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The Gulf War

The year is 1990. It’s late summer – August is coming to a close. Arab powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt, alarmed at Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait, call for Western intervention. Hussein is surprised by his fellow Arab leaders – he had misjudged them, assuming they would stand by as he occupied Kuwait, Iraq’s neighbor to the south. Hussein justifies the occupation by accusing Kuwait of siphoning oil from the shared Iraq-Kuwait border. He also claims rightful ownership to Kuwaiti land: territory he argues had belonged to Iraq before it was taken and redistributed by Western colonists. The U.S. and its allies prepare for military action in the Middle East.

Following a military buildup by the United States and its allies in Saudi Arabia known as “Operation Desert Shield,” the U.S. leads a series of airstrikes on Iraqi forces in Kuwait called “Operation Desert Storm.” The Persian Gulf War has begun. But it proves to be short-lived – 42 days later, shortly after the additional launch of a ground offensive known as “Operation Desert Sabre,” U.S. President H.W. Bush calls a ceasefire. It is late February, and most of the Iraqi forces – some 300,000 troops – have surrendered. Saddam Hussein agrees to relinquish hold of Kuwait and pledges to destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

The Gulf War was considered an undisputed success; U.S. forces and their allies achieved what they set out to do, and only 300 American military personnel died in action (a devastating loss, but in the grand scheme of war, a low number). However, the gulf crisis aggravated the U.S. recession, in part due to the extreme spike in oil prices, which soared from a pre-war $18/barrel to $40/barrel by late fall of 1990. On top of that, the Gulf War encouraged consumer wariness, which led to a decrease in overall consumer spending. However, the end of the Gulf War saw a drastic decrease in the price of oil – by 1994, prices had reached their lowest level since 1973 – as well as a turn in American consumer mindset and spending. The U.S. economy was on the road to recovery.  

Below is a picture of a Desert Storm flag.

Desert Storm Flag


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