"Why the Gulf War Served the National Interest" (July 1991)
"Even distant disorder can have effects that hurt, influence, or disturb the majority of people living within the United States." By Joseph Nye
"Why the Gulf War Was Not in the National Interest" (July 1991)
"U.S. foreign policy has remained wedded to outdated, faulty assumptions about the nature of international relations." By Christopher Layne
The Gulf War was America's first serious war after Vietnam. It is tempting to think of this conflict largely as a land war. The principal public hero of the war was a land man, U.S. Army General "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf. Some of the most conspicuous aspects of the Gulf War had to do with the so-called ground war: the largest invasion force gathered since World War II facing "the fourth largest army in the world" along the feared Saddam Line; the U.S. Army's VII Corps in its great wheeling assault on the Iraqi forces in Kuwait; the slaughter of retreating Iraqis on the "highway to hell."
This view of the war is misleading. A dry but accurate summary of what really happened may be found in the General Accounting Office's 1996 report "Operation Desert Storm: Evaluation of the Air War":
Operation Desert Storm was primarily a sustained 43-day air campaign by the United States and its allies against Iraq between January 17, 1991, and February 28, 1991. It was the first large employment of U.S. air power since the Vietnam war, and by some measures (particularly the low number of U.S. casualties and the short duration of the campaign), it was perhaps the most successful war fought by the United States in the 20th century. The main ground campaign occupied only the final 100 hours of the war.
Approximately 1,600 U.S. combat aircraft, supported by about 100,000 sailors, Marines, and pilots, took part in the Gulf War. These included thirty-year-old B-52 bombers; the Air Force's F-16 and the Navy's F/A-18; the F-117 stealth fighter; and A-10 Warthog close-air-support attack planes, plus ship- and air-launched cruise missiles. In some 42,000 strikes the allied planes dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and on Iraqi targets in Kuwait. About 9,500 bombs were laser- and television-guided "smart" weapons, and about 162,000 were conventional "dumb" bombs.