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Non-Violent Resolution to the Conflict Between America and Iraq Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 4th, 2021


US had been into a lot of wars. This country, because of its power and self-involvement to everything and anything that is happening around the globe, it could not help but be involved or even initiate wars of conflicts. Amongst the many wars that US has been involved with, the 1991 gulf war is still one of the most unforgettable event that took place in the Middle East and American history.

This 1991 Gulf War was the conflict between US and Iraq that took place on early January of 1991 until February of the same year. This war is perceived by most as unique in many respects. It has been termed a “media” war, and live news coverage of the war was greater than in any previous war. It was an “orderly” war with a definite period of build-up and a definite military beginning and end. For those interested in transportation and logistics, the war offered an example of military logistics at its best, as well as an opportunity to examine the relationship of the military war effort and the commercial transportation industries (Bruce, 1991). All these are just perceptions of some people and/or groups who were either involved in the war are mere onlookers. Despite all these perceptions, there were a number of issues raised, specifically the impact of non-violent resolutions to resolving conflicts in between states.

This paper is aimed at highlighting all the concepts behind using a non-violent resolution to solve this conflict between America and Iraq. Specifically, this paper aims to:

  1. Classify the best possible non-violent resolution for the said conflict
  2. Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the said resolution
  3. Categorize the different impacts and perceptions that other government and non-government organizations may have for the said resolution
  4. Conclude whether the identified non-violent resolution is really suited for the said conflict considering all the information gathered

Theoretical Framework

This study is focused on this theoretical concept:

Theoretical Framework.
Figure 1. Theoretical Framework.

It can be realized from the above-shown figure that this paper realized that all the concepts (non-violent resolution, the two countries (US and Iraq) and the both the government and non-government organizations are interrelated. Whatever actions each one may take, the impact will take effect and will be felt by all the other concepts.

US and its Strategies in the War Against Iraq

United States of America prepared really well for this battle against Iraq. This they do for they know that back then, Iraq was holding the tile for being one of the most powerful countries in terms of military forces as well as their weapons. US made sure that every aspect of its military strategies – including the people, the armaments and weapons and the vehicles, may it be for air, sea or land – were all at its best

For its air and sea non-combat transportation needs, the United States military relied on the Military Air Command (MAC) and the Military Sealift Command (MSC) respectively. Both are components of the U.S. Transportation Command. MAC operated under the Air Force and served as the single air transportation manage for the Department of Defence (DOD), and MSC was an arm of the Navy and acted as the single ocean transportation manager for DOD. Either command purchased transportation service from commercial carriers or arranged shipments via Department of Defence transportation systems. Both agencies maintained a core fleet of transportation equipment, part of which was government-owned and part of which was chartered from the private sector. The size of the agencies’ fleets varied depending on military requirements at a particular time. These core fleets, which were used to transport military requirements during peace time, were generally not adequate during periods of national emergency or war, and at these times MAC and MSC resort to back-up capability from the private sector, as well as other government-owned resources (Davies, 1990).

In the Persian Gulf Crisis with Iraq, the U.S. military called upon several, but not all, of the above-mentioned back-up programs. The CRAF program was activate on August 18, for the first time since its inception. By August 20, the Navy had deployed its entire fleet of eight fast sealift ships for transport of tank and other heavy equipment, and it had also dispatched most of the twenty-three cargo ships it had positioned around the world. MSC had activated some ro-ro vessels from the National Defence Reserve Fleet (Horowitz, 1990). By August 27, The Pentagon ordered forty vessels in the Ready Reserve Fleet to be activated, the first time this fleet had been called up since it was established (Debenedetto, 1990). By September, MSC had made arrangements with Sea-Land, APL, Lykes Bros., and Farrell Lines for transport of containers and with Lykes, Farrell, Waterman, Afram, Dock Express, and Marine Car Carriers for transport of breakbulk cargo to the Mideast. In November, MAC began an overnight express service operation to the Persian Gulf, named “Desert Express.” On this service military aircraft were used to transport high-priority cargo daily from Charleston Air Force Base to Saudi Arabia. A sealift express was also established. As Phase Two of the Persian Gulf build-up became necessary, MSC chartered forty-three additional commercial cargo ships and activated twenty more RRF vessels (Hall, 1991). Also at this time, the government raised, for the first time, the possibility of implementing the Sealift Readiness Program. As the United Nations-imposed crisis resolution deadline of January 15 approached, President Bush issued the National Security Industria Responsiveness executive order that gives DOT the authority to prioritize domestic transportation services in all modes in the event of war. However, neither government nor industry sources anticipated additional requirements in the air, water, and rail industries, even if war should result. By mid-January, it was reported that 70 out of the 96 RRF vessels had been activated, and 199 vessels, including 10 tankers, had been chartered by MSC.”

Military Transportation

With the outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Transportation Command shifted its strategy from build-up to re-supply. Immediately after war broke out MAC partially activated the second stage of CRAF, by alerting civilian airlines that they should be ready to deliver as many as 41 freighters for the war effort, making available a total of 77 long-range international (LRI) commercial passenger and 40 LRI cargo aircraft. The U.S. airline industry voluntarily provided an additional 30 cargo aircraft above CRAF Stage II requirements. By January 28, the military had called up 17 long-range commercial cargo planes. There was no further significant increase in chartering ocean vessels. As the war continued, although the mix of cargo was being transported changed from large items to consumables and spare parts, neither MA nor MSC planned to alter the makeup of the fleet serving the Persian Gulf. The long lead time for the build-up had been adequate. With fighting taking place, security of the transportation fleet became a major concern, involving protection of aircraft as they came into combat zones and protection of ships travelling through the Suez Canal. However, the success of air strikes against Iraq made it unnecessary for the Navy to impose direct control over shipping in the Persian Gulf. This would have obliged military and civilian shipping to operate in convoys under military escort. This control has not been exercised since WWII (Vail, 1991).

Ocean Shipping

After the beginning of fighting in the Persian Gulf, many ship-owners implemented the contingency plans they had developed during the crisis. Several shipping companies ceased making calls to ports in the northern Persian Gulf and in Saud Arabia, and some lines using the Suez Canal employed alternate routes. Hong Kong ship-owners, faced with high insurance and operating costs for freight to the Mideast and Europe, decided to stay out of those regions until the war was over, the result being a surplus of vessels in the Asian region and an undersupply of freighters to the Gulf and Europe. An agreement between the All Japan Seamen’s Union and the Ship-owners Labour Relations Agency prohibited Japanese ships from calling on ports west of 52 degrees east longitude, eliminating ports in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. One shipping line expanded service to the Mideast during the war; Mediterranean Shipping Co. doubled the frequency of its service from the U.S. East Coast to the eastern Mediterranean, citing increased demand. Despite the changes in shipping operations as a result of the war, service disruptions were reported to be minimal. A number of shipping lines that suspended services to northern destinations in the Gulf, organized feeder services to shuttle cargo to ports near the war zone, using smaller vessels (Porter, 1991).

Tankers, committed by charter arrangements to serve the area, continued to load in the Gulf after the War began. Many off-loaded in southern Gulf ports, while Arab Gulf nations provided shuttle service from the loading ports in the Gulf. In fact, tanker companies enjoyed a profit bonanza as a result of certain conditions that increased tanker demand. Even old tankers were getting rates of $45,000 to $50,000 per day, compared with a low point of $7,000 in August 1990. There was a shortage of refined products east of Suez, and oil was being shipped longer routes, from Finland to Japan, Venezuela to Singapore, and the U.S. to Japan. Rerouting around Africa to avoid the Suez Canal also tied up tankers for longer periods, and tankers were being used to store oil. All of these factors contributed to an increase in demand for tanker capacity, and with the fall of bunker prices and the passing on of insurance costs to shippers, tanker companies were enjoying high profits (DeBenedetto, 1991).

While travel through the Suez Canal decreased because of the War, the Panama Canal was a beneficiary of increased traffic. A week after the war started, the Canal was averaging 35 transits per day, compared with usual averages in the mid-20s to low 30s. Factors thought to contribute to the surge included more Japanese purchasing of oil from the Gulf of Mexico and increases in phosphate rock moving from Tampa to the Far East. The latter was attributed to a disruption in Jordanian phosphate supplies. Another routing that experienced more business was the Seattle sea-air cargo transfer centre. Because of the desire to avoid the Suez Canal, the volume of cargo moving from the Far East to Europe via Seattle increased, using ocean for the first leg of the trip and air for the second; and the first major cargo moving in the opposite direction–from Europe to the Far East – was handled (Luxner, 1991).

Because of the above stated strategies of the US and its forces, it cannot be denied that the preparation and support of the whole US military force was the detrimental factor for US winning this battle against Iraq. Added to this, because US has control and authority over other countries and some of the government and non-government groups and associations, it was able to imply to other countries to stop whatever business they were doing with Iraq back then. This provided a strong impact to Iraq’s economy and autonomy over its oil. With Iraq losing its hold over its economy and military forces, the triumph of US came into being.

Non-Violent Resolution: Economic Sanction

It was believed that US won the war against Iraq. This is done by the combination of strategies that US used for the said war. However, aside from the military actions that promulgated the US’s victory, there was an even more powerful resolution that was applied against Iraq which ensured US’ triumph. This is the economic sanction.

Sanctions are characterized by the interruption of communications, diplomacy, and/or economic relations (Losman, 1979). Economic sanctions have become an increasingly common tool of diplomacy since the end of the Cold War. As tools of international pressure that fall between diplomacy and armed force, sanctions usually aim to achieve political ends while avoiding the costs and destruction of war. In a two-superpower world, there were few non-aligned states against which sanctions might be effective. Either bloc could build an alliance with any country cut off by the other (Cortright et al., 1998).

Economic sanctions became a more potent and frequent tool of hostile foreign policy after the Cold War, in the last decade of the 20th century. Especially after U.S. troops pulled out of Sudan and became mired in Bosnia, the search for weapons of hostile foreign policy that didn’t depend on committing U.S. troops became paramount.

Additionally, consensus among nations on the appropriate use of military force in international diplomacy is increasingly rare. Generating such consensus depends on shared values, international treaties, and customary law focused increasingly on the rhetoric of human rights. Perhaps most important, it also requires some parity among partners to conflict. When one’s opponent can inflict harm on us just as we can on them, there is clear self-interest in following rules of engagement that avoid unnecessary destruction (Cortright et al., 1998).

War is usually justified only as a last alternative in cases of grave domestic rights violations or international aggression by an offending state. Even in such cases, international wars are increasingly limited to the exclusion of invading forces; there is little consensus on the role of one government or international force overthrowing the offending government, demanding unconditional surrender, or creating occupied states. Such rights-based limitations on engaging in war create increasing pressure to find other forms of negotiating hostilities between states (Walzer, 1997). Sanctions, thus, have become the weapon of choice prior to, instead of, or after limited wars in the one-superpower world that emerged in the 1990s (Buergenthal, 1995).

U.S. sanctions in the 1990s were instituted or legislated against countries containing 68% of the world’s population (Weiss et al., 1997). Most of those sanctions limit commercial relations or military cooperation; comprehensive sanctions that attempt to halt general commerce are far more rare. The United Nations (U.N.) instituted sanctions only against Southern Rhodesia (1966) and South Africa (1977) before 1991; since then, the U.N. or associated regional organizations instituted sanctions against Iraq, the Yugoslav federation of Serbia and Montenegro, Libya, Rwanda, Angola, Somalia, Liberia, Burundi, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Haiti (Garfield, 1999).

When Do Sanctions Harm Civilians?

Sanctions are popular because they quickly demonstrate determination and action on the part of leaders. There is often great pressure by interest groups in developed countries to take rapid action in this way, while there are few to oppose them in their own country. Often the most potent opposition to sanctions is found in the business community, where concerns over lost sales and markets predominate. Other opposition by the governments of third countries, humanitarian and development groups, and religious organizations may also influence policy choices. Finally, sanctions are apparently cheap – at least when compared to military interventions, which are always stunningly expensive. In Haiti, the eight billion dollar cost of military intervention dwarfed the $250 million spent by all parties for humanitarian relief (Gibbons, 1999). Sanctions appear to externalize all costs onto the sanctioned country. Yet many of those “costs” are borne by the civilian population. Most sanctions increase suffering and death among civilians, particularly among the most disadvantaged in sanctioned countries who we are supposedly trying to help (Garfield et al., 1995; Garfield and Santana, 1997). So important is the issue of humanitarian suffering that the State Department, in a departure from previous policy, has made a critique of studies on the health impact of sanctions in the countries included in the case studies below, pointing out methodological weaknesses to defend their policies.

War or Peace?

The U.N. Security Council is authorized to impose sanctions when a nation threatens peace and security or is guilty of aggression against another state. It is a step toward hostile foreign policy, which, if ineffective, can be followed by military force according to the U.N. Charter. As Woodrow Wilson put it, such tools enforce a “peaceful, silent, and deadly remedy” that no nation could resist (Cortright, 1995).

In the early 1990s, the decision not to field a U.N.-based volunteer army took the teeth out of the U.N.’s mandate for the use of force. Similarly, troop losses in Somalia greatly reduced military options for the U.S. in the years before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Sanctions, then, have often been instituted not as the weapon of choice, but a tool of last resort among decision-makers in the U.S. and U.N. In this context, sanctions have often been criticized as a weapon of the rich countries against the poor (Buergenthal, 1995).

The U.N.’s Charter charges it with promoting higher standards of living, social progress, solutions to health problems, educational cooperation, and respect for human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Children, and other major human rights conventions strongly condemn actions that hamper the provision of shelter, health services, food, or otherwise deny essential goods, the lack of which might effect survival (Hoskins, 1998). Rights to health, health care, education, and security are routinely violated when essential goods aren’t permitted. Further, governments and the U.N. system are obliged to uphold international law principles of non-intervention and sovereignty; sanctions may violate both. The international order is turned on its head: the U.N. becomes the violator rather than protector of human rights.

The U.N., during its first 45 years, rarely had the dual role of hostile agent and humanitarian assistant. In Iraq and Haiti, U.N. organizations providing emergency help were sometimes rejected by common people and their governments, as it was the U.N. that helped create their misery in the first place (UNICEF, 1994). The U.N. Security Council exempts itself from sanctions, while U.N. humanitarian agencies have had to request special permission to import proscribed goods for their own use, such as gasoline in Haiti and pencils in Iraq.

Impacts of Economic Sanction

There are many aspects that will be both at the advantage and disadvantage during the onset of economic sanction, just like what just happened to Iraq.

Foremost, the health impact of an economic sanction is mediated by a country’s economic and social systems. Major impacts occur through the effect of sanctions on the production, importation, and distribution of essential goods. Alterations in the distribution of essential goods within the family and the marshalling of underutilized resources due to political or social mobilization modify the impact of resource changes brought on by economic sanctions. Such effects are thus indirect and difficult to isolate or measure with precision.

Threats that often accompany sanctions, such as economic inefficiencies, inequitable distribution of goods, civil conflicts, and population movements, also put at risk a population’s health and the ability to measure changes in healthcare and health status. It has been shown, however, that infant mortality can decline even during periods of severe resource shortage if those scarce resources are distributed more efficiently (Garfield, 1999). A dramatic decline in key resources does not always or immediately lead to increased illness or death due to the resilience of such health assets as public education, healthy behaviors, trained health workers, and infrastructure, which deteriorate only gradually.

Social disruptions during sanctions weakened the health system and vital statistics reporting systems of Haiti and Iraq. Further, information provided by the affected regimes cannot be considered reliable. In nearly all countries, basic information on births and deaths is available only from the government. Faith in the veracity of such reports is tempered by checks on the completeness and accuracy of statistical information. Such checks are often not carried out by independent agencies during a political crisis, including sanctions.

Even where data collection ability is good, the data of greatest interest, infant mortality rates, cannot normally be assessed in a timely manner. Few countries are able to carry out the universal recording of births and deaths that would be needed (Cuba is one). In other countries, it is necessary to carry out population surveys to estimate mortality. Data from these surveys are considered accurate only for periods greater than three years before the survey. In most cases, other indicators of cause of death recorded, nutritional status of children, and the quality of the public health infrastructure are the best real-time, albeit indirect, health indicators available.


In these and other cases, humanitarian damage and the violation of human rights result, in part’ from economic sanctions. Politicians often take up defensive positions, questioning whether damage has actually occurred, asserting that many things besides sanctions could be the cause, or contending responsibility lies with the sanctioned governments for failing to cooperate in removing the conditions for which sanctions were instituted. Each argument avoids accepting responsibility for the impact of acts taken by the sanctioning powers. When are sanctions justified (Cortright et al., 1998)?

  1. When they might be effective. That is, when what is desired is a change in policies. If sanctions are designed to overthrow a government, they will likely cause suffering but lack the needed force to achieve the desired goal.
  2. When there are carrots and sticks. A government must believe it will benefit somehow by complying with the desires of sanctioning powers. Without a potential benefit, it is all stick, no carrot. Ironically, this situation may leave the initiative in the hands of the sanctioned government, which may decide it has nothing to lose by further angering the sanctioning powers.
  3. When the sanctions primarily affect those with the power to change policy. If most of the harm done by sanctions occurs among people with no influence on policy, it is unjustifiable damage.
  4. When potential unintended damage is minimized by the design, implementation, monitoring, and accountability structures instituted by the sanctioning powers.

Critically lacking in a decade of debates over the relative merits of economic sanctions is a systematic approach to assessing and minimizing their humanitarian impact. After the debacle of Iraq, the world community can no longer assume that sanctions are necessarily less violent than warfare. Many U.N. and independent groups now recommend a package of actions to reduce sanctions-related damage (Cortright et al., 1998):

  • Before initiating sanctions, gather baseline data on health and well-being. This was done regarding sanctions on the Sudan and Burundi in 1998 and Liberia in 2001.
  • Anticipate likely vulnerabilities of the target society and respond proactively via aid and development agencies to ameliorate them. It is essential to analyze past cases to determine what the likely level of suffering will be and whether causing such damage is warranted.
  • Upon initiating sanctions, put in place a stepped-up monitoring capacity to facilitate early identification of humanitarian damage. Monitoring should include indicators of public health, economic status, population dynamics, and governance in sanctioned countries. It should include indicators of population status, as well as related measures of short-term change. For example, good baseline indicators are deaths among children under one year of age and those under five, but short-term changes in mortality rates can best be measured from data on the number of measles cases, the percentage of all deaths due to diarrhea, and the prevalence of malnutrition among children. This was done regarding Afghanistan in 2001.
  • Create streamlined procedures to speed the approval of essential humanitarian goods. This could involve a standard list of exempt items and blanket exemptions for a select group of international relief organizations.
  • Standardize procedures used in sanctioned countries for handling exemption requests, distribution of goods, and on-site verification.

Most important, the goals for a sanction should be better determined in light of the extensive experience in the 1990s. Sanctions are seldom associated with a hoped-for overthrow of repressive regimes; military action is needed for that. When a few individuals are at fault, asset freezes, as well as halting of cultural exchanges and travel bans may result in the desired policy changes. Sanctions are an important option, without which governments are left only with the options of “business as usual” or a rush to war. For sanctions to play an intermediate role, their implementation must eliminate the gross violations of human rights that have plagued them in the 1990s.

However, leading nation-states do not universally accept these proposals. The U.N. Security Council has engaged in extensive discussion on these issues, Without reaching a formal conclusion. Although practice has improved rapidly, much room for improvement remains. A track record of experiences with the above recommendations is needed for such proposals to become organizational norms at the U.N. Further, national governments will have to see that carefully protecting human right is effective in achieving foreign policy goals and does not overly constrain their political initiative to adopt these approaches. Continued pressure from religious, civic, and business groups will be needed if political leaders are to be persuaded that more humane and legitimate approaches to addressing international conflict are in their interests (Cortright et al., 1998).


Buergenthal, T. 1995 International Human Rights. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co.

Cortright, D. and G.A. Lopez (eds.) 1995 Economic Sanctions: Panacea or Peacebuilding in a Post-Cold War World. Boulder: Westview Press.

Davies, John “Ocean Carriers Picked to Aid Desert Shield,” Journal of Commerce, September 6, 1990 pp. 1a., 10.

DeBenedetto, William. “20 More Reserve Ships Activated for Persian Gulf,” Journal of Commerce, December 19, 1990, p. 8b.

Garfield, R. 1999 The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Health and Well-Being. London: Overseas Development Institute. Relief and Rehabilitation Network paper #31.

Gibbons, E. 1999 Sanctions in Haiti: Human Rights and Democracy Under Assault. Westport: Praeger Press.

Hall, Kevin G. “Bush Orders DOT to Prepare Transport in Case War Erupts in Persian Gulf,” Traffic World, 1991, p. 10.

Horowitz, Rose A. “MSC Charters Additional Cargo Ships for Phase Two of Persian Gulf Buildup,” Traffic World, 1990, p. 26.

Hoskins, E. 1998 The Impact of Sanctions: A Study of UNICEF’s Perspective. New York: UNICEF.

Iannello,Loraine and Porter, Janet. “Conference Seeks Big Hike in Gulf Cargo Rates,” Journal of Commerce, 1991, p. la. 11a.

Journal of Commerce “Dry Bulk Rates Firm Despite U.S. Slump,”, 1990, p. 10b.

Losman, D. 1979 International Economic Sanctions. Albuquerque: UMN Press.

Luxner, Larry. “Shipments of Oil. Phosphate Through Canal Rise Sharply,” Journal of Commerce, 1991, pp. 1a, 10a.

Magnier, Mark. “Pacific Conference Details Rate Hike by Commodities,” Journal of Commerce, 1990, p. 6b.

Porter, Janet. “Tanker Operations Continue in Gulf,” Journal of Commerce, 1991, pp. 1a, 8a.

UNICEF 1994 Analyse de la Situation de la Femme et des Enfants en Haiti (periode 1980-1993). Port-au-Prince: UNICEF: 221. Vail, Bruce “Navy Curbs on Shipping in Gulf Less Likely Now,” Journal of Commerce, 1991, pp. 1a, 8a.

Walzer, M. 1977 Just and Unjust Wars. New York: Basic Books.

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