Twenty-Five Years after Desert Storm

The crisis and the conflict we have come to call “Desert Storm” is twenty-five years old.  This crisis began on August 2, 1990, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and purported annexation as a prelude to hegemony of oil in the Arabian Peninsula and control of the Persian Gulf. 

“Desert Shield” was the military codename for the defense against further Iraqi aggression, and “Desert Storm” was the codename for the liberation of Kuwait.  Although predominantly an American military operation, Desert Storm was truly an international effort.  The victory was so stunning and absolute that it is easy in retrospect to dismiss Iraqi military prowess and to forget that the Iraqi Army, the fourth largest in the world, had fought successfully for almost a decade a much larger army in the Iraq-Iran War. 

Desert Storm stands in stark contrast to our wars in Vietnam and Korea and to Obama’s ghastly incompetence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Whatever one may think of the presidency of George H. Bush, his management of Desert Storm was masterful: he listened to his military advisors and did all he could to minimize American casualties.  As a result, total American casualties were 293, with half of those in a single strike on an American military compound by a Scud missile.

The ripple effects of this stunning military victory were felt around the world.  Although the Warsaw Pact had effectively disintegrated by the time of Desert Storm, the Soviet Union was still intact.  Desert Storm demonstrated the vast qualitative edge in American military technology.  The Kremlin saw that its investment of many decades in building up its military was in vain.  It was clear that if there ever was a true showdown with America, the Soviets would be crushed.

Much of the Arab world had cause to view America as a protector not just of Israel, but of peaceful Arab nations as well.  Israel was goaded in every way possible by Saddam Hussein to enter the war, including Scud missile attacks, but the reassurance by America that Hussein’s aggression would fail persuaded Israel to refrain from fighting.

Desert Storm, which came so soon after the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and the liberation of Eastern Europe, helped assure the collapse of the Soviet Union into the Russian Republic and lead all the other constituent nationalities into independence.  The vast investment the Soviets had made in armaments was clearly a total waste: American military technology was a quantum leap ahead of the Soviet military.

If someone twenty-five years ago, after Desert Storm, had said that in a quarter of a century Iran would be moving without our opposition toward building a nuclear weapon, that many thousands of American soldiers would have been killed or maimed fighting a no-win war in the region, that Russia would be lurking on the borders of Ukraine, and that terrorists would be routinely threatening Americans in their homeland, that person would have condemned the dismal prophet who made that prediction as crazy.

What happened?  Our brave men in uniform did not fail us; our political leaders failed them and failed America.  Rather than treat our soldiers, sailors, and airmen as something precious, our leaders reverted back to the LBJ Vietnam mentality of using these Americans as pawns to be sacrificed to protect some politicians’ political position.

So Obama determined how many men to have in particular nations and how to conduct operations based not upon sound military thinking, but instead upon making Obama look good.  Natural allies like the Kurds and Jordanians and Egyptians were ignored and abandoned.  Obama has never claimed the moral high ground, even against monstrous enemies like ISIS and Iran, because he can never imagine our nation being right and our enemy being wrong.

The final goal of our sacrifices has never been defined, because Obama has no real final goal.  His national security plan is to be popular in next week’s polls.  His attitude is to fawn on our enemies and to dismiss our friends.  All the slithering enemies of humanity are emboldened, and all our friends and the friends of the civilized world are demoralized.  We will, grimly, have to pay the price for this selfishness and stupidity, and those who pay the price will not be the vain and strutting politicians, but those willing to die that we might be safe and free.