Happy 20th Anniversary to the "End" of the 1991 Gulf War...the War That Never Actually Ended
By Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet
Ask most Americans over the age of 20 what's the shortest and most successful war in our history, and chances are they'll say the 1991 Gulf War. Short and to the point, it was over in 43 days with only 148
Additional legislation like the 1998
Legalities aside, Iraqis, residents of neighboring regions, sick
The Persian Gulf War in its initial phase (August 1990- February 1991) accomplished many goals for the
Last month, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the start of Allied military operations against
Journalists like John MacArthur and
1. The Persian Gulf War Had Been in the Planning for Years Before the Iraqi Invasion of
As scholars like Frances Boyle have asserted, soon after the 1988 termination of the 8 year Iraq-Iran War, the Pentagon began planning the destruction of
In early 1990, General Schwarzkopf told the Senate Armed Services Committee of this new military strategy in the Gulf and to protect U.S. access to and control over Gulf oil in the event of regional conflicts, and after the war, he referred to eighteen months of planning for the campaign as Commander of the U.S. Central Command. During January of 1990, massive quantities of
2. The United States Manipulated Saddam into Invading Kuwait, Then Used the Invasion as a Justification for the War They'd Been Waiting For.
Much debate surrounds the true content of the meeting between Saddam Hussein and Ambassador April Glaspie on July 25, 1990. But Glaspie's own cable, released by Wikileaks on New Year's Day, and long available at the Bush Library and on the website of none other than Margaret Thatcher, paints a picture of a government with a two-faced foreign policy. Saddam complains that “certain circles” in the
The CIA under William Webster's direction advised
In her July 29th cable, Glaspie offers the State Department advice on handling the matter, including keeping a low profile and reminding colleagues as she had Saddam in the earlier meeting that “we have never taken substantive positions on inter-OPEC or Arab border disputes”-- which was the matter at hand. In her earlier cable, Glaspie wrote that Saddam made clear that “if
Glaspie was not the only official to express this laissez-faire position. On July 26th, at a
Two days later, on August 2nd, when Saddam's troops entered
What's not clear to this day is the nature of Bush and Baker's behavior at the time. The U.S. policy toward Iraq had never been consistent, and in the July 25 meeting, Glaspie reports, Saddam reminds her of U.S. double-dealing, mentioning in particular Irangate, the Reagan administration's sale of weapons to Iran at the same time as it was selling arms and allowing sale of toxic chemicals to Iraq. Did Bush and Baker mean to maintain the friendlier policy toward
Margaret Thatcher's account in her memoir is that as late as August 2nd, when the two met at a conference in Aspen, Bush was waffling about responding to the Iraqi invasion until she famously said, “This is no time to go wobbly on me, George,”which may or not be so. What's certain is that by Sunday, August 5th, Bush was in, announcing after a weekend at
3. The U.S. Disinformed Congress and the Public to Drum up War Support for an Unpopular War and Bribed and Bamboozled Other Countries
If the CIA, the Pentagon, and by summer's end the President and Secretary of State were fixed on a war with Iraq, during the fall of 1990, the American public and Congress were not. To change that, the week after
In charge of the
They organized public rallies, provided pro-war speakers, lobbied politicians, developed and distributed information kits and news releases, including scores of video news releases shown by stations and networks as if they were bona fide journalism and not paid-for propaganda.
H&K's research arm, the Wirthlin Group, conducted daily polls to identify the messages and language that would resonate most with Americans. In the 1992 Emmy award-winning Canadian Broadcasting Corp. documentary To Sell a War, a Wirthlin executive explained that their research had determined the most emotionally moving message to be "Saddam Hussein was a madman who had committed atrocities even against his own people and had tremendous power to do further damage, and he needed to be stopped."
To fit the bill, H&K concocted stories, including one told by a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah, to another H&K concoction, the House Human Rights Caucus looking to pass as a congressional committee. According to the caucus, Nayirah's full name would remain secret in order to deter the Iraqis from punishing her family in occupied
According to her written testimony, she had seen "the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns and go into the room where ... babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the babies on the cold floor to die."
During the three months between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the war, the story of babies tossed from their incubators stunned Americans. Bush told the story, and television anchors and talk-show hosts recycled it for days. It was read into the congressional record as fact and discussed at the U.N. General Assembly.
By the time it emerged that Nayirah was a Kuwaiti royal and the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to
Another concoction was top-secret satellite images that the Pentagon claimed to have of 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks on the Kuwait-Saudi border, visible proof that Saddam would be advancing soon on
But the St. Petersburg Times story evaporated, and the Pentagon's story stuck. When Bush addressed a joint session of Congress on Sept. 11, 1990, he reported that developments in the Gulf were "as significant as they were tragic"
Saudi reluctance to host foreign troops and bases that would desecrate their sacred sites, the holiest in all of Islam, gave way in the face of an imminent invasion, and the war had its staging area. American discomfort with a war to defend a country most had never heard of began to transform into dread that the Saudi oil they relied on would be swallowed up by a monster.
4. The Gulf War's Stated Goal of Ejecting Iraqi Troops from Kuwait Quickly Revealed Itself to be Destroying Iraq
The war's stated intention was to remove
Mostly, the Allies aimed at civilian facilities—shelters, mosques, homes, schools, hospitals markets, commercial and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, factories, office buildings, vehicles on highways, bridges, and roads. Though estimates of civilian deaths during the war range from 25,0000 to over 100,000, all count children at above 50% of the immediate casualties.
Iraq's infrastructure--which people lived in, worked in, drove on, received medical treatment in, studied in, prayed in, and shopped at—was bombed, leaving the most sophisticated of Arab states in a primitive and catastrophic state.
By most accounts, at least one hundred thousand people died soon after the war from dehydration, dysentery, malnutrition, starvation, and illnesses, from contaminated water, starvation, and exposure to impure water, hunger, cold, and shock. In the period between the end of Desert Storm and the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the degraded environment and sanctions led to the death of an estimated million more, half of them children. Medicines, food, baby formula—these were among the essentials kept from the Iraqi people in the initial and ensuing stages of the war against
5. A System of Censorship Was Established to Hide the True War from the Public, Including Killing of Our Own and the War's Launching of al Qaeda
In the lead-up to war,
Pentagon censors had to clear all war dispatches, photos and footage before they could be released. Two months after the war ended, the editors of 15 news outlets protested to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney about the Pentagon's control. But the damage had been done. The real war was never reported to the American public.
As for our own, we saw no images of returning coffins filled with U.S. service members, nor, in the days and months after the war, coverage of the war's aftermath
We heard little about the 20,000 troops occupying
There was and still are no mainstream media coverage of the roots, just of the proclamations of them versus us, hatemongers versus freedom lovers, barbaric cowards versus civilized heroes. We could read, in time, about bin Laden's jihad, but little appeared of the fatwa he and his counterparts throughout the Middle-East issued, except the often-quoted statement that it was the duty of every Muslim "to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military," leaving out the second part of the sentence -- "in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”
The 21st Year of War Begins
The war that supposedly ended on February 28th 1991 legally never ended. And functionally, it merely began the next stage of the war against
Made it a battle when it was never one. That statement could summarize
Provoke, manipulate, lie to Congress, the UN, the public, bribe and bamboozle the international community, and , by all means, censor as you go—for two decades the strategy has not stopped. On the 20th anniversary of the end of the unending war the world faces a new phase of
Nora Eisenberg's work has appeared in the Village Voice, Tikkun, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Guardian
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs