Saturday, February 27, 2016

Riders on Desert Storm

Awe shucks, it's Shockback Saturday again; and I read this week that it's the 25th anniversary of the end of Gulf War I. 25 years ago today, Saddam Hussein ordered the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, although combat continued at the Kuwait City airport for four more days, and the retreating army set fire to hundreds of oil wells as they fled.

I was drawing for two college newspapers and the Racine Journal Times in those days, so here are only a few of the cartoons I drew about that war. You may look to other sources for the factors that led up to the war, but as far as most Americans were concerned, it all started in August, 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded the sheikdom of Kuwait.

The Bush administration (Pappy, not Dubya) had, through Ambassador April Glaspie, earlier told the Saddam Hussein regime that "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait," but that an actual invasion would be cause "for me to be concerned." Now that the invasion was a fait accompli, President Bush had some serious decisions to make.

Throughout the remainder of the summer and fall, both sides engaged in a great deal of saber rattling and bellicose talk. Bush swore that the invasion of Kuwait would not be allowed to stand, and Hussein promised "the mother of all battles" if the U.S. and the coalition of allies Bush was gathering tried to do anything about it.

For civilians stateside, it was an opportunity to fight the Vietnam War Protests all over again.

If the U.S. military had learned one lesson from Vietnam, it was that having TV news cameras out filming the troops and civilians and broadcasting whatever they witnessed back home the next day allowed the American public to form their own opinions about how the war was going. This time, the press had to be largely satisfied with military briefings showing successful missile strikes on guaranteed military targets.

This time, once the U.S.-led coalition entered the ground war in mid-January, the actual fighting was surprisingly short. Hussein quickly evacuated his forces from Kuwait all the way back to Baghdad. The ceasefire agreement was signed shortly afterward.

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