George H.W. Bush was elected president in 1989 after serving for two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Bush’s presidency was troubled by economic struggles at home and conflict abroad.
- Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent 120,000 troops to Kuwait, a tiny, neighboring country. Western leaders feared another oil shortage or rising oil prices if Hussein gained control of Kuwait, a major oil supplier.
- President Bush and his advisors formed a coalition with 28 nations to block trade with Iraq. They hoped that they could use economic sanctions to push Hussein to leave Kuwait. Hussain wasn’t going anywhere and the U.N. approved military efforts to remove Hussain by force. This effort was the Persian Gulf War.
- In January, 1991, a U.S. led military force launched air strikes against Hussein. This effort became known as Operation Desert Storm. Most of Hussein’s air force was destroyed.
- A month later, ground troops arrived and within days, Iraq surrendered. Fewer than 600 American soldiers had died and America celebrated this military victory.
- Unfortunately, Hussein went back to Iraq still in power. He rebuilt his military and began building chemical and biological weapons.
- During the late 1980s, Communism had crumbled in several Eastern European countries. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, marking the end of Communism here. The region was divided into 15 independent republics, such as Lithuania. The world celebrated with these republics, many of whom had once been independent countries.
- Dictator: a leader who rules with absolute power
- Air strike: a military assault achieved by fighter planes, missiles, and weapons
- Biological weapon: a weapon that causes harm by spreading bacteria or other toxins
Questions and Answers:
Question: What was the outcome of the Persian Gulf War?
Answer: The short-term outcome was that Kuwait was free and the region’s oil reserves were protected. Long-term, though, the Persian Gulf War probably increased Arab anger at Western involvement. Many American soldiers returned with serious physical and mental health problems caused by exposure to chemical weapons and trauma.
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