There are simple ways to check. In the General Assembly, the US regularly votes against resolutions in virtual isolation — hence in effect vetoing them — on a wide range of issues. The pattern extends to the World Court, international conventions on human rights, and much else.
Furthermore the US freely disregards violation of UN resolutions that it has formally endorsed, and often contributes materially to such violation. The case of Israel is notorious for example, the Security Council resolution calling on Israel to withdraw immediately from Lebanon. It is easy to extend the record.
Like other great powers, the US is committed to the rule of force, not law, in international affairs. There are many differences. In both cases, a closer look reveals a more complex story. The concern, in brief, was that Iraq would act much as the US had done a few months earlier when it invaded Panama vetoing two Security Council resolutions condemning its actions. What followed also does not quite conform to standard versions.
Official stories rarely yield an accurate picture of what is happening. Nonetheless, the differences between and today are substantial. The decisions can be changed; the institutions can be modified or replaced.
It is natural that those who benefit from the organization of state and private power will portray it as inevitable, so that the victims will feel helpless to act. There is no reason to believe that. Particularly in the rich countries that dominate world affairs, citizens can easily act to create alternatives even within existing formal arrangements, and these are not graven in stone, any more than in the past.
The rebelling forces in March were an alternative, but the US preferred Saddam.
He stressed the final deadline of 15 January for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and reiterated the history of US attempts to resolve the crisis peacefully. The text emphasised yet again that war would be the choice of Saddam and the US and the 28 other members of the coalition had no quarrel with the Iraqi people.
Arab Storm: Politics and Diplomacy Behind the Gulf War
In addressing his own people and the wider world, President Bush broadened the stakes, arguing that the coalition would be fighting for more than just one country. During the crisis and war, the Iraqis tried a range of tactics to undermine the coalition position. Iraqi broadcasters championed the Palestinian cause, paraded prisoners of war, and attempted to demoralise the American forces by alleging that their wives might be at home having sex with Hollywood stars.
Iraq continued to make extensive use of disinformation. Fortunately, the US government still had its Cold War counter-disinformation apparatus. He had no shortage of stories to rebut. Following the outbreak of the air war, Baghdad focused on exaggerated Iraqi successes in shooting down coalition planes, false claims that Israel was secretly participating in the air campaign, and colourful reports of mutinies and clashes between US and British troops and Muslim members of the coalition.
On 16 January, the Pakistani newspaper Markaz claimed that Pakistani troops had opened fire on Americans and killed They were, however, repeated on Cuban and Soviet channels and even found their way onto the Arabic service of Radio Monte Carlo. From the beginning of the air war on 16 January, the Iraqi regime alleged that coalition bombs had hit civilian facilities and invited CNN along to see. The civilian target theme struck a chord around the world. The darkest moment came on 13 February with the bombing of a bunker in the Amirya district of Baghdad, which the US insisted had a military function, but produced horrific images of civilian casualties.
Unfortunately, these understanding newspapers also acknowledged that the masses would be driven away from the US camp by the images. In the hours following broadcast of the Amirya pictures, protestors attacked the US embassy in Bonn. As early as 17 January, the coalition set up its counter argument.
If the target was not clearly identified, the bombs came home. Sometimes the US could act in time to defuse a story. When the Iraqis claimed that US planes had bombed the mosque in the city of Karbala, the Inter-Agency Working Group prevailed on the Pentagon to investigate, collect, declassify and publish aerial photographs. Reconnaissance pictures and on-board video footage of strikes, which looked disturbingly like video game play, became a staple of CENTCOM daily briefings in Riyadh. While the network acknowledged Iraqi censorship, he appeared to believe that his interviews conducted in the Iraqi street were an accurate expression of free opinion.
We are human beings. VOA presented its own problems to the Working Group. Rugh felt that the VOA stringer in Baghdad, who worked part-time for the Iraqi government, was even more troublesome than Arnett. The Voice stopped using this stringer when the air war began on 16 January.
Rugh regularly took examples of flawed editorials to the VOA director Carlson and his deputy Coonrod, but he was swiftly made aware that the Voice and its champions on Capitol Hill would defend its right to editorial independence. Helman and Rugh travelled to London to speak and compare notes with the head of the Arabic Service. Saddam continued to hope that US resolve would crumble after a single major engagement. On 28 and 29 January, he launched a series of armored thrusts across the frontier into Saudi Arabia.
Television reporting focused on the fighting in the border town of Al-Khafji, recaptured by Saudi and Qatari forces on 31 January. The ambassador was recognised as something of a star performer for his government and later became the Minister of Information. Around the same time the US scored a particular coup. The story was calculated to sow resentment against the leader among the ordinary people of Iraq. As images of thousands of oil-drenched dying sea birds played on televisions around the world from 25 to 27 January, Saddam was demonized by the criteria of the s as an eco-criminal.
At 4 am local time on the morning of 24 February, following yet another round of initiatives to affect a diplomatic solution, the coalition launched its ground war to liberate Kuwait. Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met. Kuwait is once more in the hands of Kuwaitis, in control of their own destiny. Following days revealed the scale of slaughter dealt against Iraqi convoys retreating along the Basra Road. Its closing images were a stark reminder of the brutality of war. Between 24 and 26 January the agency sponsored a telephone survey in Western Europe, which intriguingly included a question about whether force should be used not only to fulfil the UN mandate and liberate Kuwait but also to exceed it and remove Saddam.
Out of those polled, 90 percent of French, 83 percent of Britons and 69 percent of Spanish endorsed fighting on to overthrow the Iraqi dictator.
Bud Hensgen, chief of the media reaction staff, noted that unlike their European counterparts, Arab editorial writers had not commented on this possibility. On 21 February, on the eve of the land war, the division of world opinion three ways between action, further negotiation along lines recommended by Gorbachev, and indifference, suggested a dwindling international consensus over the war.
Many supporters of the Gorbachev plan raised concerns about the United States exceeding its UN mandate and extending its power.
It seemed increasingly unlikely that President Bush could risk continuing beyond the liberation of Kuwait. The conclusion of Desert Storm fell short of White House expectations. Despite careful use of words in public, some in the Bush administration clearly had hoped that defeat in Kuwait would light the fuse on anti-Saddam rebellions within Iraq.
But there's another way for the bloodshed to stop. And that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands—to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside, and to comply with the United Nations resolutions and then rejoin the family of peace-loving nations.
Arab Storm: Politics and Diplomacy Behind the Gulf War - Ebooks
Voice of Free Iraq, a covert American-backed operation, was yet more encouraging of rebellion. On 3 March, Iraq responded. A returning Shiite tank commander in Basra fired a shell into a massive portrait of Saddam and triggered a Shiite rebellion across the South.
In following days, Kurds in the north also rose. Both groups called for US aid, but none came. Reporters in northern Iraq, now free from restriction, delivered heart-rending images of Kurdish suffering to the world. Saddam remained in power while in Saudi Arabia extremists rallied against the presence of American forces in their country.
In the aftermath of the war, VOA considered the results of the two major studies of its performance during the crisis. The breadth of criticism from multiple perspectives suggests that for the most part VOA covered the Gulf War story correctly. Looking back on Desert Shield and Desert Storm, President Bush paid tribute to the role of public diplomacy in sustaining the coalition. The president told assembled USIA staff:.
We were up against an enormous propaganda machine from various quarters overseas. And I think that you all distinguished yourselves with great honor and great credit to the United States of America. So, thank you from this grateful heart. This did not prove to be the case.
In , the agency lost its ability to rebut disinformation as its sole resident expert in the field Todd Leventhal was bumped back to a post at Voice of America.