The U.S. general who masterminded the air war says he worries that the allies' crushing victory over Iraq is glorifying war to Americans.
"Because we made it look easy, people think it was easy - but it wasn't," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles A. Horner, head of Central Command Air Forces. "This was a violently fought war, and we seized everything we got," he said.In an interview Thursday at his headquarters in Riyadh, the 54-year-old general from Davenport, Iowa, bristled at media reports that the Iraqis didn't fight and the war was "just a cakewalk."
Americans can't be allowed to forget that pilots faced intense anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles, and soldiers were confronted by Iraqi tanks and artillery barrages, he said.
In the euphoria of victorious troops returning home, Horner said, he is concerned that Americans are going to forget the terror and tragedy of war.
"I worry that people will think war is attractive, that technology is what war is all about, my electrons vs. your electrons, or my guided bomber against your bunker," he said.
To combat the wave of instant glorification, he said, the American public should be reminded of the devastation in occupied Kuwait that led to the allied intervention, and the suffering of many Iraqis now fleeing their country to escape President Saddam Hussein's regime.
Horner said Saddam miscalculated the allies' will and strength to retaliate for his invasion of Kuwait. He said the Iraqi leader's decision to take on the Americans in the ground war "defies logic."