What made Saddam Hussein believe that he could get away with invading Kuwait?

How did he assess the political situation before Kuwait invasion?

  • 1
    @indigochild -- Hussein, Aziz, Thatcher, and the original poster all thought the United States was relevant to this question.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


Saddam thought his foreign ministry asked the U.S. ambassador if it would be OK. The U.S. ambassador thought Iraq was just making a courtesy notification that Iraq would follow up on a dispute with Kuwait about oil drilling practices, so she said something non-committal. Iraq interpreted this as permission to conquer Kuwait.

Historically, when a major power says something non-committal in response to a second power saying it wants to invade a third country, the second power has often correctly interpreted the non-committal response as either "Go ahead", or "We'd rather you didn't, but we won't do anything serious if you do." For example:

  • Both Germany and the Soviet Union interpreted the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact as permission from the other great power to conquer the countries and territories that the pact assigned to their respective spheres of influence.
  • Indonesia mentioned its plans in invade East Timor to President Ford. President Ford apparently did not object. Indonesia invaded East Timor soon after. East Timor did not regain its independence for a generation.
  • Then why did the USA invade Saddam's Iraq?
    – user4514
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:27
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    @anonymous -- As I wrote, the U.S. did not intend to give Saddam permission to conquer Kuwait. The U.S. administration did not decide to liberate Kuwait until a week later, when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher convinced President George H.W. Bush to do so. Kuwait was a British Protectorate from 1899 until 1961. The U.K. still had significant ties to Kuwait, and the U.S.-U.K. alliance is the U.S.' closest alliance with any European Great Power. Bush convinced the U.S. Congress to authorize a war against Iraq to liberate Kuwait, shortly before the reconquest began.
    – Jasper
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 2:20
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    Could you please link your sources?
    – Arsak
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 9:07

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