What if Saddam hadn't invaded Kuwait?

What if?

If Saddam had kept it in his pants back in 1991, how would it have affected the history of the last two decades? No Gulf War I, no UN sanctions against Iraq, no Gulf War II (?), no American troops in the Middle East (??), no Al Qaida (???). What would be some of the less obvious effects.

Well, no Gulf War I, thats for sure…at least not when and where it happened. Had Saddam just stayed home and minded his own business he’d most likely still be in power…though of course he was in some dire straights prior to his invasion (which was kind of why he invaded in the first place).

But no AQ? I’m not seeing that. The two things have nothing to do with each other, at least as far as the inception of Arab nationalism and fundamentalist Islam goes. AQ would still be out there…though I doubt 9/11 would have happened (we wouldn’t have needed to station troops in SA with an invasion). No idea what their strategy/tactics would be though…I’m sure the agenda would be the same.


Very possible no 9/11, AQ probably would have stuck to trying to destroy Israel.
Saddam would probably still be in power and 94% of American would never have heard of him and 49% would not know how to find Iraq on the map.

(I read somewhere on this board that 80% of all made up statistics contain a 9 or a 4 in them, I want to contribute to this average)

I have to agree with xtisme. With Saddam not particularly belligerent, he would not have made an appealing target after 9/11, and certainly he wouldn’t have been attacked in 1991 or had sanctions on him.

I can’t see that Al Qaeda wouldn’t exist if that didn’t happen. Yes, Osama was supposedly upset about American soldiers being based in Saudi Arabia, which was a direct outgrowth of the Gulf War, but Islamic terrorism and Jihadism was already an extant phenomenon, and it would have grown even if they had to find another excuse.

Most importantly, though, the South Park movie (and several episodes) would have been radically different. Matt Stone and Trey Parker would no doubt have found good jokes to make without him, but I can’t say I’m eager to see the movie having been any different than it was.

Without the first Gulf War, George Bush senior might well have been reelected.
The failure to remove Saddam became one of the main talking points on conversative talk radio, and these criticisms from the right led to the political
situation of 1992, where Clinton got only slightly more of the total vote than
Mondale did in 1984 and still won. A portion of the fuel that led to Perot candidancy, was this right wing dissatisfaction of Bush.

I disagree with that, aahala. Perot ran entirely on domestic issues, mainly reducing the deficit. Clinton as well had “It’s the economy, stupid” as his mantra. Unless you can credibly say that somehow the economy would have been better if Gulf War I hadn’t happened, I don’t see how lack of it would have improved Bush I’s chances.

Doubtful, since the Gulf War was one of the most popular things he did. He had an approval rating of 91% at one point during the war.

What would have got him re-elected is if the war had come a year or two later, or taken a year longer to conclude.

Uh, no. The right at the time wasn’t singing the same tune you hear now. At least not large portions of it. And as soon as the war was won, the American people stopped paying attention.

What sunk Bush was his reneging on his tax pledge, an incredibly inept campaign (“Message: I care”), and going up against the best natural politician we’ve seen in at least a generation or two in Bill Clinton.

Oh, the other thing that sunk Bush was the ending of the cold war. The Republicans do better when the country is facing threats, because they are perceived as being stronger on defense than Democrats. But by the time of the election, the world was at ‘peace’, people were talking about the peace dividend, the future looked very bright, and a young fresh president like Clinton was just what Americans wanted.

I disagree. I think Perot was the major factor in Bush I’s defeat. IIRC he got the most vote of any third party candidate in a very long time…and nearly all of that vote came from folks who probably would have voted for Bush otherwise. I actually voted for Perot instead of Bush I…mainly for economic reasons. Without Perot I can’t see how Clinton would have won that first term. WITH Perot it was pretty close.


The Economy was pretty bad, Bush may have lost anyway. While Perot probably did take more votes from Bush then Clinton, Bush had benefited from extremely high approval ratings during Desert Shield & Desert Storm.
It’s hard to gauge if he won more people over by Desert Strom than he lost to failing to remove Saddam.

The other wildcard, democratic candidates stayed away from running in droves. Clinton may not have been the Democratic candidate.
I can’t guess who may have been. I live near NYC so Mario Cuomo was being talked up here. I’m sure there were many other who chose not to run against a President with 80% approval ratings.

The wild card was who would have been the Democratic nominee. The party heavyweights avoided the 1992 election like the plague, since Bush’s ratings were quite high immediately after the Gulf War. Had the war not happened, Bush’s approval ratings would not have been nearly as high and the election not as close as it was. However, if the Dems had nominated a northerner instead of Clinton in 1992, it would have been a probable loss and Bush would have won re-election.

Another factor in the 1992 race was that Bush’s high ratings following the war kept a lot a major Democrats from running. Bush was seen as unbeatable. Clinton was viewed as a second tier choice when he announced he was running and pundits figured he was a sacrifice who would get shot down like Mondale in 1984.

If Bush hadn’t been riding a wave of post-war approval ratings in 1991, you might have seen Mario Cuomo, Dick Gephardt, or Al Gore challenging him.

It’s true the economy wasn’t so good, but major third party efforts are almost always fatal to incumbant party chances, and IMO, it was the right wing bashing of Bush that led to Perot. Sadam was one of several major issues in that regard and until the Kuwait invasion, he wasn’t even number 20 on the domestic political radar.

In 1976, Ford nearly won with a larger unemployment figure than Bush and the burden of Watergate and Nixon pardon. The figure just before the election 7.7%.

1980 Carter lost with a 7.5% figure.

In 1984, Reagan overwhelming was reelected with a 7.4%. Bush lost in 1992 and the unemployment was slightly BELOW that, at 7.3%. Gore lost with 3.9%.

Carter and Bush lost with high figures, Gore lost with a low figure. Each incumbant
lost and in each election there was a major third party.

If you look at the state percentages of Clinton and Dukakis, Clinton won all the states Dukakis did plus about 20 more. In only a few of those, notably Arkansas and Tennesse did he much exceed the previous percentage. About all of the additional states the percentages were about the same but in about half Dukakis outran Clinton and still didn’t get close to winning. It’s the major of three candidate splits. The only state won by anyone with 50% in 1992 was Arkansas.

But would they be focusing on America, which is after all half a world away.

Or on Israel and the Palestinians, and on America for supporting Israel. Sort of the way Osama’s rhetoric switched gears to the Palestinians in a speech last year.

Al Qaeda’s original focus was “reforming” middle eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia. They only switched to attacking the US and the west when they failed to accomplish anything against the middle eastern governments. They would have been around even without Gulf War I. If they were more successful against the local governments then they might not have tried to attack the US, but I don’t think the absence of the first Gulf War would have made the local governments less powerful or effective at suppressing Al Qaueda. If anything Gulf War I just pointed out how powerless the Middle East was compared to the US.

I think that, without the Gulf War, Bush 41 would have had no chance of winning re-election. While a few conservatives were frothing over Bush’s choice to not invade Iraq and depose Saddam right off, far, far more were incensed at Bush’s willingness to negotiate with the Democratic Congress and to raise taxes.

Keep in mind that during and immediately after the war, Bush’s approval ratings were nearly or over 90%. It wasn’t until well after the war was over, and a year after the last victory parades were held, that Bush’s approval rating really fell into free-fall. And Perot wasn’t running as a right-wing alternative to Bush; he was running as a distinct moderate, claiming to keep taxes low but also to squash free-trade measures like NAFTA.

I think the others are right in that a lack of Gulf War wouldn’t bring up whether a Democrat would beat Bush, but which Democrat would beat Bush. I suppose that had the Democrats decided to go for the suicide option again and nominated Tsongas or someone else with the charms of Mondale, the passion of Dukakis, the mainstream notions of McGovern, and the competence of Carter, Bush might have won re-election; but given that seemingly strong and competent candidates like Mario Cuomo, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson were waiting in the wings, and that Bill Clinton was going to be a candidate no matter what, the chances of Democratic foot-shooting were small.

I think Osama’s campaign against the U.S. still would have occurred- while U.S. military presence in the Middle East was the ostensible reason, as others have pointed out, Osama is quick to grab onto any reason he thinks will look good to possible supporters. As long as the U.S. was willing to heavily fund the Saudi monarchy to keep it in power, the U.S. would be a target for Al Qaida.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Bush approval ratings were still very high when Democrats had to decide whether to run or not. The “smart” ones didn’t want to waste the effort, which left quite an openning for an obscure governor from Arkansas. Had we not gone to war, Bush’s approval ratings would have probably been mediocre at best, and the field would’ve been fuller. Clinton probably still would’ve run, and who knows, he might even still have won.

Reagan had a solid constituency that Bush I just didn’t satisfy. He was a Washington insider without the clear vision that Reagan had. Bush I always seemed more like a placeholder president to me-- the same kind of president Dole would’ve been had he won.

Only 13% can find Iraq on a map as it is. http://archives.cnn.com/2002/EDUCATION/11/20/geography.quiz/

No big deal though, I couldn’t find Israel on a map until about 2 years ago.

Without a gulf war Saddam would’ve stayed in power until he started another war. Saddam came across as a war president, he fought Iran from 1980-1988 then invaded Kuwait in 1990. He wanted to create a pan arab state with himself as the head so he would’ve screwed up and pissed off the wrong nations sooner or later somehow.

I don’t know about terrorism or if it would’ve been different. Iranians were shouting death to america in the 70s, and it was just a matter of time before one of them acted on it. Troops in Saudi Arabia didn’t help eliminate terrorism, but none of that changes US support for Israel or the conspiracy theories that we are overthrowing thier governments to get cheap oil which are still angry points.