Iraq once was a part of the Ottoman Empire. Saddam Hussein became "President" in 1979 and maintained power through ruthless purges. The country was also beset by internal strife. In the north the Kurds yearned for independence and in the south, the Shiites looked to Iran. The state and the army grew over time. Today, the military alone takes up 35 percent of every dollar earned.
Saddam's expansion of the state's military apparatus was frightening to his neighbours. His investment in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and corresponding delivery systems even prompted a 1981 attack by Israel in an effort to set back his weapons development program. With the expansion of his military, Saddam attempted to gain hegemony over the Persian Gulf Region. In the 1980's he fought a long, bitter struggle with Iran.
As a result of the war with Iran and the heavy investment in arms and training, the Iraqi military became the dominant force in the region.
Led by the Republican Guard it could formidably challenge any of its neighbours. The price of keeping this force active was exorbitant. Iraq borrowed heavily from its oil-producing neighbours. The debt coupled with continued investments brought on a 40 percent inflation rate and a stagnant standard of living.
Although Iraq had considerable oil reserves of her own, revenues were not sufficient to meet the demands of her creditors. This problem was exacerbated in 1990 when Kuwait and other oil states began to lower oil prices and increase production beyond agreed upon levels. Iraq was forced to follow suit or lose even more revenues. To make matters worse, Iraq suspected the Kuwaiti's were drilling diagonally from their side of the border to tap Iraqi oil reserves.
Thus Saddam Hussein was now in a precarious position. It was getting more and...