People's History: Bush 1 and Gulf War, 1988-92 (Chap 21)

Only Time, Enya
Against the Wind, Bob Seger
The Accentus Choir

The needs were two for Mister Bush: cheap oil
and some political repair. The foil,
Saddam Hussein, would serve to guarantee
the President's defining victory.

The Cold War ended, but the military sought
to justify itself, so naturally it fought
some wars. First Noriega, brutal Panama
oppressor, long an ally of America,
became expendable. And then Iraq: Saddam
Hussein, the perfect enemy for Bush to bomb
with honor. Yes, Saddam had overthrown Kuwait,
but sanctions had been working. But to demonstrate
our power was the most inviting strategy,
politically and also as a guarantee
of Middle Eastern oil. Of course, the "free Kuwait"
entreaty and the "building secret nukes" debate
were used to stir a balking Congress and 'inform'
the public. Soon the whirlwind "Desert Storm"
was raging. Laser bombs consoled the public: 'smart'
and accurate attacks would serve to take apart
their government and spare the citizens. Except
it wasn't true. Conventional explosives swept
the towns and countryside, and many thousands died.
And all the slaughter happened from the US side,
and all the media observed in doe-like awe
as soldiers of Iraq attempted to withdraw
but felt the firestorm from behind. With each report
of victory the public cried, "We must support
the troops!" And then we left. Saddam was still in charge,
Iraqi military backers still at large
to massacre the Kurds and other enemies.
A hundred thousand children perished from disease
and hunger. Thanks to Bush and US government
and business needs we swept aside the argument
of weakness in America. For Vietnam
the ghost was gone, eradicated with the bomb
and surge of Desert Storm, 'proportionality'
an unimportant concept in our victory.

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