Going all the way to Baghdad in 1991. Necessarily a quagmire?

Well the “Hell no side” can point to the Mesopotamian Adventure of the New Millenium.

On the other hand, in 1991, the Iraqi Army had been absolutely mauled, this was not the case in 2003, where it just more or less melted away and many soldiers and officers became the initial focus of the resistance. In 1991, they would have been less willing to so melt away.

There is the diplomatic issue to consider true, but on the flip side in 1991 nearly everyone thought Iraq was in the wrong, Syria sent forces. In 2003, you had massive protests worldwide, so I submit that diplomatic opposition could have been overcome, especially if the excuse used was that “no authority exists in Iraq” or something similar.

Moreover unlike 2003, there was no shortage of troops, the US alone had half a million men (incidentally the amount that Shinseki thought was need the second time around) so the failures of 2003, which were caused so much by the paucity of manpower might not occur.

Flip side, the Iraqi Army might actually be a bit more motivated to fight defending their country…, and this time there were WMD’s. Historically, the SCUD regiments were the only parts of the Iraqi Armed Forces which actually delivered, the lack of damage caused was due to the flaws in the extended range SCUDS, not due to anything wrong with the men, and while we are at it, here they are using shorter and more accurate systems.

Would Cheney, Powell et al, mess this up as badly as…Cheney, Powell:D
This OP does not consider the morality of the question, just the feasibility and please limit your discussion to that, thank you.

My own feeling at the time was that much more could have been accomplished without actually attacking Baghdad. The U.S. could have continued to operate in southern Iraq for a few more days, destroying military targets, stating that they’d stop when Saddam was deposed. Democracy wouldn’t be the goal, just replacing Saddam with a different Baathist dictator: anyone would have been better than the heinously despicable Saddam.

Instead, Bush-41 stopped when his friends in the Saudi and Kuwaiti royal families were happy, even letting Saddam slaughter some more of his own people. Since I supported the original invasion, this was a disappointment and turned me toward cynicism.

They should have kept going - in all probability it would have helped us avoid many of the problems that NOT going would later lead to, such as keeing an armed presence in Saudi Arabia which… well, some folks weren’t too happy about that.

The solution to Iraq was to split the country into three separate countries. The failure to do so means continued civil war until that is achieved.

It would have been a cluster fuck, diplomatically. Bush the elder had crafted a brilliant policy that engaged nations that otherwise wouldn’t have participated or would have actively opposed it. It all revolved around kicking the Iraqis out of Kuwait, however, not following through with an invasion into Iraq. Had he attempted to do this there would have been a LOT of very, very unhappy countries who had previously supported us during the first part of the first Gulf War. So, we would most likely have been going it alone.

I’m pretty sure we still could have easily conquered Iraq in a similar fashion to what we did during the second Gulf War…we had a much larger force there, after all, and the Iraqis were completely demoralized. We might have even caught Saddam in the follow through, and we might have had more popular support in Iraq, at least initially. But diplomatically it would have been a pretty devastating blow to the US had we done so unilaterally…possibly more so than the blow Bush the Younger dealt us during the second round, as a lot of nations would have felt betrayed. Justifiably so, since the basis for the coalition in the first place was simply kicking Saddam et al out of Kuwait.

Just because we conquer Iraq in 1991 does not mean we have to occupy it. What happens if we just knock out Hussein’s government, arrest or kill him, and withdraw?

Chaos and anarchy, and in a place that has a rather large percentage of the worlds oil reserves. That was never going to happen. If we conquered it we would have occupied it in a similar manner (though the up side is we’d have had a lot larger force to do the occupation) until a new government was installed and could fend for itself.

They melted away because they were incapable of and unmotivated to conduct effective resistance in conventional warfare. Recall also that the Iraqi army was disbanded by the US occupation force despite warnings that it would leave all of these soldiers unemployed and with one marketable skill. Once they’d been processed and released the POWs from the 1991 war would be in much the same position.

Not going to happen. When asked in interviews after the 1991 war but long before the 2003 war why we hadn’t gone on to Baghdad Brent Scowcroft said with prescience that if we’d done so, it would have instantly shattered the coalition and that the British would probably have gone along with us but other than that we’d be going it alone. The reason Bush Sr. was so successful at putting together the coalition was that Iraq was clearly in the wrong and his demand was that Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait would not stand. He asked for and got a mandate from the UN demanding Iraq withdraw from Kuwait and authorizing the use of force to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait should they not comply by Jan 15, 1991 in UNSC 678. That was what the member nations of the coalition had signed on for and agreed to, not regime change in Iraq. Had Bush Sr. gone to the UN asking for authorization to conquer and occupy Iraq, he’d never have gotten it. Had he decided to just march on Baghdad after the success of Desert Storm anyway the coalition wasn’t going to follow along. Recall that the images coming out of the Highway of Death were already causing unease in the White House that the war was going to start being perceived as a massacre rather than a war, something that Maj. Gen. Barry McCaffrey’s actions at Rumaila post-cease fire didn’t help with. I’d also note Dick Cheney’s comments back when he was less insane:

I should note that Saddam could not have picked a worse time to invade Kuwait. Had he done so a year before the US would not have been able to shift these forces away from their NATO mission and the USSR might have exercised its veto to sink any UN resolutions. Had he done it a year later, those troops would have been drawn down as part of the peace dividend with the collapse of the USSR. I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again: I didn’t care much for Bush Sr. domestically as president, but I have very high regard for his wisdom in handling the 1991 Gulf War. A great part of that was the wisdom of ending the war as he did.

Here’s an interview with Dick Cheney where he makes a very strong case as to why invading Iraq in 1991 would have been a terrible idea.

Love him or hate him, he clearly knew what he was talking and you can see why the neocons used to find him a pain in the ass.


Things change.

Then why did he think it was a good idea in 2003?


“The Elite Republican Guard… 10 ft tall… never lost a battle… we shit bullets… then, just Republican Guard… then, the shit Republicans made up”

So what? There was a decades-long and highly effective and not-terribly-secret conspiracy between oil companies and OPEC to keep those reserves from ever being fully exploited anyway. In fact, Hussein got in trouble for bucking that system. Documented by Greg Palast in Armed Madhouse.. Discussed in this thread.

Maintaining the status quo for the oil companies requires holding down oil production, and Iraq has been assigned that sorry role since it was founded (it has 74 known oil fields and only 15 in production). In 1927, the major oil company execs met at a hotel room in Belgium and signed an agreement: The Anglo-Persian company (now British Petroleum) would pump almost all its oil from Iran; Standard Oil, under the name of the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco), would limit almost all its drilling to Saudi Arabia; Anglo-Persian would drill in Iraq’s Kirkuk and Basra fields but it would drill very little.

In the early '60s, the frustrated Iraqi government canceled the BP-Shell-Exxon concession and nationalized the oil fields, but that didn’t solve the problem.

When Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, he was hoping to increase Iraq’s OPEC production quota by adding Kuwait’s to it.

So why did Hussein – a secular Ba’athist, no sponsor of Islamist terrorism, possessing no WMDs, contained as a military threat, yet arguably still useful as a counterbalance to Iran – why did Hussein, finally, have to go?

We were (are) the most powerful nation on Earth. Let’s be real, most non-US troops in that operation were cannon fodder. If they bailed on us, we could’ve (rightly) said,“Screw you, good luck defending yourselves against a tyrant.” WE are/were the policemen to civilization, and we failed when the world needed us.

Ask him.

I can’t. You need the blood of an unbaptized child for the spell and I’m fresh out. :frowning:


In all seriousness he changed his mind and became more sympathetic to the goals and beliefs of the neocons.

Nowadays it’s pretty mainstream to regard Dick Cheney as a neocon, but fifteen years ago people in Washington would have pissed themselves laughing at the suggestion that Gerry Ford’s Cheif of Staff and George H. W. Bush’s SecDef was a neocon.

And no, not just because he’s a goy.

He was always considered an establishment Relublican just as until 2000 Al Gore was considered a somewhat conservative Democrat who’s wife forced warning labels on filthy music who was picked by Bill Clinton to convince people he wasn’t Michael Dukakis with a Southern accent.

Like I said, people change.

That’s also not a bad thing. I have little respect for people who’ve never changed their minds and my political beliefs have certainly changed since the early 90s.

  1. They would have been kept as POW for the longest time for this exact reason. As is usually the case after a war of this nature. And remember in both 1991 and 2003, the majority of the Iraqi Army were conscripts. It the professional soldiers who you have to be worried about. In 2003, it was this relatively small group that began the resistance and they would not have had the 12 or so years of sanctions to develop a hatred of Americans.

Again, I am not disputing the diplomatic hurdles. I am stating that they were not insurmountable. Iraq did come very close to losing control over all the country. If the decision to go and occupy the entire country had occured, many countries would have gone along with it after protests, the calculus of good old self interest. In 2003, after a most unpopular war and acrimonious diplomatic exchanges, the US in summer 2003 got several countries, (India, Pakistan, Jordan etc) to commit to troops deployments to Iraq post war. It was only after the scale of the ineptitude became apparent that they backed out. So I disagree that (eventual) diplomatic support would have been impossible to get.

The point of this thread is not to discuss the wisdom of not going (FTR, I agree with the actual real world decisions) but as to the feasibility of the same. We have a real world occupation to compare with. We know that it failed due to many reasons, but lack of available troops was a pressing one. We know that historically, in 2003, the situation did not get totally out of hand until spring 2004.
Insurgencies, are like dam breaches. If they are plugged quickly, they can be mitigated. If the “coalition” had had more troops in 2003, they could have pacified the country in the initial months. In our 1991 hypothetical, they do have enough troops. So an insurgency is not going to happen or be as bad.

Of course, you do raise an interesting points about the looming RIFs. Historically several units and formations involved in Desert Storm were disbanded almost immediately after. So, would the US have been able to make such a commitment.

9/11 changed everything. Hadn’t you heard?

The only reason the US managed to get out this last time was because the militia’s were eventually willing to split from al-Queda, for $US. Paid monthly. In cash. On palattes.

Had al-Queda not gone so completely fundamentalist in Iraq, the US would never have got for out.
As for 1991, I’d like a cite for a successful invasion/occupation of a country by a culturally-opposite occupier?

Japan, 1945.