With the fog of war ended in the Persian Gulf, an interesting fact has become clear here at home: Most of what we were told by experts, pundits and media heavyweights was wrong.
Hours after Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, the Blame America First faction among communicators decided it was all our fault. They seized on Ambassador April Glaspie's remark to Saddam Hussein that Washington had no opinion on Arab-Arab quarrels.Indeed she said it. But that was hardly what pontificators called an "invitation" to Saddam. Certainly it didn't mean that Washington would welcome the invasion, rape and annexation of a peaceable state.
Quite quickly, the issue became the "feudal emir" of Kuwait, who was undeserving of U.S. protection. Taken to its logical end, this argument means that if a small member of the United Nations is less than a perfect Jeffersonian democracy, it's OK for a large neighbor to liquidate it.
Then, after the Security Council branded Iraq an aggressor, conventional wisdom said economic sanctions should be given a year to "bite." If that advice had been taken, Saddam, on TV, would now be showing Peter Arnett a starving Iraqi infant (imported from Yemen), and hearts everywhere would begin to relent.
In November, when President Bush ordered the doubling of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, nearly universal disapproval met his giving them "offensive capability." If they had stayed on the defensive, as demanded by Sen. Sam Nunn, Congress' Clausewitz, and many others, they'd be moldering in the Saudi desert, not sitting victoriously on the Euphrates River.
When fighting loomed, think tanks disgorged military experts who theorized that the U.S. military would suffer tens of thousands of casualties at the hands of the "elite" and "tough" Republican Guards.
And what did we have to throw against those supermen? An army, according to the media, that had fumbled the minuscule invasions of Grenada and Panama. Plus a Pentagon that could procure only $70 hammers and $600 toilet seats. (Those toilet seats appear to have wreaked surprising damage on Saddam's war machine.)
Very little was said about the Pentagon's inexpensive smart bombs that have revolutionized warfare and - unwittingly - saved the Soviet Union's economy: It will be busy building replacement tanks for Baghdad for many years.
Nor did we hear much about the all-volunteer armed forces, whose dedication and professionalism make them the best in our history.
Our allegedly "wimp" president, George Bush, didn't have to go through a series of inept generals, as Lincoln did before he found Grant. He got Schwarzkopf on the first try. Dumb luck, say Bush's detractors.
Those faces on TV with captions under them saying "Mideast Expert" warned that an attack on Iraq would cause the Arab world to explode in a wave of anti-Americanism and terrorism. Happily, the wave was a trickle.
Occasionally when pundits are proved wrong, they lapse into a decent silence. But not those who struck out in the Arab League. To a man (and woman) they are predicting: "Bush may have won the war, but he'll lose the peace."