Prices of Wars
Iraq (formerly known as Mesopotamia) had been the home for the ancient civilizations including Sumerian, Babylonian and Parthian. History regarded Iraq as the cradle for the beginning of man’s civilization. The country is located in the Middle East where it is bordered by its neighboring countries which comprise Kuwait, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. After the World War I, the oil reserves in the Middle East countries (including Iraq) were discovered and this started the onset of oil economy and establishment of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Iraq’s participation in shaping the world’s history did not end with cradling the early civilization of man and being involved in the exportation of oil. During the 20th century, Iraq had shocked the world by its action to be involved in war against Iran. Few years after the battle between Iran, Iraq subsequently engaged in another war which aims to invade Kuwait and lastly, the Iraq had extended its war against one of the super powers, the United States. All of these wars happened under the leadership of Saddam Hussein.
Involvement of Iraq in different wars since the 20th century had been witnessed by the whole world. Three of the remarkable international wars that the said country had engaged in include the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the war between the Unites States and Iraq. Study of world history had placed emphasis on these wars mentioning some of its impacts in today’s world condition. This paper will present some of the causes as well as consequences of the three international wars which Iraq had involved in.
Persian versus the Arabs
The war between Iran and Iraq lasted for eight years (1980-1988). According to literature, the enmity between Iran and Iraq started on the disagreement about the border between the two countries (Iran-Iraq War). Such enmity could be traced back during the year 1971 when Iran had taken portions of Iraqi islands in the Persian Gulf near the outlet at Shatt El Arab. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein finally declared war against Iran arising for the rivalry on the boundaries between territories.
In the year 1975, the settlement of frontiers between the two countries had added the jurisdiction of Iran in terms of territory compared to the borders prior to 1971. The Iraqi government had laid its refusal in the increase of authority of Iran on the Shatt al Arab River because this is the only channel that provides Iraq’s outlet to the sea. On September 22, 1980, Iraq finally took its first step to invade Iraq gaining early victories. Counterattacks had been made by the opposing country (Iran). During the war, the two countries had used numerous weapons of mass destruction including chemical weapons. Such weapons harmed many citizens of both countries. It was only on July 20, 1987 that the United Nations Security council had passed Resolution 598 ordering Iran and Iraq to cease fire. Iraq apprehended on the said resolution but the opposing country decline to submit to the resolution. By the year 1988, peace was finally achieved between the two countries with neither side achieving victory.
The first Persian Gulf War had sacrificed numerous number of Iraqi and Iranian lives. In an article written in the MSN Encarta, the total number of people killed during the war exceeds 300,000 (n.p). Aside from the large number of people’s death, it was also reported that around a million of soldiers were wounded thus arriving at an estimation of about two million total casualties being affected. The economy of both countries was also affected. The oil industry in both countries remained unstable for almost a decade as a result of the war. Before the onset of the war, Iraq’s economic prospect, which is heavily dependent on oil exports, were bright. But the bright economic prospect of the said country was upturned when the war occurred. The war had depleted the foreign exchange reserves of the country and left a huge debt of more than $40 billion. Large portion of the borrowed money was used to enlarge the military establishments of Iraq. This expansion of the said establishment had pushed Iraq to go into another war, this time with Kuwait.
Iraq’s Invasion in Kuwait
The second gulf war started just a few years after the Iran-Iraq warfare. Pursuance of the Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait started upon the declaration made by Saddam Hussein on August 2, 1990 (Persian Gulf War). Dependency of the World on the Middle East reserves had been viewed by the Iraqi President as a chance to gain dominion and great power. Ten percent of the total oil reserve is in Kuwait and if Iraq would be successful in invading Kuwait, the former would gain benefits for it would be controlling about 20% of the world’s oil reserves. The selfish intension of Saddam Hussein was blocked by the former US President George Bush. Bush quickly responded by creating Operation Dessert Storm (Persian Gulf War). America sent its military troops to help protect Kuwait from the total invasion of the Iraqi government.
Like in the first Persian Gulf War, many lives had been sacrificed upon during the duration of the war. Both American and Iraqi lives were affected. Iraq was also banned to sell its oil therefore depriving the said country of an estimated $15.25 billion annual income (Yetiv, 1997, p.106). The banned eventually restrict Iraq to ‘rebuild its conventional capabilities and develop non-conventional weapons’ (Yetiv, 1997, p.106). As a result of the war, the UN Commission had redraw the border in manner that favored Kuwait. A large portion of the Rumaila oil field (which Kuwait and Iraq lay joint claim) was put under the jurisdiction of Kuwait. UN had also retained the control over Warba and Bubiyan islands under the Kuwait government. Sovereignty over these islands allowed Kuwait to control Iraq’s only current access point to Persian Gulf waters. Defiance of Saddam Hussein to allow the UN to control Iraq’s overseas oil sales put the lives of the Iraqis in danger from malnutrition and disease (Yetiv, 107, 1997). Control of Iraq in the oil reserves had been narrowed therefore causing a detrimental effect on its economy as well as to its people.
Iraq versus the Superpower
The most recent war that the government of Iraq had involved in is the war against the United States. Rivalry between the countries could be trace back during the involvement of the United States in the second Persian Gulf War. The pursuance of America to go into war against Iraq was more heightened when the Iraqi government had proclaimed that they would be using their biological weapons of mass destruction to fight America. The President of the United States, concern with his fellowmen’s welfare, took the necessary action to protect the citizens of America. Some studies also show that the advent of war between America and Iraq was brought about by the interests of the United States to have a control on the oil sector and maintain dollar as the World Reserve Currency (Clark, 2005, p.17). Maintaining dollar as the World’s Reserve Currency would open the opportunity for the States to have a control of the global economic system.
The war against the United States had feared many citizens throughout the world. The threat being posed by the Iraqi government in using their biological weapon of mass destruction made the world panic. If Iraq would truly used its biological weapon then the destruction would not be only felt by the United States but the whole world as well. Economies of both countries were also affected since budget for the conduct of the war was needed. The destruction that the war had made, whether in the lives or properties of both countries, entailed so much cost.
Iraq’s aggressiveness in going into war had made many lives suffer and subsequently affect the global economy. For more than two decades, local and international news had been keeping an eye on the development of wars in which the said country involved in. many innocent lives had been sacrificed in the war, lives of Iraqi’ American, Iranian and Kuwait citizens that could have been productive if not because of the war. Properties were also sacrificed. From the wars discussed above, it can be vividly seen that the cost of wars is indeed damaging. Surely we can recover from the lost of properties and be able to regain those in a span of time. But we can not bring back the lives of those people who are victims of the three wars. The lives of the victims do not entail any cost. Their lives are priceless. War is not always the answer to imposed once power and dominion. Leaders should not over impose their powers to take authority towards other’s property or territory. Wars should be ended.
Clark, William R. (2005). Petrodollar Warfare : Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar.
Gabriola Island, BC, CAN: New Society Publishers.
LOOKLEX Encyclopedia. Iran-Iraq War. Retrieved June 4, 2008, from http://lexicorient.com/e.o/iranirqw.htm.
Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008. Iran-Iraq War. Retrieved June 4, 2008, from http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761580640_2/Iran-Iraq_War.html.
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Yetiv, Steve A. (1997). Persian Gulf Crisis.
Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated.