The Crude Enforcer

Iraq's leader calls out the troops to frighten his neighbors into curbing their petroleum output; his tactic will raise oil prices -- but for how long?

For the Western military attaches driving from Kuwait into Iraq, the spectacle must have been an eye-popper. As the travelers headed toward Baghdad, having been blithely waved on by Iraqi border guards, they counted dozens, then hundreds, then as many as 3,000 Iraqi military vehicles rumbling toward the frontier, carrying what the foreigners estimated to be 30,000 fighting men. While representing only a fraction of Iraq's army of 1 million, the two divisions headed for the border outnumbered tiny Kuwait's entire armed forces by a ratio of 3 to 2.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was putting muscle into an economic threat...

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