Happy 20th Anniversary to the "End" of the 1991 Gulf War...the War That Never Actually Ended
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Ask most Americans over the age of 20 what's the shortest and most successful war in our history, and chances are they'll say the 1991 Gulf War. Short and to the point, it was over in 43 days with only 148 U.S. fatalities in battle, a third from friendly fire. But ask Paul Sullivan, Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense and a Gulf War veteran, and he'll quickly inform you that the Gulf War actually never ended and continues to take its toll every day. Sullivan, who suffers himself from Gulf War Illness—a multi-symptom disease caused by wartime toxins and affecting most every bodily system—doesn't mean only that the war lingers in the bodies of stricken veterans who battle the disease every day. He means literally the war never ended. A January 1991 legislative resolution authorized the war, and then an April 1991 resolution post facto established its dates. By design or neglect, this later legislation's definition of the war (38 USC (101) (33) left the door open for continuing U.S. aggression in the region. The Persian Gulf War, the law stipulated, would be considered to have started on August 2nd (when Iraq invaded Kuwait). But the law stipulated no particular date for the war's ending, which would be “the date...prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law.” Neither of which has ever happened.
Additional legislation like the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act and the 2002 Iraq War Resolution supplemented, but never replaced the 1991 Persian Gulf resolutions. Clinton's 8-year aggression against Iraq, a clear violations of international law, claimed its legality, in part, on the 1991 U.S. and U.N. Resolutions. To the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, too, for many matters (particular medals , pay, and benefits, etc), the Persian Gulf War is defined as beginning on August 2nd, 1990 and continuing through the present.
Legalities aside, Iraqis, residents of neighboring regions, sick U.S. veterans and their families, and others know the 1991 Gulf War for the catastrophe that has tormented for two decades. But most Americans still remember it as our quick and easy war, a quick rout and sudden restoration of national shame of losing in Vietnam, or as Bush 41 put it, beating “Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”
The Persian Gulf War in its initial phase (August 1990- February 1991) accomplished many goals for the New World Order envisioned by Reagan and established by Bush 41. It piloted not only the weapons of warfare the new empire would use for years to come-- including establishing the very pernicious depleted uranium as the munition of choice replacing lead and tungsten--but the ideological and bureaucratic tactics with which it would prosecute unending war in the region. Provoke, manipulate, lie to Congress, the UN, the public, bribe and bamboozle the international community, and , by all means, censor as you go.
Last month, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the start of Allied military operations against Iraq, nostalgia blared. At a gathering at Bush 41 Library, George HW Bush repeated what he said at the end of Desert Storm, “we got this one right,” (then he meant Vietnam, now the current war) declaring it the “greatest” honor of his life and the defining moment in his presidency. The Kuwaiti envoy declared the world “a safer place” because of the successful war to free his country.
Journalists like John MacArthur and Seymour Hersh have revealed astonishing facts about Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and their aftermath, as the first phases of the American campaigns in the 20 year war were called. But systematic disinformation and censorship have guaranteed a public unscathed by visions of a most brutal military adventure. On the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire, for the world's future as well as our own, let's review basics about the Persian Gulf War, which continues still, ravaging over there, and here at home.