Newspapers and columnists in many countries took time out from their domestic concerns last week to mark the first anniversary of Operation Desert Storm--the beginning of the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait. In retrospect, they gave the U.S.-led campaign mixed reviews. Some samples:
"When the Gulf War started a year ago . . . it seemed a hazardous but necessary enterprise. No one knew if the Iraqis would fight, if American weaponry would work, or if the coalition would hold together. The military planners prepared for heavy casualties . . . .
"The fears of the pessimists proved unjustified . . . .
"Little imagination is required to outline what the present situation would be if President Bush had shied away from the use of force. Saddam Hussein would be the dominant military and political figure in the area . . . . He would be a hero to the common people and a power that no government in the region would dare defy. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, calculating that the West could no longer be relied upon, would be cultivating his goodwill. Oil prices would be vulnerable to his whims.
"Unsatisfactory though the present situation is, it is much better than that . . . .
"In retrospect, President Bush's failure was not that he refused to march on Baghdad but that he stopped his armies from closing the ring around the retreating Iraqi forces, thereby allowing them to crush the revolt in Basra. That revolt, coupled with Kurdish efforts in the north, might have toppled Saddam's regime . . . .
"President Bush is reported to be considering ideas for making good his error by supporting a future insurrection. . . . The longer the job is delayed, the more difficult it will become. The unfinished business of the war still awaits attention."
--\o7 The Independent, \f7 London
"All over the world people are mumbling: 'What was the Gulf War about in the end?' The Japanese are wondering too. People ask themselves, 'What has changed since the war?' because all we can find when we look around is unfinished business . . . .
"President Bush fought the war by calling for 'a new world order.' But neither the structure nor the substance of this new order has yet become clear . . . .
"What made this war possible was President Bush's initiative based on his political ambition and other favorable international conditions that happened to work his way. The United States will be unable to repeat the same action, even if it becomes the only superpower in the world. The backdrop to Bush's visit to Japan, which was widely criticized, is that Americans are filled with anxiety about their future and that the government doesn't know how to respond . . . ."
--\o7 Nihon Keizai Shimbun, \f7 Tokyo
"One . . . great disappointment troubling America a year after victory in the Gulf arises from unreasonable expectations. Washington saw a new order to be culled in the Middle East, which would bring security, peace and prosperity to the crisis-plagued region. The wide-reaching project, which Bush and Baker developed at the time, would not be realized. . . . A further war objective, which no one in the U.S. likes to talk about, was . . . reached. Supplying the big industrial states with oil is guaranteed for the foreseeable future (and) the price of crude has also clearly gone down. The American economy would look a lot worse if a barrel of crude oil cost as much today as it did two years ago."
--Washington correspondent Siegfried Maruhn in \o7 General-Anzeiger\f7 , Bonn
"Everyone thought that the United States had won the war with Iraq, but now we realize that it lost! If you don't believe it, tell me what the United States won. It spent thousands of millions, billions of dollars, in exchange for nothing. Nothing! If you don't believe it, look how Saddam Hussein is still alive and kicking, calmly celebrating 'the anniversary of victory.'
"For the United States, this war and its supposed victory was 'the mother of all entanglements,' because it served only to aggravate that country's economic crisis. That is, by taking Kuwait, Saddam Hussein succeeded in involving the United States in a war to liberate it, thus dealing a strong blow to the country's economy, to the point of making it totter. How astute, that Hussein! And the gringos fell in the trap."
--Columnist Adolfo Miranda Saenz in \o7 El Nuevo Diario, \f7 Managua, Nicaragua
"A year ago . . . President George Bush launched the Gulf War, instead of relying on economic sanctions to overturn the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
"Millions of innocent civilians, mostly Iraqis, are still paying the price for it. Their unparalleled suffering casts a dark shadow over this anniversary . . . .
"This legacy of the war in which Canada was a participant should weigh heavily on our conscience."
--\o7 The Toronto Star\f7