Message of National Churches of Christ on Gulf Crisis

published in MER168

A Message of National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA on the Gulf and Middle East Crisis, November 14-16, 1990

[Excerpts]

We stand at a unique moment in human history, when all around us seemingly impregnable walls are being broken down and deep historical enmities are being healed. And yet, ironically, at such a moment, our own nation seems to be poised at the brink of war in the Middle East. “What then are we to say about these things?” (Romans 8:31)....

Washington Watch

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER168

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Lee Hamilton (D-IN) offered the first criticism by a Washington insider of the Bush administration’s handling of the Gulf crisis when, on September 18, 1990, he blamed Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs John Kelly for not sending a firm signal to Iraq that the United States would come to the defense of Kuwait if it were attacked. Kelly had told the committee two days before the Iraqi invasion that the US had no formal commitment to protect Kuwait from outside threats.

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Economic Impact of the Crisis in Egypt

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER168

Egypt was facing a severe foreign exchange shortage when the Gulf crisis broke out. Its debt arrears were piling up and it was finding it more and more difficult to obtain new loans. The Gulf crisis threatens to make this situation even worse. Here’s how:

Remittances sent home by some 1 million Egyptian workers in the Gulf amounted to at least $4.25 billion in 1989. About half of these workers have returned home, causing an estimated annual loss of $2.4 billion.

Suez Canal tolls were $1.38 billion in 1989. The government expects a 10-20 percent drop over a year due to the loss of Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil tanker traffic and the decline in shipments of goods to those two countries.

Al Miskin

by
published in MER167

During the first seven months of this year, for the first time since the Cold War began, the position of “official enemy” of the United States went unfilled, the Soviets having resigned the role. That deplorable deficiency, which threw the White House and the Pentagon into a panic, has now been remedied. The fact that the new designee is short, dark and Muslim has made him much easier to demonize, an essential ingredient of the Bush administration’s campaign to win popular support for its military adventure in the Persian Gulf.

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Responsibilities of the US Peace Movement

by David Cortright
published in MER167

Once again the American peace movement faces the threat of war. In the 1960s and 1970s it was Vietnam, in the 1980s Central America and the nuclear threat, and now it is Arabia. This dangerous moment calls for a major change of direction for peace and anti-intervention forces. Activities underway before the crisis -- the peace dividend campaign, redefining global security -- have been sidetracked. Everything now depends on the outcome of the crisis in the Middle East.

Although press coverage has been scant, many groups in cities across the country have already begun organizing, and a growing movement is emerging. Most groups are united around five political demands:

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER166

The United States and the Arab world are on the edge of war. What is at stake is no longer the fate of Kuwait’s privileged elite. Nor is it only the political future of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The US military intervention, unilateral in all but name, has transformed a regional crisis into a contest over the extent of US control of local resources and over the shape of the post-Cold War balance of power. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was a crude act of aggression. Whatever Baghdad’s grievances, Saddam expressed them as exorbitant, non-negotiable demands that became the excuse for an impulsive invasion. Military aggression was quickly compounded by the decision to annex Kuwait just a few days later, closing a door to political retreat.

Letter from Jordan

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER167

“Can you help me get a job in the United States?” “We like Saddam because he is a man of his word: He stood up to the Kuwaiti cheaters and now he is standing up to foreign domination and US intervention in the Arab world.”

I heard these two statements repeatedly -- often from the same person -- during my stay in Jordan this summer. From college professors, whom I knew from two months’ research at Yarmouk University, to shopkeepers and taxi drivers, these sentiments were sincerely held, fearlessly expressed and, to my surprise, apparently unanimous. It became a challenge for me, a US citizen, to comprehend the simultaneous attraction/repulsion ordinary Jordanians have for the United States and to explain the universality of their feelings.

The Pentagon's New Army

Doubts About Desert War

by Mark Perry
published in MER167

Sitting comfortably in his living room in Arlington, Virginia, some two years ago, Gen. Edward C. Meyer reflected on the American military and the transformations it has undergone in the last two decades. “This isn’t the American military of World War II, or even Tet,” he said. “This is a totally different military than we’ve ever had before. For one thing, it’s a married military, a family military. It’s a much more complex unit, with much greater demands. We just don’t know how it will do in conflict.”

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Continuity and Change in Soviet Policy

The Gulf Crisis and the Islamic Dimension

by Alain Gresh
published in MER167

The day after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and US Secretary of State James Baker announced what they termed “an unusual step.” They issued a communique “jointly urging the international community to join them and suspend all supplies of arms to Iraq on an international scale.” The Gulf crisis, the first major post-Cold War international crisis, provides a concrete measure of changing Soviet strategy in the Third World. While Soviet policy can be explained in large part by a desire to maintain good relations with the United States, one cannot disregard, in the short or the long run, the weight of Moscow’s relations with the Middle East and how they affect its strategy and tactics in the region.

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Why War?

Background to the Crisis

by Joe Stork , Ann Lesch
published in MER167

Since August 5, 1990, we have seen the most extensive and rapid US military mobilization since the end of World War II. As of early October, more than 200,000 US troops in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region are drawing combat pay. President Bush declares this deployment was necessary to defend Saudi Arabia, but the size and composition of the US forces clearly pose a threat of offensive military action against Iraq.

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