The Gulf War
On September 11, 1990, President H.W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress concerning the Gulf War. The War was a decisive victory for the United States and a coalition of more than twenty other nations. The Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait were expelled, and Kuwait’s sovereignty was restored. Bush proclaimed, “We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective—a new world order—can emerge”. This “new world order” elucidated the United States’ aim to align other nations to its policies. Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq as a totalitarian dictator, and he irked the United States with his nuclear ambitions. The system of international economic and political alliances after World War II were challenged by Hussein’s seizure of Kuwait. The Gulf War revealed that democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom have consolidated their political power to defend democratic ideals, wherever they blossom.
Kuwait was liberated despite not being a complete democracy. In “Thinking About Hybrid Regimes”, Larry Diamond defined regime types in terms of a spectrum, with liberal democracy on one end, and politically closed authoritarianism on the other. Diamond defined a full democracy as both competitive and containing democratic institutions (1). Kuwait is a monarchy with limited political freedom. The Emir has the authority to appoint judges, and dissolved the National Assembly in October 2016. The National Assembly is elected by men and women over 21 years old, who have been citizens for 20 years, and have a Kuwaiti father. The regime is both electoral and authoritarian, the hallmarks of a hybrid regime (2). President H.W. Bush’s willingness to defend the imperfect regime in Kuwait showed his desire to prevent further democratic erosion. The regime in Kuwait is hybrid, yet allows more political freedom than an Iraqi citizen could ever have. Kuwait’s government has displayed openness to political reform, such as granting women the right to vote and run for office in 2005. When Bush announced, “Kuwait’s legitimate government must be restored,” he was defending the budding democracy in Kuwait.
Congressional and International Authorization
The Gulf War was authorized by both United Nations Security Resolution 678, and the U.S. House and Senate. The War had legal justification in international and domestic law. The Gulf War can be distinguished from the later Iraq War, which began in 2003. The Iraq War began under President George W. Bush, the son of George H.W. Bush. The Iraq War did not enjoy the same support from the United Nations. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 serves as a powerful juxtaposition to the resolve of coalition forces in 1990, who opted not to advance on Baghdad. When democracies worldwide consolidate, regimes should not fall into technocratic tyranny. Jan-Werner Müller as the assertion that only one policy choice is correct (3). The reluctance of the international community to support the United States in the Iraq War was a statement on the direction of this “new world order”. The “new world order” championed by George H. W. Bush incorporated pluralist opinion on the use of military force, while George W. Bush followed a more unilateral path that puts democratic alliances at risk. If democracies want to consolidate, there must be pluralism on the international stage.
- Diamond, Larry. 2002. “Thinking About Hybrid Regimes.” Journal of Democracy 13(2): 24.
- Ibid. 26.
- Muller, Jan-Werner. 2016. What Is Populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 93-99.