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First Gulf War: The War to Free Kuwait: About the War

A guide to a fuller understanding of this conflict, its participants, and its lasting results.

So what happened?

Saddam Hussein, Former Iraqi PresidentOn August 2, 1990, at about 2 a.m. local time, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq's tiny, oil-rich neighbor. Kuwait's defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed, and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia.

With this invasion, the United States faced its first full-scale post-Cold War international crisis. President  George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy team forged an unprecedented international coalition consisting of the NATO allies and the Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt to oppose Iraqi aggression. Although Russia did not commit troops, it joined the United States in condemning Iraq, its long-time client state.

The U.S. Department of State orchestrated the diplomacy for this grand coalition’s effective air campaign in January 1991 (called "Operation Desert Shield"), which was followed by “Operation Desert Storm,” a 100-hour land war, which expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

See Encyclopedia Britannica's timeline of the conflict.

Operation Desert Shield (air campaign)

Operation Desert Storm (ground invasion)

At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, the massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

Results of the War Effort

In the Persian Gulf War, 148 American soldiers were killed and 457 wounded. The other allied nations suffered about 100 deaths combined during Operation Desert Storm. There are no official figures for the number of Iraqi casualties, but it is believed that at least 25,000 soldiers were killed and more than 75,000 were wounded, making it one of the most one-sided military conflicts in history. It is estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians died from wounds or from lack of adequate water, food, and medical supplies directly attributable to the Persian Gulf War.  (see the History Channel)

Books @ RCC (see our special Gulf War display)

Cover art of

The Gulf War: Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 1990-1991

DS 79.72 .E92 2003

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Second Front: censorship and propaganda in the Gulf War

DS 79.739 .M33 1993

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A line in the sand : Saudi Arabia's role in the Gulf War

DS 79.724 .S33 N93 1995

Cover art of American Orientalism: the United States and the Middle East since 1945

American Orientalism: the United States and the Middle East since 1945

DS 63.2 .U5 L58 2008

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DS 247 .K8 K67 2003

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Every Man a Tiger

DS 79.724 .U6 H673 2000

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The Kurds

DS 59 .K86 W335 2003

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The Ready Brigade of the 82nd Airborne in Desert Storm

DS 79.724 .U6 C37 1993

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War Powers

KF 5060 .I76 2005

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A World Transformed

E 881 .B86 1998

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Colin Powell

E 840.5 .P68 B76 1992

Cover art of

A Bubble in Time

E 881 .O54 2009