Why the Dark Secrets of the First Gulf War Are Still Haunting Us

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rare exceptions, American politicians seem incapable of opposing
an American war without befriending another in a different place
or time.

Barack Obama,
an early and ardent enemy of the Iraq War, quickly declared his
affinity for a war in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan. And like so many
Democratic leaders, he has commended Bush 41’s Gulf War over Bush
43’s, for its justifiable cause, clear goals, quick execution and
admirable leadership.

It’s difficult
to determine the proportion of expedience to ignorance that allows
politicians and pundits to advance the theory of the good and trouble-free
Gulf War. What’s clear, though, is that for close to 20 years, the
42-day war, in which we dropped more bombs than were dropped in
all wars combined in the history of the world, maintains a special
place in American hearts.

But as John
R. MacArthur amply demonstrates in The
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War
the real 1991 war was kept from the American public. This week,
as we commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Gulf War’s end, and
opportunities for new hostilities beckon, Americans, and our leaders,
would do well to take a hard look at the war that we continue to
love only because we never got to see it.

Despite our
inability to detect it at the time, U.S. prosecution of the 1991
war with Iraq relied on all the now-familiar and discredited strategies
used to promote the present war – with equally disastrous and far-reaching

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28, 2009

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