Experience of Kuwait

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4. What is the view of the population in Kuwait on globalisation regarding a win-win-strategy? Do they seek a win-win situation for everybody?

Jana Hybášková:

Kuwait was part of global trade for centuries. Historians will not agree with the “out of Europe understanding” of globalization. Nevertheless, global trade routes existed well before the Levant and East Indian Company were established. The price of wood, the price of rice, the price of sandalwood, price of gold were global even before then. Kuwait produced pearls; Kuwaiti sailors sold them in India in exchange for timber, copper and rice. They were sailing East for months and then returning West. Their wives never accompanied them. They live a local life, taking care of children and animals. Men were part of the global world. The issue was: How to protect woman? She should stay at home, each home was a small fortress, she should be veiled and never leave the house without male company. What seems today as a total disregard of women's rights, used to be a working security measure. Men did not return home in less than 8 months…

The whole life changed rapidly during the fifties due to the oil business and the UK's negotiated departure. Within less than two generations Kuwait became one of the richest societies in the world. Kuwait is a great case study for globalization purposes: can globalization amplified by unaccountable wealth be used in a sustainable way? Kuwait managed to develop great health care, and educational, security, energy, transportation systems. The social and technical infrastructure is financed directly by the state. The State, as a technical structure functions well. What is left behind is Kuwaiti society. Kuwait does not have a taxation system. No taxation, no representation. Huge wealth on one the side, which was not used to the benefit of all society, caused the marginalization of foreign workers who are the only real working part of the Kuwaiti state. Disregard for public work, to work generally harms Kuwaiti youth.

It was not only oil trauma, but Kuwait went through a unique experience in the 1990s. Total physical occupation by the barbaric army of Saddam Hussein lasted for 8 months. In Europe we don't have enough information on what really happened in Kuwait. As decades and centuries earlier, many families were split: men were on their global trade paths, women were at home. These were Kuwaiti women who protected houses, bank accounts, kids, family ownership. Their trauma can never be healed. These are Kuwaiti women today who do not trust the world, who fully maintain their conservative habits and manners, who cover themselves, who are true believers, who do not drink and smoke…

Globalization wealth and oil income made Kuwait a victim of Saddam's invasion. Fast globalization brought war and suffering. Kuwait is recovering only very slowly. And trust in the modern world is being regained only very slowly, and only very slowly are Kuwaitis opening their Universities, give voting rights to women, bringing their woman into parliament.

Kuwait is getting back its pride, its museums, and its public life only very slowly. The strategic threat nevertheless is not smaller than it was. Iraq is not fully democratic yet, and Iran has already become an existential threat. The Iranian nuclear problem and the Saudi reaction to it is a new blockage on the Kuwaiti road to openness, modernization, democratization.

Kuwait sees its world role through its Kuwaiti Fund of Arab Economic Development. KFAED is an enormous global development fund, present in more than 50 underdeveloped countries. KFAED is great example of shared global benefit, of a positive instrument of globalization. KFAED is managed in a great modern and global way. Let us wish that Kuwait gets rid of its strategic threats soon. In this case Kuwait will even more be willing to share its wealth with peoples in need. Kuwait, if not being harmed by external military threats would be a great globalization contributor.

The conclusion is clear: Without strategic threats globalization will be closer to a win-win situation. To better manage globalization we should properly manage strategic threats.

Henning Strate

I would like to respond to the question about the experience of Kuwait.

The answer suggests that while being an important trade hub for centuries, Kuwait drastically changed due to the discovery and production of crude oil, increasing wealth to new levels and altering life in Kuwait. It also enabled the establishment of a modern state administration. However, the oil reserves and Kuwaiti wealth gave the country a strategic value as a result of which it became a target for the aspirations of its neighbouring countries, especially Iraq (then under the leadership of Saddam Hussein). It then fell victim to Iraqi aggression and pillaging with damage still felt today.

I wonder, though, whether the attack on Kuwait was truly a consequence of its strategic value in a globalised world or due to other reasons. There was once a Roman military writer Vegetius who coined the phrase „He who desires peace, prepares for war.“, and I wonder if the state of Kuwait was simply UNprepared and this became its very undoing? The matter of „War and Peace“ is a question of how much effort a country makes in international relations and defense procurement, or is it not? What do you think?

Monday, 4 January 2010

Jana Hybášková

Dear all,

It was my pleasure to share my experience and experiences with you. I hope I did not discourage you from future contact with politicians! You yourself have the responsibility. If you are not active in the public arena, others will occupy it! Thank you for your cooperation.

Great MMX!

Dear Henning,

Even though I was later Ambassador in Kuwait, even though I followed the events of 1990 very closely, and even though I later met with April Glapsie, the truth is that we really do not know what really happened. The fact is that Kuwait was drilling into the Rumaila oil field and the fact is that there were tough negotiations going on, and Kuwait did not stop taking oil from Rumaila. The key question of whether April Glaspie gave a wrong signal to Saddam remains open.

So I can only quote Wikipedia:

By the time the ceasefire with Iran was signed in August 1988, Iraq was virtually bankrupt, with most of its debt owed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq pressured both nations to forgive the debts, but they refused. Kuwait was also accused by Iraq of exceeding its OPEC quotas and driving down the price of oil, thus further hurting the Iraqi economy.

The collapse in oil prices had a catastrophic impact on the Iraqi economy. The Iraqi Government described it as a form of economic warfare, which it claimed was aggravated by Kuwait slant-drilling across the border into Iraq's Rumaila oil field.[1]

Iraq claimed Kuwait had been a part of the Ottoman Empire's province of Basra. Its ruling dynasty, the al-Sabah family, had concluded a protectorate agreement in 1899 that assigned responsibility for its foreign affairs to Britain. Britain drew the border between the two countries, and deliberately tried to limit Iraq's access to the ocean so that any future Iraqi government would be in no position to threaten Britain's domination of the Gulf. Iraq refused to accept the border, and did not recognize the Kuwaiti government until 1963.[1]

In early July, Iraq complained about Kuwait's behavior, such as not respecting their quota, and openly threatened to take military action. On the 23rd, the CIA reported that Iraq had moved 30,000 troops to the Iraq-Kuwait border, and the U.S. naval fleet in the Persian Gulf was placed on alert. On the 25th, Saddam Hussein met with April Glaspie, an American ambassador, in Baghdad. At that meeting, Glaspie told the Iraqi delegation, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts." On the 31st, negotiations between Iraq and Kuwait in Jeddah failed violently.[1] On 2 August 1990 Iraq launched an invasion with its warplanes, bombing Kuwait City, the Kuwaiti capital.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gulf War. (2010, January 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:30, January 17, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gulf_War&oldid=338222701