Worthy of Respect and Honor

Norman Schwarzkopf

Joel B. Pollak:

Stormin’ Norman, Warrior, at Peace

Not since General Douglas MacArthur had Americans celebrated a general as we did “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf, who cut a figure of strength on the world stage as he decimated Saddam Hussein’s military–which was then thought to be the world’s fourth most powerful–and restored our confidence in our armed forces.

In the Gulf War of 1991, Gen. Schwarzkopf not only liberated a small nation, Kuwait, from an aggressive invader, but also liberated the U.S. from the timidity and apprehension that had hovered over our military since the end of the Vietnam War. What President Ronald Reagan made possible with his investment in military technology and hardware in the 1980s, Gen. Schwarzkopf brought to fruition in Iraq, shocking even our European allies with the degree to which our military had leapt generations ahead of friend and foe alike.

It is almost difficult to imagine today, but Schwarzkopf led a broad coalition of armies that included every significant Arab military power, with the exception of Jordan. The coalition’s crushing victory set the stage for American military, economic, and cultural dominance in the post-Cold War era, enabling President George H. W. Bush to embark on building both the “kinder, gentler” nation and the “new world order” he had promised.

Judging by the reaction of some of the Vile Progs last night they must be too young to remember the liberation of Kuwait because they seem to have confused it with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. General Schwarzkopf led the former effort but retired nearly a dozen years before the latter.

Rarely in history do we find moral clarity in a war. Saddam Hussein was a truly evil man. While it is true that the United States bears some responsibility for enabling his crimes that does not relieve him of his own culpability.

In 1991 the United States had not fought a conventional war since the Korean Conflict but we had spent most of that 40 years preparing for war against the Soviet Union. Part of the legacy of that Cold War was that Iraq was armed with Soviet tanks and missiles and its army was trained in Soviet-style military tactics. Those tactics included the heavy use of armored units.

Another legacy of the conflict between the US and USSR was our involvement in Iran. This led to the Iranian Revolution, the overthrowing of the Shah and the rise of radical Islam. As a reaction to those events we encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, which he did. The Iran-Iraq War lasted eight years and claimed a million lives, most of them Iranian.

When it was over Iraq had the 4th largest army in the world, most of them veterans of the conflict. Iraq also had weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gases and weaponized Anthrax. We know this for a fact because we gave them to him. He was also determined to develop nuclear weapons. He could afford to do all this because Iraq is a major oil producer.

Iraq’s oil fields lie near its borders with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Basically it’s one huge oil field that is divided between three countries by man-made borders. Only one of those countries had a large army. Whoever controls those fields controls a big chunk of world oil production.

By 1991 Saddam’s usefulness to us had come to an end. When he launched the invasion of Kuwait he became an active threat to our strategic interests. World consensus was that Kuwait should be liberated, peacefully if possible, by force if necessary.

The decision to make war is a political one. The military trains for war, plans for war, prepares for war, and fights wars. But politicians start wars. When it comes to moral clarity the decision to liberate Kuwait was about as easy as it gets. But it wasn’t just a moral issue.

The United States was traumatized by the outcome of the War in Vietnam. Many people wondered if we still possessed the will to fight a war, especially if casualties on our side were heavy. Iraq was trained and equipped with Soviet weapons and they had a large, combat-experienced army frequently compared to Nazi Germany’s at the beginning of World War II.

There were legitimate concerns that a military intervention in Kuwait would result in a prolonged, bloody conflict. Saddam openly promised to follow a strategy of inflicting maximum casualties in order to destroy our will to fight. Lots of arm-chair experts believed that strategy would be effective. He also threatened to launch SCUD missiles containing nerve gas at Israel.

During Congressional debate on the Gulf War resolution, Senator Ted Kennedy said,

“When the bullets start flying, 90 percent of the casualties will be American. It is hardly a surprise that so many other nations are willing to fight to the last American to achieve the goals of the United Nations. It is not their sons and daughters who will do the dying.

“The administration refuses to release casualty estimates. But the 45,000 body bags the Pentagon has sent to the region are all the evidence we need of the high price in lives and blood we will have to pay.”

Enter General Schwarzkopf. It is no coincidence that he was assigned to lead the military attack on Iraq’s forces:

In 1988, he was promoted to General and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command. The U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida, was responsible at the time for operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.[8] In his capacity as commander, Schwarzkopf prepared a detailed plan for the defense of the oil fields of the Persian Gulf against a hypothetical invasion by Iraq, among other plans.

The Iraq plan served as the basis of the wargame of 1990. Within the same month, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Schwarzkopf’s plan had an immediate practical application, which was as the basis for Operation Desert Shield, the defense of Saudi Arabia.


A few months later, General Schwarzkopf’s offensive operational plan, called Operation Desert Storm (co-authored with his deputy commander, Lieutenant General Cal Waller and others on his staff), was the “left hook” strategy that went into Iraq behind the Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait and was widely credited with bringing the ground war to a close in just four days.

I remember when the Gulf War started. There was a lot of uncertainty and fear as our deadline to withdraw passed and Iraq continued to defy peaceful resolution. Then the air war started.

CNN made its reputation reporting live from Baghdad as their “SCUD Studs” sat on a hotel rooftop shooting video of explosions and anti-aircraft fire. A buddy called me up and invited me over to drink beer and watch the war.

Thirty days of air war followed by four days of ground fighting and Iraq was defeated and on the run. Even better, US casualties were relatively light. That was when President GHW Bush made the decision (correct in my view) to halt the war and accept Iraq’s surrender with Saddam still in power.

It was a stunning victory and much of the credit goes to General Schwarzkopf. Then the politicians took control of events again, and General Schwarzkopf began to fade away like old soldiers do.

I opposed the Second Gulf War, but General Schwarzkopf was not involved in that conflict. Initially he supported that war but ultimately he was critical of it. All that is irrelevant.

His leadership during the First Gulf War is a thing worthy of respect and honor. General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was a real American hero. May he rest in peace.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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47 Responses to Worthy of Respect and Honor

  1. thanks for writing this myiq and bringing back those memories. The U.S. was a different place back then. This was that Schwartzkopf led was as you have said a time when Americans pretty much got together.

    Those vile progs are really a bunch of brats, and that is putting it kindly!!

  2. How well I remember. We were not so divided as a nation then. Though I notice in your article that the ted was busy trying to divide us even then,

    • myiq2xu (D) says:

      I kinda have a problem with the idea that we should only do the right thing if it don’t cost very much. Some wars aren’t worth one life. Some are worth whatever price we have to pay.

  3. myiq2xu (D) says:

    General Schwarzkopf’s address to the cadets at West Point:

    To be a 21st-century leader, you must have two things: competence and character.

    I’ve met a lot of leaders that were very, very, very competent. But they didn’t have character. For every job they did well in the Army, they sought reward in the form of promotions, in the form of awards and decorations, in the form of getting ahead at the expense of somebody else, in the form of another piece of paper that awarded them another degree. The only reason why they wanted that was because it was a sure road to faster promotion, to somehow get to the top. You see, these were very competent people, but they lacked character…

    I’ve seen competent leaders who stood in front of a platoon and saw it as a platoon. But I’ve seen great leaders who stood in front of a platoon and saw it as 44 individuals, each of whom had his hopes, each of whom had his aspirations, each of whom wanted to live, each of whom wanted to do good. So, you must have character. Some great man once said that character is seen only when nobody is watching. It’s not what people do when they are being watched that demonstrates character, it’s what they do when they are not being watched that demonstrates true character. And that’s sort of what it’s all about. To lead in the 21st Century, to take soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsmen into battle, you will be required to have both competence and character. You say, “How do I do that?. How do I do that?” The answer is very simple–and I guess this is what I really want to tell you most of all. You are being taught every day at this great institution how to do that. I have a classmate–one of the most ethical and moral people I’ve ever met. I was discussing with him one day what gave him his great character. He said, “Norm, that’s easy. When I went to West Point, I was one of those guys that really believed what they told us up there. And I still do.”

    Out there among you are cynics. They are the people who scoff at what you are learning here. They are the people who scoff at hard work. But they don’t know what they are talking about, let me tell you. I can assure you that when the going gets tough and your country needs them, they are not going to be there. They WILL NOT be there. But you will.

    Competence with character. That’s what you must have. That’s what you are going to carry with you from West Point. Those of you who really believe what you are learning here. To hell with the cynics. Believe it! Believe it! Believe it! You must believe it if you are going to be a leader of the 21st-century military. You must believe it!

        • myiq2xu (D) says:

          Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation’s war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.

          Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

          You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

          This does not mean that you are war mongers.

          On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

          But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

          The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.

          But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.

          Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

        • Where now? Where are the leaders for today and tomorrow? Where those who can so poignantly command language and stir the heart of a nation?

        • Nah- that is part of the problem. IMO at least- that empty suit does not give a stirring speech, does not move me at all- never has.
          The dumbing down of our educational system has destroyed the vocabulary. Once, not so long ago, all students were exposed to the great writing of the ages. Now- we teach to the lowest common denominator.
          What was that little trivia? He speaks at an 8th grade comprehension level? Why is that? Because that is the mental and emotional level of his speech writers AND his followers.
          What grade level are the above two excerpts? Both moved me in a way not one of backtracks bs lectures ever have.

          • myiq2xu (D) says:

            I don’t care what vocabulary Obama uses, his words will always be empty and meaningless because he is empty and meaningless.

            Someone like MacArthur or Schwarzkopf or Patton doesn’t need to be a fancy wordsmith to give a great speech.

        • elliesmom says:

          I ran the speech through the standard analyzing tools used to evaluate writing. This comes in at a 8th grade reading level on all three of them. That’s a good place for a speech for college graduates to be. Unlike something written where you can go back and read something again if the sentence structure is complicated and the vocabulary difficult, your audience has to understand your words the first and maybe only time they hear them. Obama should probably be giving speeches written at a 5th grade level for his audience. Or maybe 3rd.

  4. Underwhelmed says:

    God save me from the ignorance!!!! The US got involved in the first Gulf War because Kuwait reached out and begged for help from the US and other countries. It was a truly multinational task force – that also included Muslim countries – united in the effort to stop that evil bastard Hussein in his tracks. That’s why the first Bush did not authorise the push into Baghdad. There were very clear rules laid down for that conflict. Save Kuwait ( and the other countries in the region under threat from him). Contain Hussein. But countries like SA and Jordan, whose help was essential, could and would not support the US removing a leader in the area. That was the trade off.

    Makes you wonder where we’d be today if Bush had renegotiated that condition, or ignored it.

    But this is where the dishonest scum of the left must be challenged. They will rewrite history every chance they get.

    God bless Stormin’ Norman. He was old school. How sad he must have been in his last days, seeing how things stand now.

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Very nice tribute myiq, perhaps he’s our last great military leader and that will be missed most of all.

    Powell and Petraeus have been tainted by the Obama administration, there are no more heroes, just drooling lapdogs 😦

  6. votermom says:

    Vile progs are mindless little attack chihuahuas trained to bark at anything labelled “not – prog”.

  7. swanspirit says:

    Some people have such a life force , that their greatness cannot be denied .I admired him so much . He seemed to me to have a great heart .

  8. HELENK says:


    we could use a little competence and character in today’s leadership, but it is sadly lacking.

    no one is paying attention to the coming longshoreman’s strike. It will cause a lot of harm to the economy of this country. due to start tomorrow

  9. DeniseVB says:

    For HelenK 😉


    The comments in the article are certainly supportive of the conductor.

    • HELENK says:

      Amtrack is NOT racist.
      It is common practice to try and seat people in the same party together when possible. Why would people want to ride separately when traveling together?
      Sometimes passengers are asked to move to another seat so that people can sit together. Race has nothing to do with it.

      • HELENK says:

        There are times when a large party has made reservations and 1/2 of a car is closed to accommodate the party or even a whole car depending on the number of people

      • DeniseVB says:

        I totally agree, I’ve never had a bad experience in the 20 years I’ve travelled by train.

  10. HELENK says:


    SNAFU for this whitehouse. They could not even get the statement on the death of General Schwarzkopf right

  11. HELENK says:

    Mediator says additional extension for larger negotiations in port labor dispute will last until end of Jan. 28, 2013 – @Reuters

    • HELENK says:

      US dock workers labor dispute

      Mediator: Maritime Alliance, Longshoreman’s Association agree on container royalty issue, further negotiations on larger deal – @Reuters

  12. tommy says:

    This is how I choose to remember Stormin’ Norman. ‘General Norman Schwarzkof was a big and very strong man, physically, mentally and morally. But he would have been more, or perhaps less than human if the sheer strain of those last few days had not begun to tell on him. He had been working upto 20 hours a day for six months without a break. He had not only overseen the biggest and the fastest military build-up in history, a task that alone could have broken a lesser man, but he coped with the complexities of relationships with the sensitivities of Saudi society, kept the peace when a dozen times, internecine feuding could have wrecked the Coalition, and warded off endless well-meant but useless and exhausting interventions from Capitol Hill. And yet it was not all this that disturbed his much-needed sleep in those last few days. It was the sheer responsibiliy of being in charge of all the young lives that brought the night

  13. HELENK says:


    backtrack executive order
    pay raises for biden, members of congress and federal workers

    seems to me this should be shouted from the rooftops.
    while the worker in private industry is going to get screwed without a kiss the government get candy and flowers

  14. Propertius says:

    I was living in Tokyo during the Desert Storm – I didn’t see Schwarzkopf’s briefings. I heard them on Armed Forces Radio. I had no idea what the guy looked like until a year later. I can tell you that people in Japan were genuinely stunned by the speed of the victory.

    The day it started, my (American-educated Japanese) boss walked up to me shaking his head, saying, “That Saddam is a pretty stupid guy – he made the same dumb mistake we did.”

  15. foxyladi14 says:

    Live and learn 🙂

  16. HELENK says:

    Fiscal cliff’ meeting at the White House started at 3:10 pm ET and ended at 4:15 pm ET, according to the White House – @NBCNews

    whole lot of time spent on the fiscal cliff issue NOT

    guess he just called them in to tell them he gave them a raise in salary

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