This book includes a plain text version that is designed for high accessibility. To use this version please follow this link.
Q & A GEN. COLIN POWELL, USA (RET) So we had done what we went


there to do. We believed some re- sidual standby force was necessary. But Kuwaitis were back in power, and the president did not want to get sucked into anything. That Saddam was still there was


President Bush and his war cabinet make the decision to end the First Gulf War during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 27, 1991.


among leaders in Baghdad, to in- clude Saddam Hussein. I’m not sure it was the hope of the young Iraqi infantrymen and their com- manders on the border watching us build up. They talked big and bad in Baghdad. But in interviews with Iraqi generals captured later, they did not display that same sort of confi dence.


Would you describe the decision to stop the fighting? The last day was a fascinating one. In briefi ng the president, I said Norm and I thought that in another couple of days we would be asking him to end the war. The Highway of Death was all over television at that point. The president said, “Well, if


we’ve accomplished the mission, and I think we have, then what’s the point of killing more people. Why not end it in the next 12 to 18 hours?” I agreed. Mr. Cheney agreed.


Norm agreed. All the president’s advisors agreed. And that’s what we did. We gave Norm like 12 hours to stake out a line, fi gure out where ev- erybody was to give up, and halt the


72 MILITARY OFFICER JANUARY 2016


war at that point. It was the subject of great controversy afterward. For more than 10 years, I had people asking me, “Why didn’t you go to Baghdad?” I explained why, as did the president and Mr. Cheney. Then, in 2003, we went to Baghdad, and nobody asked me again.


You defended that decision perhaps first in an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine in 1992. Did you continue to defend it through the years? I defended it every time the question was asked. Congress had authorized us to do what we were doing and nothing more. The U.N. resolution, which did a lot to create that great coalition, anticipated kicking the Iraqi army out of Kuwait and noth- ing else. President Bush from the beginning made clear he did not want to occupy an Arab or Muslim country. He would just right a wrong, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. We never had a single discussion about doing more than that. In fact, the presi- dent’s guidance to me was he wanted troops home by July Fourth.


controversial, though he was pretty much contained. His army had been knocked down to 40 percent of its original size. We did not want to de- stroy the Iraqi army because Iran was right next door. We didn’t want to make it so easy that the Iranian army could just walk across the border. There was criticism about nego- tiations that subsequently took place with Iraq. “You left their helicopters fl ying, and all those gunships shot up the Shias.” That criticism is some- what misplaced. The Shias were in no position at that time to undertake an operation that would have taken them to Baghdad. The only fair criti- cism was that we stopped a little too short. We should have gone another couple of days.


What would a couple more days have achieved? It would have destroyed more of the Republican Guard. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have changed the situation. It would have killed more young men on both sides. We already had 70,000 prisoners. I can’t say it might have been better or worse. But others have criticized it over the years. That’s the only criticism I think is fair. Critics forget that Saddam Hussein


did not commit the whole Republi- can Guard to Kuwait. He kept a lot of it at home to put down any prob- lems he had in Baghdad. So it’s fair criticism, but criticism I can handle and counter.


How did the war affect America’s perception of its military?


PHOTO: DAVID VALDEZ


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96