US Interests in the Gulf War
The response in the United States to Saddam Hussein's moves was first shock and then dismay. Strategist, statesmen and the general public quickly came to understand that the United States had significant interests in making certain that Saudi Arabia was not conquered by Saddam's juggernaut. Having rolled over Kuwait, Saddam already controlled over 20 percent of the world's oil reserves. Saudi Arabia contained an additional 20 percent. Since the world economy was primarily driven by fossil fuels, what Saddam could do with these resources could easily be imagined.
Besides economic factors affecting the daily lives of every American there were other considerations, perhaps even more weighty. Iraq, in its invasion of Kuwait had perpetrated many atrocities on the Kuwaiti people, from summary executions, to wholesale confiscation of movable property, to the torture and degradation of individuals. Such crimes could not be ignored, and Americans had every reason to expect that this kind of behavior would continue and even accelerate should Iraqi forces move into Saudi Arabia.
Further, Iraq had been vigorous in developing weapons of mass destruction. CIA and other intelligent experts estimated that the Iraqi's were on the brink of developing a nuclear capability and likely had a biological weapon's capability. There was no question that they had chemical weapons. More ominously, they showed no compunction about using their chemical weapons. They had even done so on villages within their own boundaries in order to put down the Kurdish independence movement.
Economic sanctions had failed to keep Saddam from committing atrocities, they had failed to keep him from developing weapons of mass destruction, they had failed to keep him from invading Kuwait. A majority of Americans understood that military force was not only justified, but absolutely necessary.