Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of History


Raymond M. Hyser

Philip D. Dillard

John J. Butt


The large-scale use of chemical weapons in conflict dates to World War I, but international regulations kept its use in check until Saddam Hussein’s decision to implement it throughout the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The consistent use of poison gas and repeated lack of international intervention allowed Saddam to murder thousands of Kurdish citizens in Halabja on March 16, 1988. This paper admits Saddam Hussein committed heinous acts of human rights violations and war crimes, but argues he was forced to make these horrific decisions by an unyielding adversary in the Ayatollah Khomeini, abandoned by an ineffective United Nations Security Council still locked in Cold War logic, and ignored by a passive United States government. This paper utilizes declassified CIA documents, newspaper articles, statements from United States and Iraqi government officials and servicemen, and scholarly studies to add a new argument to the historiography surrounding Saddam Hussein’s war-time decision-making.



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