If we had a real two party system in America, we might have a challenger to the incumbent president who would take Bush aside and tell him in no uncertain terms that “this isn’t your daddy’s Gulf War’.
But, Alas, such tasks are left to your humble servant.
Let’s start with the international coalition. The President’s daddy skillfully put together an impressive alliance of armies from countries like France, Egypt and Syria to liberate Kuwait. He convinced the Arab League, NATO and the United Nations to endorse the use of military force.
On the other hand, George the Younger started with the unprecedented international coalition that spontaneously sprang up after the slaughter on 9/11. By the time he went to war, he had succeeded in reducing it to a so-called “Coalition of the willing” made up of Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi and Ariel Sharon. To his credit, he also managed to entice a few soldiers from Mongolia, Honduras and Micronesia – who are now collectively derided as a “coalition of the bribed”.
No Arab countries agreed to join the coalition. Even Kuwait refused to provide manpower for the invasion. In the lead up to the war, the long-standing transatlantic alliance was almost shattered and the United Nations gave him a flat ‘no’. One president put together an alliance from scrap and the second scrapped an even larger ready-made alliance.
One of the results of the First Gulf War was that Saddam Hussein was forced to destroy his biological and chemical arsenal and abandon all his programs for developing weapons of mass destruction. So that accomplishment should be recorded to the credit of Bush senior. In effect, the president’s daddy eliminated the WMDs that Dubya couldn’t destroy because they no longer existed. Daddy had already completed that chore.
One president liberated a grateful Gulf Country and the other now manages an occupation force confronting a lethal insurgency now in its second year and showing no signs of running out of steam. The continued use of air power is ample testimony that much of Iraq is in the hands of the insurgents. Even the so-called Green Zone, arguably the safest enclave in Iraq, is subjected to continuous attack from the Iraqi resistance. Kuwaitis welcomed daddy with flowers, hugs and kisses. Today, Iraqis greet Daddy’s boy with improvised explosive devices, mortar rounds and suicide bombers.
The First Gulf War was almost cost free. Daddy was a penny-pinching warrior who made sure the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Japanese paid their share of the tab. In dollar terms, it was America’s cheapest major war. George the Second is like a drunken sailor who has already wasted over one hundred and twenty billion dollars on his ill-advised operation.
After the First Gulf War, the United States emerged with a colossal reputation as a superpower that could destroy whole armies using invincible remote control weaponry. That reputation was further enhanced in the Serbian war and Kosovo – two major encounters that cost the American armed forces a total of one fatality. In Iraq, that aura of invincibility has been shattered – no minor strategic loss. Over a thousand Americans have lost their lives in encounters with indigenous resistance forces armed with the most primitive and rudimentary tools of war.
After the battle for Kuwait was over, Daddy managed to rapidly repatriate the vast majority of his troops from the Gulf. But George the Younger has been forced to extend America’s military resources to the breaking point. He can’t even give a rough estimate of when he plans to bring the boys home. Daddy had an exit plan while sonny boy only plans to ‘stay the course’. He puffs himself up as a great ‘leader’ -- the kind who will lead you off a cliff after collecting landing fees.
George the Father used the political leverage he reaped from his Gulf war to reduce oil prices. His son is now paying upward of fifty dollars a barrel – nearly triple the pre-war price.
Taking full advantage of the political environment that emerged after his Gulf adventure, the First Bush took the initiative and launched the Madrid conference that eventually led to the Oslo peace process. George the Second joined Sharon in burying Oslo and promoted a replacement “Road Map” -- which has now been amended to a Gaza disengagement farce. The boy’s daddy stared down Shamir while his son licks Sharon’s boots. America’s prestige was never higher in the Middle East than after the First Gulf War and it never lower than under this president.
George the elder surrounded himself with men like Norman Schwarzkopf, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft – Machiavellian operators of the American variety. His Boy has surrounded himself with Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle – Machiavellians of the Likudnik species. Both presidents were intent on empire. The only difference is that daddy was interested in enhancing the strength of the American Empire while his little boy was out to expand Sharon’s colonies.
The irony of all this is that the kid has a better chance of getting reelected. Which goes to prove that only in America can a son mess up so badly and still have better prospects than his daddy.
This isn’t your daddy’s Gulf War. We can only hope it turns out to be your daddy’s failed reelection campaign. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. It will be better still without George W Bush.
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