Manuel Noriega was ultimately removed about halfway through
Bushs term, the US first began toying with the idea when Bush
was vice president under Reagan. However, Reagan never
seriously considered using military force to remove Noriega, despite
the protests of members of his administration, including
Vice-President Bush. Instead, Reagan used more diplomatic means to
convince Noriega to step down. In particular, a drug indictment
by the Justice Department made Noriega nervous. So nervous, in
fact, that he refused to step down until the indictment was removed.
Reagan administration refused to lift the indictment because they
saw it as a US commitment to fight drug trafficking. Noriega
remained in power through the end of Reagans term.
May 7, 1989, Noriega nullified the results of an election that would
have forced him from office and even used his personal police force
to publicly beat Guillermo Endara, the successful vice-presidential
candidate. Bush quickly ordered additional troops into the
Canal Zone and ordered Admiral William Crowe, head of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, to construct a plan to oust Noriega. Still,
Bush was not yet ready to act.
December 16, four American soldiers got lost on their way to a
restaurant and ended up in Panamanian Defense Force
headquarters. PDF soldiers fired on the car and killed on the
soldiers. A navy lieutenant and his wife who witnessed the
shooting were beaten and threatened. When the administration
heard of the incident, Bush did not hesitate to order the capture of
Noriega. Indeed, one insider claimed that the shooting was just
an excuse for the invasion.
December 20, Guillermo Endara was sworn in as president and American
paratroopers landed in Panama City. In about eight hours,
military action was over and all key facilities were in US
hands. Noriega, however, had escaped capture by claiming asylum
in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City.
playing loud rock music 24 hours a day, every day, for over a week,
Noriega surrendered. In 1992, Noriega was found guilty on eight
charges, including money laundering and cocaine trafficking.
the fall of 1980, about a year after the overthrow of the shah,
Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The war lasted eight years and
devastated the economies of both nations. Not only did
Iraq have an immense foreign debt of $80 billion, the price of oil,
which made up 95% of Iraqs exports, was falling rapidly.
To aid his shaky economy, Saddam began seeking foreign aid. The
US seemed the most receptive.
Saddam made a veiled threat against Israel, the Bush administration
made the decision to discontinue aid. The president of Iraq,
desperate for money to rebuild his economy, decided to invade Kuwait,
both because Kuwait was a fairly wealthy nation and because Saddam
owed the Kuwaiti government some $10 billion.
August 2, 1990, about 140,000 Iraqi troops and 18,000 tanks moved
into Kuwait. In less than a day, Kuwait City had fallen to
Iraqi forces, and Saddam not only controlled Iraq, but also over 20%
of the worlds oil supply.
acted quickly when he learned of the Iraqi invasion. Bush,
along with 11 members of the Western Alliance, order the freezing of
over $100 billion of Iraqi assets. On August 6, the UN passed
Resolution 660 unanimously. The resolution condemned Iraqs
invasion and called for immediate withdrawal from Kuwait under the
threat of sanctions.
UN support ultimately meant little (National Security Advisor Brent
Scowcraft made the comment that US intervention was inevitable, with
or without the UN), the resolution was significant because Bush had
managed to woo the support of Gorbachev. Although the Soviet
president faced internal opposition, Gorbachev could not afford to
alienate the US as the Soviet economy was crumbling and US aid was vital.
the coalition was in order, Bushs first objective was the
protection of Saudi Arabia. Military intelligence suggested that
Saddams next move would be into Saudi Arabia, which would give
him control of almost half of the worlds oil supply.
By the end of August, over 80,000 coalition troops were stationed in
Saudi Arabia to defend themselves, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
and other friends in the Persian Gulf. The operation was
code named Desert Shield.
November 8, after it became clear that Saddam was not responding to
an economic embargo that was hurting western economies almost as much
as Iraqs, Bush announced that he was doubling American forces
in Saudi Arabia to 500,000 to allow for an offensive military
option. After one more failed attempt to negotiate an
Iraqi withdrawal, in which Iraqs foreign minister declared
We accept war, Congress voted on January 12 to declare
war on Iraq.
January 17, 1991, the first air strikes on Iraqi radar systems
commenced. One hundred thousand sorties and five weeks later,
the ground war began. After just 100 hours of fighting, a
ceasefire was declared and General Norman Schwartzkopf meant with
Iraqi military leadership and laid out the terms of the
cease-fire. The US lost 148 soldiers versus the some
22,000 estimated Iraqi losses.
Collapse of the Soviet Union
the midst of the Persian Gulf War, Gorbachev, gambling that the US
was absorbed in the effort to expel Iraq from Kuwait, made a last
desperate attempt to hold his collapsing state together by lashing
out at secessionist movements in different parts of the Soviet
Union. In January of 1991, Soviet troops took several
government buildings in Lithuania and placed the republic under
martial law. In the riots that followed, 15 were killed and
over 100 wounded. Bush was torn. The Soviets had to
remain in the coalition against Iraq, yet conservatives in his own
party accused Bush of abandoning the republics.
Gorbachevs dealings with his republics continued to
destabilize, Bush began to feel pressure from within his own
administration to turn away from Gorbachev in favor of Boris Yeltsin,
who had won Moscows at-large seat in the legislature with 89%
of the vote. Bush refused, declaring you dance with who
is on the dance floor.
in the middle of renegotiating the relationship between Moscow and
the republics, a coup was staged led by vice-president Gennady
Yenayev. The coup collapsed, however, when Yeltsin passionately
spoke out against the coup in favor of Gorbachev. Bush was still
cautious, however, and only voiced support for Yeltsins stance
when it was obvious the coup had failed. The damage was
done, however, and the failed coup led to the passage of a resolution
of secession in eight republics, including Russia.
after, the Communist Party was voted out of existence by the
Parliament by a count of 283 to 29. On December 21, eleven
former republics formed the Commonwealth of Independent States
and accepted Gorbachev's resignation, even though he hadnt
yet submitted it. By standing by Gorbachev to the end, Bush
did nothing to stop the inevitable and alienated himself further from
members of his party.