Twenty years ago today, ground op erations in Operation Desert Storm came to a halt. American arms had won their most dazzling success in two generations, perhaps ever.
After five weeks of round-the-clock air strikes, forces under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf shattered Saddam Hussein's army, the biggest and most heavily armed in the Middle East, in just five days. The victorious 34-nation coalition lost only 392 killed, 294 of them Americans. Saddam had been driven from Kuwait; his regime teetered on collapse. A bright, new, world order seemed in the offing.
But two decades later we can see how many Americans, including our leaders, drew the wrong lessons from Desert Storm -- creating myths that haunt us to this day.
One myth is that Desert Storm was the "good war" in which America and the world drew together to defeat a tyrant, compared to the deep divisions over the more recent Iraq war.
In fact, resolutions authorizing military action in Kuwait faced fierce opposition from the likes of then-Speaker Dick Gephardt, future Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Chuck Schumer and then-Sen. Joe Biden, and passed the House and Senate by inches. The first President George Bush went ahead despite the nay-sayers and prophets of doom and the thousands of protesters chanting "no blood for oil" -- essentially the same folks who'd later brand his son a liar and war criminal.