Sunday, February 28, 2016

The 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait

           On this day in 1991, United States President George H.W. Bush announced the completion of the Liberation of Kuwait from invading Iraqi forces and the end to military operations, although some major battles with isolated Iraqi unites occurred for a few days afterward.   At this twenty-fifth anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait from its invasion and annexation by the Baathist Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, it is right to express gratitude for the leaders of the defense of the principles of sovereignty and independence and especially for the soldiers who won the war and to reflect on their accomplishment. 

            After Iraq, which had invaded and attempted to seize part of Iran in 1980, invaded Kuwait in 1990, it annexed its smaller neighbor and refused to withdraw.  Iraq’s actions were among the most flagrant example aggression since the end of the Second World War, after which the international community had vowed never again to tolerate such actions. 

Concerned about the threat to international peace posed by such flagrant aggression and to the independence and sovereignty of all States in the world, the U.S. assembled an international coalition of Arab, Muslim, Western and other Sates, backed by the United Nations Security Council, to liberate Kuwait in the following year.  In a war that lasted only several weeks, the coalition ended the Iraqi aggression and restored Kuwait’s independence and sovereignty.  Kuwait’s former leaders were returned to power. 

            Iraq was deterred from ever committing such aggression again.  Hussein’s continued threats to its neighbors, violations of the 1991 cease-fire, including its failure to make reparations to Kuwait, and of United Nations Resolutions, in addition to his state sponsorship of terrorism, led to the overthrow of his regime in 2003 in the U.S.-led Liberation of Iraq. 

            Indeed, in the quarter-century since Kuwait was liberated, no foreign State has totally conquered another, or even made such an attempt as flagrant as that made by Hussein in 1990.  There has been less conflict between States around the world since and only rare attempts of any kind of lesser aggression.       

            The Russian Federation invaded Georgia in 2008 in support of two pro-Russian breakaway regions in which it has since established puppet states.  Russian forces in one of them have gradually pushed the border further into Georgian territory.  The Russian Federation invaded the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014, despite having signed a treaty with Ukraine recognizing its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and then annexed Crimea under a legally dubious plebiscite shortly after.  Russian forces have invaded eastern Ukraine and Russia has supported Russian-speaking separatist rebels there.  As in Crimea, the Russians invaded covertly.  Because of international opposition to aggression, Russia had to avoid an overt invasion and an annexation of all of Ukraine, as it had also stopped short of invading all of Georgia.  Although not as flagrant as Iraq’s imperialist invasion and complete annexation of Kuwait, Russia’s acts of aggression have nonetheless been the rare exceptions to the global consensus against any aggression since Kuwait was liberated in 1991.  Russian aggression in Ukraine are being punished through international economic sanctions, but, just as sanctions failed to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, they have not succeeded in liberating Russian-invaded territory.  

            The Liberation of Kuwait thwarted and punished aggression, instead of allowing it to be rewarded.  The coalition of States that freed Kuwait from its Baathist Iraqi invaders defended not only Kuwait, but the principles of sovereignty and independence, for if aggression had been allowed to stand, the sovereignty and independence of every State would have been threatened.  The Russian violations of the international consensus against aggression are reminders of the necessity of continued vigilance to defend the principles of sovereignty and independence and to keep the international peace.  

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