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I have read To Die in Babylon by Harold Livingstone and it shows how powerful USA is, but some parts are not clear to me. Saddam thought Iraq is prepared for the Americans and it turns out not. At the end of the story a Iraqi soldier said that America will come back to finish Saddam in the future, and they did(Iraq invasion, 2003).

My first question is why didn't USA finish Saddam's reign in the first place?

Second what are Iraq's failures that caused them to lose the war?

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Welcome to the site! You have two questions here. I suggest you ask them as two different ones. Both are good and should be asked but not in the same place. –  Sardathrion May 31 '13 at 6:36

2 Answers 2

The causus belli of the First Gulf War was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. President George (HW) Bush managed to get a series of UN declarations calling for the Iraqi troops to leave, and authorizing succesively more drastic actions to achieve this, culminating in 678, which authorized "all nessecary means". This provided a certian amount of international cover for military action, but only towards restoring Kuwait, not toppling Iraq itself.

Also, many Muslim states signed on to the effort as allies, with the understanding that the recovery of Kuwaiti independence was the only goal. Most significantly, Saudi Arabia provided the required miltary basing and staging territory, with the understanding that the scope of the effort was limited to restoring Kuwait.

There is debate about whether the US administration would have liked to see Saddam toppled as well. Colin Powell claims in his memoirs that the intention was always to leave him in place, as a bulwark against Iran. However, various public statements made by President Bush led many people inside Iraq to (incorrectly) believe the US would support popular uprisings, with very unfortunate results. The administration of his son (GW Bush), certianly believed this was a mistake.

As to Iraqi failures, frankly they lost the war the instant it started. Their mid-20th Century vintage Soviet and Chinese military hardware was simply no match for modern top of the line US and NATO equipment. They could have been tactical geniuses throughout the conflict, and still gotten beaten handily.

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Contrary to what T.E.D. has said, Iraq did not (only) have "mid-20th Century vintage Soviet and Chinese military hardware". The US and its allies supplied Saddam with top-notch military equipment to support his aggression against Iran, e.g. French Exocet missiles. These were the weapons which Saddam turned against his former supporters. –  fdb Jul 11 at 17:31
    
@fdb - Ah yes, I had forgotten about the Exocets. They also had French Mirage fighters to fire them. Still, not quite up to the level of US military hardware, but perhaps better than the Russian that I was implying they relied on. –  T.E.D. Jul 11 at 17:59
    
@fdb - .. they also got a lot of equipment from China. Still Iraq was "primarily equipped with weaponry it had previously purchased from the Soviet Union and its satellites in the preceding decade." –  T.E.D. Jul 11 at 18:09
    
...which is not exactly "mid-20th century". –  fdb Jul 11 at 18:12
    
@fdb 70-79 are closer to 50 than 100, so I consider it "mid". Sorry if that confused you. –  T.E.D. Jul 11 at 22:23
  1. maybe they wanted to but political pressure from allies (especially Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) to withdraw before reaching Baghdad made it impossible. In fact military leaders advised strongly to do just that, drive for Baghdad. Read general Schwartzkopf's autobiography (and that of president Bush Sr. for details)
  2. arrest? On what grounds? Kuwait would have to press charges with the world court, and maybe did, but as the US doesn't recognise the world court it would be tricky for them to arrest anyone for delivery to the world court except maybe as a proxy for another country. When the US have apprehended foreigners abroad, it was always in international waters or airspace on charges for crimes in the US or against US citizens in international waters or airspace
  3. Iraq's main failure was underestimating the international outrage and the speed and size of the response to their invasion of Kuwait. They still thought they were the darlings of the world for opposing Iran in the Iran-Iraq war (a war btw that Iraq started, not as often thought Iran). They never thought the world (and especially the middle east) would unite against them, or that Saudi Arabia would allow infidels to stage something like a hundred thousand troops inside its borders.
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Do you have any sources for this answer? –  American Luke May 31 '13 at 13:13
    
Contrary to what T.E.D. has said, Iraq did not (only) have "mid-20th Century vintage Soviet and Chinese military hardware". The US and its allies supplied Saddam with top-notch military equipment to support his aggression against Iran, e.g. French Exocet missiles. These were the weapons which Saddam turned against his former supporters. –  fdb Jul 11 at 17:30

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