A 20 años de la Guerra del Golfo

NUEVA YORK – Este mes se cumplen 20 años desde que Saddam Hussein, entonces el líder indiscutido de Irak, invadió Kuwait. Lo que vino después fue la primera gran crisis internacional de la era de post-Guerra Fría que, en menos de un año, llevó a la liberación de Kuwait, junto con el restablecimiento de su gobierno. Esto se logró solamente con un modesto costo humano y económico para la extraordinaria coalición multinacional reunida por el presidente George H.W. Bush.

Desde entonces, Estados Unidos ha utilizado fuerza militar en numerosas ocasiones con diferentes propósitos. Hoy, Estados Unidos hace esfuerzos para retirarse de un segundo conflicto que involucra a Irak, intenta descifrar una salida en Afganistán y contempla el uso de fuerza con Irán. De modo que la pregunta que surge naturalmente es la siguiente: ¿qué podemos aprender de la primera guerra de Irak, considerada ampliamente como un éxito militar y diplomático?

Una lección importante surge de los fundamentos de la guerra. Una cosa es modificar el comportamiento de un estado más allá de sus fronteras, y otra muy distinta alterar lo que ocurre dentro del territorio de otro país. La Guerra del Golfo de 1990-1991 tenía que ver con revertir la agresión armada de Irak, algo que esencialmente contradecía el respeto por la soberanía, la más básica de todas las reglas que gobiernan las relaciones entre los estados en el mundo de hoy. Una vez que las fuerzas militares iraquíes fueron expulsadas de Kuwait en 1991, Estados Unidos no marchó hacia Bagdad para reemplazar el gobierno de Irak –ni se quedó en Kuwait para imponer allí la democracia.

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