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FRONTLINE Show #1408T
Air Date: February 4, 1997
The Gulf War, Part B
[This program was originally broadcast on January 10, 1996.]
NARRATOR: For six weeks in the winter of 1991, an American-led military machine conducted an air war of unprecedented technological fury against Saddam Hussein. Its target: the centers of Iraqi military and political life in Baghdad.
BERNARD TRAINOR: The air campaign, which was designed to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait and win the war without the necessity of ground attack, had not achieved its objective. The Iraqis were very, very badly hurt. It achieved lots of its military objectives. But if you make the assumption that you go to war for a political purpose, which is the change the situation, it had not done that.
NARRATOR: In the Saudi Arabian desert, over half a million American, British, French and Arab troops waited for the ground war to begin.
RICK ATKINSON: There was a feeling that what they were about to do was something stupendous, something on a vast scale that was almost Homeric in its magnitude, and a feeling that it was going to be decisive, that this was the last act, it had all been building toward this and that there would be no messy ending, that it would be resolved by force of arms with this one last, titanic battle in the desert.
NARRATOR: [February 8, 1991, Saudi Arabia] In the final weeks before the ground attack into Kuwait, the allied commander was haunted by the fear of massive coalition casualties. More than ever, General Norman Schwarzkopf's volcanic temper dominated the headquarters in Riyadh.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER, Deputy Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: Working with Norm Schwarzkopf was sort of like watching a thermometer. The blood would start around the shirt collar and then it would work its way up to the jaw line and then to the ears. And by the time it got to the ears, you ought to watch out.
Gen. JOHN LEIDE, Director of Coalition Intelligence:
I would say that working for General Schwarzkopf was a privilege and an honor, but there were many times when if someone had asked me if I would rather have been in that war room or in a dental chair having a root canal without anesthesia, I probably would have chosen the dental chair.
BERNARD TRAINOR, Author, The Generals' War: Schwarzkopf was more than a bully. I mean, he was a- he was a competent military officer, but for most of the officers that served under him, it was a frightening thing to have this man of such large size and power just exploding all over you. And he did intimidate many of his_ of his subordinates and most of them considered him to be a tyrant and a bully.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: I have always regretted the fact that I have a temper. I think it's more the fact that I_ that I care so very much about the lives of our troops.
When human lives are on the line, you cannot be cavalier. You can't do enough. You cannot do enough. You must, must do everything you possibly can and leave no stone unturned and you can't settle_ can never settle for second best or a second-class solution when you're dealing with enterprises of such magnitude that they involve the lives of literally thousands and thousands and thousands of people.
NARRATOR: Despite the devastating air campaign, Saddam Hussein still believed he could force a bloody stalemate on the ground, just as he had done in his war against Iran. And he believed that America, still traumatized by Vietnam, had a critical weakness.
BERNARD TRAINOR: Saddam Hussein was counting on Americans' aversion to casualties in support of his strategy, that when the Americans attacked, they would take so many casualties the American people would rise up and say, "This is not worth the effort" and "Let's see if we can't have a negotiated settlement" and he would end up with the fruits of his_ of his aggression. That was his strategy.
NARRATOR: For six months the Iraqis had prepared for the allied assault. Their front-line troops surrounded Kuwait behind a barrier of minefields, trenches and barbed wire. And in reserve, Saddam kept his elite Republican Guard and their Soviet tanks. Despite the bombing, Iraq still had about 400,000 soldiers positioned for battle.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: When you're proposing to launch an attack of the magnitude that we were going to launch, with the unknowns out there, you want to do everything you can to_ to level the playing field, to make sure that your forces have every advantage.
NARRATOR: But as the ground war grew closer, bitter arguments broke out among Schwarzkopf's commanders about how best to prepare for the land war. The ground commanders wanted to shift the air war to the Iraqi forces in Kuwait. The Air Force wanted to keep targeting Iraqi leadership in Baghdad.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER, Deputy Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: I really believe that General Glosson, Buster Glosson, really believed in his own mind that if he could just have a few more days and hit a few more targets that there wouldn't be a need for a ground war. Now, hardly anybody else believed that, but I think, in Buster's own mind, he believed it.
Gen. BUSTER C. GLOSSON, Commander, Strategic Bombing Campaign: The Army had one view and the Air Force, obviously, probably with the Navy, had another view. We believed, and I still do, that the_ the attacking of targets in Baghdad had as much or more to do with the success or failure of that field army than attacking it directly, in the overall scheme of what our coalition was trying to accomplish.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: They had 41 days of almost uninterrupted bombing, 41 days to bring Saddam to his knees. And someone says to me, or to those ground forces commanders out there, whether they're Army, whether they are coalition forces or whether they're Marines, that, "If we didn't have to go out and shake the battlefield and hit those targets that you insisted on us hitting, we could have won this war"_I think they're on drugs or something. They must be smoking something.
Gen. BUSTER C. GLOSSON: This air campaign, in its totality, was Norman Schwarzkopf's air campaign. It wasn't Cal Waller's nor Buster Glosson's nor Chuck Horner's. And the campaign was part of Schwarzkopf's overall war plan. We executed that the way he wanted it executed. If that happened to not be the way Cal Waller thought it should be executed, that's tough.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: I distinctly remember telling Buster Glosson one day, "Buster, if you divert another flight of aircraft without my approval, I'm going to choke your tongue out." And I think he got the message after that.
NARRATOR: Initially, B-52s from the Vietnam era were assigned to attack the Iraqi forces in Kuwait, but most of their bombs fell in an empty desert. An error in the navigation system was corrected, but high winds still blew most of the bombs off course.
Gen. BUSTER C. GLOSSON: We thought that we would destroy tanks somewhere between 20 and 30 a day and we weren't coming anywhere close. We were down in the area of 6 or 8. And so after about 10 days of that, I knew that we had to do something different.
NARRATOR: [February 5, 1991] Glosson decided to send to sophisticated F1-11 jets on a new mission. When they reached the Iraqi front lines, the crews saw that even the best-camouflaged tank showed up as a white rectangle on their heat-detecting cameras. The tanks had grown hot in the daytime sun. Unlike the B-52s, the F1-11s carried laser-guided bombs.
TOM LENNON, Commander, F1-11 Wing: I called General Glosson and I said, "Buster, you wouldn't believe how successful we were tonight. It was really shit-hot. We had seven for eight direct hits. Piece of cake."
NARRATOR: The Air Force called it "tank plinking" and soon hundreds of these missions were being flown. Under the constant bombardment, the Iraqi army began to disintegrate. The allies didn't yet realize it, but some 200,000 soldiers deserted.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI, Iraqi Military Intelligence: [through interpreter] It had a devastating effect. Let me give you an example. We paid an inspection visit to one infantry division. There should have been 15,000 soldiers in that division, but we found only 34. There was nobody left_ 34 men out of 15,000!
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: I was wondering why didn't we think about this weeks ago. I was elated because I said, "Now, finally, we are providing the ground commanders with something that they sorely need to reduce the number of tanks that they're going to be faced with or reduce the number of artillery pieces that will be bringing fire upon them as they cross the desert or try to breach those areas." So everyone was happy.
NARRATOR: But the bombing of Baghdad also continued. One Stealth bomber mission targeted an anonymous intelligence headquarters that was also a prison.
Maj. JEFF TICE, Prisoner of War: Unlike the way they say in the movies- you know, the way you hear it in the movies- the bombs don't whistle in, they crackle because they're slowing down and crackling through the sound barrier. I heard a crackling through and it came roaring through that building and- and the whole building just literally just shook apart.
Flight Lt. JOHN PETERS, Prisoner of War: Then you hear the second bomb coming in and by that stage, you're fully curled up in a ball and that's when you hear it and it's deafening as it comes in. And someone really kind of shouted, "Incoming!"
Maj. JEFFREY TICE: It went right through me and I- and it picked me up, set me right back down on the floor. And the_ and the building literally began to come down around me.
Flight Lt. JOHN PETERS: And then the third. And they just got closer and closer and you just thought_ you're just sitting there, waiting.
NARRATOR: [February 11, 1991] In Washington President Bush was growing impatient. Colin Powell and Richard Cheney returned from a final meeting with General Schwarzkopf with the news that the allied attack could begin in two weeks. But Bush was anxious. Moscow's support was weakening and Gorbachev was suggesting the attack be postponed to allow for negotiations.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: So we will just continue down this road. We're the ones that are going to set the time for how this war is_ the time for any action that is taken. We are not going to suit somebody else's timetable, whether he lives in Baghdad or anyplace else. And that's exactly the way it should be.
NARRATOR: [February 12, 1991, Baghdad] The president had reason to worry. On Gorbachev's orders, a high-ranking Soviet diplomat traveled to Baghdad. Yevgeni Primakov's mission was to urge Saddam Hussein to accept a face-saving deal.
YEVGENI PRIMAKOV, Soviet Envoy: [through interpreter] He came in wearing a long overcoat. It was cold. There was an electric stove on. When we were left alone, I told him, "I'm not a military expert, but if a land offensive begins, your troops in Kuwait will be wiped out. You have a great burden of responsibility." Then he said, for the first time quite directly, "Okay. I'm going to withdraw my troops from Kuwait. I just want to be sure that, as I retreat, they don't shoot me in the back."
NARRATOR: [February 21, 1991] Forty-eight hours before the ground attack was due, Iraq's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, arrived in Moscow. Saddam's admission that he was willing to withdraw had led to some frantic Soviet diplomacy to save their old ally from defeat.
ROBERT GATES, Deputy National Security Advisor: Gorbachev, to me, was- was making one last attempt to try and have it both ways. He wanted to stay with the United States in the course of this conflict and yet he also wanted- was under, I think, great pressure from various elements of the Soviet bureaucracy to try and preserve this client relationship with the Iraqis and with Saddam Hussein who, after all, had been a Soviet client for many, many years.
NARRATOR: Aziz went straight to the Kremlin. The Soviet president was waiting. Aziz told Gorbachev Saddam wouldn't accept the U.N. resolutions that called for Iraq to recognize Kuwait's independence and pay it compensation. But, he said, Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait. Gorbachev thought this was good enough. He called the White House.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, Soviet President: [through interpreter] I told President Bush, "George, you shouldn't just be thinking about how to begin your attack. You should be thinking about how to avoid it. While the generals plan, we should think about how to end the war."
JAMES BAKER, Secretary of State: We kept coming back to him and saying, "No. You continually are suggesting approaches which do not require an unconditional withdrawal" and we were never, never, never, never going to accept a negotiating down from the U.N. resolutions.
NARRATOR: The president summoned his key advisors to discuss the Soviet offer. If Iraq withdrew, it would mean no bloody ground war, but Saddam would walk away unpunished, his war machine undefeated. At dawn the president called Gorbachev to tell him the deal was unacceptable.
Gen. BRENT SCOWCROFT, National Security Advisor: It was a very difficult phone call for the president and a very anguished one for Gorbachev.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV: [through interpreter] I said we shouldn't waste any time. We must still try to find a political way out. He said, "I am interested in that. I am interested in that. Understand me, I am interested in finding a political solution, but nothing happens." "Well," I told him, "don't lose that will. Don't lose the opportunity. Don't rush things. We're acting together. Let's find a political solution."
Gen. BRENT SCOWCROFT: The president just said, "No. I'm sorry." You know, "He's had all the chances_ he's had months. He's had from August 2nd. We have given him every opportunity and we've told him that this aggression would not stand and now it's too late."
NARRATOR: Bush's carefully crafted international coalition was fragmenting. The French president, Francois Mitterrand, called to demand more time for diplomacy.
ROBERT GATES: We received word that Saddam had blown the oil wells and I went rushing up to the Oval Office and Bush used it right then in the telephone call with Mitterrand. Sort of, "Francois, we've just received this piece of information that shows that we cannot delay, that_ that Saddam is going to produce some_ a catastrophe in Kuwait. He's already set all the oil wells on fire and God knows what he may do next." And that pretty well resolved that issue.
NARRATOR: As hundreds of oil wells blazed across Kuwait, the president issued a final ultimatum.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: The coalition will give Saddam Hussein until noon Saturday to do what he must do, begin his immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait.
NARRATOR: Saddam ignored the warning. To obey, he believed, would have humiliated him in the eyes of the Arab world.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: I have therefore directed General Norman Schwarzkopf to use all forces available to eject the Iraqi army from Kuwait.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: More than anything else, in those final hours, I was asking myself, "What did I forget? What have I missed? What more can I do?" Once you have thrown the dice in the air, you can't call them back. At that point, all you can do is wait until they land on the table to see what the numbers come up. And that is a very awkward time because you can just sit there on your hands and wait. There's nothing more you can do.
NARRATOR: Schwarzkopf's plan called for the U.S. Marines to attack first, straight into Kuwait. He expected that would draw the elite Republican Guard into battle. Four hundred miles to the west, French and American airborne troops would begin encircling the battlefield. Twenty-four hours later, Arab armies would support the attack into Kuwait. Only then would VII Corps's heavy armor smash through the Iraqi defenses and race in a left hook across the desert to destroy the Republican Guard.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: My nightmare scenario was that our forces would attack into Iraq and find themselves in such a great concentration that they became targeted by chemical weapons or some sort of a rudimentary nuclear device that would cause mass casualties.
That's exactly what the Iraqis did in the Iran-Iraq war. They would take the attacking masses of the Iranians, let them run up against their barrier system, and when there were thousands of people massed against the barrier system, they would drop chemical weapons on them and kill thousands of people.
NARRATOR: Schwarzkopf's plan meant that Walt Boomer, the Marine commander, would be the first to lead his men into action. Despite the air war, Boomer feared storming the minefields and barbed wire of southern Kuwait would be a murderous affair fought under a barrage of Iraqi chemicals and nerve gas.
Gen. WALT BOOMER, Commander, U.S. Marines: I was overwhelmingly concerned about casualties. We were outnumbered when we attacked into Kuwait. Sometimes people have lost sight of that. But in addition to being outnumbered, there was this overriding concern, overwhelming concern about chemical warfare. This just occupied most of my waking moments.
NARRATOR: Beneath the smoke from the burning oil wells, Marine assault units pulled on the clumsy charcoal-lined suits that might save their lives in a chemical bombardment. There were predictions that the Marines could take as many as 10,000 casualties in a week of fighting.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Weather conditions were absolutely critical and the weather predictions that we were getting at that time were very mixed. The Marines do not have a lot of heavy artillery and depend upon their aircraft to provide the close air support to replace the artillery. And Walt Boomer came to me and said he was very concerned about launching his attack when the weather was predicted to be so bad.
NARRATOR: Schwarzkopf called Colin Powell in the Pentagon and asked that the ground war be delayed.
Gen. COLIN POWELL, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: We have a president who is anxious to get this over with and I went and talked to Norm on the phone and said, "Norm, look, this is getting hard to explain." And I took him through why it was getting hard to explain and he- he just had it. He exploded and said, you know, "You do not understand my problem. You're talking in political terms. If you don't care about the lives of young people, well, I do." That did it. I_ I'm_ I exploded and I started shouting back at him, you know, "I care as much as you do, but there is_ there's a limit and I have to work in both the political world and the military world."
He said, "Colin, I think I'm losing it. I feel my head's in a vise." I said, "You're not losing it. You have our total confidence. We got a problem. We'll work our way through this problem." And about 30 minutes later, Norm called, said, "Oh, the weather's fine. We can go."
NARRATOR: On the Kuwaiti border, advance teams of Marine engineers began to crawl through the minefields and barbed wire that protected the Iraqi front line. They used fiberglass rods to probe for mines, marking safe paths for the first troops to race through the next day.
CHARLES RESTIFO, U.S. Marines: You see mines everywhere. You look left and right and you see mines, half-buried mines, full-view mines, just as far as you can see. You look left and right and there's desert and there's just lines and lines and lines and groups of mines out there.
We crawled, low-crawled, which is on your belly, probing along with the fiberglass rods. Seventy meters in front of you- Iraqis. Marine snipers are behind us, trying to suppress Iraqis that are moving through the trench lines. You hear artillery, mortars, small arms.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, 17,000 Marines headed for the beaches of Kuwait City, but they weren't going to land. It was only a feint. Schwarzkopf had decided there would be too many U.S. casualties and had canceled the amphibious landing, but he still wanted the Iraqis to think it was coming.
[10:00 P.M. February 23, 1991] That night, 20 miles off the coast, the guns of the battleship Missouri shelled the beach to complete the deception. The Missouri had fought against the Japanese in the Pacific and this was to be her last battle. The shells achieved their purpose. Iraqi troops moved toward the coast and away from the point the Marines would actually attack in the morning.
OFFICER: The first Marine division will cross west of the Oapra zone at approximately 01200 at H hour.
NARRATOR: In the desert, the Marine commanders rehearsed their plans for the last time. They expected a tough fight.
Gen. WALT BOOMER: While I remain apprehensive about some of their capability, I'm also confident that we can work through that. I think we can work through their chemical capability.
NARRATOR: [4:00 A.M. February 24, 1991, Kuwaiti Border] Before dawn the attack began.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER, Deputy Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: I don't think anyone predicted that the Marines would get much farther than maybe five kilometers - at the very most, maybe eight - and that then, with the enormous, overwhelming forces that were arrayed in that area, that it would stop the Marines.
TANK COMMANDER: We're going through the breach!
NARRATOR: But by dawn, the generals realized something remarkable was happening. The Marine columns were driving right through the enemy positions.
TANK COMMANDER: Iraqi fighting positions!
NARRATOR: While allied aircraft watched for a counterattack, thousands of Marines poured into Kuwait almost unopposed.
Col. JOHN ADMIRE, U.S. Marines: We expected casualties somewhere in the 25 to 30 percent range. But there were essentially no firefights, essentially no battles. The Iraqis were there, but they chose_ they elected not to fight. In many respects, they could retreat and they could surrender much faster than we could attack or advance and the_ the war really became a war of collection of enemy prisoners of war.
NARRATOR: After six weeks of relentless bombing, half the Iraqi conscripts on the front line had already deserted. Those who stayed were just waiting for their chance to surrender.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI, Iraqi Military Intelligence: [through interpreter] Saddam said our young soldiers were behaving like women. They were turning into women. They weren't fighting like real men. This was not fair to our proud army. Our army did not believe in this war. It was a dirty war, this war in Kuwait.
NARRATOR: The Marines waited for a chemical attack. It never came.
TARIQ AZIZ, Iraqi Foreign Minister: We didn't think that it was wise to use them. That's all what I can say. That was not_ was not wise to use such kind of weapons in such kind of a war with_ with such an enemy.
NARRATOR: If chemicals had killed large numbers of Marines, the Pentagon had plans to flood Baghdad under six feet of water.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: Knocking off the dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers would have caused enormous destruction downstream. The loss of civilian life would have_ would have been terrible and we really had not thoroughly analyzed_ we knew how to hit the dams, but I don't know if we analyzed what the effect downstream would have been. But nevertheless, it would have been a good one to threaten the Iraqis with.
And, of course, there was always the implicit threat of nuclear weapons. I don't think we ever would have used them, but nevertheless, the Iraqis didn't know that. And we could have if the provocation was serious enough.
1st U.S. SOLDIER: Lay down your weapons. We will not hurt you. We are here to help you.
NARRATOR: In those first hours, 8,000 Iraqis were captured.
2nd U.S. SOLDIER: Be home soon!
3rd U.S. SOLDIER: Ain't this great?
2nd U.S. SOLDIER: Yeah!
NARRATOR: The Iraqi collapse was so sudden, the allied commanders didn't yet realize how their success could undermine the larger plan.
Gen. WALT BOOMER, Commander, U.S. Marines: My own guess is that about 75 percent of them gave up and about 25 percent fought. As the day wore on, I began to become elated.
NARRATOR: The Marines had advanced into Kuwait so quickly the Republican Guard didn't come south to counterattack. And VII Corps's left hook attack was not due until the following day. That would give the Republican Guard time to escape. Schwarzkopf had miscalculated, but had there been evidence weeks earlier of what might really happen when the allies attacked the Iraqis? Had there been lessons to learn from the battle of Khafji?
After Saddam attacked the Saudi town in January and his forces were destroyed, some of Schwarzkopf's staff began to suspect the Iraqis simply couldn't stay in a fight with the allies.
BERNARD TRAINOR, Author, The Generals' War: If he had read Khafji correctly and had_ had come to the conclusion, as was_ was obvious that the Iraqis were not going to be able to fight effectively and would probably retreat, he could have done a number of things. He could have speeded up the Army attack or he could have held the Marine attack and let the Army_ the Army go first, which was one of the things that was recommended to him by one of his general officers. But he didn't. He never reassessed the situation after_ after Khafji and continued to assume that the Iraqis were going to stand and fight.
NARRATOR: As a young officer in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf had learned the dangers of underestimating the enemy. This time he had done just the opposite. He had overestimated the Iraqis and now he had to act quickly.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I decided to move the main attack up to 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. It became obvious that if we were going to inflict that damage on the Republican Guard, we had to go ahead and_ and inflict it as early as possible.
NARRATOR: [2:30 P.M. February 24, Iraqi Border]
With a withering artillery and rocket barrage for the main attack, VII Corps's left hook began that afternoon. VII Corps's commander, General Fred Franks, like many of the American generals, was a veteran of Vietnam. He'd lost a leg, destroyed by a North Vietnamese grenade during the invasion of Cambodia in 1970. He was a careful, methodical man.
Gen. FREDERICK FRANKS, Commander VII Corps: Memories of Vietnam are very sharp and clear to me- I mean, never far from_ from my mind. And especially during the Gulf War, we didn't say it to each other, but I think we all felt that we're_ we're going to do it right this time.
Troops doing okay?
OFFICER: Yes, sir.
Gen. FREDERICK FRANKS: Good. Glad to hear it.
RICK ATKINSON, Author Crusade: In many ways, Franks personified the Army after Vietnam_ maimed, traumatized. He was also a man who was constitutionally inclined to wait as long as he could before making a decision. One of his closest aides said he was a man who couldn't make the decision to pee if his pants were on fire. He was the kind of man who, by personal inclination, was not going to get along well with Schwarzkopf.
NARRATOR: As the artillery barrage lifted, VII Corps surged across the desert. This was the army that had been stationed in Europe to fight World War III. Now the end of the cold war allowed it to be unleashed against Iraq.
The generals had expected two days of fighting to breach the Iraqi frontline defenses followed by six days of massive tank battles with the Republican Guard.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: I thought that we would lose somewhere between_ in the breaching units, that we would lose somewhere between 20 and 40 percent.
NARRATOR: The American 1st Infantry Division had the job of storming the trenches to clear a path for the tanks. To avoid hand-to-hand fighting, they planned to bury the Iraqi defenders alive.
Col. LON MAGGART, 1st Infantry Division: A thought occurred to me, we could actually use these plows to fill in the trenches. In fact, I had tested it myself. I got down in the ditch myself and had two tanks plow towards me, just to see what it did.
I learned several things and one is I learned that it happens very quickly, so the defender has a choice to make, but he has to make it very quickly. He can either give up and hop out of the trench, he can try to run down the trench and get away, but he better do those quickly because these things move at amazing speed down there.
NARRATOR: Along the Iraqi border ran a sand barrier, a berm. Beyond that lay five miles of minefields and then the Iraqi trenches.
1st U.S. SOLDIER: We got the first one, first berm in a minute.
2nd U.S. SOLDIER: That's real good. The second one's a tougher one.
NARRATOR: Armored bulldozers and tanks fitted with plows broke through the berm and moved on to the trenches. Eighteen-year-old Joe Queen drove one of the lead bulldozers.
JOE QUEEN: What we did is we just took the dirt that the Iraqi soldiers had dug out_ we just pushed that dirt right back into the trench. You could just look at the man's eyes and see fear. You know, you see him scared. You know, you're looking at a man's_ the whites of his eyes as you're going through in the trench with this bulldozer, covering in the trench.
And they were firing at the bulldozer and the first bullet that hit the blade, that made me know then, "Hey, look. This is for real. There's no game. Those are real bullets and a bullet would kill you."
NARRATOR: After the war, press accounts reported thousands of Iraqis were buried. Most independent analysts estimate it was just hundreds. The Army says it was about 150.
JOE QUEEN: You don't think about, "Hey, what about this guy? What about that guy?" He had a chance to get out. He had every opportunity to get out and he took the way to die for his country, just like any American would.
NARRATOR: By the end of the ground war's first day, all of Schwarzkopf's horses were on the attack.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I went to bed that night very satisfied with the fact that the campaign plan was unfolding and that_ that it looked like we were going to have a terrific success and_ you know, and accomplish everything we wanted to accomplish.
NARRATOR: In Washington that Sunday, President Bush had received little news. If there were heavy U.S. casualties, it could finish him politically and could even stop the war.
RICHARD CHENEY, Secretary of Defense: I got briefed just before I went into the church. The president was right ahead of me. I passed him a note that said, "Mr. President, things are going very well." We all went back to the White House. I got out a map from Time magazine, just sort of showing exactly what was happening, and I was able to tell him there that things were going extraordinarily well.
We had assumed that the toughest part of the ground war, in terms of casualties, would have been the early hours of that conflict and, in fact, what we were finding was that the air war had been enormously effective and decimated the Iraqi forces and that they, in fact, were collapsing in front of us.
NARRATOR: But in Riyadh the allied commander was having a bad morning.
RICK ATKINSON: Schwarzkopf got up after a couple hours of sleep on the morning of the 25th and went in to look at the map in the war room and he saw that the Marines were plunging ahead, that the 18th Airborne Corps out in the far west was plunging ahead. And then he looked and saw that VII Corps, basically, had not moved since the time when he went to sleep. He completely and utterly lost his temper.
NARRATOR: Just across the Iraqi lines, VII Corps had stopped for the night. General Franks had decided there was too much danger of entangling his large force, of friendly fire, of too many casualties if he continued the advance in darkness.
Gen. FREDERICK FRANKS: There's an old German saying that says, "Go slow now and go fast later." And so the scheme of maneuver, based on my own assessment and my discussions with the tactical commanders, I informed my headquarters that- that it would be actually faster, we would conduct the mission faster, if we did not continue it during hours of darkness, but we continue it at first light.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I was repeatedly calling up my subordinate commander and telling him, you know, "We must attack. We must attack. We must make contact with the enemy. They're running away on us and we must gain and maintain contact to keep them from running away" and passing down these orders and then sitting back and, hours later, seeing that nothing was happening, nothing was changing.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: General Schwarzkopf said, in no uncertain terms, "Get VII Corps moving right now and get them doing what it is they have to do. And if General Franks can't do that, I'll get somebody who can."
NARRATOR: [February 25, 1991, Kuwait] Meanwhile, inside Kuwait on the second day, the Marines pushed on towards Kuwait City. But Saddam had ordered a surprise. Out of the burning oil fields, hundreds of tanks from Iraq's second line of defense, the regular army, suddenly attacked the Marines' right flank. The Marines regrouped. Cobra helicopter gunships were quickly sent into the fight. It was the largest tank battle in the Marines' history.
Maj. RANDY HAMMOND, U.S. Marines: We'd got the word that there was an Iraqi counterattack. As we arrived out there, we saw, horizon to horizon, Iraqi tanks, armored vehicles. And as we started hitting these tanks and things started happening in our favor, the attack basically just ground to a halt. All the tanks stopped. The armored vehicles stopped. The hatches flew open. The Iraqis started bailing out of the tanks and, you know, scrambling around in the desert, trying to figure out what was going on.
NARRATOR: The Iraqi troops tried to retreat back into the oil smoke.
RANDY HAMMOND: It was like, you know, something out of a, you know, spaghetti Western, with a trip wire and the horses falling. It was- you know, as you engaged these troops with 20-millimeter- it was the first time I'd ever done that- and they'd just kind of pitch over in the desert.
NARRATOR: Over 100 armored vehicles were destroyed.
RANDY HAMMOND: Flying over the oil wells, it was like something out of Dante's Inferno, with thick, black oilfield smoke, a littered battlefield, burning tanks, aircraft flying around_ very surrealistic. You almost had to slap yourself into reality to go out there and do your mission.
NARRATOR: In Baghdad, Saddam was told his counterattack had failed and the allied advance on Kuwait City had resumed.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI: [through interpreter] Saddam was very upset. He was deeply depressed and, for reasons known only to himself, he accused five top-ranking officers of betrayal and then ordered their execution. The sentence was carried out immediately by his personal guards.
Gen. WALT BOOMER, Commander, U.S. Marines: Once we broke that counterattack, we'd broke their back. That was the last gasp on their part to throw us back out of Kuwait. And from then on, we had pretty_ we had a pretty straight shot into the city.
NARRATOR: But that night, one of the last Iraqi Scuds finally found its mark in Dahran, Saudi Arabia.
RICK ATKINSON: There was a glitch, basically, a technical glitch that blinded the Patriot temporarily to this one particular Scud. This Scud, by luck, hit a warehouse that was being used as a barracks and immediately caused an inferno.
NARRATOR: Twenty-eight American soldiers were killed, 98 more were wounded, the worst allied casualties so far.
RICK ATKINSON: Had this catastrophe occurred right at the beginning of the war, it could very well have changed perceptions of the war, the cost of the war. It would have certainly caused doubts about the Patriot and might have caused the Israelis to leap into the war in ways that they didn't otherwise. So the fact that the tragedy in Dahran occurred when it did rendered it almost a footnote.
1st SOLDIER: Hey, get out of here with that damned thing!
2nd SOLDIER: Get those cameras out of here right now!
1st SOLDIER: Get out!
2nd SOLDIER: Get out of here!
1st SOLDIER: Get 'em out!
NARRATOR: That same night the Iraqis began to pull out of Kuwait City. Iraqi soldiers piled into every vehicle they could find, a vast convoy headed north.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI, Iraqi Military Intelligence: [through interpreter] Saddam himself issued the order to withdraw. When the land assault started, he became desperate. He was now convinced that it was impossible for him to keep Kuwait.
Gen. CHUCK HORNER, Coalition Air Commander:
I frequently talked to the resistance in Kuwait City via satellite telephone. I picked up and it was a colonel from the Kuwaiti Air Force who'd been trapped in Kuwait City and he'd been in the resistance all this time. He started to tell me about the Iraqis forming up and fleeing the town. He became so emotionally happy, relieved, overjoyed about his country being freed, the terrible oppressors leaving, he started to cry. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I started to cry, as well. I have never been so touched in my entire life.
NARRATOR: An F-15 crew, their aircraft laden with bombs for an attack into Iraq, was given a new mission. They were ordered to hit the convoy leaving Kuwait City and to stop it at all costs. As the crew walked to their aircraft, their commanding officer stopped them. He'd just received the first report of the casualties caused by the Scud that had landed on Dahran.
Col. DAVID BAKER, U.S. Air Force: I told them of the importance of the mission. It's not just a retreating army. These guys are rapists, killers, murderers. And coincidentally, a Scud had just hit Dahran airport and killed 60 Americans. And I convinced them, and I'm sure that I did, that they needed to put some hate in their heart and go out and stop the son of a bitches from getting out of Kuwait.
Capt. MERRICK KRAUSE, F-15 Pilot: As we dove out of the clouds, the- the picture was absolutely astounding. There were thousands of headlights heading on every road that led north out of Kuwait City.
Maj. JOE SEIDL, F-15 Weapons Officer: It's almost like hitting the jackpot. I mean, there are vehicles all over the place. It is a very lucrative target.
Capt. MERRICK KRAUSE: We had 12 500-pound bombs and we elected to drop them three at a time.
Maj. JOE SEIDL: The bombs impact in a string right across the highway, with the center bomb impacting on a- in between two trucks, as a matter of fact, causing both of the trucks to burst into flame.
NARRATOR: Those first bombs destroyed the lead vehicles and created a huge traffic jam. Soon other aircraft arrived, their cluster bombs wreaking havoc on the stalled convoy below.
SARDAR, Iraqi Soldier: [through interpreter] There were many wounded people on the road, some of them without arms or legs. They were just stranded there half dead. When they saw our car, they started to crawl towards us. We didn't have space for them. With all the strength they could muster, they were throwing themselves at the side of the car. The windows were smeared with blood. We had no space. We had to drive on.
NARRATOR: The pilots called it "the highway of death." Three days into the land war, the army that had occupied Kuwait City for seven months no longer existed as a fighting force. Thousands of footprints led off into the desert. Hundreds had been killed. In the coming hours, what happened here would become an important factor in ending the war.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Why did we bomb them? Because there was a great deal of military equipment on that highway. I had given orders to all of my commanders that I wanted every piece of Iraqi equipment that we possibly could destroyed. This was not a bunch of innocent people just trying to make their way back across the border to Iraq. This was a bunch of- of rapists, murderers and thugs who had raped and pillaged downtown Kuwait City and now were trying to get out of the country before they were caught.
NARRATOR: An American surveillance plane now recorded this radar image of the battlefield. It showed Saddam's best troops, the Republican Guard, were starting to escape.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER, Deputy Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: General Schwarzkopf was possessed with the Republican Guards from the outset. I mean, it was as if this was Saddam's crown jewel. And any mention of the fact that the Republican Guards might slip away or might not be annihilated or destroyed was repugnant to Norman Schwarzkopf.
NARRATOR: It was now the third day of the land war and VII Corps had still not engaged the Republican Guard. Schwarzkopf was furious.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Here we have the golden opportunity to accomplish, far beyond our dreams, what it is we set out to accomplish and to get this thing over once and for all very quickly. And it doesn't seem like we are able to capitalize on that opportunity.
NARRATOR: VII Corps tanks were driving hard. Schwarzkopf wanted them to drive harder. He had assumed the Republican Guard would move south to defend Kuwait, but they hadn't and VII Corps struggled to make up the distance. Schwarzkopf wanted a headlong charge. General Franks was more cautious.
Gen. FREDERICK FRANKS, Commander, VII Corps: You get the probability of an attack that starts and stops and starts and stops, loses momentum. I wanted to hit the Republican Guards with a_ with a three_ division fist. I didn't want to poke at them with fingers_ in other words, piecemeal commitment of my forces. I wanted to hit them with a fist at full speed_ at full speed.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: And I kept saying, "But the enemy situation has changed and therefore the plan should be changing and that's the whole reason why we moved up the main attack. We've got the enemy reeling." And, most importantly, they hadn't encountered any enemy_ any fire.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: With that, General Schwarzkopf indicated, "Freddie, let's get this mission accomplished and let's do it ASAP."
NARRATOR: On that third afternoon of the war, the battle was finally joined with the Republican Guard. A cavalry troop of nine tanks and 12 armored personnel carriers was leading the VII Corps advance. Ahead, behind a slight rise in the desert, Republican Guard tanks waited in ambush.
Capt. H.R. McMASTER, 2nd Armored Cavalry: As we crested the rise, my gunner identified tanks to our direct front and he said, "Identify tanks!" I yelled, "Fire!" As I was yelling "Fire" on the intercom, the gun erupted. The round impacted on the frontal slope of the tank and the tank commander was ejected out of the hatch and he himself was- was in flames.
As the other tanks crested the rise, they began to select their targets and engaged in almost simultaneous manner. So 15 seconds before, there was a cohesive or coherent Iraqi defense. Fifteen seconds later, that defense was completely in flames. When we looked back over the armored vehicles, you think- you think, "My God!" You know, "I"_ this is what an armored cavalry troop in the assault can accomplish in that short amount of time.
NARRATOR: Twenty-eight Republican Guard tanks were destroyed. There were no American losses.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: When VII Corps finally, you know, engaged the enemy, they did a marvelous job and I was quite relieved that they had finally gotten up there and gotten in contact with some of the Republican Guard and could start_ you know, start_ you know, get on with the battle.
NARRATOR: That night, VII Corps routed an entire division of the Republican Guard. The other five Republican Guard divisions started a desperate retreat. But in Washington, there was already talk of ending the war.
ROBERT GATES, Deputy National Security Advisor: Colin Powell and Dick Cheney came over to the White House to give the president their daily report on how_ how the war was going. And by that time, we knew both from the military reports and from satellites about the "highway of death" leading north out of Kuwait City and the incredible destruction of the Iraqi convoys and_ and so on.
We knew all this would eventually be on television and_ and I remember very clearly Colin Powell saying that this thing was turning into a massacre and that to continue it beyond a certain point would be un-American. And he even used the word "unchivalrous." And_ and he said that he thought that they were probably within 24 hours of concluding the war, of completing their objectives.
NARRATOR: [Dawn, February 27, 1991] Seventy-two hours after crossing into Kuwait, the U.S. Marines were on the outskirts of Kuwait City. Destroyed Iraqi tanks lined the road. The Marine commander had once feared thousands of his troops would be killed, but only 28 had died.
Gen. WALT BOOMER, Commander, U.S. Marines: We had made arrangements for the Arab coalition forces to go into the city. And I was sitting there, getting a little restless and wondering, "Okay, what are we going to do? I'm tired of sitting here." So_ so we drove into the city and the outpouring was something I'll never forget.
I don't know where all the people came from. They came down to the side of the road by the thousands and they had Kuwaiti flags and some had American flags. Vehicles that the Iraqis hadn't stolen or destroyed, they had acquired some of those, so they were driving around us in this mad circle and I thought sure we were going to crush a vehicle.
What they were saying was, "God bless you, America. God bless you." You know, "We love you." Very_ very emotional moment for us, after all of this.
NARRATOR: In Baghdad that morning, Saddam Hussein was fighting just to survive. The allies were trying to cut off and destroy his retreating army, especially the Republican Guard, one of the keys to his power in the region and inside Iraq. Even Saddam feared his regime might be finished.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI, Iraqi Military Intelligence: [through interpreter] He sat in front of me and he was almost in tears, not crying but almost in tears. He said, "We do not know what God will bring upon us tomorrow." He was virtually collapsing. He had reached the depths.
NARRATOR: The Marines had liberated Kuwait City, but the most intense fighting of the war had yet to begin. The heavy armor of VII Corps was chasing the Republican Guard. They had destroyed one division the night before. The remaining divisions were now trying to escape toward Basrah, leaving behind only a rear guard to protect their retreat.
As VII Corps advanced, the Iraqi rear guard prepared for battle. Scores of tanks from the Republican Guards Medina Division dug in along a low ridge. The defensive line stretched for six miles. What happened next became known as the battle of Medina Ridge.
Sgt. JOHN SCAGLIONE, 1st Armored Division:
I know there's enemy out there, but I don't know where the heck they're at. And then, boom, we were in it. I looked up and it was about 3,700 meters away and there's BMPs and T-72s sitting on the ridge. The whole brigade on line, within three seconds, had let loose with their first rounds. Moving about 20, 25 miles an hour, it's like a cavalry charge towards the Iraqi emplacements. And all you could see, every time we shot, was a massive explosion.
NARRATOR: The guns on the American tanks had a range of around two miles, twice that of the Soviet-made Iraqi tanks.
Sgt. JOHN SCAGLIONE: The turrets were flipping 40, 50 feet in the air. Eleven tons of steel just_ it was incredible to see a gun tube and the turret just spinning up in the air and landing hundreds of yards away from the vehicles.
We took very few prisoners at Medina Ridge, very few. I saw three. In the desert, you can see for miles. Most of the people I saw were dead. Later on in the battle, when I rolled up there, there was pieces everywhere. I have never seen such destruction in my life. I was just shocked that people could do so much devastation in such a short period of time.
NARRATOR: Three hundred Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles and their crews were destroyed at Medina Ridge. Only one American was killed. Nothing now stood between the retreating Republican Guard and destruction. A radio message told Saddam Hussein of the defeat.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI: [through interpreter] He thought that his downfall was imminent. He asked me straight out, "Do you think that the allies will come as far as Baghdad?" He was quite desperate and frightened.
NARRATOR: Having destroyed the rear guard, VII Corps pushed on towards the sea. Meanwhile, the American 18th Corps advanced to cut off the remaining Iraqi resistance. Sixty helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division leapfrogged 100 miles ahead, deep into the Iraqi desert. The troops had orders to build an airbase from which Apache helicopter gunships could attack the retreating Republican Guard until the American tanks closed in. Within two hours the base was operational. Waves of Apaches arrived and refueled. Then they headed north to hunt for the enemy.
Doug Gabram led one flight of four Apaches.
DOUG GABRAM: We took off due North as fast as we could go, probably 30 feet off the ground, 120 knots. The terrain changed. We started flying over marshes.
NARRATOR: This is what Gabram could see through his gun camera. He found the retreating forces on a causeway built across the marshes.
DOUG GABRAM: We saw people, dismounted infantry. I'd see the AK-47 raised with the white flag on it. Initially, I didn't fire. My chop 2 or 3 would say, "Hey, the guy's shooting as us." You know, "They're shooting at us with white flags on the end of their barrels." And my philosophy changed and then I'm not going to take any chances, so when I see troops, I- you know, I'm going to fire.
1st U.S. SOLDIER: I got people running in the road there.
2nd U.S. SOLDIER: I only count three airplanes. Where's the other one?
1st U.S. SOLDIER: I see it up at the right! [crosstalk]
2nd U.S. SOLDIER: You're taking fire on your left door right now. [crosstalk]
NARRATOR: Hundreds of soldiers were lying in the reeds along the edges of the causeway.
1st U.S. SOLDIER: Scratch one BMP. [crosstalk]
NARRATOR: As Gabram continued down the causeway, an F-16 pilot who'd been shot down and was parachuting to the ground put out an emergency broadcast.
F-16 PILOT: I'm in my chute! I'm in my chute! They're shooting at me in my parachute! Troops to the Northwest of me_ it looks like they want to get me!
NARRATOR: The pilot landed safely and rescue mission set off. Dr. Rhonda Cornum was one of the crew.
Maj. RHONDA CORNUM, Flight Surgeon: This was an opportunity to really go save somebody, we thought. And we took two Apaches and my Blackhawk and just started going there. Right within a couple kilometers of where this guy supposedly was, we were still seeing American troops, so we thought, "Man, it's going to be not difficult."
And then, all of a sudden, like, maybe a minute later, we are in the middle of a crossfire, just the worst anti-aircraft guns we'd ever had. We'd gotten shot at before, but- but it was clear that these guys were waiting for us. You could feel the aircraft shudder then. I think that's when the tail-boom kind of just separated from the rest of the aircraft. And then everything went black.
It was some time later and, all of a sudden, I just realized I was lying down and- and I thought I was dead. It was- it was the most weird feeling because nothing hurt and I couldn't hear anything and it was_ it was very peaceful. And I thought, "Well, I must be dead."
I looked up and I saw five Iraqi guys with their, you know, rifles pointed at me. So then I knew I wasn't dead and I knew I was captured. Then one of them reached down and grabbed me by the arm and stood me up and that's when he separated my already broken right arm. And then I knew I was pretty badly hurt and clearly, clearly not dead.
So I took off my flight helmet and, you know, all this long, below-shoulder-length brown hair came out. And until then, I'm sure they just thought I was a skinny guy, but_ but all of a sudden, they realized, "Oh, my goodness. This is a girl."
I was just leaning back on the seat and, all of a sudden, I feel this guy sitting next to me, who puts his hand on my face and starts to kiss me. I thought, "Well, how bizarre." And_ and I never_ I don't know what I was thinking, but I_ I really thought, "Surely, he can do better." I mean, I've got one eye that's- I got a cut above my eye and it's soaked with blood and I don't_ I'm sure I don't smell very good. And I'm thinking, "How can he possibly want to do this?" And then he- he unzipped my flight suit and started fondling me and I thought, "I can't believe it."
A lot of people make a big deal about getting molested and I'm_ I'm sure it's_ I'm sure it's a big deal, but- but in the hierarchy of_ of things that were going wrong, that was pretty low on my list.
NARRATOR: All afternoon waves of gunships attacked the retreating Iraqi troops. In the confusion of battle, no one could be sure how many units were retreating undetected, but the American forces intended to cut them off and trap them all in a ring of allied tanks. More than 70,000 Iraqis had surrendered.
U.S. SOLDIER: It doesn't seem like it's their war. I just feel sorry for them, you know, and it doesn't seem like they want to fight.
NARRATOR: If the allies were going to close the ring on the Republican Guard, the fighting would have to continue. But in Washington, Colin Powell was worried that further slaughter would stain the military's reputation.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: You don't do unnecessary killing, if it can be avoided. At some point, you decide you've accomplished your objectives and you stop. We owned Kuwait City. The question was how much additional destruction do we want to inflict upon the Iraqi army that was in the Kuwait theater.
NARRATOR: On the battlefield, Apache gunships designed to destroy tank columns were hunting down individual soldiers. Colin Powell had once said of the Iraqi army, "First we're going to cut it off and then we're going to kill it." The Iraqis were not completely cut off, but Powell decided there had been enough killing. He called Norman Schwarzkopf. It was 7:00 A.M. in Washington, 3:00 P.M. in the desert.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Colin said to me, "What are your plans?" My response to him was, "We plan to continue to execute the operation and continue to drive towards the sea, east towards the sea." And he then said to me, "How long would that take you?" And my response to him was, "It will probably take until_ it will take until the end of tomorrow. So we could ceasefire tomorrow evening at dark and we would have completely accomplished the plan."
NARRATOR: Sitting in the Pentagon, Powell knew this meant another day of killing. The president had to make a decision.
[2:00 P.M. February 27, 1991]
Gen. COLIN POWELL: After talking to Schwarzkopf, I went over to the White House. I took the president through the situation on the ground. I pointed out that we're starting to see some scenes that were unpleasant and we were in the window of calling an end to it so that there was not unnecessary additional loss of life on the part of American and coalition forces or on the part of Iraqi youngsters.
ROBERT GATES, Deputy National Security Advisor: Colin said, "We basically have done it. We have destroyed the Republican Guard. We have expelled them from Kuwait. We have, essentially, completed our objectives and I believe we are just a few hours from completing that effort."
Gen. COLIN POWELL: "And I would expect that within the next 24 hours, I will be bringing you a recommendation with respect to the cessation of hostilities." The president then said, "Well, if that's the case, if we're within the window, why not end it now?"
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Colin Powell called me. He said, "I'm at the White House. We've discussed ending the war. Could you execute a ceasefire if it was declared effective midnight Washington time tonight?" I told him that I could live with that. Quite frankly, if we went on another day, we were going to kill some more of our people and we had already won an overwhelming victory with a minimum of casualties and that was good enough for me.
NARRATOR: At 5:57 P.M., the president told Powell to stop the war. "It's the thing to do," he said.
JAMES BAKER, Secretary of State: It was a decision that, as best I can recall, there was absolutely no dissent from on the part of any of the president's advisory.
Gen. BRENT SCOWCROFT, National Security Advisor: Deep down, I wondered if we really had done quite enough, but I did not dissent from the decision, did not argue that we should go_ should go another day.
NARRATOR: In the war room, there'd been no thought of ceasefire, only of completing the plan and completely trapping the Iraqis the next day.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER, Deputy Commander in Chief, Coalition Forces: General Schwarzkopf walked into the war room and he said, "We're going to have a ceasefire." Well, I thought that he was jesting, so I said, "That's bullshit." So he says, "No, I'm serious. We will have a ceasefire." So I said, "We have not accomplished our mission. Why is it that we're going to stop what we set out to do and stop the war?" And General Schwarzkopf says, "Cal, God damn it, the president of the United States has made a decision to stop this war."
ARMY SPOKESMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, General Schwarzkopf.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here.
NARRATOR: A few hours before the president made his decision, Schwarzkopf had summed up the state of the war before a worldwide television audience in a bravura performance that became known as "the mother of all briefings."
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: _more importantly, why we were doing it. Well, we have rendered completely ineffective over 29 Iraqi divisions and the gates are closed. There is no way out of here. There is no way out of here. And the enemy is fighting us in this location right here.
BERNARD TRAINOR, Author, The Generals' War: Schwarzkopf's orders were, "Destroy the Republican Guard," not neutralize them, destroy them. And when he got up in his briefing, the mother of all briefings, he said, "The gate is closed," meaning that our forces had cut them off and that they were helpless, lying helpless in front of us.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Yeah?
REPORTER: You said the gate was closed. Have you_ have you got ground forces blocking the roads to Basrah?
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: No.
REPORTER: So is there any way that they can get out that way?
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: No. That's why the gate's closed. Right here, yeah?
BERNARD TRAINOR: Of course, that wasn't true at all. The gate was not closed and it was still wide open at Basrah and the Iraqis were fleeing. And they had brought their corps headquarters across the Euphrates and then they were bringing the rest of the divisions across and it ended up with about two thirds of the Republican Guard units escaping with about 50 percent of their equipment. So he never carried out the goal that he had set for himself in his own mission orders.
INTERVIEWER: Why did you draw back at this moment?
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: Well, I don't consider it a drawing back. From the information that I had at my headquarters, we had inflicted tremendous damage on the Republican Guard. We had bombed them for over 30 days straight. We had attacked them and fought them. We had destroyed many, many, many pieces of equipment. We had attacked them from the air during the ground campaign and inflicted great damage on them.
So I already felt that there were several divisions of the Republican Guard_ it was reported to me_ that had been destroyed. I wasn't 100 percent destruction, but had we been allowed to go on for one more day, it would not have been 100 percent destruction then.
NARRATOR: [February 28, 1991, North of Kuwait City] Just hours before the ceasefire went into effect, the British Army charged out of the desert towards the road running from Kuwait City north to Iraq.
Capt. SEBASTIAN FLEMING, U.K. 1st Armored Division: As we pulled over the top of the ridge, in front of us was the highway. We'd seen dead bodies before, but it was in the next few hours that, once you were actually in and among it for the first time, walking around, clearing your positions or whatever, that's when it actually came across of how much carnage there was there.
NARRATOR: None of the pictures of the "highway of death" had yet appeared on television, but these were the scenes the men in the White House had anticipated as they weighed the political risks of continuing the war. Hundreds had died here of an estimated 25,000 Iraqis killed in the war. As many as 12,000 soldiers had died during the six weeks of the air war, along with 2,300 non-combatant civilians, and another 10,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed during the four days of the ground war.
Capt. SEBASTIAN FLEMING: There was a lot of civilian equipment that had been stolen from Kuwait City. For me, the thing that I found most distressing was the smell of cheap perfume, this sweet, sickly smell. I was ready for the smell of war, but I wasn't ready for the smell of kind of everyday life and normality.
I felt there was an immense sense of evil there and I detested being there. And for the three days that we actually sat on the highway, I hated it. And it enveloped me more and more and more.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight, Eastern Standard Time, exactly 100 hours since ground operations commenced and six weeks since the start of Operation Desert Storm, all United States and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations.
NARRATOR: Three hours later the fighting stopped.
RICK ATKINSON, Author, Crusade: And as the word filtered down that the war, in fact, had ended, 2nd Brigade rooted around for a copy of Lee Greenwood's tape that had become the anthem of the_ of the Desert Storm operation and they couldn't find Lee Greenwood. All they could find was James Brown, "I Feel Good," which was an anthem from a different war of a different kind. In 1968 I think it came out. So they plugged James Brown into this truck with big speakers on it. And you heard James Brown "I Feel Good" blaring all over the desert as their hymn of thanksgiving that the war was finally over.
[February 28, 1991, Baghdad]
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI: [through interpreter] I phoned Saddam and told him that Bush had agreed to the ceasefire. He felt himself to be a great, great hero. He started to say, "We won. We won." His morale was from zero to 100.
NARRATOR: Each day of war had left Saddam's regime more vulnerable to overthrow. Now the humiliation was over. The greatest fear, of allied tanks in Baghdad, was gone. The allies had stopped the war. Saddam could concentrate on surviving.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: On the question of going to Baghdad_ if you remember the Vietnam war, we had no international legitimacy for what we did. As a result, we, first of all, lost the battle in world public opinion. Eventually, we lost the battle at home.
In the Gulf war, we had great international legitimacy in the form of eight United Nations resolutions, every one of which said, "Kick Iraq out of Kuwait." Did not say one word about going into Iraq, taking Baghdad, conquering the whole country and- and hanging Saddam Hussein. That's point number one.
Point number two- had we gone on to Baghdad, I don't believe the French would have gone and I'm quite sure that the Arab coalition would not have gone. The coalition would have ruptured and the only people that would have gone would have been the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
And, oh, by the way, I think we'd still be there. We'd be like a dinosaur in a tar pit. We could not have gotten out and we'd still be the occupying power and we'd be paying 100 percent of all the costs to administer all of Iraq.
NARRATOR: Two days after the ceasefire, a brigade of Republican Guards returning to Iraq fired upon the 24th Infantry Division. The Americans replied with overwhelming firepower. Seven months after Iraqi forces marched into Kuwait, the last battle had been fought. The conflict cost 240 coalition lives, 146 of them Americans.
After the war, over 80,000 veterans would claim they were victims of a mysterious Gulf War Syndrome. The Pentagon now acknowledges some of those illnesses were caused by wartime stress, but denies there is a wider syndrome. Meanwhile, the medical studies continue. Iraq had been broken as a military threat, but Saddam had escaped with a third of his forces from Kuwait and his hold on power.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: [March 1, 1991] You know, to be very honest with you, I don't_ I haven't yet felt this_ this wonderfully euphoric feeling that many of the American people feel. You mentioned World War II. There was a_ there was a definitive end to that conflict. And now we have Saddam Hussein still there.
BERNARD TRAINOR: He's sitting there with a frown on his face and saying to himself, "Why don't I feel better about this?" In other words, he's signalling that, "Yeah, it was all great. It went right. But there's still something wrong. There's still something missing. I don't feel the same elation I felt when we had won World War II." And the reason, I think, is obvious, that it was an incomplete victory. It was a modest victory snatched from the jaws of triumph and Saddam Hussein was still in power.
NARRATOR: [Karbala, Southern Iraq] Now another war began, the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. In Iraqi cities in the south, close to the allied front lines, Saddam's rule had collapsed. Ordinary people, mostly Shia Muslims, took up arms against a regime they hated. During the war, President Bush had called again and again for the Iraqis to overthrow Saddam.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: And there's another way for the bloodshed to stop and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein to step aside. We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Our differences are with that brutal dictator in Baghdad!
NARRATOR: [Basrah, Southern Iraq] As the rebellions erupted, Bush repeated his call for Saddam's overthrow. In Basrah, soldiers who had fled from Kuwait joined the rebels.
ABU JOAD, Former Republican Guard: [through interpreter] It wasn't organized opposition. People just rebelled against oppression, rebelled against cruelty and starvation, against the executions and detentions. There was injustice and people in the streets rose up to overthrow this regime.
NARRATOR: In the first heady days of the uprising, the rebels, not Iraqi officials, controlled the streets.
JAMES BAKER: We did not think- the president nor any of us thought at that time that Saddam would_ would continue in power having suffered such a_ such a resounding defeat.
NARRATOR: With victory won, the political concentration that had brought such success now seemed to desert the White House team. Washington left all the details of the ceasefire for the generals to work out alone.
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: Norm Schwarzkopf said, "How do we make this happen? What do we do?" And we had a State Department representative in our war room and he said to the State Department representative, "What is it we're supposed to do, Mr. State Department rep?" And the State Department rep gave what we call the "Iraqi salute." He didn't know.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I had no instructions whatsoever, so lacking any, and based upon the conversations Colin and I had had, I_ I_ called my stenographer in and dictated my own terms of reference. And then I called up Colin and said, "I'm going to send these to you." You know, "If_ if you all approve, then send them back to me. This is what I'll do."
Gen. CALVIN WALLER: The Pentagon changed "happy" to "glad," "we" to "they" and put in a few fixes, gave it to the State Department and the State Department changed a couple of words and sent it back to us and says, "Use this."
NARRATOR: [March 3, 1991, Southern Iraq] Schwarzkopf decided that the ceasefire talks would be held in coalition-occupied Iraq, near the town of Safwan. The Iraqi leadership wanted a deal that would return their captured territory and give them the freedom to crush the rebellions. Schwarzkopf's objectives were simpler.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I went to Safwan with my own instructions, which basically, number one, was to get our POWs back and then, number two, to make sure that we had very, very clear lines drawn so that we didn't have any inadvertent battles after that.
NARRATOR: A pair of Apache gunships hovered over the approaching Iraqi convoy. Just hours before, Saddam had personally briefed the Iraqi generals arriving to meet Schwarzkopf.
Gen. WAFIC AL SAMMARAI, Iraqi Military Intelligence: [through interpreter] Saddam wanted to consolidate the ceasefire in any way he could and he ordered his officers to give any information they knew about the minefields and the prisoners of war. He didn't want to give the West any excuse to resume fighting. He wanted to sign a ceasefire agreement at any price.
NARRATOR: Accompanied by the Saudi commander-in-chief, Schwarzkopf led the defeated Iraqi generals to the tent where the meeting would be held. Once the talks got under way, Schwarzkopf got everything he wanted, but so did the Iraqis.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: What they were most concerned about was that this was going to be a permanent border and_ and over and over again, they kept saying, "Is this a permanent border or is this just temporary?" and I kept having to reassure them that, "No, this is not a permanent border. This is a temporary demarcation line between our forces."
And then this fellow looked at me and said, "Well, can we fly our helicopters?" And I knew the great devastation we had inflicted upon their roads and their bridges and that seemed like a very reasonable request to me.
BERNARD TRAINOR: And then the Iraqis asked the question which should have given Schwarzkopf pause and that was, "Well, how about armed helicopters?" And Schwarzkopf, without even thinking, said, "Yes, armed helicopters."
Now, what the Iraqis had in mind was using their helicopter gunships to put down the Shia uprising which had taken place and Schwarzkopf gave them_ gave them carte_ carte blanche to do it. So he was_ he was finessed by the_ by the Iraqis at the Safwan conference.
NARRATOR: The Iraqi generals got exactly what Saddam wanted, to the astonishment of some of the civilian architects of the war.
MARGARET THATCHER, Prime Minister, Great Britain, 1979-1990: They should have surrendered their equipment, the lot. When you're dealing with a dictator, he has got not only to be defeated well and truly, but he's got to be seen to be defeated by his own people so that they identify the privations they've had to go through with his actions. And we didn't do that.
Gen. BRENT SCOWCROFT, National Security Advisor: I think what we should have insisted upon is Saddam Hussein come to Safwan. That was our mistake because that allowed him to blame his generals for the defeat and not he himself.
NARRATOR: Saddam Hussein now moved forces loyal to him from Baghdad to suppress the uprisings in the south. American troops could see the fighting from their positions, but they were ordered not to intervene.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: My advice to the president throughout the period of this uprising is that this did not seem to me to be an operation that we needed to get_ get involved in because I couldn't figure out who was doing what to whom. And it would have required us to move further into Iraq and take responsibility for that part of Iraq and for a purpose that was not stated.
ROBERT GATES, Deputy National Security Advisor: And that was the quagmire. Therein laid Vietnam, as far as we were concerned, because we would still be there. And what's more, given the American way of doing things, we would have then had the responsibility for rebuilding all of the infrastructure and we were just determined not to get sucked into that trap.
NARRATOR: Inside Iraq, as each rebel village and town fell, there were terrible reprisals. These pictures, filmed by the Iraqis themselves, would not reach the West for two years. They show Shia prisoners and senior officers from the Iraqi regime. There are estimates that tens of thousands of Shias were killed.
TARIQ AZIZ, Iraqi Foreign Minister: The Americans did not interfere, therefore it took us only few days to recover from the surprise, to reorganize our troops, reorganize our resources and impose peace and order on the southern governorates. It took us two weeks to do that.
NARRATOR: Just a few miles away, half a million coalition troops began to leave Iraq. After months in the desert, they were returning home. The allies still hoped one of Saddam's generals would overthrow him, but the ill-fated uprising had caused the Iraqi military to rally around Saddam out of fear of something worse. The White House had miscalculated.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi leader had his part of the bargain to keep.
Maj. JEFF TICE, F-15 Pilot: Around about March 3rd or 4th, this gray-haired gentleman opens up my cell door and says, "Do you need anything?" I said, "Well, at this point in time," I said, "yes, I could use a couple blankets. I would like some shoes." I hadn't had any shoes. I was wearing yellow POW pajamas now that didn't fit.
You know, so I started asking for stuff. I figured, "I'd, better ask now. I may not get anything ever again. No one's ever asked me if I needed anything." So I started asking for stuff and he says, "Don't worry. You won't need any of that. You'll be leaving. You'll be going home in 15 minutes."
Flight Lt. JOHN PETERS, RAF Pilot: And around there were hundreds of reporters and that's really quite overwhelming. I mean, you know, you've just been in solitary. And I think that's really when you thought, "Well, I probably am released." But I still didn't reckon I was not prisoner of war until I was out of Iraq.
Maj. RHONDA CORNUM, Flight Surgeon: And then the pilot announces, you know, "We're in Saudi Arabian air space" and everybody started shouting and_ and, you know, high-fiving each other and- and a Brit Tornado comes up and joins up and rocks his wings and he_ we can see the guy out the windows. And we're waving and he's waving back at us. And it was just joyful.
Maj. JEFF TICE: And we landed in Riyadh and I saw all these people and I thought, "My God," you know, "what_ what's this_ what's this all about?" As I started walking down the stairs, I realized that this really is for us.
And my wing man was there to meet me and he was_ he was overjoyed, obviously, to see me. I was overjoyed to see him. It's the first time that I had actually expressed any_ any real emotion since_ since being beaten.
Maj. RHONDA CORNUM: I'd spent very little of the war worried about whether or not I was female. It just didn't seem to matter. But I didn't want anyone to think that I was weaker or_ or more emotionally vulnerable or anything like that when I got back.
And I have to say that when they sing that song, "I'm Proud to Be an American"_ I mean, I always well up. It's kind of like when they play "Taps" or something and_ and so I was_ I played the song over in my mind several times and I even had_ when we were coming back to the States to get the "welcome back" thing, I had somebody bring me a tape of it so I could listen to it and I could practice hearing it without crying.
INTERVIEWER: Did it work?
Maj. RHONDA CORNUM: It worked, as a matter of fact. I_ the only time I cried was when I saw my kid. Hadn't cried in months, but I remember seeing my kid and going over and hugging her. And that's when I lost it.
REPORTER: Flight Lieutenant Peters, what's it like to be home?
Flight Lt. JOHN PETERS: Great!
Trying to convince anybody what the realities of war are like is very difficult_ not just my situation, if you've been shot at or in combat and seen friends die. Seeing the films, you don't smell it, you don't hear it and you don't see grown men cry and you don't see what it's like to see real people hurt. And you can never put it in words when you return, either.
NARRATOR: [March 8, 1991, Suleimaniyah, Northern Iraq] Now there was a second uprising in Iraq, this time in the Kurdish north. Saddam had used chemical weapons to suppress previous revolts, but the Kurds sensed weakness. The secret police headquarters in Suleimaniyah was one of the regime's nerve centers.
For years Kurdish guerrillas had fought for independence. Now they united with mutinous troops and attacked. The men inside resisted desperately. They knew there was much to avenge. As night fell, the gates were stormed. A Kurdish teenager educated in Britain was there. He'd heard President Bush on the radio.
MUSTAFFA AZIZ: When George Bush said that he would back up a people's revolution in Iraq and they thought, "That's all we need. That's all we wanted to hear," so they just did it.
NARRATOR: [March 28, 1991, Suleimaniyah] In the south, the uprisings had been incoherent, but the Kurdish uprising was different. The Kurds had political leaders who could give the revolt shape. As the rebellion gathered momentum, these Kurdish leaders who'd been living abroad began to return. They wanted to trigger a coup against Saddam. They hoped a new Iraqi leader would let the Kurds run their own affairs.
Traveling with them was an American, an observer from the United States Senate.
PETER GALBRAITH, U.S. Senate Observer: At that point, everything hung in the balance. Had the United States signaled its support for the uprising, I am convinced it would have succeeded. There were Iraqi generals who were, in fact, in touch with the opposition and who were sitting on the fence, waiting to see what would happen. And when the United States did nothing, said nothing, sat on its hands, of course, they took the course of caution.
NARRATOR: That very night, Saddam Hussein's troops attacked. Washington had decided it did not want to support an uprising that might lead to the breakup of Iraq. The rebel forces fought back, but they were hopelessly outgunned. The Kurdish leaders who'd encouraged the revolt had made a terrible miscalculation.
As shells began landing on the cities, there was panic. Not only were the casualties heavy, but they feared a chemical attack at any moment.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: [April 3, 1991, Florida] I do not want to push American forces beyond our mandate. We've done the heavy lifting. Our kids performed with superior courage and they don't need to be thrust into a war that's been going on for years.
NARRATOR: The Iraqi forces advanced relentlessly and the cities of Kurdistan emptied before them. Now a million people were on the move. They headed for the mountains, trying to reach the safety of the Turkish and Iranian borders.
MUSTAFFA AZIZ: When George Bush said that he didn't want the American military interfering in this, the Kurds got scared. We heard the shelling and the bombing. And our next-door neighbor came around and he said, "Look, you've heard what people are saying about the Iraqis. I think it'd be," you know, "wise of us just to leave Suleimaniyah." So my dad agreed. He said, "Okay, we'll leave."
PETER GALBRAITH: It reminded me of refugees leaving Paris in June, 1940, just ahead of the German army. Everybody knew of George Bush's call for them to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein and they all had exactly one question: "Why isn't Bush helping us?"
NARRATOR: The American pilots patrolling the skies above Iraq could see the Kurds being chased into the mountains, but they had strict orders not to intervene.
Capt. MERRICK KRAUSE, F-15 Pilot: We saw helicopters chasing a lot of people down a road and we saw the gunships shooting at them. You could see the smoke coming out of the gunship and occasionally see flashes of the tracers, even though the sun had just started coming up.
KURDISH WOMAN: Saddam Hussein bombing, helicopters destroyed us. I don't know. They saw this, but they don't talk. Why? We are human, like you_ you are!
Capt. MERRICK KRAUSE: We felt frustrated in the fact that we couldn't help the uprising that was going on on the ground, for whatever political reasons that were above our rank. And the best we could do was report what we saw and eventually hope that it was taken care of.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: The only issue that came up is, "Should we do something about the Iraqi helicopters?" It had never been one of our objectives to get involved in this kind of civil uprising between factions within Iraq and the Iraqi government. And so it was not clear what purpose would have been achieved by getting ourselves mixed up in the middle of that.
NARRATOR: [April 6, 1991, Houston, Texas] A week after the Iraqis attacked the Kurds, the president went home to Houston to celebrate his victory. But the television images of the Kurdish exodus were making that victory ring hollow. The president asked James Baker to see how the situation could be defused.
JAMES BAKER: We did not want to take on the responsibility for having to create a safe haven there. And if it was going to be enforced, it wasn't going to be enforced by others. It was going to have to be enforced by- by Uncle Whiskers. And we really didn't want to do it.
NARRATOR: [April 8, 1991, Northern Iraq]Baker's aides suggested a visit to the Kurds.
JAMES BAKER: As we were flying along, we all of a sudden saw a whole sea of people camped out in the mountains. And this was early spring, when it was quite cold. We landed there and then we took four-wheel-drive vehicles up the mountain. There were 50,000 to 75,000 people in this little valley. Every piece of ground had a little tent or a makeshift shelter on it and they'd cut down all the trees for firewood. And they were drinking out of the mountain streams and some were barefooted.
NARRATOR: Baker was able to spend only seven minutes on the ground before security men hustled him away. But he saw and heard enough to be sure this was not just a humanitarian nightmare. It also had the potential to become a political disaster.
JAMES BAKER: I called the president from the airplane and told him I'd never seen anything like this and there are a lot_ that a lot of people were going to die if we didn't do something and do something quickly and that he needed to_ to really break_ break whatever china was required in order to get it done.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: [April 16, 1991] I have directed the U.S. military to begin immediately to establish several encampments in northern Iraq where relief supplies for these refugees will be made available in large quantities.
NARRATOR: Once the safe havens were established, the Iraqis backed off, raising questions about how much suffering could have been avoided if decisive action had been taken earlier.
The men who planned the war feared what they called a "ragged ending," a quagmire like Vietnam or a stalemate like Korea. They had been completely surprised by what actually happened: two rebellions brutally suppressed by an Iraqi military which threw in its lot with the humiliated Saddam and kept him in power. This was a ragged ending no one had seen coming.
[March 14, 1991, Kuwait City] Two weeks after the liberation, the emir of Kuwait returned to his country. The allies had fought a war for Kuwait and its oil and against the tyranny of Saddam, but the promises of a greater democracy in Kuwait would come to little.
On the streets, the priority was revenge. Hundreds of Kuwaitis had died during the occupation and now vigilantes picked up suspected collaborators on the flimsiest of evidence. The PLO leader Yasser Arafat had supported Saddam Hussein and now all Palestinians were under suspicion. Many were tortured, hundreds disappeared and 400,000 were eventually driven out of the country.
[June 8, 1991, Washington, D.C.]But for the American military, its stunning victory over the Iraqis and over its own demons seemed complete.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: I was just thinking, as I sat in the stands watching Norm and the guys walk by, "This is incredible. We have come a far piece from the early 1970s when we came home to a state of being ignored." We had come a long way to rebuild the armed forces of the United States.
Gen. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: I was in Vietnam twice and I couldn't help but just think to myself, "This is the right way to come home to your country," and it tended to exorcise a lot of ghosts and a lot of wounds that all of us over in Vietnam carried with us.
Gen. FREDERICK FRANKS, Commander, VII Corps: After it was all over, my wife and I walked over to the Vietnam Memorial and talked to some of the Vietnam veterans who were there. And I said to them, "Hey, this one's for you, too."
NARRATOR: [June 10, 1991, New York City] If the victory in the Gulf buried America's Vietnam syndrome, it also resurrected war as a means of achieving national objectives and it demonstrated that America's generals would again have a tremendous influence on how those wars would be fought.
BERNARD TRAINOR, Author, The Generals' War: The war showed that Colin Powell is an enormously conservative man who was reluctant to use military force as an active instrument of foreign policy and diplomacy.
The war, as it unfolded, was in keeping with his concept of what warfare should be and the so-called "Powell Doctrine," with an objective in getting in very quickly with overwhelming force, if you have to use that force, but reluctant to use it, in the first instance, but if you use it, use it in a big way and then pack your bags and come home.
That's exactly the way the war was fought because he was the major influence on the decision-making process and he has to share the glory of what was good about the war and he must also share some of the burden of where things did not work out exactly as they should have.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: We can grind our teeth forever as to whether we should have fought a day or two longer. We can grind our teeth forever as to who was for sanctions, who wasn't. But we ought to recognize the significant achievement that Desert Shield/Desert Storm was. President Bush said, "This will not stand"; that did not stand.
RICK ATKINSON, Author, Crusade: In retrospect, I think it's clear that Bush rose above the limitations of character and vision for the first time and, as it turned out, the only time in his presidency, to become a really extraordinary man.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: I can report to the nation aggression is defeated. The war is over. Because the world would not look the other way, Ambassador Al-Sabah, tonight Kuwait is free.
RICK ATKINSON: George Bush's vision of the new world order was that countries could unite in common purpose for the benefit of all mankind. But it wasn't World War II. It's hard to argue that he was Franklin Roosevelt.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: And this I promise you. For all that Saddam has done to his own people, to the Kuwaitis and to the entire world, Saddam and those around him are accountable.
RICK ATKINSON: By demonizing Saddam, Bush, in fact, planted the seeds of discontent in the country, in the same way that Lieutenant George Bush in 1945 would have felt dissatisfied had the real Adolf Hitler still been in power in Berlin and the Japanese warlords still been in power in Tokyo.
Pres. GEORGE BUSH: May God bless this great nation, the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much.
NARRATOR: Despite his enormous popularity at that moment, two years later Bush would be decisively defeated for reelection. Saddam Hussein's survival seemed to emphasize the American recession and Bush's timid domestic agenda. "Saddam's got his job," read one bumper sticker, "How about you?"
RICK ATKINSON: He performed after the war in ways that, in many ways, were entirely predictable. Bush came back to earth when the war ended and there Bush, I think, will remain.
NARRATOR: Saddam Hussein is still in power, still claiming that his survival was his victory. But his invasion of Kuwait had turned to dust and his dreams of dominating the Middle East have vanished. The Gulf war left the Iraqi armed forces broken. U.N. teams are still dismantling its nuclear and biological weapons programs and sanctions cripple the economy, but Saddam is still defiant.
MARGARET THATCHER: There is the aggressor, Saddam Hussein, still in power. There is the president of the United States, no longer in power. There is the prime minister of Britain, who did quite a lot to get things there, no longer in power. I wonder who won?
Gen. BRENT SCOWCROFT, National Security Advisor: We did. We did. As long as we are alert and observant, Saddam Hussein is not a threat to his neighbors. He's a nuisance. He's an annoyance. But he's not a threat. That_ that we achieved.
Gen. COLIN POWELL: And I can also tell you that, in due course, Saddam Hussein will not be there. And when that happens, all this interesting second-guessing will seem quite irrelevant.
NARRATOR: It took seven months to extinguish the oil wells which burned across the battlefield. The war had changed the balance of power in the Middle East and ignited the peace process between Israel and its Arab neighbors. But with time, its promise as the herald of a new world unity that would confront the moral outrages of our time has faded.
RICK ATKINSON: I think that the notion that the Gulf war was being fought for a new world order was, in fact, intended to obscure the fact that it was being fought for very much the old word order: cheap petroleum, benign monarchies. There was no new world order that came out of the Persian Gulf War. In fact, I think that's proven to be mostly a pipe dream since then.
ANNOUNCER: There is more on "The Gulf War" at FRONTLINE online. Check out our web-exclusive debate on Gulf War Syndrome and the Pentagon's response to charges of cover-up. You'll also find an extensive oral history of the war, and more first-hand accounts of airmen and soldiers, find out more about the weapons and technology used for the first time and lots more at www.pbs.org.
And next time on FRONTLINE,
It was dark_
JENNIFER: Little, brief pieces of light_
ANNOUNCER: She was scared_
JENNIFER: But it was just long enough for me to think_
ANNOUNCER: And furious_
JENNIFER: _okay, his nose looks this way_
ANNOUNCER: If she got out of it alive the rapist would pay.
JENNIFER: Then I chose the photo of Ronald Cotton
ANNOUNCER: And for twelve years Ronald Cotton paid for "What Jennifer Saw."
RONALD COTTON: And the Lord knows I'm and innocent man_
ANNOUNCER: Next time on FRONTLINE.
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ANNOUNCER: "Betting on the Market" examined America's seduction by the bull market of the 90s.
JOE HORNBAKER, Covington, KY: Dear FRONTLINE, As a younger baby boom generation member... everyone tells me to invest if I don't want to spend my golden years in some Dickensian nightmare. Then I'm told how dangerous it is if I do invest and we hit the bear market wall... What am I supposed to do? ...It's annoying, exasperating, and frightening.
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