The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order

In This Review

The Gulf Conflict, 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in the New World Order

By Lawrence D. Freedman and Efraim Karsh
Princeton University Press, 1993
499 pp. $24.95
Purchase

Within months of the end of Desert Storm, a flood of instant histories of that war appeared. Now, with a bit more time and perspective, the first of the second wave of books on the Gulf crisis of 1990-91 has appeared. The authors write from an academic perspective, weighing available evidence, reaching conclusions carefully. The result is an excellent overview of the crisis. Readers will find the main outlines of the analysis familiar. This is not a revisionist history, but it does explore a number of "what ifs," usually concluding that alternative outcomes to the crisis were unlikely. Saddam Hussein is seen as driven to invade Kuwait by his insecurity, a questionable interpretation; and the authors seem to downplay the role that Iraqi nuclear developments may have had in convincing the Bush administration to go to war. Still, the book as a whole sets a high standard for what will no doubt be a continuing study of the first post-Cold War crisis.