Monday, March 10, 2003

Famous Lost Words: Looking Forward to War with Iraq

Gary Hart, "The Military's New Myths," New York Times, Section A p. 23 (January 30, 1991):

[T]he real combat -- on land -- has yet to begin. There we face a numerically equal, reasonably well-armed opponent defensively deployed. The Iraqi Army has 28,000 Milan antitank weapons, 2,000 Hot airborne antitank weapons, 700 Exocet air-to-surface missiles and 60 Roland mobile antiaircraft missiles. All make the Scuds primitive by comparison.

They will do great damage to allied armored columns and cause considerable inconvenience to supporting air and sea assets.

The Ancestral French Spirit: Flora Lewis, "Mitterrand's Cynical Gaullist Posturing," New York Times, Section A p. 23 (January 16, 1991):

Domestically, Mr. Mitterrand is affected by a new wave of anti-Americanism emanating from an unusual combination of the left, and not only the Communists, and part of the right. Both have decried the prospect of war and what they consider weak-kneed submission to America's will. Some critics make President Bush and Saddam Hussein equivalent, and some argue that Mr. Bush is mainly to blame. France, they say, should show its "difference."


France has long claimed "privileged relations" with Iraq, earned by massive supplies of advanced arms and credits for some 15 years. The press still likes to quote Baghdad bazaar merchants saying, "We trust France more than anybody." Whatever Mr. Hussein does to the French and everybody else, the French believe this because they feel they ought to be liked best.

... [T]here have been no political polemics and little public reminder of the French role -- second only to Moscow's -- in building Iraq's arsenal. That is because all governments have sustained the policy, established by Premier Jacques Chirac [emphasis added] under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, of shoveling weapons to Iraq.

From the beginning of the crisis, France dithered, making appropriate noises of shocked disapproval and suggesting ways of "saving face" for Saddam Hussein. The first French gesture of armed participation was to send the carrier Clemenceau with a great departure ceremony--and no planes, only helicopters.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mitterrand's Defense Minister, Jean-Louis Chevenement, made clear his disagreement about acting against Mr. Hussein. He had been a leader of the Franco-Iraqi friendship society and told people he admired Mr. Hussein because he "is secular and a socialist." Anyplace else, he would have been fired. He was only quietly reminded of his duty and kept on, free to say a week ago that war could be avoided if Mr. Bush would make "a very little gesture" of promising a conference on Israel.

Richard H. Ullman, professor of international affairs at Princeton University, "Flunking World Order 101," New York Times, Section 1 p. 25 (January 12, 1991):

The President has declared that his patience with Iraq is wearing thin. But patience is just what is needed for this one or two or even three year experiment to succeed. If Mr. Bush decides to attack, the experiment will be ruined. The world will not learn whether strong economic sanctions, imposed by a nearly united international community, are sufficient to reverse an act of armed aggression.

New York Times, "CONFRONTATION IN THE GULF; War and Peace: A Sampling From the Debate on Capitol Hill," Section A p. 8 (January 11, 1991):

Senator George Mitchell

Despite the fact that his own policy of international economic sanctions was having a significant effect upon the Iraqi economy, the President, without explanation, abandoned that approach and instead adopted a policy based first and foremost upon the use of American military force. As a result, this country has been placed on a course toward war. This has upset the balance of the President's initial policy, the balance between resources and responsibility, between interest and risk, between patience and strength.

. . .

Senator Edward Kennedy:

War is not the only option left to us in the Persian Gulf. The President may have set Jan. 15 as his deadline, but the American people have not. Sanctions and diplomacy may still achieve our objectives, and Congress has the responsibility to insure that all peaceful options are exhausted before resort to war. Unless we reach that stage, Congress ought not to authorize the President to use force.

At this historic moment, it may well be that only Congress can stop this senseless march toward war.

It may become necessary to use force to expel Iraq from Kuwait, but because war is such a grave undertaking, with such serious consequences, we must make certain that war is employed only as a last resort.


... Most military experts tell us that a war with Iraq would not be quick and decisive, as President Bush suggests; it'll be brutal, and costly. It'll take weeks, even months, and will quickly turn from an air war to a ground war, with thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of American casualties.

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