The Same Old Arguments

The Same Old Arguments: National Review has two excellent columns up today from Victor Davis Hanson and James S. Robbins about how wrong people (in fact, some of the same people who are saying we shouldn’t hit Iraq today) have been about our military operations from the Gulf War on.

Well I can certainly relate to those editorials because I was in college during the Gulf War and there was a MUCH DIFFERENT perception of that war going in than there is today after we know what happened. The common perception seemed to be that we’d win but we’d take massive casualties. In Robbins column he mentions that Ted Kennedy predicted “100 American KIA’s per day for as long as the war continued.” I had a professor in a class called “War, Peace, Justice, and Human Relations” who told us that we could expect a hundred thousand bodybags and, “don’t be surprised if you’re drafted.” We were continually told that the Iraqis were the 4th largest army in the world, our tanks might not work in the sand, that they were experienced desert warriors who’d eat our troops for breakfast, yada, yada, yada. Furthermore, Vietnam weighed on people before the Gulf War in a way that it doesn’t today since it was our last “big war” and a lot of people sincerely doubted the capabilities of our military. We all remember that high approval rating Bush 41 had after winning the Gulf War but before crashing and burning in 1992. However, we forget that the country was totally divided before we went in. Here’s another quote from Robbins’ column about that,

“(the day before the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal) showed only 41 percent support for military action versus 45 percent for continuing the sanctions regime. Yet, when the President launched the air attacks three days later, 84 percent reported that “the United States and its allies did the right thing.”

Hanson also notes some of the other things we were hearing about Gulf War at the time,

“No blood for oil. He has weapons of mass destruction. He has some justification – weren’t the Kuwaitis stealing oil from his Rumailia field? And didn’t he protect the Gulf states? Didn’t we back him in his war with Iran? If we go in, oil will climb to $60 a barrel; he might torch the Kuwaiti oil fields, and shut down production for decades. Nerve gas will blanket Tel Aviv. The Israelis will drop the bomb on Baghdad. Nearly half of our senators oppose intervention. Colin Powell is aghast at the idea. The Arab street is in an uproar and will turn on Westernized regimes. The Palestinians and the Jordanians are already actively pro-Iraqi. Who will pay for the war in a time of deficits? Saddam has hostages as human shields, and has threatened to send missiles into Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Soviets won’t like our intervention. We know he has biological weapons – and maybe nuclear bombs…If Saddam falls, the power vacuum could destabilize our friends, and would only empower the Iranians. Do we want an independent Kurdistan on the border of Turkey or a Shiite state taking orders from Teheran? We could get a lot worse than the present dictator. The Iranian revolution might sweep the Gulf…”

The war changes but the arguments remain the same even if the very same people, making the very same arguments were proven wrong last time. There are no guarantees in any war but in all likelihood most of the reservations people have about invading Iraq are overblown.

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