The politics of the Middle East is something we don't tend to stray into around C@W, there are too many obvious beartraps (not to mention lurid conspiracy theorists). However, salient headlines on the high-level situation at the time when Saddam made his ill-fated 1990 move on Kuwait can readily be assembled - see also my previous series of posts. (BTW, I'm not aiming for my doctorate on late 20th C geopolitics here ...)
- Iran and Iraq had been hard at it for the best part of the preceding decade. Early successes for Saddam had not been capitalised upon, leading to bloody stalemate - but also resulting in a very large, battle-hardened Iraqi army that at the tactical level was well led, and could even make some claims to strategic competence - below the political level, that is. (The earlier posts covered aspects of this in some detail, if you're interested.)
- Western feelings about this were generally "it's a pity they both can't lose"^^. For the most part, however (and certainly from the US perspective) the attitude towards post-Shah Iran was so negative, there was a tendency sometimes to view Saddam as something close to "an SoB, but our SoB" - and there had clearly been some maladroit (to put it mildly) high level contacts with his regime along those lines. Many commentators suggested Saddam even believed he'd been given the green light on Kuwait.
- Middle Eastern oil loomed larger in 1990-net-importer America's thinking than - thanks to its recent shale-based exporter status - it does today. Kuwait mattered; and Saudi mattered a lot. And Israel ... well, let's just say that if Saddam felt his illusory "free pass" extended one inch further than Kuwait's borders he was truly, barking mad. Oh, and the UK had (and still has) a very significant strategic presence in the area, too.
- China counted for rather little on the world stage in those days (Tiananmen Square was 1989); and the Soviet Union, which (formally speaking) still had more than a year to run at the time of the invasion, was already an utterly busted flush, the Berlin Wall having fallen also in 1989. But Russia was a very interested spectator, with a ringside seat.
- Saddam had gone a little way towards emollient PR following his invasion, but it was to absolutely no avail**: Bush reacted strongly and quickly, and the battle-lines were drawn very early in the piece.
- Mrs Thatcher was first on board, naturally; and the coalition assembled by Bush Senior (making military and/or financial contributions) was large and impressive.
No such luck, she was well gone before the fighting started - on 17th January 1991.
To be continued. Perversely, it may take me longer to recount the tale than the actual fighting lasted ...
^^ attributed to Kissinger, but surely some American isolationist must have said it about Germany & Russia before the USA came into WW2?
** to be fair, it's entirely possible Jeremy Corbyn bought it
++ she'd been hankering after a re-run ever since: subject of another History Corner story I may feel able to recount one day...