Published Aerospace Power Journal - Fall 2001
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Col Mark Garrard, USAF
|Editorial Abstract: Did President Bush prematurely declare a cease-fire in Operation Desert Storm, before we met our political objectives? According to Colonel Garrard, as soon as a war has begun, one must immediately consider terms for termination and peacemaking. If not, an untidy conclusion is inevitable.|
|No one starts a war or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so,
without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he
intends to conduct it. . . . Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is
controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices
made for it in magnitude and also in duration. Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the
value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow.
Carl von Clausewitz
In preparing for Operation Desert Storm, President George Bush formed an extraordinary coalition that decisively trounced Saddam Husseins forces. Yet, a decade later, many people in the United States voice a growing dissatisfaction with the political results of that conflict. Indeed, some assert that the conflict has not yet ended.1 As we will see, the president publicly recognized the seeds of that discontent shortly after the cease-fire.
What went wrong? Did our objectives lack clarity? Did the coalition lack the means or will to achieve them? Were the objectives incompatible with each other? Did they change during the war? Should they have been modified? Did the National Command Authorities give adequate guidance to Gen Norman Schwarzkopf, commander in chief (CINC) of US Central Command (CENTCOM)? Did the CINC give adequate attention to war termination?
Perhaps one can illuminate the answers to these questions by examining war termination in the Persian Gulf through the prisms of interest, fear, and honor, which Thucydides identified 2,400 years ago as the three causes of war.2 War and war termination are indeed inseparable, and, although no two wars are identical, the strategy for waging and ending conflict remains eternal.3
During the predawn hours of 2 August 1990, Iraq fulfilled its territorial objectives by quickly invading and seizing Kuwait. The international community faced the prospect of losing one of the worlds major oil producers and witnessing the annexation of a sovereign statethe first such occurrence since World War II. To liberate Kuwait, a coalition autho-rized by the United Nations (UN) and led by the United States gradually built up forces in Saudi Arabia. Consisting of a diverse group of 28 nations forces, which included over 650,000 troops, the coalition remained intact despite Saddams best efforts to shatter it.
When the Iraqis refused to withdraw from Kuwait by January 1991, allied air forces destroyed key targets in and around Baghdad and bombed Iraqs armed forces entrenched within and around Kuwait, after which coalition ground forces quickly overran the remaining enemy troops.4 In military terms, the Gulf War was an overwhelmingly one-sided event and a clear coalition victory.
On 27 February 1991, President Bush unilaterally declared a cease-fire, proclaiming that "Kuwait is liberated. Iraqs army is defeated. Our military objectives have been met."5 He did not allude to the nations political objectives. Soon, however, nagging questions arose about the "premature" termination of the war.6
If one intends any conflict to advance long-term interests, one must consider the essential question of how the enemy might be forced to surrender or, failing that, what type of bargain might work to terminate the war. Such questions combine both the political and military realms. Not only the military contest but also domestic and foreign-policy developments contribute to the wars outcome. Although the question of terminating a war should arise as soon as the war has begun or in the course of advanced planning, it tends to receive little or no attention in war plans.7 This element of premeditation with respect to war termination seems largely absent from the Gulf War. Gordon Brown, CENTCOMs chief foreign-policy advisor admitted, "We never did have a plan to terminate the war."8
Why? Neglecting war termination was likely due, at least in part, to the unexpectedly rapid pace of the ground war. President Bush and Brent Scowcroft, his national security advisor, acknowledged that "the end of effective Iraqi resistance came with a rapidity which surprised us all, and we were perhaps psychologically unprepared for the sudden transition from fighting to peacemaking."9
General Schwarzkopf describes a telephone conversation he had with Gen Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), on the final day of the war. Powell informed the CINC that he (Schwarzkopf) would participate in a formal cease-fire meeting with his Iraqi counterparts. According to Schwarzkopf, "It had never crossed my mind that Id have to sit down opposite Iraqi generalsand we spent a couple minutes discussing how this might be arranged."10 The president gave the CINC only 48 hours to prepare for the meeting. Powell directed Schwarzkopf to prepare "terms of reference" for the meeting. The CINC spent an hour dictating the terms, focusing exclusively on immediate military issues. He sought immediate release of all coalition prisoners of war; exchange of information on people missing in action; return of the remains of people killed in action; and exchange of information on mines and booby traps, as well as on any storage sites the enemy had established for weapons of mass destruction in the Kuwait theater of operations (KTO). He also sought to establish a demarcation line to physically separate the coalition and Iraqi armies. He transmitted the draft document to Washington, D.C., where the JCS and State Department reviewed and approved it. The terms of reference were thereafter sent to Iraq via Moscow.11
The untidy end to the conflict showed that it is not enough to plan a war. Civilian and military officials must also plan for the peace that follows. . . .
The draft terms of reference were modified only slightly in Washington. For example, for each occurrence of the CINCs clause "the coalition will negotiate," the State Department had substituted the clause "the coalition will discuss," reflecting its position that only the State Department negotiated for the United States of America. According to State, the military lacked such authority.12
Further, the CINCs decision to assume responsibility for two demanding senior military roles may have contributed to the commands acknowledged neglect of war termination. Spe- cifically, General Schwarzkopf decided to serve as his own land-component commander despite General Powells repeated urgings that the CINC appoint a separate land-component commander. The chairman was concerned that the land offensive was consuming too much of the CINCs energy and time.13 Although General Schwarzkopf was pulling 18-hour days in the planning of the operation, he rejected General Powells suggestions.14
The chairman determined that war termination in the Gulf merited further attention by the nations senior war fighters. Accordingly, General Powell made photocopies of excerpts from Fred Ikles book Every War Must End and sent them to key general officers during the buildup of Operation Desert Shield.15
Michael Howard contends that "few wars, in fact, are any longer decided on the battlefield (if indeed they ever were). They are decided at the peace table. Military victories do not themselves determine the outcome of wars; they only provide the political opportunities for the victorsand even those opportunities are likely to be limited by circumstances beyond their control."16 But the Bush administration displayed the traditional American penchant for divorcing war and politics. The president remarked, "Let the civilians and the president do the diplomacy, do the politics, wrestle with the press, and when the war is over, bear responsibility for the terms of surrender. But at the outset, once the lead-up to the fighting has begun, let the politicians get out of the way and let the military fight the war, and let them fight it to win."17
Yet, the president and others voiced reservations with respect to the political aftermath in particular. Reflecting on the outcome, President Bush admitted in a press conference shortly after the end of hostilities, "You know, to be honest with you, I havent yet felt this wonderfully euphoric feeling . . . but I think its that I want to see an end. You mentioned World War IIthere was a definite end to that conflict. And now we have Saddam Hussein still therea man that wreaked this havoc upon his neighbors."18
Since 1991 many people have become increasingly dissatisfied with the political end state. According to Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, "The untidy end to the conflict showed that it is not enough to plan a war. Civilian and military officials must also plan for the peace that follows. . . . [They lacked] a clear political strategy for postwar Iraq [and] failed to exploit the benefits that accrue to those who exercise overwhelming power."19
Prof. Brian Bond outlines two other considerations that, in addition to battlefield success, a nation must satisfy to realize a decisive victory. The first is firm, realistic statecraft with specific aims. The second is the willingness of the vanquished to accept the verdict of battle and become reconciled to defeat.20 Clearly, one or more of these elements was deficient to some degree in light of the fact that the presidentand othersharbored lingering discomfort with the Gulf Wars termination.
The coalitions success on the battlefield was overwhelming, and the administrations statecraft was strong and realistic. But the weakest link in attaining a decisive victory clearly resided in the last elementthe enemys steadfast refusal to accept defeat, which, in turn, set the foundation for future conflict. As Clausewitz recognized, "Even the ultimate outcome of war is not always to be regarded as final. The defeated state often considers the outcome merely as a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at some later date."21 In this way did Hitler regard Germanys defeat in 1918, and in like manner has Saddam regarded Iraqs defeat in 1991.
Realistic statecraft with firm objectives, battlefield success, and the opponents willingness to accept defeat correspond to Thucydides theory that war arises out of some mixture of interest, fear, and honor.22 Termination of conflict, then, becomes possible when a nation hasor perceives it hasthe requisite leverage in at least one (usually two) or more of these elements to coerce its opponent into terminating the conflict on terms favorable to the coercer.23 The greater the perceived leverage in these three areas, the more "satisfactory" the resulting peace.
Consider the US experience in Vietnam. Given South Vietnams lack of political legitimacy and incapacity for effective self-rule, US statecraft proved inherently impotent. There was virtually no prospect of creating a politically and militarily viable South Vietnam. Moreover, US military superiority failed to defeat the communist threat before public support in the United States started to crumble, resulting in a unilateral withdrawal from the battlefield. Conversely, the North Vietnamese were willing to pay any price for victorywhich included fighting for nearly three decades and suffering perhaps three times the casualties suffered by French and US forces combined. For Hanoi, accepting defeat was never an option.24
Thucydides interest encompasses realistic statecraft with specific objectives. According to President Bush, the coalitions war aims were as follows: "First, the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Second, the restoration of Kuwaits legitimate government. Third, security and stability for the Gulfan important interest of the U.S. since the time of Harry Truman. And fourth, the protection of American citizens abroad."25 Moreover, the UNs resolutions captured all the presidents objectives.26
The presidents third objective (regional security and stabilityinterestingly, the last of the four agreed to by the UN) reflects an ambiguity not present in the other announced war aims.27 This uncertainty left the coalition with greater flexibility in dealing with Iraq as the Gulf crisis unfolded, but it also made the prospects of Iraqi cooperation (admittedly never great) less likely and ensured that this ambiguity would inevitably affect our view of war termination.28
As a nation attains its interests or objectives through a combination of military or diplomatic measures, the emphasis on conflict termination tends to shift to the other two elementsfear and honor. With respect to fear, the belligerent must consider whether continued fighting might cause losses disproportionate to the remaining objectives. As for honor, battlefield victories bestow a measure of prestige or credibility. The higher one values such honor, the more important conflict termination becomes while this element remains ascendant.29
Fear not only can prompt a state to start a war, but also can contribute to a belligerents calculations for war termination. As one experiences success on the battlefield, fear of political and physical loss rises for the losing belligerent and declines for his winning opponent.
Iraq was unwilling to leave Kuwait or cease hostilities until coalition ground forces forced their way into Kuwait and Iraq. Fear generated by this physical invasion as well as the accompanying threat to the future of his regime certainly contributed to Saddams decision to withdraw his forces from the KTO and submit to a cease-fire.
Clausewitz reminds us that the political object is the goal and that war is merely the means of reaching it.30 Therefore, under some circumstancesparticularly in limited wartoo much battlefield success can jeopardize the political objective. This potential loss of the political object, whether through too much or too little success, gives rise to fear. The last thing the coalition wanted was to so thoroughly degrade Iraqs armed forces that the nation itself might dissolve.31 Creating a vacuum in the region might have invited aggression by Iran or sparked further turmoil within Iraq (and perhaps beyond its borders) by radical Shiitesexactly the opposite of our objective of restoring stability to the Gulf. This same fear led the Saudis and Egyptians to push for early termination of the war.32 It also weighed heavily on the Bush administrations decision makers, who wanted central political authority preserved in Iraq but without Saddam Hussein.33
Moreover, a reciprocal relationship exists between these factors. For example, if one side modifies its objectives, thereby adjusting that partys interest, that decision will necessarily affect the likely costs of the modified conflictwith a corresponding change in the level of fear felt by both sides. Korea provides an apt illustration. Because of battlefield success, when UN forces elected to pursue reunification of the peninsula (albeit briefly), China intervened; this action lengthened the war and increased US casualties, which served to delay termination of the conflict and increase its costs.
Similarly, any broadening of the coalitions war aims in the Gulf would have necessitated accepting a greater risk of adverse consequences. These potential consequences included compromising the coalitions continued existence, weakening political stability in the region, fomenting US domestic unrest,34 and increasing the number of coalition and Iraqi civilian casualties.35
Honor, whether called prestige or credibility, occupies a significant role in both modern and ancient warfare. In the Persian Gulf, for example, the US contribution to battlefield success helped restore a degree of public confidence in the armed forces and the nation itselfconfidence that, according to some parties, the public had lost during the conflict in Vietnam. The administration and the armed forces highly valued this development. Many senior US officers in the Gulf had fought in Vietnam and were strongly influenced by that earlier conflict.36 The day after the Gulf War ended, President Bush stated, "Because of what has happened [we have] reestablished credibility for the United States of America."37
The Gulf War coalitionparticularly the support provided by other Arab forcesconstituted essential political cover to maintain Saudi Arabias honor in the Arab world. As custodian of Islamic holy sites, Saudi Arabia attempts to portray itself as the most Arab of the Arab nations. This is no easy task, given its close economic ties to the West. All of these concerns were caught up in the formation of the coalition. Indeed, Iraq repeatedly attacked Israel with Scud missiles precisely because it recognized that Arab members of the coalition would lose credibility with their respective populations if the Israelis were drawn into the war.
Evidence suggests that the coalition likely would have unraveled if the United States had sought to extend the ground war into Baghdad. General Schwarzkopf believed that the French probably would have neither supported nor participated in such action and that the Arabs almost definitely would not have.38 Interpretations of the Koran and Muslim ethical discourse throughout the Gulf crisis support this view.39 Thus, Arab prestige or Muslim credibility, as associated with the religious convictions of our allies, was another factor influencing war termination.
Moreover, the coalitions battlefield success came so rapidly and at so little cost that concerns arose about the easy victorys possibly causing political damage to many coalition members (Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco).40 Similarly, the United States worried that its successful battles (e.g., the "highway of death" at Basra) would appear "un-American and unchivalrous"that is, without honor, particularly if the United States were to continue the fighting.41
General Schwarzkopfs after-action report to the secretary of defense in April 1991 recognized the inadequacy of the US war-termination strategy in the Gulf: "The rapid success of the ground campaign and our subsequent occupation of Iraq were not fully anticipated. Thus, some of the necessary follow-on actions were not ready. . . . Documents for war termination need to be drafted and coordinated early." But the CINC failed to suggest a process for such termination.42
Current joint publications also address the substance (as opposed to the process) of war termination. Although they do not use the terms advanced by Thucydides and employed by Professor Bond, the publications address many of the same concerns. Joint Publication 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, discusses the importance of using dominance in conflict (i.e., battlefield success) to leverage a "lasting solution."43 It also addresses the link among national strategy, military strategy, and posthostility aims (i.e., firm, realistic statecraft with specific aims).44 The publication acknowledges the importance of political primacy and explains that aspects of the military, economic, geographic, psychological, and political realms can work to ones advantage when a party attempts a "negotiated conclusion" to war. It also recognizes that successful exploitation of war termination "requires early planning and coordination both at the national level and in theater among diplomatic, military and political leadership."45 Extant joint publications, however, offer no mechanism or process for ensuring the integration of the nations diverse national interests during the difficult transition from war to peace.
This article illustrates that one may evaluate war termination in any age through the prisms of interest, fear, and honorthe three causes of war identified by Thucydides. During the Gulf War, coalition statecraft was strong and realistic, battlefield success was overwhelming, but the weak link in attaining a decisive political victory was the enemys steadfast refusal to accept defeat.
In the Gulf, the United States neglected war termination. CENTCOM personnel acknowledge that they had not planned for the end of hostilities. Nor did the nations leadership develop a termination strategy in advance of the cease-fire. As a result, the United States was unprepared to exploit its battlefield success politically during the cease-fire talks and unable to use the leverage acquired by means of the military instrument to compel the enemy to acknowledge defeat.
The State Department, although it was working postwar issues through the UN, offered only a superficial change to the CINCs hastily composed terms of reference, and no one in Washington, apparently, offered substantive guidance to General Schwarzkopf in advance of the meeting at Safwan, Iraq.46 As a result, the CINC addressed only narrow military issues during the cease-fire talks. As US leaders contemplated the timing of the Gulf cease-fire, with coalition forces then occupying a great deal of Iraqi territory, the Bush administration possessed the greatest degree of potential leverage over Saddam. But it lacked a method for politically exploiting that battlefield success.47
First, although the armed forces have the predominant role on the battlefield, the CINC is but one actor among several during conflict termination. The process requires interagency (and often coalitionwide) cooperation to deal with the diverse political, economic, humanitarian, and military issues. Rarely will conflict be resolved through the finality of unconditional surrender; limited war is the rule, and total war the exception. Accordingly, the United States must have the benefit of a variety of perspectives and expertise as it adjusts from war to a new and, hopefully, more favorable peace.
Although conflict termination typically generates a complex mixture of policy, economic, and humanitarian issues as well as military concerns, policy matters tend to predominateparticularly with limited war. This is the case, of course, because war is conducted in pursuit of political goalsgoals that ought to be within reach at the close of a successful military campaign. Accordingly, if we want to maximize our chances of achieving more than battlefield success, we must have a senior representative from the Department of State and/or National Security Council with the CINC during peace talks and in-theater well in advance of the wars termination. An interagency approach best preserves the nations diverse interests and permits more effective exploitation of US battlefield success.48
Second, US leaders must avoid the temptation to rush into the cease-fire processto "cut and run" after the battlefield contest concludes. Joint publications should clearly remind us of the fog and friction inherent in conflict and of the dangers such disorder brings to war termination. No matter how much technological progress a force may achieve, the battlefield will remain a partially shrouded, complex, and confusing environment. One cannot attain a precise picture of the military situation. Moreover, the further removed one is from the conflict, the less complete is ones comprehension of events.49 US leaders, therefore, must resist the temptation to rush the decision-making process on war termination and allow the relevant facts to develop more fully during the interagency process. Let the next Saddam sit and sweat while we hold his territory, consult with our coalition partners, and patiently explore our options.
Finally, because this process is so demanding, US joint doctrine must be written to forbid a CINC, at least during major theater war, from also serving as his or her own land-, air-, or sea-component commander.50 The CINC must not attempt, as did General Schwarzkopf, to divide energy and attention between the daily operational challenges of a component commander and the larger strategic issues, including the challenges of conflict termination.51 In other words, contributing beyond the battlefield to "a better state of peace" requires that the nations senior war fighters use their limited resources to develop a strategic vision. Capturing and helping implement such a vision requires a CINC to spend less time thinking about what his or her forces are fighting against and more time understanding what our nation is fighting for.
1. Dr. Grant T. Hammond, "Myths of the Gulf War: Some Lessons Not to Learn," Airpower Journal 12, no. 3 (Fall 1998): 8. See also Avigdor Haselkorn, The Continuing Storm: Iraq, Poisonous Weapons, and Deterrence (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999), 10216.
2. Betty Radice, ed., Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner (London: Penguin Books, 1972), 80.
3. "The most basic reason why strategy appears, alas, to be eternal lies in our human nature. . . . History as we know it yields no grounds for optimism that a positive kind of peace can be constructed to a degree which precludes the appearance of objective threats to security. As the aphorism has it: we have seen the problem and it is us." Colin S. Gray, Modern Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 358.
4. Philip Towle, Enforced Disarmament: From the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 184.
5. Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf, eds., The Gulf War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions (New York: Times Books, 1991), 449.
6. Bobby Inman et al., "Lessons from the Gulf War," The Washington Quarterly 15 (Winter 1992): 70.
7. Fred C. Ikle, Every War Must End (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), 1718. Interestingly, Gen Colin Powell served with Mr. Ikle in the Caspar Weinberger era and was a fan of his book on war termination. David Roth, Sacred Honor: A Biography of Colin Powell (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 208.
8. Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, The Generals War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1995), 461.
9. George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), 488.
10. H. Norman Schwarzkopf with Peter Petre, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf: The Autobiography: It Doesnt Take a Hero (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 470.
11. Ibid., 47080. General Powell used terms of reference to denote the agenda for the officers cease-fire discussionsand the CINCs objectives in those talks.
12. Nevertheless, the president may delegate authority to enter into specific international agreements to the CINC or to a team composed of military and civilian experts. See Title 1, United States Code, sec. 112b (the Case Act), which requires any agency or department of the US government entering into an international agreement to transmit the same to the State Department within 20 days. (The clear inference is that agencies/departments other than State may be authorized to negotiate international agreements on behalf of the United States.) State, in turn, must provide a copy of the written international agreement to Congress within 60 days of its going into effect. The Case Act is implemented by Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 5530.3, International Agreements, 11 June 1987.
13. Gordon and Trainor, 300301.
14. Richard Pyle, Schwarzkopf: The Man, the Mission, the Triumph (New York: Signet, 1991), 100101.
15. Roth, 208. "Thus it can happen that military men while skillfully planning their intricate operations and coordinating complicated maneuvers, remain curiously blind in failing to perceive that it is the outcome of war, not the outcome of campaigns within it, that determines how well their plans serve the national interest." Ikle, 2.
16. Michael Howard, "When Are Wars Decisive?" Survival 41, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 12930.
17. George Bush, "Remarks at 51st Wedding Anniversary Celebration at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, 20 Jan 1996" (Washington, D.C.: Federal Documents Clearing House, Inc., 1996).
18. Gordon and Trainor, 433.
19. Ibid., 47677.
20. Brian Bond, The Pursuit of Victory: From Napoleon to Saddam Hussein (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 61.
21. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976), 80.
22. Radice, 80.
23. Michael Rampy, "The Endgame: Conflict Termination and Post-Conflict Activities," Military Review, October 1992, 4248.
24. North Vietnams General Giap remarked that the death of human beings counted for little in comparison to the cause they fought for. Paul F. Wynnyk, "Vo Nguyen Giap: A Strategy for Protracted Revolutionary War," in The Changing Face of War: Learning from History, ed. Allan D. English (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1998), 142.
25. George Bush, "Why We Are in the Gulf," Newsweek, 26 November 1990, 29. See also Marcia Lynn Whicker, James P. Pfiffner, and Raymond A. Moore, eds., The Presidency and the Persian Gulf War (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1993), 31.
26. UN Resolutions 660, 2 August 1990; 662, 9 August 1990; 664, 18 August 1990; and 678, 29 November 1990; see also Triumph without Victory: the Unreported History of the Persian Gulf Conflict (New York: Times Books, 1992), 41619.
27. Why are US objectives sometimes ambiguous? Gen Maxwell Taylor offered some of the most important reasons: "It is a risky business for a senior politician to put on public record an estimate of future events which, if wide of the mark, would provide ammunition to his adversaries. Similarly, a president who announces specific policy goals affords the public a measure of his failure if he falls short of his hopes. Hence it is common practice for officials to define foreign policy goals in the broad generalities of peace, prosperity, cooperation, and good will." Maxwell D. Taylor, Precarious Security (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1976), 17.
28. Ian Johnstone, Aftermath of the Gulf War: An Assessment of UN Action (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994), 5559. Objectives are often cast in ambiguous terms because the national leaders credibility is likely to suffer if they are not achieved. See Bruce Bade, "War Termination: Why Dont We Plan for It?" in Essays on Strategy 21 (1994): 217.
29. Perhaps this helps account for our difficultylacking battlefield success and yet concerned about US honorin ending our role in Vietnam. According to Henry Kissinger, "What had started as an almost philosophical controversy over what constitutes a nations honor ended up as a technical debate about the modalities of extrication. Even the new American President [Ford], really the only free agent among the principals, came to understand that there was no easy, therefore undiscovered way out of this morass; given what had gone before, the tragedy had simply become inevitable." Henry Kissinger, Years of Renewal (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 464.
30. Clausewitz, 87.
31. Triumph without Victory, 395. Secretary of State James Baker explains that the administrations "one overriding strategic concern was to avoid what we often referred to as the Lebanonization of Iraq, which we believed would create a geopolitical nightmare." James Baker III with Thomas M. DeFrank, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 19891992 (New York: G. P. Putnams Sons, 1995), 435.
32. The United States, given its light battlefield losses, likely was more susceptible to such pressure than it would have been in a more costly conflict. Fred Ikle has noted that the greater the effort and costs expended in a war, the more likely each party will insist on its own terms for ending it. Ikle, 3842.
33. Baker, 43538.
34. Whicker, Pfiffner, and Moore, 13841.
35. More than likely, battle fatigue, logistics, fratricide, the possibility of stiffer resistance from the Iraqis when they were fighting to defend their homeland, and tougher geographic limits on maneuver warfare in the vicinity of Basra all contributed to the decision. See Lawrence Cline, "Defending the End: Decision Making in Terminating the Gulf War," Comparative Strategy 17, no. 4 (1998): 36768.
36. Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti, In the Eye of the Storm (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991), 21416. General Schwarzkopf advised, "I hated what Vietnam was doing to the United States and I hated what it was doing to the Army. . . . Not only had Vietnam demoralized our soldiers [it also] wrecked our credibility with the American public." Schwarzkopf, 18188. Senior US civilian leaders were also sensitive to the Vietnam experience. Note President Bushs journal entry for 14 February 1991: "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 ordnance to use or how much not to use, I have learned from Vietnam" (emphasis added). George Bush, All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings (New York: Scribner, 1999), 511. The secretary of state advised that "ultimately, the Persian Gulf crisis would establish in rather convincing fashion that our countrys long and oftentimes debilitating post-Vietnam hangover had at least temporarily run its course." Baker, 331.
37. Gordon and Trainor, 467.
38. Frontline, Public Broadcasting System, 10 January 1996.
39. "If two parties from among the believers fall into dispute, then make peace between them. But if one party transgresses beyond bound against the other, then fight all of you together against the transgressor until it complies with the laws of God. But if it complies, then make peace between them with justice and be fair; for God loves those who are fair" (Koran, 49:9). In other words, when Iraq desisted from its transgression (relinquished Kuwait), it became the duty of the collective Muslim community to resolve the dispute by peaceful means. Rehabilitation of the offender, not annihilation, was the Arab goal. William Head and Earl Tilford Jr., eds., The Eagle in the Desert: Looking Back on U.S. Involvement in the Persian Gulf War (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1996), 5253.
40. Phyllis Bennis and Michel Moushabeck, eds., Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Olive Branch Press, 1991), 24860.
41. Jeffrey Record, Hollow Victory: A Contrary View of the Gulf War (Washington, D.C.: Brasseys, Inc., 1993), 127. See also Schwarzkopf, 490.
42. Gordon and Trainor, 515, note 12.
43. Joint Publication 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, 1 February 1995, I-9.
45. Ibid., I-10.
46. Schwarzkopf writes, "Wed as yet received no written instructions from Washington, and when Saturday evening rolled around [2 March 1991, the day before the cease-fire talks], I joked it would be interesting to see which came first: authorization to conduct the talks, or the talks themselves. More to the point, the terms of reference seemed to have disappeared without a trace." He concluded that DOD, State Department, and the White House "were having trouble keeping up with the pace of events." Schwarzkopf, 47980. President Bush confirms this with respect to the CINCs ill-advised decision to permit the Iraqi militarys continued use of armed helicopters: "Schwarzkopf was without instructions on the matter." Bush and Scowcroft, 490.
47. Although the process by which the Gulf War ended was inadequate and appeared ad hoc in nature, the timing of the decision to cease hostilities was consistent with the information the president possessed on 27 March 1991. Inevitably, the fog of war left the president, his staff, and commanders with less than complete knowledge of the enemys remaining forces, their positions, intentions, and their assetsincluding weapons of mass destruction. Clausewitz reminds us that "war termination has the character of art and science, of will to negotiate through tacit and overt measures, of ability to adapt to the unforeseen and unforeseeable. . . . A great part of the information obtained in war is contradictory, even more are false, and most are uncertain." Clausewitz, 117.
48. The idea is not a new one. Gen Matthew Ridgway unsuccessfully attempted to acquire expertise from the State Department during his peace talks in Korea. Joseph McMillan, "Talking to the Enemy: Negotiations in Wartime," Comparative Strategy, no. 11 (1992): 452.
49. "The tactical situation was changing very rapidly, and we did not have a clear picture of exactly what was happening on the ground." Bush and Scowcroft, 484.
50. Why is termination strategy so extraordinarily demanding? Is it merely the fog of war? Colin Gray suggests that strategy is so challenging because it serves as a bridging function between two dissimilar elementswar and politics. Gray, 361. The termination of conflict, as it directly connects these two elements and does so in the course of a transition from one to the other, is at the very heart of this demanding strategic process. We must, therefore, reverse the traditional American approach of divorcing war and politics.
51. "Military staffs devote most of their work to details of battles and campaigns and to daily operational activities. The amount of time left to think about and plan a war as a whole is minute in comparison. . . . Very few military officers or civilian analysts are given the time and opportunity to put all these pieces together and to prepare estimates that bear directly on the over-all strategy and that will help to show how the entire undertaking might be brought to a satisfactory end." Ikle, 1718.
Col Mark Garrard (BS, San Diego State University; JD, University of Notre Dame) is the staff judge advocate with Seventh Air Force, Osan Air Base, South Korea. He has also served as the staff judge advocate with the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, California, and with the 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild AFB, Washington. Colonel Garrard has published in the Air Force Law Review.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
[ Back Issues | Home Page | Feedback? Email the Editor ]