AP US History : Global Participation 1980–Present

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Global Participation 1980–Present

Operation Desert Storm, also known as The Gulf War, began in 1991 as a response by the United States and Allied nations to Iraq’s attempt to conquer Kuwait. During its history, Kuwait had been a part of Iraq until 1923 when new borders were created.  It remained under British military protection until 1961. At that time, Kuwait joined the Arab League. Iraq protested this action claiming Kuwait’s status prior to 1923 made it part of Iraq’s territory. Kuwait formed its own Constitution in 1963 with the Emir and a group of ministers holding executive power. An assembly was also elected in the same year. In 1990, Saddam Hussein made the decision to regain the land lost and ordered his army to attack Kuwait. Hussein had threatened Kuwait for many years prior to the 1990 invasion; however, the extent of the invasion surprised the world. The Iraqi army rapidly seized all of Kuwait and was swiftly advancing towards Saudi Arabia. The United Nations and President George H.W. Bush demanded that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. Iraq refused to withdraw from Kuwait and the Iraqi army continued to move southward. The result was Operation Desert Storm, which placed the largest number of American forces on foreign soil since the Viet Nam conflict.

What was the major concern of the world’s leaders regarding Iraq’s attack on Kuwait?

Possible Answers:

Iraq would control a significant portion of the world’s oil supplies

Fear that Russia might support Iraq with military supplies

Iran agreed to join with Iraq to reclaim territories it lost in World War II

Syrian troops would join the Iraqi troops in attacking Saudi Arabia

Iraq would be well positioned to attack the Arab Emirates, a major ally of the United States

Correct answer:

Iraq would control a significant portion of the world’s oil supplies


Combined with the oil reserves in Kuwait, control of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves would give Iraq control of one-fifth of the world’s oil supply in addition to destabilizing the Middle East. King Fahd, of Saudi Arabia, agreed with the American plan to place troops on the Saudi border to defend against an Iraqi attack. The Arab Emirates worked with the allies to settle this dispute. Iran did not agree with Iraq in its attack on Kuwait, had not lost territories during World War II and was also working with the allies to prevent or end the war. The Soviet Union was interested in this war because it was taking place close to its southern border. The Soviet interest was more academic than active participation. Syria was a close ally of the United States in this endeavor providing staging bases and troops to help the allies in the war.

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