The Persian Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm, was waged in early 1991 between Iraq and a coalition of thirty-nine nations organised by the Unites States and the United Nations. Leading the coalition were the U.S., France, Great Britain, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
On the morning of August 2, 1990 the mechanised infantry, armour, and tank units of the Iraqi Republican Guard invaded Kuwait and seized control of that country. The United Stated responded by launching what is known as Operation DESERT SHIELD, in an attempt to try and deter any invasion of Kuwait's oil rich neighbour, Saudi Arabia.
Iraq wanted Kuwait because of its long coastline and harbour as well as the wealth to be had through its petroleum. The interests of the coalition revolved around protecting the petroleum supply upon which they were dependent.
On August 7, the deployment of U.S. armed forces began. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 660 and 662 condemned Iraq's invasion and demanded the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces. On August 20 President Bush signed National Security Directive 45, "U.S. Policy in Response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait," outlining U.S. objectives - which included the "immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait," and the "restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq."
A U.N. ultimatum, Security Council Resolution 678, followed on November 29, 1990 which stipulated that if Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not remove his troops from Kuwait by January 15, 1991 a U.S.-led coalition was authorised to drive them out. Early in the morning of January 17, Baghdad time, the U.S.-led coalition launched air attacks against Iraqi targets. On February 24, coalition ground forces began their attack. On February 27, Kuwait City was declared liberated, and with allied forces having driven well into Iraq, President Bush and his advisers decided to halt the war. A cease-fire took effect at 8:00 the following morning.
Although members of the coalition suffered fewer than 400 deaths, perhaps close to 100,000 Iraqi troops died, although the figure is not clear. Also, thousands of Iraqi and Kuwaiti civilians were killed, and the devastation to the area was enormous.
The history of the Gulf War has a lot of different components - including internal decision-making as well as diplomatic, economic, and conventional military activities.
A briefing book available from The National Security Archive primarily focuses on the intelligence, space operations, and Scud-hunting aspects of the war. It also includes a report describing how Desert Storm affected China's view of future warfare, a document that raises questions as to what lessons other nations have drawn from U.S. military engagements in the Middle East and the Balkans. For a comprehensive list of documents and the description of each that are available to download from this website, please click here.
Talking to Children about War and Terrorism: 20 Tips for Parents ~ By David Fassler, M.D.
Once again, parents and teachers are faced with the challenge of explaining war and the threat of terrorism to their children. Although these are understandably difficult conversations, they are also extremely important. While there's no "right" or "wrong" way to have such discussions, there are some general concepts and suggestions that may be helpful. These include:
1. Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions. At the same time, it's best not to force children to talk about things until they're ready.
2. Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know, or eventually find out, if you're "making things up". It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
3. Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child's age, language and developmental level.
4. Be prepared to repeat information and explanations several times. Some information may be hard to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a child to ask for reassurance.
5. Acknowledge and validate the child's thoughts, feelings and reactions. Let them know that you think questions and concerns are important and appropriate.
6. Be reassuring, but don't make unrealistic promises. It's fine to let children know that they are safe in their house or in their school. But you can't promise children that there won't be a war or that no one will get hurt.
7. Remember that children tend to personalise situations. For example, they may worry about friends or relatives who live in a city or state directly or indirectly associated with terrorist incidents.
8. Help children find ways to express themselves. Some children may not want to talk about their thoughts, feelings or fears. They may be more comfortable drawing pictures, playing with toys, or writing stories or poems.
9. Avoid stereotyping groups of people by country or religion. Use the opportunity to explain prejudice and discrimination and to teach tolerance.
10. Children learn from watching their parents and teachers. Children will be very interested in how you respond to events in the world. They will also notice changes in your routines such as reducing business travel or modifying vacation plans, and they will learn from listening to your conversations with other adults.
11. Let children know how you're feeling. It's OK for children to know if you are anxious, confused, upset or preoccupied by local or international events. Children will usually pick it up anyway, and if they don't know the cause, they may think it's their fault. They may worry that they've done something wrong.
12. Don't let children watch lots of TV with violent or upsetting images. Ask local TV stations and newspapers to limit the repetition of particularly disturbing or traumatic scenes. Many media outlets have been receptive to such overtures.
13. Help children establish a predictable routine and schedule. Children are reassured by structure and familiarity. School, sports, birthdays, holidays and group activities all take on added importance.
14. Don't confront your child's defenses. If a child is reassured that things are happening "very far away" it's probably best not to argue or disagree. The child may be telling you that this is how they need to think about things right now in order to feel safe.
15. Coordinate information between home and school. Parents should know about activities their child's school has planned. Teachers should know about discussions which take place at home, and about any particular fears, concerns or questions a child may have mentioned.
16. Children who have experienced trauma or losses in the past are particularly vulnerable to prolonged or intense reactions to news of war or heightened fears of possible terrorist attacks. These children may need extra support and attention.
17. Monitor for physical symptoms including headaches and stomachaches. Many children express anxiety through physical aches and pains. An increase in such symptoms without apparent medical cause may be a sign that a child is feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
18. Children who are preoccupied with questions about war, fighting or terrorism should be evaluated by a trained and qualified mental health professional. Other signs that a child may need additional help include ongoing trouble sleeping, intrusive thoughts, images, or worries, or recurring fears about death, leaving parents or going to school. Ask your child's pediatrician, family practitioner or school counselor to help arrange an appropriate referral.
19. Help children reach out and communicate with others. Some children may want to write to the President or to a State or local official. Other children may want to write a letter to a local newspaper. Still others may want to send thoughts to soldiers or their families.
20. Let children be children. Although many parents and teachers follow the news and the daily events with close scrutiny, many children just want to be children. They may not want to think about what's happening halfway around the world. They'd rather play ball, climb trees or go sledding.
"Talking to Children about War and Terrorism" is obtained from the UUA Archives