A thoughtful and provocative commentary on the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Gulf War. While characterizing the Desert Storm campaign as a remarkable feat of arms, defense analyst (and Baltimore Sun columnist) Record argues that the mother of all routs failed to yield any significant diplomatic gains. In this cautionary context, he addresses an ad rem assortment of issues, ranging from the possible avoidance of hostilities through the efficacy of sanctions; miscalculations of Iraq's resources as well fighting spirit; the relative contributions of air, ground, and naval power to the outcome; and the lessons to be learned or ignored from the walkover. Given the home-front problems confronting Saddam in the wake of an enervating conflict with Iran, Record believes that a clash was inevitable- -and, in light of political imperatives, he thinks that economic pressures alone would have been insufficient to bring the dictator into line within an acceptable time frame. The author notes that UN/US forces, in addition to operating within a remarkably favorable staging area (Saudi Arabia), were facing an enemy led by a man ``with the prudence of Custer and the strategic grasp of Mussolini.'' Record concludes that the aerial assaults mounted by the UN, though undeniably spectacular and effective, weren't decisive in the conflict, and he's equally dubious as to the post- Vietnam harmony putatively achieved by American military commanders and their civilian masters. At the close, moreover, the author argues that Iraq remains a serious menace in the Middle East, meaning that future historians may regard the 1990-91 belligerency as ``a complete failure.'' Worldly-wise observations, affording valuable perspectives on a famous victory.
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