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Liberation of Kuwait Revisited

Policymakers Seek Lessons In Crisis Management On Tenth Anniversary Of Persian Gulf War

January 29, 2001 -- Ten years after Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Sabre swept through Iraq and liberated Kuwait, policy makers will gather for a conference in Charlottesville, Va., to draw lessons in crisis management from the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War.

Invited to speak, but not yet confirmed, are U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Vice President Dick Cheney, who was then secretary of defense.

"The Liberation of Kuwait: Dawning of a New World Order?" will explore the ramifications of the first major crisis of the post-Cold War era (Aug. 2, 1990 - Feb. 28, 1991) and seek to draw lessons in crisis management for participating government and business leaders. It will be held Feb. 22-24 at the University of Virginia and hosted by the Institute for Global Policy Research.

It is being organized by W. Nathaniel Howell, U.S. ambassador to Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion, who is now director of the Institute and a U.Va. professor. Howell has written about the experience in his recently published monograph, "Siege."

"The occupation and liberation of Kuwait was a watershed event, not just for Kuwaitis and those of us who were caught up in the crisis, but for the way in which the United States and allied nations responded to a massive violation of international law and human rights," Howell said. "After 10 years, it is time to look back at the experience to understand what the global community learned about dealing with threats to peace and security -- threats that continue to confront us today. We expect the conference to offer a deeper understanding of the issues involved in contemporary crises along with a review of the tools that can be used to avert them or deal with them effectively when diplomacy fails."

Although the Iraqi attack occurred months before the final collapse of the Soviet Union, the crisis foreshadowed a number of the aspects of the post-Cold War world — rogue states, nuclear proliferation, crimes against humanity, coalition politics among states.

In some respects, Desert Storm provides a model for the creation and maintenance of political, military, and economic alliances and the effective employment of United Nations capabilities. In other respects, the event foreshasdowed challenges that are likely to confront policy makers well into the 21st century — the continuing threat posed by pariah regimes to regional peace and stability, the limited effectiveness of traditional military and economic tools, the short attention span of the world community, the lengthy recovery time of traumatized societies.

The first half of the conference will review the events of 1990-91, cutting through revisionist interpretations to spotlight positive and negative lessons learned. The second half will focus on actual and potential crises tied to the security and stability of the Gulf region.

Topics of discussion will include:

    • Preserving national identity and culture under occupation
    • Maintaining international peace and security: the Persian Gulf as a regional model
    • Newer theories of war avoidance and lessons for a strengthened world order
    • Uses and limits of armed force
    • Tribalism and community: dealing with ethnic conflict, terrorism and extremist movements.

Other invited speakers include: Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state; Harold Saunders, former assistant secretary of state; Shaikh Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait minister of oil and former ambassador to the United States; Mohammad Al-Sabah, Kuwait ambassador to the U.S.; William Quandt, former member of the National Security Council and vice provost for international affairs of U.Va.; Philip Zelikow, former member of the National Security Council and director of U.Va's Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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