Did April Glaspie give Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait?

Here is a snip of the transcript of April Glaspie meeting with Saddam Hussein before the Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein:

“If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab - our strategic goal in our war with Iran - we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But, if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq (which, in Saddam’s view, includes Kuwait) then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States’ opinion on this?”

(Pause, then Ambassador Glaspie speaks carefully)

U.S. Ambassador Glaspie:

“We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”


Did April Glaspie give Saddam the green light to invade? Does it matter?

The matter is controversial, and oft discussed around here. See here and here.

My reading of the situation is that Glaspie did not give Iraq the green light, nor did Iraq think she was giving them the green light, but she failed to realise what they were hinting at and gave a response which led them to believe that the US would be significantly less upset than they turned out to be.

The US’s position was that it had no opinion on the Iraq Kuwait slant oil drilling dispute. Saddam’s comments were hardly clear.

Iraq didn’t see Glaspie’s comments as a “Green Light.”