Monday, January 15, 2007

The Great and Glorious First Gulf War

One thing I've been slightly puzzled about is how the first Gulf War has become universally thought of as The Good War. Obviously there were things which, from the American perspective, made the war a lot less unpleasant than the current one: it was cheap, there weren't too many American casualties (though more than people seem to remember), and we got the hell out of there.

So from those perspectives it wasn't a disaster. And, also, since the obvious "costs" were fairly low it's much easier to argue the "benefits" exceeded them. But it's also true that taking the longer view it's not clear what the Great and Glorious First Gulf War actually accomplished that was positive. Obviously if you're a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family you're a fan. And, obviously, if you think that in the modern world someone should act as a global cop to prevent nations from invading other nations (irony overload causing brain damage here) maybe you're a fan.

Anyway, I don't really want to engage in a full argument about whether it was a "good" or "bad" war, I just find it puzzling that it's become universal conventional wisdom that it was a great and glorious thing and that anyone who disagrees obviously is a dirty fucking hippie. Through the narrow lens of American politics it's true that politicians didn't pay a price of supporting it, though I'm not really sure anyone paid the price for opposing it either, but that really has little to do with whether from a broader perspective it was a sensible thing to do, even without pointing out that maybe there was a way to stop Hussein from invading Kuwait before he did so which didn't involve military force.