The war in Vietnam was called ‘forgotten.’ People at home soured on the entanglement in South Asia. If that was the forgotten war, then the Gulf War I was the forgotten victory.
30 fast years ago today, headlines across the world blared “PEACE!” The Pottsville REPUBLICAN went even a step further by labeling Thursday February 28, 1991 as ‘PEACE ON EARTH’.. At least they ended the phrase with a a question mark.
The very short Gulf War was over. The United States declared that its mission to extricate Saddam Hussein’s forces from the tiny nation of Kuwait to be a success.
CNN agreed, with their booming ratings and 24/7 live coverage of bombs bursting in the air, a new age of information had been born. Even though CNN gave us incredibly questionable video showing live coverage that looked more like a Monty Python skit:
America was breathing a sigh of relief and celebration the night of February 28, 1991. There were months of pressure in the American psyche and the world landscape. Some wondered if Saddam would use his perilous weapons that killed his own people. There were rumors of Iraqi soldiers murdering babies by taking them out of incubators. That story was one of the leading talking points the American government utilized to rally the nation to war in Iraq.
Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ testifeid before Congress about the atrocity. She said she saw it happen. It most likely never did.
By the time the war effort ended, America was adorned with yellow ribbons on trees in virtually every town in every state. This tribute to American soldiers was genuine and true. At the time of 1990 as the Persian Gulf crisis heated up as ‘Operation Desert Shield,’ columnist Mike Royko humorously described the yellow ribbon crisis across America. He wrote of how 3,000 Americans were reportedly being held hostage in in Iraq.
Sure, I know that. That’s all the TV blabbermouths have been talking about. But there are 250 million Americans who ain’t being held hostage in Iraq, and that is a lot more people. And if we’re going to eyeball-to-eyeball with this creep, we gotta knock off the yellow-ribbon stuff.’
100 hours after Operation Desert Storm began, all actions were suspended. The brief war was over. President George Bush addressed the nation late February 28:
The elation over victory in 1991 was short lived. While parades and jubilation welcomed troops home from the Gulf, it was not long before a recession assisted in leading to the election of a new President one year later when Bill Clinton won the 1992 election..
Important decisions were made in 1991 to not continue a march to Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein. He was left in power to remain the repugnant ‘bad guy’ that UN weapons inspectors would deal with for another decade. United States bombing missions were often done..
Though Bush 1 was kicked from office in defeat, Bill Clinton continued the policies in Iraq, issuing his first military action as the summer began in 1993, saying:
“These actions were directed against the Iraqi government, which was responsible for the assassination plot. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated repeatedly that he will resort to terrorism or aggression if left unchecked. Our intent was to target Iraq’s capacity to support violence against the United States and other nations, and to deter Saddam Hussein from supporting such outlaw behavior in the future. Therefore, we directed our action against the facility associated with Iraq’s support of terrorism, while making every effort to minimize the loss of innocent life.”
Before Clinton the 1996 election, Clinton did it again:
During the Monica Lewisnsky scandal, Clinton continued bombing campaigns. something that was lampooned by Saturday Night LIVE:
THE REST BECOMES HISTORY
The Reagan administration and its special Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, did little to stop Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s, even though they knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons “almost daily” against Iran..
The United States walked a tight rope by assisting both Iraq and Iran during the 1980s war.
Perhaps Saddam was inspired by that support to invade Kuwait..
Maybe he figured it was a gamble that the world would not respond to…
Saddam was wrong.
The war effort began.
And while the world got ready for operations in the Middle East, young Kuwaitis partied on as the war raged in their homeland. The Baltiomre SUN reported this in January 1991:
“They start their days at 2 in the afternoon and stay out until 5 each morning,” exclaims Ahmed Hamed, a waiter at Cairo’s spacious Safir Hotel, where a number of Kuwaiti families are waiting out the war in $3,000-a-month apartments. “At first, they tried to act nice, but now that the war has begun, and they know they will get their villas back, they are reverting to their arrogant ways.” “It is real, this discotheque problem,” sighs Ahmed al Nafisi, a former member of the Kuwaiti Parliament who now heads a citizens group here called the Kuwait Association for People’s Work. “In normal times it’s OK for people to do whatever they want. But now that people are dying on the front, it doesn’t look good to have young Kuwaiti men going to all the wrong places at the wrong times. The obvious question to many is why, instead of going to discos, don’t they enlist?”
THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS COMPLEX
America did win in 1991. But what was victory? What was the price..
The price tag continues to add up. With more and more ventures into the Middle East, the United States may not look at Gulf War I not as victory but as just a beginning battle in a long war.
George Bush declared war and victory..
George W. Bush declared war again … and a “mission accomplished” on a carrier flight deck. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was clear that Iraq had nothing to do with that attack. Despite the obvious, we were sending over a hundred thousand American soldiers to the nation a year later…
It’s fair to say that Gulf War II continues with 2,500 troops in Iraq.
While this is the lowest number since 2001, it’s also noteworthy that President Joe Biden has not publicly closed a door on sending further troops. Recently, Biden authorized an air strike in Syria as a message to Iran.
x x x
30 years sent by in the blink of an eye. But that quick blink was able to witness the events that occurred since Saddam Hussein’s forces surrendered in 1991… And gain an understanding as to how it began in the first place.
The future may be unpredictable. But we know it will involve missiles and bombs.
TIME WILL TELL.
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