Civil Liberties

Did the West Liberate Kuwait So It Could Execute Anyone Who Insults God or Mohammed? The Answer May Appall You.


Back in 1991, a coalition of international troops led by the United States and put together chiefly by President George H.W. Bush attacked Iraq in response to that country's invasion and occupation of Kuwait. One of the goals of the operation was to liberate Kuwait and hem in Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

The active part of the war lasted a total of about 210 days; following the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, allied forces moved into Iraq and quickly took control of the country, or at least of its international ambitions. After a cease-fire, coalition troops (mostly American) maintained no-fly zones, and more, and that seemed to be that (not exactly). Kuwait was free to get on with its life free of Iraqi interference.

The first President Bush justified the move against Iraq by saying, "If history teaches us anything, it is that we must resist aggression or it will destroy our freedoms."

Here's the latest news from Kuwait, the country we rescued:

Kuwaiti lawmakers voted in favour of a legal amendment on Thursday which could make insulting God and the Prophet Mohammad punishable by death, after a case of suspected blasphemy on Twitter caused an uproar in the Gulf Arab state.

Members of Parliament must vote on the proposal again in a second session and it would need the approval of the country's ruler before becoming law.

The amendment was backed by 46 votes, while four opposed it and others abstained. Those in favour included all 15 members of the cabinet.

Blasphemy is illegal in Kuwait under a 1961 publications law and at present carries a jail term, the length of which depends on the severity of the comments and their perceived effect on society, lawyers say.

Islamist MPs proposed toughening the law last month after authorities arrested a Kuwaiti man they said had defamed the Prophet, his companions and his wife on the Twitter messaging site.

More here.

The first Gulf War took place before I had joined the staff of Reason or had a public voice. I remember being against it for many reasons, but I could at least understand the idea of other nations pushing back when an internationally recognized boundary fell (never mind that the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad had told the Iraqis that our country had "no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait" and all that).

I'm curious how defenders of the first Gulf War (not to mention the second and hopefully last one) feel about Kuwait these days? Are our freedoms in better shape since we helped out a country that's about to vote to put people to death for insulting religious figures?

Related (from 2010): "Why We're Holding an Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Contest"