The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait. The war is also known under other names, such as the Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War, or Iraq War
- Tonight in Iraq, Saddam walks amidst ruin. His war machine is crushed. His ability to threaten mass destruction is itself destroyed.
- Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power — America in an Arab land — with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous. We don't gain the size of our victory by how many innocent kids running away — even though they're bad guys — that we can slaughter. … We're American soldiers; we don't do business that way.
- George H. W. Bush A statement to a reunion of Gulf War veterans (February 28, 1999) as quoted in "Bush tells Gulf vets why Hussein left in Baghdad" by S.H. Kelly, Pentagram (3 March 1999)
- Because if we had gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over and took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have, the west. Part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim. Fought over for eight years. In the north, you've got the Kurds. And if the Kurds spin loose and join with Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq. The other thing is casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact that we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had, but for the 146 Americans killed in action and for the families it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein was, how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? And our judgment was not very many, and I think we got it right.
- British and US forces fired about 320 tonnes of depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf war and may have used up to 2000 tonnes in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Because of its extreme density it is used to make the tips of armour piercing shells.
Reports from southern Iraq have documented a steep rise in the incidence of cancers since the 1990s, especially cases in children.
- Owen Dyer, “WHO suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium, expert says”, BMJ. 2006 Nov 11; 333(7576): 990.
- Europe is an economic giant, a political dwarf, and a military worm.
- Mark Eyskens, as quoted by Craig R. Whitney in WAR IN THE GULF: EUROPE; Gulf Fighting Shatters Europeans' Fragile Unity, The New York Times, January 25th, 1991.
- This phrase was pronounced in January 1991, a few days before the beginning of Desert Storm, while Eyskens was the Foreign Minister of Belgium
- So for now, depleted uranium falls into the quagmire of Gulf War Syndrome, from which no treatment has emerged despite the government's spending of at least $300 million.
About 30 percent of the 700,000 men and women who served in the first Gulf War still suffer a baffling array of symptoms very similar to those reported by Reed's unit.
- Amit Sen Gupta, “Lethal Dust: Effects of Depleted Uranium Ammunition”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 36, No. 5/6 (Feb. 3-16, 2001), p. 454.
- Those guys [in the Persian Gulf War] were in hog heaven, man. They had a weapons catalog, "What's G-12 do, Tommy?" "Says here it destroys everything but the fillings in their teeth, helps pay for the war effort." Well, shit, pull that one up!" "Pull up G-12, please." [sound of a missile launch, several beats, then an explosion]] "...Cool. What's G-13 do?"
- The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun.… The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins!
- When the war finally started, we were ready. On January 16, 1991, CNN anchor Bernard Shaw reported to the world, “The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated . . .”
As predicted, Iraqi power and communications systems were destroyed by stealth fighter jets and cruise missiles. Every media company based in Baghdad—except CNN—lost power and transmission capabilities. Only CNN broadcast live to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. All channels turned to us for exclusive coverage; there was no place else.
Back then CNN was the only global 24/7 news channel. That live coverage of war—the first time it had been televised worldwide—transformed the media landscape. CNN became required viewing for informed citizens and heads of state, the one truly global news source. That has changed now, with multiple cable networks and news breaking on social media. But without the investment in journalism from visionary owners such as Turner, today’s networks focus more on commentary than newsgathering.
- Tom Johnson, “Desert Storm: The first war televised live around the world (and around the clock)”, Atlanta Magazine, (March 18, 2015).
- The U.S. military swatted Saddam’s army, rated as one of the world’s better forces, like so many flies in the first Gulf War, and by the time of the second our conventional superiority was even greater.
- In 1991, Landsat captured the devastating environmental consequences of war. As Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, they set fire to over 650 oil wells and damaged almost 75 more, which then spewed crude oil across the desert and into the Persian Gulf.
Fires burned for ten months. According to a 2009 study published in Disaster Prevention and Management, firefighting crews from ten countries, part of a response team that comprised approximately 11,450 workers from 38 countries, used familiar and also never-before-tested technologies to put out the fires. When the last one was extinguished in November, about 300 lakes of oil remained, as well as a layer of soot and oil that fell out of the sky and mixed with sand and gravel to form 'tarcrete' across 5 percent of Kuwait's landscape.
- Gibson says the 1991 Gulf War literally chipped away at a priceless past. One example is the massive 4,000-year-old Ziggurat at Ur, in southern Iraq. The temple pyramid was hit by at least 400 shells that took out "big chunks" from the structure, Gibson says.
- NPR, “Protecting Ancient History in Iraq” Morning Edition, (February 20, 2003).
- A small but recurrent component of media reports on Iraq and Kuwait during the period from the Iraq invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 through the Gulf War and its aftermath dealt with archaeology in the region and the potential and actual impact of the war on archaeological remains. An index of the saliece of archaeology for formulating the meaning of the war is that one of the first editorials printed in the New York Times the day after the bombing of Baghdad began (19 Jan. 1991) centered on thus subject. Entitled 'The Cradle, Ironically, of Civilization', it warned the US military against 'bombing cities, religious shrines or renowned archaeological sites' but went on to focus entirely on the prehistoric sites. It used descriptors that were to recur constantly throughout media coverage of the arhcaeology of the region, describing Ur, for example, as the 'very cradle of civilization and the birthplace of Abraham', and evoking images of 'ancient', 'unexplored', and 'sacred' cities scattered through Iraq.
Why did archaeological remains have this centrality? In a society still; enamored of an evolutionary view of human societies, did the story of a glorious Iraqi past get its power through the devolutionary reversals it displayed, its clear legitimizing unction for an avenging Allied campaign to preserve or even restore what was referred to as 'our common heritage'? Did ancient artifacts, like incubator babies of Kuwait, allow for narratives of innocence in a story that was otherwise too full of moral responsibility - with evil or invisible Iraqis, noble Allies and victimized Kuwaitis? Or, has the fetishizing of the commodity in our society grown over time to such a point that artifact survivors become more important that human Iraqi ones?
- Susan Pollock, Catherine Lutz, “Archaeology Deployed for the Gulf War”, Critique of Anthropology, (September 1, 1994).
- Our strategy in going after this army is very simple. First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it.
- In fact, the Pioneer UAV was praised as "the single most valuable intelligence collector" in the war against Iraq. They have proved to be extremely reliable and have had high mission completion rates. During the Gulf War, only one UAV was lost in more than 300 missions.
- Jeffrey N. Renehan, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Weapons of Mass Destruction A Lethal Combination?”, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, (1995-1996), p.2
- Senator Kerry now tells us he has a clear position on the [war on terror]. He voted no on [Desert Storm] in 1991 and yes on [Desert Shield] today. Then he voted no on [troop funding], just after he'd voted yes. He's campaigned against the [war] all year, but says he'd vote yes today. This nation can't afford [presidential leadership] that comes in 57 varieties.
- Mitt Romney, Republican Convention Speech, 2004.
- The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it, and are now in the process of selling it.
I speak of Iraq, not because everybody is talking about it, (sadly at the cost of leaving other horrors in other places to unfurl in the dark), but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as 'Empire' at work. In the new Iraq the gloves are off.
As the battle to control the world's resources intensifies, economic colonialism through formal military aggression is staging a comeback. Iraq is the logical culmination of the process of corporate globalization in which neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism have fused. If we can find it in ourselves to peep behind the curtain of blood, we would glimpse the pitiless transactions taking place backstage. But first, briefly, the stage itself.
- As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist: He is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man.
- Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., Gulf War briefing (28 February 1991), as quoted in "WAR IN THE GULF: Commander's Briefing; Excerpts From Schwarzkopf News Conference on Gulf War" in The New York Times'
- While the duration of actual combat engagement during the first Gulf War in February 1991 was relatively short, measured in days, the legacy of adverse health effects presumed related to it has been disproportionately lengthy. The constellation of symptom complaints in returned troops termed ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ or more generally, ‘unexplained illness’, has received the bulk of both scientific and public attention. However, a small collection of ‘explained’ adverse health outcomes have also been reported over the 15 years since the War's end. One of the best-characterized examples in this category involves the cluster of DU ‘friendly fire’ incidents and the DU-related health effects accrued to those soldiers who were its victims.
- Katherine S Squibb, Melissa A McDiarmid, “Depleted uranium exposure and health effects in Gulf War veterans”, Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006 Apr 29; 361(1468): 639–648.
- I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air—the rather nauseating stench of appeasement.
- Iraq so far has failed to comply with paragraph 2 of resolution 660 (1990) and has usurped the authority of the legitimate Government of Kuwait.
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 661 (6 August 1990)
- Dr. Kang found that male Gulf War veterans reported having infants with likely birth defects at twice the rate of non-veterans. Furthermore, female Gulf War veterans were almost three times more likely to report children with birth defects than their non-Gulf counterparts. The numbers changed somewhat with medical records verification. However, Dr. Kang and his colleagues concluded that the risk of birth defects in children of deployed male veterans still was about 2.2 times that of non-deployed veterans.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (2003). "Q's & A's – New Information Regarding Birth Defects" (PDF). Gulf War Review. 12 (1): 10. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2006-09-29.
- Beginning with Desert Storm in Kuwait in 1991, American air superiority to detect and destroy enemy vehicles and troops has given the U.S. an enormous edge in conventional force vs. force warfare in open terrain.
- Bing West, “Urban Warfare, Then and Now”, The Atlantic, (Jun 30, 2017).
- I was convinced before the war that the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein required a vigorous and sustained international response to disarm him. Iraq possessed and had used chemical weapons; it had an active biological weapons program and quite possibly a nuclear research program — all of which were in violation of United Nations resolutions. Having encountered Mr. Hussein and his thugs in the run-up to the Persian Gulf war of 1991, I was only too aware of the dangers he posed.
But were these dangers the same ones the administration told us about? We have to find out. America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.