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George H. W. Bush and Liberating Kuwait

George H. W. Bush and Liberating Kuwait

Tuesday, 4 December, 2018 - 09:30
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Since certain occasions give us a chance to evaluate and learn lessons, the death of American President George H. W. Bush is worth being remembered. History is made by men, and Bush is one of its important makers although his presidency did not exceed four years (1989 – 1993). During his term, there were important developments as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US announcing its victory in the Cold War that lasted for around half a century. This was followed by other major developments in the world, including in our region, which continue to this day.

Then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wrongly read history but Bush read it right. There is no doubt that the Saudi-American alliance played an important role in ending the dreams of Saddam who was obsessed with power and who suffered from megalomania.

This operation stopped a wrong move in history. Most of the Kuwaiti people were outside their country, and the government was legitimate only on paper. Saddam was the ruler of Kuwait in reality. Perhaps if there was another president in Washington, Kuwait would have remained an Iraqi governorate as Saddam wanted and Saddam, becoming a sword in the face of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

There is no doubt that King Fahd and President Bush are two historical figures who decided to take risks. If the Americans had backed down under domestic and foreign pressure, and if the Saudis had abstained from getting involved in the adventure of a war with unknown consequences, and if the war had taken other paths like what happened later on in the failed wars, the price would have been high on the Kuwaitis and the Saudis. There were no inevitabilities but different possibilities, especially with the repercussions of the Communist Autumn in the world and that, wreaked havoc on republics from East Germany to South Yemen, Somalia, and other countries in East Europe and Central Asia. There was also the possibility that a country may disappear from the map or an entire political regime may change.

Late President Bush had several options to choose from to deal with the issue of occupied Kuwait. The most significant options were two. King Fahd wanted to confront Saddam and expel him even if that meant resorting to force. Meanwhile, Saddam’s allies were warning Bush of the eruption of chaos on Arab streets and of the possibility of targeting American interests. At the same time, they pledged that Saddam would give him what Kuwait’s government gave him. What Washington expected served its oil, military, and political interests.

Warnings from within the US were the loudest as American public opinion was still experiencing the phobia of the failed Vietnam War and the conflicts it caused in American society. Despite this, Bush leaned toward the Saudi opinion. The then-Saudi ambassador to the US, Bandar bin Sultan, was an important player in convincing him to engage in the war to liberate Kuwait and not just protect the Saudi kingdom from Saddam’s armies.

It’s rare for history to be gracious with such figures capable of taking fateful decisions. If Bush hadn’t taken his decision to liberate Kuwait, Kuwait may not have been present around us today. This is just a truth.

When we recall history today, we do so not to elevate Bush’s stance or boast about the Saudi role or to even harm the Iraqis’ history during Saddam’s era. We recall it to learn from it and to understand the world as it is away from romanticism and the lies of conspiracy theories. The US is a superpower that is important for us in the Gulf and it’s more important for West Europe. It is not shameful if we talk about alliances with it and mutual victories. If it hadn’t been for America, France would not have restored its status as a free republic. If it hadn’t been for the US, the Soviets would have occupied all of Germany and North Korea would have seized its neighbor, South Korea. Do not let the propaganda of the leftists, Islamists and fools who lecture politics in our region guide you to understand politics and international relations as there are facts, and there are opinions.

We recall Bush’s status for the occasion of his death, and for his role in the 1990s because it’s also our history that we live today, and we do so out of loyalty and appreciation as we gratefully acknowledge this without arrogance or an inferiority complex.

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