George Bush Sr. on War & Peace

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1989: Visit Eastern Europe to signal US support

With the quickening pace of international events, President Bush had decided to visit Eastern Europe in order to signal American support for what was unfolding there. Any doubts about the momentous nature of the changes were wiped away when we arrived in Poland on July 9 and in Hungary 2 days later.

The Hungarians were challenging Soviet power directly and moving toward multiparty elections. More astonishingly, Hungary had decided to dismantle the barbed wire demarcating its borders with Austria. Communism in Poland had lost its ferocity.

It was clear that the party's demise was sealed the next day when we went to the city of Gdansk, the home of Solidarity. President Bush was greeted in the town square by hundreds of thousands of cheering Polish workers. "Bush, Bush, Bush!" they chanted, waving American flags. "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!"

I turned to a colleague and said, "I don't think this is what Karl Marx had in mind when he said, 'Workers of the world, unite.'"

Source: My Extraordinary Family, by Condi Rice, p.247-248 , Jan 10, 2012

OpEd: Combat experience means caution in sending troops

Bush fully supported the secret war that President Reagan authorized against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which included the mining of its harbor and the arming of the contras rebels.

And yet, Bush seemed to take extremely seriously the responsibility of sending American soldiers and sailors into a war. He agonized over sending troops into Panama, and then even more so in the days leading up to the start of the Gulf War. No doubt it was the result of his own experience as a young man, just out of Andover and thrown into the thick of the mayhem in the South Pacific. He wrote home to his parents that he hoped his younger brothers would be able to avoid combat: "I hope John and Buck and my own children never have to fight a war. Friends disappearing, lives being extinguished. It's just not right. The glory of being a career pilot has certainly worn off."

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.337 , Feb 15, 2007

1942: Enlisted as naval aviator upon high school graduation

On Dec. 7, 1941, Poppy Bush was in a Ping-Pong match in the clubhouse of their secret society when they heard the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 Americans. The US was at war.

Students rushed to enlist, though the headmaster urged them to stay in school. "My reaction was one of shock, almost disbelief," recalled George Bush. "I didn't fully comprehend world affairs. My interests were our undefeated soccer season. Christmas vacation was only a couple of weeks away and then graduation. Then I guess that was followed by the typical American reaction that we had better do something about this. I remember the country's instant coming together for a common purpose--we wanted to fight for our country."

Poppy wrote to his parents; "I made up my mind to go into the service and be a naval aviator," he said. His mother and father pleaded with him to stay in school and go on to Yale. He promised his parents that he would at least wait until graduation in the spring of 1942.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p. 66-67 , Sep 14, 2004

1944: Two crewmates killed while piloting bombing mission

In Sept. 1944, George was shot down over Chichi-Jima. His plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire as he approached his target. He managed to complete his bombing mission, for which he received a Distinguished Flying Cross, but his two crewmates were killed. George flew 58 missions before his honorable discharge in Dec. 1944, an admirable record for one of the Navy's youngest pilots.

No one ever questioned his actions about bailing out over Chichi-Jima until he ran for President in 1992. An eyewitness to the flight in 1944 contradicted George's claim about the plane and cockpit being on fire. He said he remembered only "a puff of smoke" that quickly dissipated. Others had different recollections. George's wingman said, "he got hit and went on in, smoking."

Smoke is a critical issue in this story. If a pilot's plane was not on fire, he was trained to make a water landing in order to put his crew in a better position for rescue. George had not done that. He bailed instead.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p. 80-84 , Sep 14, 2004

1987: I oppose creation of an independent Palestine

The Bushes approached the gate of Auschwitz. At the wall of death where 25,000 people had been shot, George placed a wreath inscribed: "Their sacrifice will never be forgotten by the American people."

After the Bushes returned to Washington, they produced a glossy campaign pamphlet of colored photos showing George praying at the Wailing Wall and approaching Auschwitz with Barbara. The flyer mailed to Jewish voters in the US was titled "George Bush. The one candidate who has proven his commitment to the Jewish people." The text quoted him as saying, "I oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state; its establishment is inimical to the security interests of Israel, Jordan and the US." In his pamphlet, George said he was "the highest ranking US official to have seen firsthand the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.440-441 , Sep 14, 2004

Humanitarian aid troops in Somalia became aggressive in 90s

Two Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down in Somalia. Details were vague, but it was clear that American soldiers had been killed and that there might be ongoing violence. Troops had originally been sent to the famine-ravaged country by President Bush on a humanitarian aid mission, but it had evolved into a more aggressive peacekeeping effort.

Every President must quickly adopt a strategy when troubling events unfold: He can stop everything else and focus very publicly on the crisis or handle the situation while trying to stick to his official schedule. Bill remained in California but stayed in constant touch with his national security team. Then the news got worse: The body found of an American serviceman had been dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, an appalling act of barbarity orchestrated by the Somali warlord General Mohamed Aideed.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.191 , Nov 1, 2003

Don't measure military victory by increased body count

"There is a moral imperative here. I don't think the US or the UK or France measure the extent of their victory by an increased body count. We could have massacred these people, fleeing up the 'highway of death' in those broken-down, stolen vehicles. We could have killed another couple of hundred ranks and thus further diminished the capability of the Republican Guard to project their horror. You know, war is immoral, but I don't think you measure the totality of its success by whether you can shoot down another, kill another 50,000 fleeing soldiers--murderous though they had been in Kuwait."
(Interview with David Frost, "President Bush: Talking with David Frost," Houston, Texas)
Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p.305-306 , Jan 16, 1996

Somalia: let UN do peacekeeping, not US

We did help end starvation in Somalia, but regrettably, after I left office, the mission changed into trying to bring the Somalian warlords to justice. It was classic mission creep. Several Army Rangers were killed and we saw two helicopter pilots dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. When the starvation was ended, we should have brought our troops home and let the UN peacekeeping force take over.
Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.580 , Dec 8, 1992

No troops in Bosnia, because we haven't defined mission

Q: How can you watch the killing in Bosnia and not want to use America's might to try to end that kind of suffering?

BUSH: I vowed something, because I learned something from Vietnam: I am not going to commit US forces until I know what the mission is, until the military tell me that it can be completed, until I know how they can come out. We are helping. American airplanes are helping today on humanitarian relief for Sarajevo. But when you go to put somebody else's son or daughter into war, I think you've got to be a little bit careful, and you have to be sure that there's a military plan that can do this. You have ancient ethnic rivalries that have cropped up as Yugoslavia dissolves. It isn't going to be solved by sending in the 82d Airborne, and I'm not going to do that.

CLINTON: We can't get involved with ground forces in the quagmire, but we must do what we can. I applaud the no-fly zone, and I think we should stiffen the embargo on the Belgrade government.

Source: The First Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 11, 1992

Serbia: Most blame Milosevic, but others have killed too

We're trying very hard to have a constructive policy in that troubled area of the world. Neither the Serbs nor the Croatians are without blame when it comes to the killing. Although clearly we put the major share of the blame on Milosevic.

When I was abroad I had a brief meeting with Tudjman and a meeting with the Bosnian President. We're terribly troubled by all of this and without throwing a lot of American troops into the fray, we're trying to bring about peace in the area.

Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.565 , Jul 21, 1992

No loans to Israel until West Bank settlements stop

It was a sensitive time in our relationship with Israel. They were asking for $10 billion in loan guarantees, mainly to help them with the huge influx of Soviet immigrants. However, their insistence on continuing the settlement of the West Bank was a key issue in peace negotiations with the Arabs. I made a tough decision to delay the loan guarantees until they agreed to stop building settlements in the disputed territories, because the money, either directly or indirectly, would support those settlements I wrote this letter to a Republican activist in the Jewish community.
Whatever happens, it is essential that this issue not be allowed to weaken, much less cast doubt upon, the core relationship between the US and Israel.

I have come to believe that the measure of a good relationship is not the ability to agree, but rather the ability to disagree on specifics without placing fundamentals at risk. We do this all the time with Britain: we should manage to do it with Israel.

Source: All the Best, p. 552-54: Letter to George Klein of NYC , Mar 19, 1992

By the grace of God, America won the cold war

The biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: By the grace of God, America won the cold war.

I mean to speak this evening of the changes that can take place in our country, now that we can stop making the sacrifices we had to make when we had an avowed enemy that was a superpower. Now we can look homeward even more and move to set right what needs to be set right.

I will speak of those things. But let me tell you something I've been thinking these past few months. It's a kind of rollcall of honor. For the cold war didn't end; it was won. And I think of those who won it, in places like Korea and Vietnam. And some of them didn't come back. Back then they were heroes, but this year they were victors.

So now, for the first time in 35 years, our strategic bombers stand down. No longer are they on 'round-the-clock alert. There are still threats. But the long, drawn-out dread is over.

Source: Pres. Bush's 1992 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 28, 1992

Engage US in Mideast land-for-peace talks, including Golan

There is a real chance for making progress toward a comprehensive peace in the Mideast region. It is in [Syria's] interest as well as ours to seize that opportunity.

We intend our engagement throughout the negotiation to be significant. We and the Soviet Union will be a driving force behind the negotiations, cajoling and pressing the parties forward. We will be doing so on the only basis possible for a comprehensive peace: Territory for peace applied to all fronts, including the Golan Heights. We will not change this fundamental policy position of ours; nor will we change our non-recognition of Israel's purported "Annexation" of the Golan Heights.

To increase the probability of a successful outcome on the Golan, I make the offer of a US Security guarantee of the border that Israel and Syria mutually agreed upon. This security guarantee--which is unprecedented and far-reaching--will affect the negotiations and their outcome far more than any symbols relating to the UN or a conference.

Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.523-4 , Jun 1, 1991

Fall of Berlin Wall leaves Europe whole and free

Author's note: News of the fall of the Berlin Wall reached President Bush on November 9. President Bush would later reflect: "I was thankful about the events in Berlin, but as I answered questions my mind kept racing over a possible Soviet crackdown, turning all the happiness into tragedy. My answers were cautious."

Q: Mr. President, do you think now that East Germany appears to be moving in the direction of Poland and Hungary that the rest of the Eastern Bloc can continue to resist this?

A: No, I don't think anyone can resist it, in Europe or in the Western Hemisphere.

Q: Did you ever imagine anything like this happening?

A: We've imagined it, but I can't say I foresaw this development at this stage. Now, I didn't foresee it, but imagining it--yes. When I talk about a Europe whole and free, we're talking about this kind of freedom to come and go.

Q: You don't seem elated.

A: I am not an emotional kind of guy.

Q: Well, how elated are you?

A: I'm very pleased.

Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 39-40 , Nov 9, 1989

Diplomacy & military capability are complementary

"I prefer the diplomatic approach. Nations can and should explore every avenue toward working out their differences without resorting to force or military intimidation, but I'm also a realist. I know there is no substitute for a nation's ability to defend its ideals and interests. And too often we hear that we face a stark choice in coping with conflict. We can pursue a diplomatic situation, or we can seek resolution through many means. One, we're told, is incompatible with the other.

"Well, this doesn't square with real-world experience. Diplomacy and military capability are complementary; they're not contradictory. Creative diplomacy can help us avert conflict. Negotiations stand the greatest chance of success when they proceed from a position of strength. The fundamental lesson of this decade is simply this: Strength secures the peace. America will continue to be a force for peace and stability in the world provided we stay strong."

Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 35 , Mar 6, 1989

George Bush Sr. on Panama

2007: Panama declared Day of Mourning about 1989 US invasion

In December 2007, Panama declared a Day of Mourning to commemorate the US invasion of 1989, which killed thousands of poor people, so Panamanian human rights groups concluded, when Bush I bombed the El Chorillo slums and other civilian targets. The Day of Mourning of the unpeople scarcely merited a flicker of an eyelid here. It is also of no interest that Bush's invasion of Panama, another textbook example of aggression, appears to have been more deadly that Saddam's invasion of Kuwait a few months later. Similarly unworthy of note is the fact that Washington's greatest fear was that Saddam would imitate its behavior in Panama, installing a client government and then leaving, the main reason Washington blocked diplomacy with almost complete media cooperation.
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.134 , Jun 1, 2010

Invaded Panama in 1989 to force Noriega from power

Bush relied on force to settle accounts with Panama’s strongman Gen. Manuel Noriega. In December 1989 Bush ordered troops into Panama and forced Noriega from power. Noriega surrendered, was brought to trial in a U.S. court, and was convicted of a series of charges.
Source: Grolier Encyclopedia on-line, “The Presidency” , Dec 25, 2000

One year ago, the people of Panama lived in fear

Think back just 12 short months ago to the world we knew as 1989 began. One year ago, the people of Panama lived in fear, under the thumb of a dictator. Today democracy is restored; Panama is free. Operation Just Cause has achieved its objective. The number of military personnel in Panama is now very close to what it was before the operation began. And tonight I am announcing that well before the end of February, the additional numbers of American troops, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who made this mission a success, will be back home.

A year ago in Poland, Lech Walesa declared that he was ready to open a dialog with the Communist rulers of that country; and today, with the future of a free Poland in their own hands, members of Solidarity lead the Polish Government.

And 1 year ago, Erich Honecker of East Germany claimed history as his guide, and he predicted the Berlin Wall would last another hundred years. And today, less than 1 year later, it's the Wall that's history.

Source: Pres. Bush's 1990 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 31, 1990

Panama: If Americans in Canal Zone are touched, force is OK

Q: You've been criticized in this country--politically and some of the media--for the way you reacted to the coup in Panama [without US intervention].

The President: We've got a lot of hawks out there; we've got a lot of macho guys out there that want me to send somebody else's kid into battle. And what I will do is prudently assess the situation at the time. And that doesn't mean under some provocation or some denial of our rights as the USA, that I'd be afraid to use force. But for these instant hawks on Capitol Hill, they don't bother me one bit because the American people supported me by over 2 to 1, and I think I sent a strong signal to the countries represented around this table that we are not imprudently going to use the force of the US. If somebody lays a glove on an American citizen there in the Canal Zone or where we have certain treaty rights, then we've got another story.
(Interview with Latin American journalists, White House Roosevelt Room.)

Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 44-45 , Oct 25, 1989

George Bush Sr. on Saddam

1991: continuing conflict into Baghdad would be un-American

In 1991, with Saddam's forces on the run, the Bush team faced a crucial decision, one that would have lasting consequences. The war's initial goal had been achieved: Saddam's forces had been driven from Kuwait. The question then was weather the United States should end the conflict or move to Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I remember very clearly Colin Powell saying that this thing was turning into a massacre," Robert Gates, then the deputy national security adviser later recalled. "And that to continue it beyond a certain point would be un-American, and he even used the word unchivalrous." Bush agreed, and drew the war to a quick close. After the war ended, President Bush urged Iraqis to "take matters into their own hands."

For this part, Saddam Hussein came to believe that the United States lacked the commitment to follow through on its rhetoric. He saw America as unwilling to take the risks necessary for an invasion of Iraq.

Source: Known and Unknown, by Donald Rumsfeld, p.413-414 , Feb 8, 2011

1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait: "This shall not stand!"

U.S.-driven military buildup dubbed "Desert Shield." Bush famously declared at the time of the invasion that "this shall not stand" and would be rolled back by force unless Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein withdrew. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 had triggered a strong diplomatic response at the United Nations from President George H.W.Bush that segued from stronger sanctions to a Meanwhile, the Foreign Relations committee scheduled hearings on the crisis. Biden called for a special session of the Senate to debate the American policy, charging that Bush had "moved from a reasoned and practical response to a misguided policy in the [Persian] Gulf.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.247 , Oct 5, 2010

April 1990: sent Congressional delegation to reassure Saddam

Washington's strong support for Saddam Hussein thought the period of his worst atrocities in the 1980s, when he was so admired in Washington that his most shocking crimes--the murderous slaughter of Kurds--were denied by the Reagan administration and congressional protests were blocked. The excuse offered is that Iran was more dangerous, but apart from the cynicism, such apologetics cannot be taken seriously. Well after Iraq's war with Iran, the US continued to support Saddam, even to expedite his development of weapons of mass destruction.

In 1990, Pres. Bush I even sent a high-level congressional delegation, led by Sen. Bob Dole, to convey his personal greetings to his good friend and to assure him that he should disregard criticisms by "the haughty and pampered press," who are out of control.

A few months later Saddam defied or misunderstood orders, and shifted from admired friend to the embodiment of evil. All such matters have been consigned to the usual repository of unwelcome fact.

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.127-128 , Jun 1, 2010

1992 warning on Kuwait from Thatcher: "Don't go wobbly"

[Pres. Bush said], "I see history as a book with many pages and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds. And so today a chapter begins, a small and stately story of unity, diversity, and generosity--shared and written, together." Leaders like George H. W. Bush show that there is no "great man" theory of management, but a preference instead for empathy, sincerity, warmth, erudition and personal style. This contrasts with more directive or autocratic approaches, such as those displayed by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who famously warned George H. W. Bush during the first Gulf War not to "go wobbly". Following the relative popularity and success of the Reagan years, Bush highlighted and reinforced the need of CEOs to show empathy and to connect with people.
Source: The 100 Greatest Speeches, by Kourdi & Maier, p. 52 , Mar 3, 2010

Low-balled Gulf War troop count to win US and Saudi support

In the run-up to the first Gulf War, Bush lowballed the number of troops he would deploy in order to win support both at home and in Saudi Arabia--which was nervous about hosting a huge, infidel force in the Muslim holy land. And then, when Americans did not appear to be terribly keen about going to war merely to defend Kuwait, George Sr. began raising the specter of a nuclear-armed Saddam--the identical ploy 1st son George Jr. used a dozen years later.

In fact, the whole "truth management" strategy has been adopted and perhaps even expanded by this next generation. Whole books have been devoted to the various dishonesties of George W's statements and policies.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.259 , Feb 15, 2007

2002: Supported diplomacy in pre-war Iraq & didn't tell son

Barbara Bush asked a family friend, former Sen. David Boren [D-OK], "Are we right to be worried about this Iraq thing?"

"Yes, I'm very worried."

"Do you think it's a mistake?"

"Yes, ma'am," Boren replied. "I think it's a huge mistake if we go in right now, this way."

"Well, his father is certainly worried and is losing sleep over it. He's up at night worried."

"Why doesn't he talk to him?"

"He doesn't think he should unless he's asked." It was the father-son distance, she said, and he didn't think he should volunteer.

"Well," Boren responded, "I understand the feeling of a father but he's a former president and an expert in this area."

Barbara shook her head solemnly, almost woefully.

Later, Boren greeted Bush senior. "Do you ever see our mutual friend, Colin?" the former president asked.

"Just sometimes."

"Be sure to tell him I sure think he's doing a good job."

Both men knew Powell was the reluctant warrior, trying to solve the Iraq problem with diplomacy.

Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p.114-5 , Oct 1, 2006

Sold Saddam precursors for chemical weapons before Kuwait

Iraq was at war with neighboring Iran. Shortly after Saddam's 1983 gassing of Iranian troops, Pres. Reagan sent his Middle East envoy Donald Rumsfeld to hold friendly talks with Saddam. Rumsfeld called the meeting a "positive milestone in development of US-Iraqi relations."

Rumsfeld was right. In the years afterward, the Reagan and HW Bush administrations authorized the sale to Iraq of precursors to chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax and bubonic plague, as well as conventional weapons such as Chilean cluster bombs.

The 1988 gassing of thousands of Kurds hardly dimmed the enthusiasm of the two Republican administrations. In fact, US military intelligence actually expanded its contributions to the Butcher of Baghdad after the gas attack. But all of that came to an abrupt end when, on August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. That put Saddam Hussein in control of 20% of the world's crude oil reserves. The love affair between the Republican right and the Baathist ultraright was over.

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.221-222 , Oct 25, 2005

1990: Misled Saudis that Saddam massed troops on border

After Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the President met with the King of Joradn, who arrived after meeting with Saddam in Iraq. The King argued for negotiations, but Bush demanded immediate withdrawal. Not surprisingly, the President's focus was on the one subject he knew best. "I will not allow this little dictator to control 25% of the world's oil."

The President also met with the Saudi Arabian Ambassador Prince Bandar. Bush told him the Pentagon had satellite photos showing Iraqi troops massing on the Saudi border. This was false. The photos did not show what the President claimed, and Bush felt he needed to exaggerate the danger of an Iraqi invasion to obtain consent to deploy American troops on Saudi soil. Once he had Saudi consent, the President understated the number of troops he intended to deploy in Saudi Arabia. He told Prince Bandar he would send 100,000 troops when he planned to send 250,000.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.495-496 , Sep 22, 2004

2003: Invasion of Iraq undid a lifetime of work

George W. Bush reprimanded the conservative writers of "The Bushes" in April 2004: "Unfortunately, your book is filled with factual errors. For example, you wrote, 'George H.W. Bush was opposed to his son's plan to attack Iraq.' The truth is, from the very first day, President Bush, No. 41 unequivocally supported the President on the war in Iraq. He had absolutely no reservations of any kind."

As with many of Bush's responses to criticism, this one turned out to be false. In the book that George Herbert Walker Bush and Brent Scowcroft wrote, "A World Transformed," they detailed the "incalculable human and political costs" of occupying Iraq. Further, in April 2003, after his son had taken the country to war against Iraq, the former President agonized with his friend Scowcroft. Partners in the Scowcroft Group recalled both men bemoaning the son's actions, saying that George W. Bush "was undoing a lifetime of work."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p. xxiii-xxiv , Sep 14, 2004

“This will not stand” began 13-year campaign against Saddam

The truth is, the 2003 war with Iraq began in early January 1991-with the congressional resolution authorizing President George H. W. Bush to use military force to liberate Kuwait-and the war hasn’t ended yet. In August of 1990, Iraq invaded and overran its smaller neighbor, Kuwait. US policy at the time was to contain any further Iraqi aggression, force an Iraqi withdrawal, and liberate Kuwait. As the first President Bush announced, “This will not stand.” The American public saw in Iraqi president Saddam Hussein a dislikable Middle East potentate who became the arch-villain in a thirteen-year morality play starring the US. The military campaign against him began on January 17, 1991. The American successes were so overwhelming that operations were halted after only about 100 hours of ground combat. At the time it seemed we had won a magnificent victory, but many of the Iraqi forces, particularly the Republican Guards, were not destroyed. An uneasy peace followed.
Source: Winning Modern Wars, by Wesley Clark, chapter 1 , Oct 26, 2003

Called for an uprising against Saddam, but didn’t support it

If Saddam Hussein was so bad, why stop with liberating Kuwait? Among the American leaders calling for action to remove Saddam Hussein from power was President Bush himself, who suggested that the people of Iraq overthrow him. The common expectation in Washington was that his defeat would, one way or the other, result in Saddam’s loss of power in Iraq.

Inside Iraq, the aftermath of the war was complicated. Incited by the US and its victory over Saddam, Shiite Muslims in the south, long sympathetic to neighboring Iran, and the Kurdish minority in the north began rebellions that threatened Saddam’s rule. The insurrections were brutally repressed by Saddam, and the US failed to intercede. In the north Saddam’s campaign against the Kurds was blocked by the imposition of an Iraqi no-fly zone, a humanitarian relief mission, and threats of U.S. intervention should Saddam attempt to repress the Kurdish elements there. What followed was an angry cessation of hostilities.

Source: Winning Modern Wars, by Wesley Clark, chapter 1 , Oct 26, 2003

Survived 1993 assassination attempt in Kuwait by Saddam

Step by step in 1992, the US established a postwar security presence in Kuwait itself, building up a headquarters staff and periodically redeploying troops for purposes of deterring Iraqi pressures against Kuwait. Even the new administration under Bill Clinton couldn’t quite escape the Iraq problem. In 1993 the Iraqis plotted to assassinate the former president, George H. W. Bush, during his visit to Kuwait. The US responded by launching a cruise missile strike against Iraq’s intelligence headquarters. It was a demonstration of US power to the region-and a reminder to Saddam of American hostility. Saddam waited a year and then, in reprise, sent his best divisions south toward Kuwait, where they reoccupied some of the same assembly areas they had used in 1990 to stage the invasion of Kuwait. The US immediately deployed aircraft and alerted US troops for deployment. If it was only an Iraqi feint, it nevertheless generated a renewed American determination not to be caught off-guard again.
Source: Winning Modern Wars, by Wesley Clark, chapter 1 , Oct 26, 2003

OpEd: Aided Saddam even after he used chemical weapons

When you read George Bush, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, or all the rest of them, they tell you, "We have to go after Saddam Hussein; this guy is such an evil monster that he even used chemical weapons against his own people. And how can we let someone like that survive?"

It is true. He used chemical weapons against his own people, but there is a phrase missing: "with the aid and support of Daddy Bush," who thought that was just fine. He continued to provide aid and support for the monster, and so did Britain.

At that time he was far more dangerous that he is today. Iraq was then a much more powerful state. And nothing was considered wrong with this. In fact, in early 1990--a couple of months before the invasion of Kuwait-- President Bush #1 sent a high-level senatorial delegation headed by Bob Dole, later the Republican presidential candidate, to Iraq to convey his greetings to his friend Saddam Hussein.

Source: Power and Terror, by Noam Chomsky, p.130-131 , Mar 19, 2002

OpEd: Authorized Saddam to crush 1991 Shiite resistance

The problem [with Iraq] is that the majority of the population is Shiite, which means that to the extent that the majority of the population has any voice, it is going to move toward relations with Iran, which is the last thing the US government wants. So somehow you have to have a regime change that restores something exactly like Saddam Hussein, a Sunni-based, military regime that will be able to control the population. Furthermore, this has been completely explicit. You may recall that in March 1991, right after the Gulf War, the US had total control of the area. There was a Shiite rebellion in the south, a big rebellion, including rebelling Iraqi generals.

They didn't ask for any aid from the US. The most they asked for was that the US allow them access to captured Iraqi equipment. George Bush the 1st had a different idea. He authorized his friend Saddam Hussein to use air power to crush the Shiite resistance.

Source: Power and Terror, by Noam Chomsky, p.131-132 , Mar 19, 2002

1991: “All means necessary” to expel Saddam from Kuwait

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 provided Bush’s most serious crisis and his finest hour as president. His masterful diplomacy fashioned a broad international coalition against Iraq. Justifying the U.S. response, Bush cited the unprovoked invasion of defenseless Kuwait, Iraq’s desire to control a large portion of the world’s oil reserves, and Iraq’s growing nuclear-weapons potential. In January 1991 Bush asked Congress for “all necessary means” to expel Iraq from Kuwait. He received congressional approval to use force, and the U.S.-led allies launched a punishing aerial assault on strategic sites in Iraq. In a ground war in February, lasting just 100 hours, allied forces drove the Iraqis from Kuwait. Bush’s popularity rose to historic highs for a president, but he drew some criticism for ordering a cease-fire before Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, was ousted.
Source: Grolier’s Encyclopedia on-line: “The Presidency” , Dec 25, 2000

1990: Diplomatic solution to Kuwait forces larger crisis

In Aug. 1990, Bush hoped to demonstrate that he was determined to go the extra mile to achieve a peaceful resolution [to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait]. "So if he gets out without a war, that's okay?" Bush asked Powell.

"Yes, sir," Powell replied. That was the goal of both the US and the UN: Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. If there was no war, no US servicemen would be killed.

{Adviser Brent] Scowcroft jumped on Powell. "Don't you realize that if he pulls out, it will be impossible for us to stay," Scowcroft asked. Bush nodded in agreement. It would be politically and logistically impossible to keep the troops there for an extended period. The nightmare would be for Saddam to pull out of Kuwait but stay on the border.

A diplomatic solution would in fact bring about a larger crisis. There was no diplomatic victory that could destroy Saddam's army. Looking squarely at his advisers, the president said plainly, "We have to have a war." His words hung in the air as heavily as any he had ever spoken.

Source: Shadow, by Bob Woodward, p.184-185 , Jun 15, 1999

Avoided “mission creep” in not attacking Baghdad

By Feb. 27, it was over. Saddam’s army-what was left of it-was fleeing. Cheney and Powell came over to the Oval Office and told me we had achieved our objectives. We called Schwarzkopf from the Oval Office and asked him if he agreed it was time to end the fighting. After checking with his commanders, he said yes. 100 hours after the ground war had begun, I announced to the nation that the war was over.

I was convinced, as were all our Arab friends and allies, that Hussein would be overthrown once the war ended. That did not and has still not happened. We underestimated his brutality and cruelty to his own people and the stranglehold he has on his country. We were disappointed, but I still do not regret my decision to end the war when we did. I do not believe in what I call “mission creep.” Our mission, as mandated by the UN, was clear: end the aggression. We did that. We liberated Kuwait and destroyed Hussein’s military machine so that he could no longer threaten his neighbors.

Source: All the Best, p. 514: Diary entry & later notes , Feb 27, 1991

No second guessing; let military commanders decide details

K-Day is approaching, and I feel quite content. I wish it were tomorrow. I have no qualms now about ordering a ground war--none at all. I don't have the aching that I felt the night before the bombing started and we went to war. The reason is that the military are unanimous in recommending the course of action that Colin and Cheney outlined to me the other day. I have not second-guessed; I have not told them what targets to hit; I have not told them how much ordinance to use or how much not to use, or what weapons to use and not to use. I have learned from Vietnam, and I think the Army and the other services are doing a superb job.
Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.511 , Feb 14, 1991

A new world order is at stake in Kuwait

I come to this House of the people to speak to you and all Americans, certain that we stand at a defining hour. Halfway around the world [in Kuwait], we are engaged in a great struggle in the skies and on the seas and sands.

What is at stake is more than one small country; it is a big idea: a new world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind--peace and security, freedom, and the rule of law. Such is a world worthy of our struggle and worthy of our children's future.

The community of nations has resolutely gathered to condemn and repel lawless aggression. Saddam Hussein's unprovoked invasion--his ruthless, systematic rape of a peaceful neighbor--violated everything the community of nations holds dear. The world has said this aggression would not stand, and it will not stand. Together, we have resisted the trap of appeasement, cynicism, and isolation that gives temptation to tyrants.

Source: Pres. Bush's 1991 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 29, 1991

Force the Butcher of Baghdad to end the Rape of Kuwait

Before ordering our troops into battle in Kuwait, I thought long and hard about casualties, or, as our severest critics would put it-“body bags.” But as I pondered that horrible question, I also thought of unchecked aggression, of what would happen if the butcher of Baghdad could emerge the hero. What would that have meant for tomorrow?

My mind always went back to the questions: “What if Hitler’s aggression had been checked earlier on? How many lives would have been saved?”

You state that “recourse to war” could make Saddam a hero and a martyr. Yes, there may be such a risk, but the risk of having him prevail is far worse. He has been the bully in the neighborhood for a long time.

Saddam tried to make the Palestine question the rallying cry, tried to use it to cover up his brutal takeover of Kuwait. I remain determined that he not link the Palestine question, which urgently needs a solution, to the rape of Kuwait.

Source: All the Best, p. 505-7: Letter to Archbishop Cardinal Law , Jan 22, 1991

Saddam's choice: comply with UN or face destruction

I am writing to you now, directly [to Saddam], because it is said by some that you do not understand just how isolated Iraq is and what Iraq faces as a result. The international community is united in its call for Iraq to leave all of Kuwait without condition and without further delay. This is the position of the world community as expressed in no less than 12 Security Council resolutions.

We prefer a peaceful outcome. However, anything less than full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 678 and its predecessors is unacceptable. There can be no reward for aggression. Nor will there be any negotiation. However, by its full compliance, Iraq will gain the opportunity to rejoin the international community. But unless you withdraw from Kuwait completely and without condition, you will lose more than Kuwait. What is at issue here is not the future of Kuwait--it will be free, its government will be restored--but rather the future of Iraq. This choice is yours to make.

Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.499-500 , Jan 5, 1991

George Bush Sr. on Vietnam

I hated "Vietnam Syndrome" vilifying those who served

One of the Bush family's political strengths has always been great support from the military establishment. In the case of George Bush Sr., this is entirely logical and deserving. He was among "The Greatest Generation" who turned back Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo. He flew a dive-bomb off a tiny converted cruiser in the South Pacific and nearly died when his plane was shot down during one bombing run.

Bush supported the war in Vietnam, and made it clear that he thought poorly of those lads who chose not to fight. In a March 1998 letter to Tom Brokaw, who was writing a book about the WWII generation, Bush put it like this: "I have contempt for those who, when called, fail to serve. I hated the Vietnam syndrome--when people who served were vilified and spat upon. Those who ducked and dodged and fled only to let someone underprivileged take their places particularly offend my sense of honor."

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.330-331 , Feb 15, 2007

1964: Any and all weapons in Vietnam, including nukes

In 1960s Texas, George had landed on a planet that could not support life as a progressive Republican. So he acclimated himself (some say too easily) to the conservative redneck terrain. At the same time Senator Barry Goldwater [the GOP presidential nominee in 1964] advocated using "small tactical nuclear weapons" to defoliate the jungles in South Vietnam, George also proclaimed his support for restricted use of nuclear weapons, if "militarily prudent." He then bashed his 1964 Senate opponent for supporting the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

As a freshman congressman he declared himself a staunch supporter of the war in Vietnam. "I will back the president no matter what weapons we use in Southeast Asia," he said after Pres. Lyndon Johnson escalated the war. "I am for our position in Vietnam and opposed to those who want to pull out and hand Southeast Asia to the Communist aggressors."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.218 & 232 , Sep 18, 2004

1968: Vietnam War is moral; South Vietnam will triumph

In Dec. 1967, President Johnson announced a traditional Christmas cease-fire. Congressman George Bush took advantage of the lull to visit Southeast Asia. Upon his return, he issued a statement of rah-rah optimism, expressing "an overwhelming sense of pride in my country."

He reported "in every aspect of the war--political, economic and military--I saw or heard evidence of progress." He urged patience on the part of the US. "The losses the enemy is taking are heavy, and the Viet Cong are gradually losing their grip on the people in the countryside. These factors will ultimately force them to quit."

Two weeks later the enemy launched the Tet Offensive; it turned the American attitude toward the war. Still, George remained a hawk. He believed that only campus liberals believed that South Vietnam would not triumph over the north. He wrote on Easter Sunday, 1968, "I just don't buy that this is an immoral war on our part. These critics are immune to the repeated abuses, the sheer terror of the VC."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.237-239 , Sep 14, 2004

I never accepted that Vietnam was immoral

"I'm not pessimistic about America. We go through cycles. We went through a cycle in the Vietnam War where our own sons and, to some degree, daughters were told that our cause was immoral--people feeling as strongly as they did. I was old enough or blind enough, or whatever, not to accept that view. I still don't accept that view, because when I look at Southeast Asia and I see a Vietnam where the charge was against us--if we'd only get out; this is an indigenous civil war; you'd have a little more democracy there--that hasn't worked out that way.

"But the point is.we had a generation of Americans that were taught about a deep conviction by professors and politicians and others that our purpose, our cause, was wrong. And then we condoned as a society certain excesses that we should have condemned. And I'm talking about an elevation of understanding about narcotics, for example, which gets right to the core of values."

Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 90 , Jul 17, 1990

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