomy was backed to 1913 treaty with Ottomans and was followed by the Kuwaiti independence in 1961. However, this autonomy and the independence were not recognized by Iraq. The reason behind Iraq’s refusal to recognize Kuwait was over the claims that Iraq has some historical rights over Kuwait that should have been addressed before the independence (Gazit, 1992).

The scramble for oil in the Persian Gulf started with the Iran and Iraq war which was followed by the Iraqi invasion in Kuwait on the 2nd August 1990 (Australian War Memorial, 2014), and late the US-aggression of Iraq in 2003–09 to which scholars often refer to as the third Gulf war.

The Iraq invasion in Kuwait was driven by the economic consequence of the Iran-Iraq war which cost Iraq a foreign debt ranging from U$570 to 80 billion (Gazit, 1992, p. 8). Iraq tried to compel the countries within the region to help her recover from the war by forgiving her their different loans and debts. The case of Kuwait was different because of the historical territorial grievance they had in the past. Iraq obligated Kuwait to pay an amount of U$10 billion as compensation for the extraction of oil in the disputed territories and to forgive her loans to Iraq.

Due to the refusal of the Kuwait to meet these demands by Iraq, Iraq decided to invade Kuwait on the 2nd August of 1990 (Persian Gulf , 1993).

At the international level, this act was considered as an act of aggression and therefore was covered by the international law as asserted by the Geneva Convention and there is a necessity to for of restore the international law by liberating Kuwait (Peter, 2005). Hence, the United Nations decided to form a coalition in order to counteract the Iraqi aggression under “Operation Desert Storm” which marked the start of Kuwaiti war. The war was a fight between Iraq and a coalition of 30 nations gathered by the United Nations Security Council under the United States.

In the just war doctrine, scholars are more concerned more with the real motives of the humanitarian intervention and the possible just and real causes of Iraq stepping in Kuwait. The more common and accepted hypothesis is that the USA led coalition’s aim was not because they were against the act of  Iraq’s aggression but since they wanted to protect western and USA interests within Saudi Arabia in case Iraq decided to pursue her conquest further (Freedman & Karsh, 1993, p. 87).

  1. Application of Just war theory in the Kuwait War

2.1. Jus ad Bellum

2.1.1.      Just Causes

According to Little (1992) applying force without good reason is an “egregious violation” p. xxvii). Therefore, the use of force should be justified by just causes or reasons.

2.1.1.1. Iraqi Legitimate cause: Recover Her Stolen Assets

The only justifiable cause for Iraq to attack Kuwait was to recover her stolen assets, her Islands (Warba and Bubiyan); which, according to just war doctrine is reason enough to go to war (Bellamy, 2006). Iraq claimed Kuwait was a part of the former ottoman province of Basra and an integral section of the geographical unit situated to the southwest of the Shalt al –Arab river which is Iraq’s natural zone of access to the Persian Gulf (Gazit, 1992, pp. 7-8). According to Gazit (1992, p. 8), this “historical argument was more of a pretext to justify the action than a concrete motive for it”.

For Saddam Hussein, “Kuwait is part of Iraqi territory that was seized in the past by the British occupation authorities in order to weaken Iraq by depriving her of strategic position on the Arabian Gulf; which position would strengthen her pan-Arab security and to limit the free movement of Iraqi (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 42). Therefore, Saddam Hussein defended his actions in Kuwait as “necessary to redress flawed regional borders drawn up by colonial powers that had installed a corrupt minority in the Arab World’s richest territory” (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 298).

That is why even at international level, Iraq’s threat to Kuwait was not taken with all the serious response because Iraq had some legitimate grievances.

2.1.1.2. Coalition just causes: Counteracting an act of Aggression

The coalition was formed to protect the sovereignty of Kuwait as it was being violated by Iraq. The Iraqi invasion was condemned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and demanded that Iraq withdraw all her forces immediately and unconditionally.  For the USA and the United Nations, the Iraqi aggression broke up an important international order established in the aftermath of World War II, the inalienable right of sovereignty. Therefore, as asserted by Freedman and Karsh (1993), “the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait was a text book case of aggression” (p. XXIX).  For Dower (2009, p. 1), the gulf war was meant to reverse Saddam Hussein’s invasion in Kuwait.  We now understand why President Bush simply referred to this action as “naked aggression” (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 298).

In his study of new wars versus old wars, Kaldor (1999, p. 28-32) informs that the Gulf War (Kuwait) apparently satisfied the international standards because it was significant as the first-post Cold War international crisis. Freedman and Karsh (1993) argument makes the case more consistent that

The crisis provides a remarkable snapshot of the international system at the start of the 1990s, and an opportunity to explore the wider significance of the break-up of the Soviet empire in Europe and its implication for the conduct of diplomacy and the role the military force (p. XXXI).

Their suggestion pinpoint that the fact that an effective global governance started with this intervention. Indeed, the United Nations Intervention in Kuwait was under the peace enforcement strategy as provided by chapter VII of the United Nation, the Gulf War was a primary example of peace enforcement (Wallensteen, 2012, p. 240).

In the Arab world, the invasion of Kuwait was seen as a betrayal of the central concept of Al Amn am Qaumi (the security of the Arab nation) endorsed by all members of the Arab league (Khalidi, 1991, p. 19). Iraq did not respect the imperative of non-aggression between Arab states and the Arab collective security as the responsibility of the Arab states within the framework of the Arab League (Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation, 1950, art. 1).

Conclusively, the decision to engage in military action against Iraq was a palpable just cause to rectify an injustice and to repair a flouted international law (Dower, 2009, p. 100).

2.1.2.      Legitimate Authority

Without the United Nations consensus, the USA did not have any authority to wage war against Saddam Hussein. George Bush sought for legitimacy from the Congress and the House of representatives by using several arguments including that “the best way to avoid war was to be prepared to fight one and to prove this to Saddam (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 306). Since the action has endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, a legitimacy to wage was then established.

However, Iraqi legitimacy is controversially argued. For Saddam Hussein, he had the legitimate mandate as president to wage war against Kuwait to restore Iraq’s territorial integrity. However, the international perception of him committing an act of aggression delegitimized his authority (Stoessinger, 2008)

2.1.3.      Right Intention

According to Aristotle in Bellamy (2006), “we wage war in order to have peace” and “therefore using force for any other purpose than to restrain and minimize force is reprehensible” (Little, 1992, xxix). In the resource war in the Persian Gulf, right intention encountered challenges of interpretation.

For Dower (2009), the decision to force Iraq out of Kuwait was legal according to the international law, specifically the Geneva Convention of 1949, Protocol II, Art 3 that emphasizes the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, “many critics of the US-led 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq war strongly suspect that a powerful motive was in fact the desire to secure Western oil  interests”(Dower, 2009, p. 91). Therefore, the United States’ presumption to defend Kuwait was to protect its national interest.

Among the Scholars, the Iraq war in 2003 was out USA continuity intention to remove Saddam Hussein from power just like during the Gulf war. This because that, even though Saddam helped the Western powers to weaken Iran, he had the possibility to become a major and feared threat to Western interests in the Gulf. The death of Saddam Hussein was the real manifested intention of the Kuwait crisis.

On the side of Saddam Hussein, we could have b expected him to only recover the islands upon which he had  claimed some historical rights but not to build a case of  resource war which could not be justified by the  international conventions on warfare. Furthermore, for Gazit (1992, p. 8), Saddam Hussein wanted to assume a leading role in the inter-Arab system, the achievement of direct unhampered access to the Gulf, and a greater share in the regional oil export industry.

Conclusively, what led the Kuwait war was the bad intention of the warring parties.

2.1.4.      Last Resort

The Iraqi government tried to peacefully resolve the conflict while the UN intervention acted rapidly. Iraq tried to negotiate with Kuwait during the Kuwaiti-Iraqi summit in Jeddah (31 July 1990). However, the Kuwaiti delegation did not take the demands because, six hours after the Jihadi, Saudi Arabia meeting, Iraq marched into Kuwait (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 299). On the other hand, the USA and UN were completely absent at the different peace talks initiated by Iraq and Kuwait (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 299).

Kuwait was not ready for negotiation while Saddam Hussein claimed that “as long as discussions last between Iraq and Kuwait, I won’t intervene with force before I have exhausted all the possibilities for negotiation” (Freedman and Karsh, p. 1993, p. 50). But the different peace-processes initiated could have been seen as “smoke-screen aimed at gaining international legitimacy for the impending military action (Freedman & Karsh, 1993, p. 62).

Yet the act of aggression had been established, but the United Nation Security Council did not give enough time to Iraq before the authorization of the use of force. For the United Nations, Iraq had to leave Kuwait without setting up any conditions.  Indeed, the response to the Iraqi invasion took less than 5 months for the United Nations Security Council to allow the use of force against.

The UN had other possibilities to pursue other policies including targeted sanctions. It appears that it the war was not the last resort for the Gulf Persian war and knowing the military capacity of the Iraqi military force, the war could have caused many casualties. According to Dower (2009), “given the great cost of war, it is clearly necessary to avoid it, if at all possible by negotiation, diplomacy, and so on” (p. 92). However, in war economies, if the cost is relatively lower to the profit that warring parties will gain from this war, often, war is the last resort.

The Persian war should not have been the last resort because the aim of sanctions did not meet the purposes of “rewarding aggression and helping Saddam Hussein to acknowledge his mistake through peaceful means with face save concessions (Dower, 2009, p. 91). The duration of sanctions by the UN was only strategy to convince her allies and the United Nation Security Council for a possible military intervention, but not to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.  Moreover, it translates the new trend of international system of both realism and neorealism which think that  states have to pursue their national interest, if necessary at the expense of morality, neorealism can be used to justify military interventions for the sake of energy security in lieu of proposing how to avoid them (Peter, 2005, p. 190).

Freedman and Karsh ( 1993) thought that the economic pressure was seen as the most appropriate  means to Saddam’s grip on power both before and after the main Iran war”( p. XXX III). However what means sanctions for a regime which was indifferent to the suffering for its own population.

2.1.5.      Reasonable Hope of Success

If Iraq failed to win the war, it is because it did not rationally analyse the chance of success including the misperception of the external forces in the intervention while USA’s tardiness after convincing the different countries of the region and other super power gave them the hope of success. We will only analyse Iraq’s attitude while assuming that the coalition of 30 countries against one country is ipso facto a determining factor of hope of success.

Gazit (1992) gives eight conceptions of this misperception. But for the purpose of consistence, we will only analyze five of them. First, Saddam thought that the occupation of Kuwait was not a threat to other states, so he could not expect any immediate intervention very soon.  Secondly, blind by the ideology of the “Arab world”, he thought that Arab states would not ally themselves with infidels (the West). For him, “Muslim-Arab states would never consider asking for military and political support from outsiders and would not join a political and military coalition with infidels” (Gazit, 1992, p. 10). If Saudi Arabia did not allow an international coalition to use her territory, the success to evict Iraq from Kuwait was limited and no purely Arab forces, singly or together represented a threat to Iraqi armed forces. Thirdly, Iraq was not the only Middle Eastern country to have seized territory by force, so did Israel and Syria. If Israel declared to abandon the territories it had occupied in 1967 and Syria agreed to withdraw its troops from Lebanon (Gazit, 1992, p. 11), then Saddam was ready to back off on the eventual invasion of Kuwait. For Saddam, this common Arab problem could not be ignored by any Arab capital-impolitic. Fourthly, the biggest and may be unrealistic mistake that Saddam Hussein made was to exclude the possibility that an international coalition against Iraq would be formed against him. For Gazit the world is just from the cold war, and the global governance had taken place. Naively, Iraq failed to read the new international map: the map of a system in which superpower rivalry was no longer operating. The USA and Russia could easily find a road map and the frequent use of veto power was no longer in common use (Gazit, 1992, p. 12). For Stoessinger (2008,  p. 303), the Security Council vote of August 2 was a historic occasion because the USA and the Soviet Union decided to make a common cause to defend Kuwait (cf. De Luka, 1991).  Last, but not least, the great failure was that the “US would not go to war “because she had not yet overcome the trauma of the Vietnam war and that it was a democracy in decay, a paper trier” (Gazit, 1992, p. 13). Therefore, the fate of Kuwait was not interesting for her.

Two other conditions are left including the public declaration and proportionality which in the Kuwaiti war did not play an important role.  We shall discuss the issue of proportionality in the coming section.

2.2. Ius in Bello

Ius in Bello is concerned with proportionality, discrimination of non-combatant Immunity. It aim at prohibiting assault on innocent people, or threatening to assault, it declares that the weapons, tactics, and strategy must be morally efficient.  For Little (1992, p. xxix), the suffering and the devastation of war always threaten to outweigh whatever benefits may result.  The fourth Geneva Convention afforded the protection of the civilian human treatment for all persons in enemy hands; it specifically prohibits murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment, the taking of hostages and unfair trial.  It requires that the wounded, sick and shipwrecked be collected and cared for.  It grants the ICRC the right to offer its services to the parties to the conflict (Internal Committee of the Red Cross , 2010).

In the Kuwaiti war, the UN coalition failed to respect some international laws such as the treatment of prisoners of war by killing almost the Iraqi soldiers and Palestinians who decided to withdraw from Kuwait and to surrender.  Moreover, what means a coalition of 30 countries against one state and to which extent is it possible to ethically evaluate the proportionality of this war. The coalition used very sophisticated air bomb and equipment including the air strikes which created many casualties in which hundreds and thousands of Kurds and Shiites died (Kaldor, 1999, p. 3).

Approximately 100, 000 Iraqi troops and three hundreds tanks crossed the border and rolled unimpeded down an empty superhighway that Kuwait had built several years earlier as token of friendship with Iraq (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 297). 1000 civilians were murdered during the occupation and many forcibly deported to Iraq (Freedman & Karsh, 1993, p. 68). In addition, Iraqi troop sent missiles on Israeli localities in order to divert the attention of some member of the coalition including USA, Egypt and Syria. But for Stoessinger (2008,  p. 309), this action of sending missiles into cities of a non-combatant country was a moral issue of concern in which Saddam Hussein broke the international law. For many, Saddam exceeded the limit of reason (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 57).

  1. Some Trends of Morality in  War Economies

3.1. Resource War  and Third Party Intervention

The political economy of war is one of the characteristics of new generation or in itself constitutes the new generation of warfare. Driven by the process of globalization and certified by the intensification of global interconnectedness- political, economic, military and cultural (Kaldor, 1999, p, 3), the new generation of warfare is the relics of the Cold War. It is characterized by the power vacuum, availability of surplus arms, the discrediting of socialist ideologies, the disintegration of totalitarian empires, energy supply security, the withdrawal of super powers to support the client greedy regimes world created by the capitalist ideology which actually constitutes the principal feature of globalization, and the pursuit of precious material and resources (Kaldor, p. 5).  Among those resources, “Oil as a trigger for geopolitical resource wars, has been a theme of international relations analysis since the OPEC oil shocks of the 1970” (Shankleman, 2006).

This fact shifted the conflict to a mere fight for identity politics and international political clash to warfare of function utility (Berdal & Malone, 2000). Therefore, the real cause of intervening parties has been questioned. Definitely, warfare is not a charitable affair therefore and therefore “third parties are never only benevolent” (Brauer & Dunne, 2012, p. 121).

In addition, the couple wealth and morality find itself in dilemma either behaving in ethical way or defending the morality of national interests. Pacifists find their activism against war limited by state interests which realists justify to be the “moral commitment’ according to which states should pursue their national interests” (Keohane 1986, pp. 320-1).

As discussed in the background, the Persian Gulf was actually a great challenge on the ethics of war. The causes, justifiable or just, are criticized by the way the intervention has been done and the way actors behaved during war. On the both sides, there was almost misconduct (anti-ethics) due to the fact that the intention of both parties was not rightly directed to build peace. In the same line, Morse (1999) thinks that

The Gulf War of 1991 was the first war in modern history fought specifically over oil. It serves as a reminder that as long as hydrocarbon resources remain fundamental to economic growth and as long as there are powerful governments that want to ensure access to hydrocarbon supplies. There will be a commitment to use force to prevent any single government from controlling the market (p. 16).

Analysing resource wars in the light of just war doctrine, the right intention is the determining factor to ethically evalutae the attitude of the actors in  ius ad bellum, in the conduct of war, and the aftermath of the war.  Accoridng to Gazit (1992, p. 8), the Iraqi invasion was driven by several economic agendas. Iraq accused Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates of having exceeded the oil production quotas set for them by the OPEC. For Iraq, they had lowered world oil prices and reduced the oil income of other OPEC members which cost Iraq billions of dollars. However Kuwait violation of this quota has been seen as detrimental to Iraq’s interests and triggered the declaration of war (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 46). Was that enough reason to build a case of war (Frowe, 2011, p. 51)?

The non-respect of an economic cooperation regulation is not a “just cause” for waging war against a sovereign state. Indeed, Iraq war campaign focused on Kuwait’s wealth (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 45) and pressurized other Gulf States to forgive their loans (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). The war for Saddam Hussein was a way to find money and pay her debt of $70 billion that Iran war left him with. The assumption that Kuwait was an Iraqi province cut off arbitrarily by the imperialism was an escape goat and Saddam wanted to use annexation as retaliation for “economic warfare” (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 298). According to Mokhtari ( 2010, p. 1), by invading Kuwait, Iraq could have control of the 20 percent of the world’s oil supply and thus exercise a strangle hold over the Western countries.

Furthermore, Iraq has requested Kuwait to pay U$10 billion of the compensation of the islands oil field. The Kuwait offered to pay U$9 billion which represented 90% of the amount requested by Iraq. The Iraqi refusal to accept this amount shows the fixed motive of Saddam Hussein to attach Kuwait because his ambition was to accomplish the reconstruction programs he had promised after the Iran War to his population (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 63). Beyond recovering the stolen assets, Iraq had other intentions.

One question which still is pending is why the USA does take the lead for such intervention.  During the Iraqi declaration of war, USA intention was not revealed. Later one the activism to intervene in Iraq brought to light the economic agenda of such commitment.  According to (Khalidi, 1991, p. 16), the “United States military power was the only one capable to deter or reverse any future Iraqi aggression” (Khalidi, 1991, p. 17). However,  Dower (2009) saw it differently  when he pointed out that “many critics of the US-led 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq war strongly suspect that a powerful motives was in fact the desire to secure western oil interests”(p. 91). Le Billon & Khatib(2005 ) recorded a quote President Roosevelt to British Ambassador in 1994 “saying than “Persian oil … is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it is ours”.

Moreover, the scramble for oil and the counterterrorist activism in the Persian Gulf are among the various controversial debates on the Western (British and French) and USA pro-active military presence in the Persian Gulf Persian. According to Le Billon and El Khatib (2005), “Western diplomatic and military support of friendly local regimes in the Persian Gulf was closely linked to the protection of Western oil interests” (p. 109). The West and the USA do not see this it this way. They justify their then intervention and their long standing military intervention as the fight against terrorism.

Being a realistic, Bush gave clearly his position that the USA would defend its interests and friends on the region, to support “the sovereignty and integrity of the Gulf states” (Freedman and Karsh, 1993). The question of defending its interest was not enough to justify its action; although the invasion was an enough legitimate reason to intervene as mean to protect economic interests.

For the Western alliances, Saudi Arabia remains a western strategic position for their interest. In this sense, the quick intervention of the western alliance’s forces and the USA in Kuwait is perceived a strategic action to secure their oil bridge, which was Saudi Arabia. Freedman and Karsh (1993) are not silent to think that the United States intervention in the Gulf, “it was argued, had nothing to do with its concern for the world order. It suited America to take up this particular crime because it happened to interfere with their basic interest (p. xxx). For Stoessinger (2008), “Operation Desert Storm might have ended up as an American war, not as a United Nations collective security action” (p. 313).

Furthermore, the concept of national interest diminishes the extent to which the international arena works. The different great powers who constituted the coalition were all Iraqi friends including Britain, France and USA. They supported Iraq to the first Gulf war (the Iran-Iraq war). Britain was the third largest trading partner. After the Iran war, for the USA state department claimed that normal relations between the US and Iraq would serve their long-term interest in both the Gulf and the Middle East. Therefore, the US government should propose economic and political incentives for Iraq to mediate its behaviors and to increase our influence with Iraq (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 26).

3.2. National Interest against Morality

The Gulf war is four years older than the Rwandese genocide. One can ask why did the United Nations and the United States miss the opportunity to prevent the Rwandese genocide. The Kuwaiti invasion was not a “supreme emergency” (Walzer, 1977) as in the eminence of the threat or the nature of the invasion than was the Rwandese genocide. It appears as if; and theorists of war economies are justified here, humanitarian intervention in Kuwait has something non-ethical but mainly rationally and economically motivated (cf. Holzgrefe, 2003).

The USA intervention was not a purely altruistic reason. Even though there was no reason to doubt that the president’s principled position that this aggression must not stand. There was also the matter of oil to consider (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 303). Leaving Saddam Hussein to aggress Kuwait was by the Western giving him the opportunity to control of almost half of the world’s proven oil reserves. It was really a case of lifeline to the United States and the entire Western world.

For Khalidi (1991, p. 5), the bulk of the Arab oil countries wealth is known to find its way into the economies of the western industrial countries, and particularly in the United States. He pursued in arguing that there is psychological map reflecting  the perception that western countries had come to be the true beneficiaries of Arab oil wealth at the expense of the non-oil rich Arab countries,  while acting as the guardian of the  noted socio-economic statu quo and of the rulers who benefited from it” (Khalidi, 1991, p. 6).

The USA has not signed a dependency treaty with the Gulf States but support independence and security. It translates the fact protecting its interest and the stability of the region was a major concern in the Kuwaiti war (Freedman & Karsh, 1993, p. 59). Indeed, the United States supported Kuwait’s economic war against Iraq at a time when that contained fundamentalist Islamic state threatening the interest of the West as well as those for the United Sates (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 57).

Despite the liberation of Kuwait, the conditions of the Ius ad bellum of the Gulf War remains forcibly controversial for both sides of Iraq and the Coalition. The structural analysis of the Kuwait invasion by the coalition formed by the United Nation translates the dilemma of war waged from motives of lust, love of violence, cruelty or hatred in one’s heart, rather than initiated and fought with the desire of peace and justice (Dower, 2009).

In the Gulf war, relative just causes and right intention have been challenged. For Dower (2009), the determination to pull Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait war according to the international norms with the respect to protect ones’ state sovereignty. But it does not justify why the USA took the lead to the operation, because according to (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 301), reporting by the U.S. State Department spokesperson Margaret D. Tutwiler, the United Sates had no defense treaties with Kuwait, no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait”, why then, they would have been the lobby to defend the fate imposed by Iraq to Kuwait. At this point the, debate is still opened.

  1. Ideological War

Beyond the ethical evaluation and the economic prospect in which one can engage in the Kuwaiti war, there is the ideological map which crosscuts the debate.  Certainly, one the major reasons of Iraqi Invasion was the elimination of the trace of western colonialism left in the Middle East (Freedman and Karsh, 1993, p. 42). The invasion of Kuwait was justified through the calls to Arab nationalism.  In the region, Iraq remained the only country still pushing for the expansion of the Arab Union while several countries were still depending on the western alliances.

In the clash of civilization, Huntington raises a consistent debate on what he referred to as the double standard of democracy. He argued that “democracy is promoted but not if it brings a fundamentalist to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq but not for Israel […] aggression against oil-owning Kuwaitis is massively repulsed but not against non-oil owning Bosnians” (Huntington, 1996, p. 184). Khalidi (1991) thinks the same that the USA, a great democracy collaborate with terror based, autocratic and quasi-totalitarian regimes, absolute leader, monarchical, patriarchal, semi-feudal autocratic regime if only they share its ideology or safeguard its national interest. The interest of protecting Kuwait was not only economically, but “the remarking of world order” forcibly driven by the desire to spread democracy. At the time of war, “the only Muslim state which was clearly more pro-Western than it had been ten years previously was Kuwait” (Huntington, 1996,   p. 214).  .

For Huntington (1996, 248,) the paradox of democracy was the great paradox of the Kuwait war.  This is justified by the resentment and tardiness of the other Arab countries to condemn the Iraqi invasion and welcomed the western forces in Kuwait. If Saudi Arabia, did not feel threatened by the Iraqi audacity, it could not probably accept her territory to be used by the coalition against Iraq because of the ideology of protecting Arab nationalism.

Finally, several Arab countries condemn the West military operation in Kuwait. Since the earlier stage of the conflict, the Arab world did not want any external intervention (Khalidi 1991). For them “It is a family affair to be settled within a family and those intervened in the name of some grand theory of international justice were doing so to protect their own selfish interests and to maintain Arab subordination to the West” (Huntington, 1996, p. 248). The view among the Arab was that Saddam Hussein was wrong to invade Kuwait; the West was more to intervene hence Saddam is right to fight the Invaders. Therefore the reason of Iraq steeping in Kuwait translated the ideology of Saddam seize with the western powers interest and the westernization of in the Arab countries.

5.      Post-conflict analysis (ius post bellum)

The post conflict reconstruction in the case of third part of intervention is not always well planned, if the motive of was something else rather than its profit than the safety and rehabilitation of the local population. According to (Mokhtari , 2010) the territorial tension between Kuwait and Iraq was made more venomous after “Desert Storm”. What we could have expected from the coalition was to address this historical injustice or grievance of boundaries. The inequitable division of the coast-line remains a source of continual tensions between the city-state Kuwait and the much larger Iraq.

Although, the United Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) created a Special Commission (UNSCOM) and charged it with the responsibility to search out and destroy as many of the hidden weapons caches as possible and to help drawing the boundaries between Iraq and Kuwait, and the payment of compensation (Wallensteen, 2012, p. 82), the historical grievance on territories remains a major challenge to date. Among the critics to the USA foreign policy, one raises the lack of the USA as global power to suggest a security framework which allows it to exercise the prerogative of reducing its regional presence without endangering her interest (Mokhtari , 2010, p. 1).

On the transitional justice, scholars like Stoessinger (2008,) went far thinking that, the trial of Saddam Hussein and his people was seen as a distributive justice of his past crimes including Kuwait invasion.  In most of cases, the termination of resource war is winning-lose situation or power sharing model. In the context of Iraq if Justice did not happen after the Kuwait invasion, it remains that in the Saddam Hussein trial of 2004 took into account the crimes he committed starting from the Iran-Iraq war to his aerostation by the US-led invasion in 2003, constituted his charge in 2006.  Moreover, the Saddam Hussein trail has been criticized of being illegal and had no right to try a sitting president of sovereign state. It was a victor’s justice, in this view, not a fair trial under international law (Stoessinger, 2008, p. 367). According to Stoessinger (2008,  p. 367) It was not legally correct to trail Saddam Hussein in Iraq because of the security and the fairness of trial. The International Criminal Court could have done better. However, the fact the Hague excluded the option of death sentence; it was an enough reason for the USA to lobby for a trial within Iraq where the death penalty could was possible.

Conclusion and Way Forward

The Gulf war (Iraq-Kuwait) translated into the perfect example where just war doctrine and resource war thoughts crossed.  It also shows the intermittent debate of the theories that guides the international relations.

For Iraq, beyond the ethical motivation of territorial integrity, was an economic motivation while no ethical justification on the side of the American and the coalition could challenge their action.  In the international law, an aggression cannot ethically justifiably and admissible. Yet the intervention could be perceived as “justice to the aggressor” (Walzer, 1977) but the use of force was not a last resort and the economic plunder of Arab oil have attracted the members of the coalition.   Neither Iraq has reacted in promptly in ethical way nor did  the coalition.

This picture for both Iraq and the coalition is somehow the dilemma in which the ethical norms of war are translated, annihilated and assimilated with national interest. Just causes mean only national interest considering the state as the primary actors.  For Stoessinger (2008), the defense of Kuwait, through Saudi Arabia was a strategic imperative, not an application of the ethical norms that guide the just war doctrine. Generic

A generic critic which maybe use to embrace the pacifist thinking is the concept of just war, even though it translates a certain morality that the concept “just” is not enough to justify violence. Violence whether it is justified or not create several causalities. For Schellenberg (1996, p. 122), there is no other form of conflict resolution which can always perfectly resolve the issues either, but the physical violence is not a complete methodology to restore sustainable peace if it is used for economic purposes rather for the common good of the local population in the rightness of the intention.

Therefore, the concept of “just peace”[1] doctrine proposed by the Council of Churches and advocating by religious confessions comes in as to reverse violence. For Smock, 1992, 2002, pp. 33-35) could replace the way the warfare is viewed. He argued that “while just war theory has focused on common security from violence, just peace represents a mutually supportive relationship between friendship and justice along with common security from violence”. With Regards to the Iraqi invasion could have been resolved peaceful, if the United States intentions, a former friend of Iraq, could not have been economically motivated. According to Smock (2002),  “Just peace assumes that human self-interests can be activated to find a negotiated settlement and that were more time and energy devoted to the development of sophisticated negotiation, more and more conflicts could be addressed without resort to armed conflict” ( p. 34).

However, does this fact make the just war doctrine relevant today? Whatever is the dilemma, as noted by Holmes quoted by Smock (2002, p. 36) while the theory itself has some merit and those who initially formulated it were well-intentioned in the new thinking about the moral problem of war, let us accept it has recently been misused.

In the case of Persian Gulf, it does reflect on the serviceability of a theory rather than on the regulator principles that sustain the just war doctrine as perfect and an ideal model of humanizing war. Therefore, resource war or economies war it is a deviation on international relations and cannot challenge the whole design of the just war theory. However, it can only serve as a red light to help rethink some core values guiding the just war doctrine and their application in a given context.


[1] Just Perspective was presented by Professor Susan Thistlethwaite of Chicago Theological Seminary (Smock, 1992, 2002)

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