Deterrence and Compellence

Deterrence and Compellence - Deterrence and Compellence in...

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Deterrence and Compellence in the Gulf 1990-91 (Janice Gross Stein Article) Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. The US was half hearted in its attempts to deter Iraq from using force against Kuwait and to reassure Iraq of it’s benign intentions. Stein asks whether the US would have been successful in deterring Iraq before invading Kuwait, had the United States been more serious about the issue . Moreover, after the occupation of Kuwait, the US assembled a large international coalition that signified the use of war if Iraq did not comply and leave Kuwait voluntarily, yet the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal passed, and the coalition with the US started a large military campaign against Iraq. Here Stein asks why compellence failed. She gives three reasons for this: 1. The US failed to implement an effective strategy of deterrence before the invasion of Kuwait. 2. Had Saddam Hussein correctly calculated the power balance, the war would have been avoided, that is, he miscalculated the resolve and the capabilities of the US. 3. Saddam just could not be deterred because he felt that the US was determined to undermine his regime, and since he had that staunch image in his mind, neither compellence, deterrence, or reassurance would have worked on him. Failure to Deter : under this subtopic, Stein gives the background to the Iraq/Kuwait war. Iraq was repeatedly threatening the Gulf states, who Saddam thought were sabotaging Iraq by keeping oil prices too low. Therefore, at a meeting in Jidda, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar agreed to limit oil production to being oil prices up. Kuwait, however, wanted to reverse it’s commitment to this agreement in the fall. Iraq wanted billions of dollars from Kuwait as a form of compensation because of Kuwait’s over production of oil, Kuwait’s retrieval of oil from the disputed Rumaila oil field, etc. As the conflict deepened, Washington’s signals were ambiguous to Iraq: Ambassador Glaspie, the US ambassador to Iraq states she was very clear about the United States’ stand on the issue, stating she delivered “strong warnings to Saddam … against the use of threats.” The foreign minister of Iraq thought “she spoke in vague diplomatic language … and we were not influenced by it.” Moreover, two days before the Iraqi invasion, the US had received news of increased military activity but still made no attempt at deterrence. Therefore, Stein argues that the diplomacy of deterrence failed because it was incoherent, and confused. Even if Saddam was deterrable, he would still have gone to war given Washington’s vague signals. Again, she asks, if deterrence was properly executed, was the war preventable? She states the answer lies in the assessment of Saddam’s motives and intentions.
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2008 for the course PS 061 taught by Professor Eichenberg during the Fall '08 term at Tufts.

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Deterrence and Compellence - Deterrence and Compellence in...

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