From the Outside in: George H.W. Bush and the Persian Gulf War, August 1990–January 1991

  • Andrea K. Grove


In early August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and offered up a challenge to President George H.W. Bush’s hopes for a new world order in the wake of the unraveling Soviet bloc. Instead of handling this crisis with its former ally in the Gulf alone, the Bush administration chose to enlist a broad segment of the international community to expel Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait and prevent an attack on Saudi Arabia. In fact, domestic opposition was one of the largest obstacles as Bush sought to move ahead with military force; dealing with that resistance posed a puzzle for the president and his advisors. One observer noted after the 1991 Persian Gulf War that “military schools will long be studying Schwarzkopf’s march through the Gulf. Government schools will be studying Bush’s march through Washington.”1 In this case study, we explore not only how President George Herbert Walker Bush marshaled improbable support from within the United States for military mobilization in the Persian Gulf region, but also from the international community. By using the four strategies, he managed both through intermestic policy making. A brief history of events is provided in the next section, which highlights the obstacles George Bush faced in 1990. The chronology at the end of the chapter summarizes many of these events.


Saudi Arabia Security Council Bush Administration Economic Sanction Security Council Resolution 
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© Andrea K. Grove 2007

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  • Andrea K. Grove

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