Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

David Andrews

Reader 2

Sumita Pahwa

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In August 1990 Iraq invaded its lightly armed neighbor, Kuwait. The UN Security Council responded to the Iraqi invasion with a comprehensive regime of sanctions. This paper argues that the UN resolution imposing multilateral economic sanctions on Iraq was an appropriate response to Iraq’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait. It likewise concludes that the United States initially had good reason to believe that the regime of Saddam Hussein would be weakened by the sanctions and hence would comply with the terms of various UN resolutions. However, the US prolonged the sanctions for a decade, despite knowing that the sanctions caused the Iraqi civilian population to suffer greatly, while Saddam’s popularity and the apparatus of the Iraqi police state were only strengthened. Incorporating the Copenhagen School’s theory of securitization, this paper examines how actors in the United States were unable to securitize the threat posed by Saddam to justify the continuation of the sanctions and thus became responsible in the public eye for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Only after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was the US government able to successfully re-securitize the issue and manipulate its audience to favor extraordinary measures in the Middle East. This suggests that apparently unprovoked acts of aggression can lead to successful securitization efforts.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.