After the ground war begins, the U.S.-led coalition will be tempted with many calls for negotiations, such as that just offered by Iran. Washington should ignore them.
Our first objective should be military victory. Bowing to pressure for peace negotiations would be both a political and military mistake.The United States has traveled that road before - in Korea. In late April 1951 the Chinese began a massive offensive against U.S. forces. It was a military disaster.
By the end of May the Communists were in retreat, having lost more than 200,000 troops.
U.N. troops then went on the offensive. But with pressure mounting for a negotiated end to the hostilities, the Truman administration decided to hit the brakes.
In June 1951 the Soviet ambassador to the U.N., Jacob Malik, made a surprising and convenient proposal for cease-fire talks, and a deal appeared to be in the works.
U.S. officials hoped their battlefield successes would result in a swift cease-fire. They were wrong.
Truce talks began in July - even as the conflict raged - and dragged on for another two years, during which time U.S. battle causalities approached 70,000 dead and wounded.
Hostilities continued until July 1953, when President Dwight Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons. That's when the Communists got serious about ending the hostilities.
We should not stumble into this trap again. The U.S. goal of liberating Kuwait has been stated repeatedly in the 12 resolutions passed by the U.N. since the Iraqi invasion.
However, the Pentagon's war strategy appears to be based on a broader objective: the need to "destroy the military capability that (Saddam Hussein) used to invade Kuwait and to threaten the other nations of the Middle East," as Defense Secretary Dick Cheney put it in a recent interview.
The only way to guarantee the success of Operation Desert Storm's primary political mission - restoring Kuwait's legitimate government - is by decisively defeating the Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Southern Iraq.
While Saddam gives no indications that he intends to back down, Iraq's military command may not be so foolish. Before U.S. and coalition troops begin their land campaign, therefore, we must communicate to the Iraqi high command the minimum conditions for ending the war.
What are those conditions? First, the ousting of Saddam, his Baath Party and members of his tight leadership clique. Allowing Saddam to remain in power would be a severe defeat for the coalition.
Second, Iraq's new leadership must renounce the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. They must also accept international inspections of facilities capable of producing such weapons and agree to the U.S.-supervised destruction of existing weapons of mass destruction.
It also should be understood that Iraq's military must be reduced significantly. The coalition should make clear that it respects the country's right to defend itself.
Postwar Iraq would need an army capable of deterring neighbors that pose a potential threat - Iran and Syria. This could be accomplished with a force of 200,000. The only purpose a larger military would serve is mischief.
Finally, Saddam and others responsible for the atrocities against Kuwaiti civilians and allied prisoners of war must be bound over for trial as war criminals.