Canada's Involvement in the Gulf War

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8th Feb 2020 Military Reference this


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During the span of the Gulf War Canada managed and handled the war quite poorly compared to their previous war experiences. Both the misuse and over use of their resources being a complete waste. To the length of the overall wars and peace keeping missions. As well as the Prime Minister struggling to communicate to his own country.

All this coming from a war that when looking back we did not even need to be a part of. With the United States also being involved in this war, we did not need to be involved at all. America could have handled the situation on their own. But Canada chose to involve themselves anyway and there are many reasons as to why this was a bad idea.

During the span of the gulf war Canada struggled with poor resource management. Canada was using way more troops than needed as Martin Douglas states “More than 4,000 men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces participated in the First Gulf War”[1]– Martin Douglas. This is a lot of men for a war fought in a very small country. As Martin Douglas then says, “Canada went to war to protect and liberate a country that is little more than three times the size of Prince Edward Island.”[2]– Martin Douglas. 4000 men and women risking their lives for such a small conflict is entirely pointless. It was Canada risking human lives for little to no reason at all.

 The Gulf war was also fought by countries like United States of America. 4000 troops is completely overdoing it when you consider the fact that this was a conflict primarily fought by the United States, in the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia it states “conflicts fought principally between Iraq and the U.S”[3]– Funk and Wagnalls. This shows the United States were a leading force in this war. Canada was little more than aside participant during the Gulf war. America already has troops being sent into this small country. Canada did not need this many troop

The overall length of the war was abysmal for Canada. The same people who could pull an attack like the one they pulled at Vimy Ridge struggled to liberate a country like Kuwait from Iraqi troops. There were two primary Gulf wars, Between 1991 and 2003. While two years does not sound like much, Canada also had to do peacekeeping missions in between, As Sean Maloney said “Canada’s armed forces never left the region following the gulf war. Immediately afterward, they took part in operation assist.”[4]-Sean Maloney Canada had even more missions to complete following the first section of the Gulf war. There were even more battles after the “end” of the war. This makes for a combined 12 years of fighting in that region. That is longer than both World Wars combined to fully remove Iraqi troops and fix Kuwait.

During the Gulf war Canadian citizens struggled with poor communication from the prime minister. The Prime Minister at the time Jean Chretien’ words were not matching his actions at all. Jean Chretien had consistently conducted attacks while lying to Canadians. Both during the main war and after it he had hid the truth.

Canadians were told Canada was sending medical units and three aircrafts to bring humanitarian assistance to Kurds who had left Iraq and fled to the mountains of southern Turkey. But in reality, this was a mission to stabilize the military and conduct covert operations inside northern Iraq. As well as support those who were fighting Saddam, Sean Maloney had this to say “according to declassified Canadian documents, the operation was part of an effort to stabilize the area military, allowing western forces to conduct covert operations inside northern Iraq in support of Kurds opposed to Saddam”[5]-Sean Maloney This was found in now declassified documents. These were things at the time of the war Canada did not want its people to know about. These are things countries like North Korea do to their people. This was quite the mistake from Canada.

 Jean Chretien was vocally against the United States wanting to attack Saddam. But his actions during the Gulf war were all in support of the United States attacking him. Multiple years of Canada secretly supporting the attack on Saddam while claiming they were against the idea, Sean Maloney states in “Canada at war”, “Although Chrétien has been critical of U.S. threats to attack Saddam, the Canadian deployments since 1988 were designed to support the American strategy to contain Iraq”[6]-Sean Maloney, As you can see Canada had supported the idea of taking Iraq while stating they were not on board with the idea. Jean Chretien had lied and hid his true intentions from Canadians in order to keep the idea of Canadians being peacekeepers.

 All of these operations were not required and could have been pulled off by the United States just as effectively. If Canada had stayed out of these covert operations, they could have kept their peacekeeper image and held it truthfully. Canada could have pulled out of the war once the first phase had ended in 1991. But they chose to stay and conduct covert operations with United states.

 For the most part Canada has always done well in war. But the Gulf War has shown us Canada is still just a country and is not perfect. This was a war Canada handled poorly from almost any angle you look at it. But it Is not all bad, Canada can learn for experiences like these. To have an example of what to do, you must also have an example of what not to do. That is what this war was for Canada.


[1] Martin Douglas, “Canadian Armed Forces Remember The Gulf War And The Liberation of Kuwait”, Airforce magazine, 2016,

[2] Martin Douglas, “Canadian Armed Forces Remember The Gulf War And The Liberation of Kuwait”, Airforce magazine, 2016,

[3] “Persian Gulf War of 1991.” 2018. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, January, 1;

[4] Sean Maloney, “Canada At War,” Maclean’s. 9/23/2002, Vol. 115 Issue 38, p20. 3p.,

[5] Sean Maloney, “Canada At War,” Maclean’s. 9/23/2002, Vol. 115 Issue 38, p20. 3p.,

[6] Sean Maloney, “Canada At War,” Maclean’s. 9/23/2002, Vol. 115 Issue 38, p20. 3p.,

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