Quotes and Notes

From Time, February 18, 1991: ‘Sorting Out the Mixed Signals’

August 31, 1990
‘In a day he would be decimated. It would be over in a day’ — Captain Jay Yakely, commander of the air wing of the USS Independence, New York Times.
September 16, 1990
‘Air power is the only answer that’s available to our country’ (to avoid a bloody landwar). — General Michael Dugan, Air Force chief of staff, Washington Post.
November 8, 1990
‘And I would think that when he (Saddam) surveys the force that’s there … he will recognize that he is up against a foe that he can’t possibly manage militarily.’ — President George Bush, White House news conference.
November 18, 1990
‘A short one that would be over in a matter of days.’ — Lieut. General Sir Peter de la Billiere, British Commander in Saudi Arabia, describing a potential war with Iraq.
December 31, 1990
‘If force is necessary, it will be quick, massive and decisive.’ — Vice President Dan Quayle, speaking to troops in Saudi Arabia.
January 8, 1991
‘I judge the risk of a bloody compaign, with casualties in the 10,000 — to — 20,000 range, including several thousand fatalities, to be small.’ — Report by Wisconsin Representative Les Askin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
January 17, 1991
‘We are prepared to continue the operation just as long as we need in order to achieve our objectives … that could be a significant period of time, or it could be a relatively short period of time.’ — Defence Secretary Dick Cheney, Pentagon news conference.
January 21, 1991
‘I feel quite sure that a protracted ground war, in the sense that I think you’re talking about — one that takes months or years — yes, can be avoided.’ — Lieut. General Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon briefing.
January 31, 1991
‘I think it may take three or four weeks, something like this? — Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, ABC’s Primetime Live.
February 6, 1991
‘The task is formidable, and no one should underestimate Saddam’s military capabilities.’ — Secretary of State James Baker, speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
February 6, 1991
‘Things are going darned well over there. I feel very confident that this matter is going to resolve itself, and it’s not going to take that long, and it is going to be total and complete.’ — George Bush, at a bill-signing ceremony.
February 7, 1991
‘I believe the land war is inevitable. There is no indication that the Iraqi army is going to crack in the immediate future .’ — Sir Peter, in Saudi Arabia.

From Richard Gwyn ‘Attack teaches Third World about US might’, The Toronto Star, February 24:

Logistically, militarily, emotionally it was all but impossible to accumulate half-a-million tr000ps in the Gulf and then not use them.

How else to win medals and promotions? How else to show that their tanks and artillery pieces are as invincible as the smart bombers of the air force pilots?

How else to test properly the latest military marvels like the multiple rocket launcher system and fuel-air explosives?

The other reason for the ground attack is to administer an object lesson — not just to Iraq but to any other Third World country that might, one day, think of challenging the First World.

The attack … demonstrates that the United States and its allies have the will to pursue their purposes relentlessly and ruthlessly.

From a letter from the Canadian Peace Alliance to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney published in The Toronto Star, February 25:

Given that Iraq has virtually surrendered, the continued prosecution of the war is immoral. The allies’ insistence on continuing the bloodshed forces us to conclude that their goal is not now, if it ever was, limited to getting Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

The war has given us a glimpse of the ‘new world order.’ It is a terrible vision in which the US and its allies use brute force to eliminate Third World military powers they don’t like.

From Gwynne Dyer ‘Like it or not we need global police’, The Toronto Star, February 25:

…it is hard to imagine any system of international order that could succeed without enlisting the support of the rich and powerful. If it does not at least serve their interests, they will thwart it, so you have to take the self-interest of the powerful as a given in the equation.

The trick is to make the institutions they create serve the interests of the rest of the world, too. The U.N. does a better job than most ….

That is why the overwhelming majority of U.N. members support the 12 Security Council resolutions on Kuwait, even though many have grave doubts about the motives of Washington … they see the precedent of determined U.N. action in defence of small countries … as a vital element in their own future security.

From ‘Einstein in America’ by James Sayer, Crown, 1985:

Einstein viewed the escalation of the arms race with undisguised horror. … Reviewing (in 1950) the consequences of a policy which he described as ‘security, through superior force, whatever the cost,’ Einstein noted that American militarization at home and abroad was proceeding at an unprecedented pace; a growing domestic police force was supervising the loyalty of its citizens; political dissenters were subjected to harassment; and the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States had, assumed ‘hysterical proportions.’ If [efforts to build the hydrogen bomb] should prove successful … radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere, and, hence, of all life on earth will have been brought within the range of what is technically possible. The weird aspect of this development lies in its apparently inexorable character. Each step appears as the inevitable consequence of the one that went before. And at the end, looming ever clearer, lies general annihilation.’

Three years earlier, Einstein had been asked what weapons would be used in the Third World War. He is alleged to have replied, ‘I don’t know. But I can tell you what they’ll use in the fourth — rocks.’

Whole issue on one page | as PDF

ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)