SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

This article uses captured Iraqi regime records to trace Saddam Hussein's strategic view of the United States from the time of his political ascendancy in the 1970s to his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. What is remarkable about Saddam's view of the United States is how consistently and virulently hostile it was. From early on, Saddam believed that the United States was unalterably opposed to his Baathist project and that Washington was seeking to marginalize and weaken Iraq. These sentiments were rooted in Baathist ideology and the key personality traits that shaped Saddam's worldview, but they were repeatedly reinforced by Washington's policies in the Middle East. Tacit U.S. support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war aided Saddam's war effort but did little to ameliorate his fears. By the late 1980s and 1990, Saddam worried that American operatives were trying to assassinate him, and he saw the United States (and its ally, Israel) as the foreign powers most dangerous to his regime. This view of U.S. policy, in turn, seems to have had an important influence on Saddam's decision to invade Kuwait.