History has a way of seeming inevitable.
Looking back from the comfortable vantage point of victory, the Gulf War appears from the very beginning to have been a towering mismatch with but one possible outcome:
An isolated and almost-friendless developing nation was propelled by the ignorance of its despotic leader into a full-scale war against the largest, most technologically advanced military machine on Earth. Saddam Hussein--ignorant of the West, misunderstanding the power of technological war, misconceiving his appeal to the masses of the Arab world--confronted George Bush, a President determined to rid his nation of the "Vietnam Syndrome," intent on establishing new ground rules for a post-Cold War world, convinced of the moral rightness of his cause.
Hussein would not blink. Bush would not be swayed. The destruction of Iraqi power was, it seems, bound to follow.
It didn't all look so inevitable as the drama unfolded, of course. And even in hindsight, it's easy to see many moments when things might have gone wrong, when at the very least the human cost of the war could have been much higher.