NEW YORK – It was 20 years ago this month that Saddam Hussein, then the unchallenged ruler of Iraq, invaded Kuwait. What ensued was the first great international crisis of the post-Cold War era, one that, in less than a year, led to the liberation of Kuwait, along with the restoration of its government. This was accomplished with only modest human and economic cost to the extraordinary multi-national coalition assembled by President George H.W. Bush.
Since then, the United States has used military force numerous times for a range of purposes. Today, the US is working to extricate itself from a second conflict involving Iraq, trying to figure out a way forward in Afghanistan, and contemplating the use of force against Iran. So the question naturally arises: what can we learn from the first Iraq war, one widely judged as a military and diplomatic success?