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ANALYSIS OF EVENTS AND CAUSES LEADING TO THE IRAQ CRISIS March 6, 1991 Copyright 1991 Transcript by Laurence L. Miller The following is a transcript of a letter written to the children in our family by our father, Col. Roy A. Miller, USAF Ret'd., on January 16, 1991. Col. Miller was a career soldier from 1940-1971, beginning as one of the acclaimed "Sergeant Pilots". Later commissioned as a Lieutenant he "Flew The Hump" in the China-Burma-India campaign of WWII. An original member of SAC (Strategic Air Command) he went on to become a Command Pilot who flew among many other aircraft the B-47 and the B-52. He was a "Full Bull" Squadron Commander, an Operations Plans officer, a graduate of and instructor at the Air War College. His service culminated in a tour at the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. After his retirement he completed his Masters Degree in Economics at LSU, and has since been a constant source of analysis of and information on the events of the world around us. The transcript is offered verbatim excluding the salutation, and is useful as an overview for anyone in the Baby Boom generation who doesn't grasp the current world situation, as well as the precarious position of our country, now that the war appears to be completed. As is stated later, the body of the letter was written prior to actuation of hostilities, but addresses past, present and future. ****** "Last week when your sister called, she expressed disillusionment at the prospective conflict in the Middle East, coming so swiftly upon the easing of the Cold War and the promise of relative peace and cessation of international tensions. You all must have some doubts and uncertainties in trying to come to some personal judgments on the course our country has taken. With my knowledge, experience, and intellectual background, perhaps I have something to offer that will help you to a better understanding of what is happening, certainly more than you will get from the popular media. In my years as a military professional, studies of conflict in history and of the present, one fact became clear: Humans are little closer to a millennium of peace than a thousand years ago. There are abroad the same envies, the same selfishness, the same corruptions, the same lusts for power in the name of empire, the same delusions of grandeur, the same disregard of the value of life, as in long history. We have the continuing gross economic disparity among peoples, the conflict in idealogies, the uses of national power to take advantage of other peoples. Clearly, with these continuing social, economic, political and ideological strains and the increasing availability of advanced technology in weapons systems, regional conflicts are more likely than ever. So I see the world. So, why do Americans think that with the Soviets no longer a threat (we hope, but watch the Baltics), we can look forward to peace and the advancement of freedom and justice for all peoples, without worrying about deterring war? But my view is not necessarily pessimistic, nor has it been in the past 40-odd years. But I would be pessimistic should the western democracies and regional coalitions such as is developing in Western Europe choose to look inward and try to ignore such threats to peace as portended by the taking of Kuwait, or at most trying to modify their course by extended diplomacy while preserving in primacy their self-centered programs for advancing their own societies. This is what many in the U.S. and apparently the Europeans (except for Margaret Thatcher) would like to do in response to today's crisis. 'Let's wait and see if diplomacy and sanctions work', they say. 'Let's meanwhile reduce our armed forces appropriately to a peaceful world and use the dividends therefrom to perfect our liberal societies.' To me this is a temporizing and in the long term losing approach. But there is another view: that great nations such as ours, by virtues of being powerful and being a democracy, have a responsibility and an opportunity for changing the course of such events by direct and forceful involvement, using our elements of national power - economic, technological, political, and militarily if necessary - to discourage, prevent, or even reverse aggressions which threaten world order. Since 1947 the U.S. has taken this view. We have had as a central principal of our foreign policy the promotion of the right of self-determination of peoples and have repeatedly used our power, including the use of force or threat of use of force, in furtherance of this principal. There was the Marshall Plan beginning in 1947, Korea in 1950, NATO from 1949, the 1960's in South Vietnam, several other lesser military actions over this period, and now the Persian Gulf. Except for Vietnam, we have succeeded in these past commitments. And it is wrong to deduce that our failure in Vietnam is reason to abandon this world view of responsibility in promoting and even protecting the freedoms of other peoples. It is true that there have been this and other failures on the part of the U.S. to follow through on this commitment to principle. For examples, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and of course South Vietnam. However there were two constraints which limited U.S. effectiveness: The avoidance of war with the Soviet Union and the inability, largely through ineptitude, of our national leaders to gain or maintain the support of the American people for military operations, on-going or contemplated, as being in our national interest. But nevertheless the principle of self-determination of peoples has always been central in guiding our foreign policy. For this reason the U.S. can claim honor and integrity in its use of its power. Now, about Kuwait and Iraq. It seems to me that there are three levels on which we can debate the use of force, which we may be about to do. To take these in reverse order of preference, the least supportable first, the question of oil: Nations, once entering into extended commerce which is mutually beneficial have a right to expect that the trading partners will not arbitrarily cut-off such commerce when one party has become dependent on it, at least in the short run, for its economic life. So if an outside aggressor steps in with intent to grossly alter this economic arrangement and thereby threaten the well-being of a trader nation, that nation should have good ground for acting to remove the threat. Here it would be helpful to reflect on what the interruption of Middle East oil at a reasonable price would do to the U.S and also Western Europe: Economic Catastrophe. Oil, in its various end uses is so interwoven in the processes and products of our industries and so critical to our logistics systems and means of travel, that a sudden dependence only upon our limited national reserves could shut down many of our industries, put millions if not billions out of work and on the dole, and effect an extended depression, the like of which we've never experienced. But we could recover over time, redesigning our displaced or dysfunctional industries, consumer goods, energy systems, and transportation systems, by use of other raw materials (wood, grain, coal, oil-shale) and nuclear power and perhaps be better as a people, certainly more self-sufficient. (We had people of steel as a result of the Great Depression.) Now, whether or not we would value the prevention of national economic catastrophe and resulting economic depression over the costs in human life and national resources in a preventive war is debatable. It seems to be the dominant issue advanced by our media, some in the clergy, and many in Congress. Personally, I do not think that oil is sufficient cause to go to war. Losing Middle East oil, we would all suffer, but we could recover, and our young men would still be alive. The second issue, which should have much higher standing than the oil question, is that of the developing regional threat to peace. Consider Iraq's leadership, Hitler-like in aggressive posture, ruthlessness, lawlessness and genocide, its armed forces, its developing biological, chemical and nuclear arms capabilities, and its greatly increased financial resources in gaining the Kuwait oil. Then consider Pan-Arabism, latent perhaps but looking for expression in Arab unity, also Arab fundamentalism under Islam now spreading, the historic frustration of the Arab peoples in their search for union, and their almost universal hatred of Israel. Given these factors there is the potential for a coalescing of several Arab nations under a Saddam Hussein, were he victorious in holding Kuwait. We could not object to such a regional community of Arab peoples under common leadership if done voluntarily and with peaceful intentions. But under Iraq there would likely be a powerful military alliance that sooner or later would be a more direct threat to Israel and other neighbors. And we are committed to the existence of a free Israel and rightly so. The conclusion I reach is that with Iraq victorious in the Kuwait conquest, with greatly expanded power and influence in the Arab world, the U.S. would later face a military threat far worse than we now face and in circumstances without choice except war. It is in our vital interest to forestall such a prospect. I believe that this is the initial, main reason for President Bush's swift movement last fall, followed by early strengthening of the U.S. forces in follow-on deployments. But he has not publicized this reason because of his dependency on the nations of the Arab coalition against Iraq. Instead he has stated our objective as the liberation of Kuwait. So on this issue alone we have sufficient cause for using military force: To liberate Kuwait but even more importantly, to reduce Iraq to relative equality with its neighbors. The final issue is a moral one and the one which is most important. It was cited earlier: Whether the U.S. is to continue to exercise leadership in the cause of peace and the freedom of peoples. It is inescapably before us now, where it had been hanging in the air since our bug-out from Vietnam. George Bush made it so when he drew a line in the Arabian sand on the far border of Kuwait. Whether masterfully or not, or with full intent to resume the historical role of the U.S. since 1947, he did it, and we as a nation will never be the same. For either we shall resolutely follow through to a conclusion which achieves our stated and non-stated objectives, or we will satisfy ourselves with some lesser accommodation which leaves Saddam substantially as powerful and potentially aggressive. Whatever happens, our measure will have been taken abroad, a national soul-searching have occurred, whereafter we will continue as a world power, active in leadership for peace, freedom and justice, or looking inward, lapsing into accommodation to aggressions or threats to others from lack of will. This is not to propose that we might be the 'policemen of the world' as the peacenik critics of the U.S. like to put it. But nations preying on nations we have always condemned, and where we could we have acted to stop or reverse such aggressions. In particularly egregious instances, such as Afghanistan, we condemned but the Soviet Union being what it was, we could not actively intervene. But we gave economic and military aid which eventually made the venture so costly that the Soviets withdrew. In other aggressions and subversions we have also intervened with economic and military aid, such as in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. These latter actions were very much in the tradition of fostering liberty and freedom of choice. Here we were also motivated by concern that regional peace in the Americas was being threatened by subversive intervention of a foreign power through client Latin American states. Many have seen this as U.S. meddling in the affairs of other peoples, but to me it has been acting in enlightened self-interest of the U.S. plus supporting our long standing operative principle. Apparently few leaders in the U.S. understand that this is the large question before us. Many seem to feel that because of the regression of communism, the retrenchment of Soviet expansionism, the apparent disintegration of the USSR internally, and the liberation of Eastern Europe, there is no longer a bi-polar world where security of free western nations depended upon U.S. political and military power. So they feel that the active projection of U.S. power backed by superior military capabilities is no longer necessary. So we can now turn our energies and resources into domestic programs for social and economic progress of Americans. For them, the suggestion that we continue to take on such broad responsibility, beyond our borders, with drain on our treasury, is anathema. These leaders and other self-appointed spokespersons are going to be very vocal in these views. Already there is another divisive effort by activists to thwart the orderly and forceful prosecution of the military campaign and the gaining of our objectives. And in the follow-on time when we will be evaluating what happened and fixing the course of our country and its foreign policy, there will be great debates and decisions arrived at in our democratic tradition. Doubts and uncertainties in trying to understand these events and to fix your own attitudes about the proper course of your country, will occur. But as good citizens you owe it to your country to reach informed judgments and to express your views to your representatives. Relatively young and devoting your energies to making or sustaining your chosen work, you have perhaps not had the time, opportunity, or cause for in-depth fact-finding analysis of the aspects of your world that gave rise to this crisis. I hope that the above gives you some points of departure in organized form for your thinking about what faces us. P.S. Most of this letter was written before the start of the war, so some statements about it are in the prospective meaning."


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