In Memoriam: Norman Schwarzkopf

 

He was one of America’s most brilliant generals, and a leader who earned deserved fame for having masterfully marshaled coalition forces against Saddam Hussein in order to liberate Kuwait in the first Persian Gulf war. His only blunder was to have allowed the Iraqi army the use of air power once the war came to an end, which enabled Saddam to put down a Kurdish uprising that might have brought his regime to an end long before George W. Bush took on the responsibility of doing so.

After his service in the army came to an end, Schwarzkopf continued to lead a notable and useful life, endeavoring to be of service to the country in other ways, including helping raise awareness regarding prostate cancer and working to promote children’s charities. But it is his generalship for which he will be remembered, as he helped set the standard for how America should decide to go to war, and how she ought to fight once she has decided to engage. He helped advance American interests and values, and he made the world a better place both in and out of uniform. One cannot possibly ask for more than that.

Requiescat in pace.

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Members have made 25 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    He had more than one blunder.

    All who knew him personally have high praise for his character.

    I can’t help but think, though, that history will not be, and should not be as kind.

    He was hamstrung by a president who like his son was good at starting wars but had no idea how to win one. And by a chairman of the JCS who was intent at appearing to be a warrior and commander from Washington.

    But that doesn’t excuse failing to exploit his victory in the Gulf War and destroying the enemy army. Not only did he allow the enemy to escape to reconsolidate Saddam’s power, but on his own initiative he allowed Saddam to use helicopters to crush the Shia population that would have been grateful to us.

    It was his failure to win the gulf war that caused us to go back again later. Had he destroyed the Iraqi army then, we may have had a good ally in the region for ten years instead of being sneered at by the entire Muslim religion for being weak.

    In the end, he may have been a nice guy, but that wasn’t his job.

    • #1
    • December 28, 2012 at 2:52 am
  2. Profile photo of Richard T. Taylor Member

    While I agree that crushing Saddam at that time was the proper move, I think the blame for the caveats goes above his pay grade. In my version of this history, the blame goes to Colin Powell. I distinctly recall him claiming that destroying an enemy after defeating it was unsoldierly. Hence another incompletely won war that messed over this country.

    The seeds for the present nations of Japan and Germany were sown at Hiroshima and Dresden. It may not be nice, but war seldom is.

    • #2
    • December 28, 2012 at 6:54 am
  3. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    Rest in Peace, Stormin’ Norman, well done.

    I will agree with the criticisms leveled against Colin Powell – his “Pottery Barn Rule” (a term coined by Thomas Freidman to describe Powell’s ‘You break it – you buy it’ theory of war) is just about as brainless as it comes.

    But, in studies that I have seen as well as seminars / classes offered as Professional Military Education in my career in the USAF – this thought is incorrect

    Skyler: But that doesn’t excuse failing to exploit his victory in the Gulf War and destroying the enemy army.

    We did destroy the Iraqi Army in 1991 – Not only were they incapable of continued fighting, they were surrendering to UAV’s. That army ceased to exist on the Highway of Death.

    The courses I took emphasized that the goal with regard to the Iraqi army was to render it incapable as a fighting force for a period of 10 years (1991 – 2001). Given that Iraqi Freedom (2003) resulted in the destruction of the Iraqi government in three weeks – I would have to say that the military objective was accomplished.

    • #3
    • December 28, 2012 at 8:25 am
  4. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    Instugator, your classes seem to have ignored that we defeated the conscripts and allowed the well trained republican guard to escape.

    • #4
    • December 28, 2012 at 8:43 am
  5. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: Instugator, your classes seem to have ignored that we defeated the conscripts and allowed the ‘well trained’ republican guard to escape.

    – edited by Instugator

    You really should use scare quotes. Because they weren’t well trained, as I pointed out – that Army was destroyed in 1991. 

    I am now watching the youtube briefing.

    • #5
    • December 28, 2012 at 9:36 am
  6. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    They were not well trained by our standards. They were well trained to subjugate the Iraqi people.

    • #6
    • December 28, 2012 at 9:49 am
  7. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    I don’t have time to watch the general’s briefing, but that was so heavily laden with mutual back slapping and politics that its usefulness is more for showing how the generals deluded us than for anything else. For example, I recall he went on about how important the harrier aircraft was in the war. Yet in truth, the harrier was so easily knocked out if the sky that it was not allowed to fly anywhere that had any type of enemy nearby. The army loved to talk about how wonderful the apache was, but fail to explain that when used en masse per doctrine that they were massacred. The blindness to their vulnerability persists.

    • #7
    • December 28, 2012 at 10:01 am
  8. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: They were not well trained by our standards. They were well trained to subjugate the Iraqi people. · 8 hours ago

    Sure – but like he says at the start of the briefing we could have removed the government easily if that were the mandate. (it wasn’t)

    • #8
    • December 29, 2012 at 6:26 am
  9. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: but that was so heavily laden with mutual back slapping and politics that its usefulness is more for showing how the generals deluded us than for anything else.

    How the Generals deluded us – conspiracy theory anyone?

    Dude – the guy just won against the largest single army in the middle east – the most heavily defended airspace outside of Moscow – attacking prepared defenses with a force ratio of 2-3 against (offensive attackers look for force ratios of 3-1 or better against prepared defenses) 

    Yeah, a little back slapping is ok as well as congratulating dudes who took heavy casualties.

    I do love the 20-year-quarterbacking though – please continue.

    • #9
    • December 29, 2012 at 6:41 am
  10. Profile photo of Cornelius Julius Sebastian Thatcher

    I had the honor to meet him briefly after a speech he gave about 8 years ago. Much could have been different, but he deserves much of the credit for burying the ghost of Vietnam in the decisive victory in Desert Storm. He was a good general, a good commander. Hope he is sipping bourbon with Grant and Ike right now.

    • #10
    • December 29, 2012 at 8:04 am
  11. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    He didn’t win. It was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts. The enemy lived to fight another war ten years later. Instead of removing an enemy, he was left in power to be a thorn in our side.

    Rather than remove the reputation of Vietnam, it cemented in the minds of our future adversaries that we do not have the will to fight. We continue that mind set. We know how to start wars but we don’t know how to win them.

    The general was a good man, but he perpetuated our reputation for not having the stomach to fight to win, and only succeeding when technology makes it easy.

    • #11
    • December 29, 2012 at 8:36 am
  12. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    Just to be clear, Nathan Bedford Forest was not on our side. And his side lost.

    • #12
    • December 29, 2012 at 9:54 am
  13. Profile photo of Carsten Stroud Inactive

    Perhaps we need more generals like Blackjack Pershing and George Patton and Nathan Bedford Forrest. As Mrs. Mary Chesnut said, as she watched the siege of Vicksburg, “Woe to those who began this war, if they were not in deadly earnest”. The idea of a war is not to defeat your enemies, but to obliterate them so decisively that their grandchildren will cry when your names are spoken around the fire. That’s what Victory is. Everything else is just a prelude to the next war. That’s the way it is. Ipse dixit.

    • #13
    • December 29, 2012 at 10:40 am
  14. Profile photo of Pejman Yousefzadeh Inactive
    Pejman Yousefzadeh Post author

    The objectives of the UN resolution–and the congressional one authorizing the use of force–were met with Saddam’s ouster from Kuwait. Marching on Baghdad would have entailed the same occupation problems that beset the United States in the aftermath of removing Saddam from power (and I write this as one who supported Gulf War II), and would have lost us the very same allies who were fighting alongside us. Additionally, Schwarzkopf was ordered to stand down–and it was the right decision.

    • #14
    • December 30, 2012 at 4:38 am
  15. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    It was the wrong decision and some might have had their noses out if joint but victory brings more friends. Ousting from Kuwait includes the implied task if making sure the stay safe from invasion.

    Schwarzkopf wasn’t merely ordered to do it, he agreed with it.

    He allowed Powell to run around sucking up glory and he was a willing participant in the ongoing general staff mentality of ignoring the laws if war when they pose a disadvantage to the enemy and perpetuating the mindset that we must not hurt anyone with our friendly military. He should have been much more assertive towards Powell and towards he enemy. Instead he was another politically correct army general.

    • #15
    • December 30, 2012 at 6:18 am
  16. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    iPhone continues to change my “of” to “if” and I don’t catch it. Sorry.

    • #16
    • December 30, 2012 at 6:21 am
  17. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: The laws of war make it very clear that if attacks are made from civilian homes or mosques, then they are no longer protected and may be destroyed. We ignore this law of war.

    The operative word is ‘may’ – that also means it is not required. Logic 101, Skyler.

    Far from being ‘ignored’ those places were given a much harder look than they deserved – but when the enemy counts among his allies CNN, the Associated (with terrorist) Press, and the BBC, the small gain in destroying them is far outweighed in the overall context of whichever war you are discussing…

    Besides, I do not recall where we were attacked from Mosques or other protected places in GW1 – So I don’t see where your criticism of Stormin’ Norman has merit. But then I never did.

    • #17
    • December 30, 2012 at 7:05 am
  18. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: 

    And Schwarzkopf declared a victory in the Gulf War when he had nothing of the sort. Yes, he killed a lot of people, and he got a lot to surrender, and he precipitated a withdrawal from Kuwait, but that was not a victory when Saddam was still able to take his Republican Guard and start massacring the people that supported us and needed our support. He turned a massive tactical advantage into a nullity.

    Each of the goals he was given was accomplished at the end of GW1. That equals victory for the factually challenged.

    So, whatever Skyler – let me know how the Powerball thing works out, given your ‘demonstrated’ feats of prognostication. I imagine we will hear something in 2 decades, no?

    • #18
    • December 30, 2012 at 7:15 am
  19. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    He allowed the enemy to escape. That was inexcusable. He was complicit in allowing Saddam to remain regionally powerful. It was a huge mistake and poo-pooing that mistake by saying it wasn’t his objective is just making excuses. There was no reason to adopt such limitations to our actions. The fear of losing the coalition was just that — fear. Coalitions require leadership, and you gain more allies from success than from weakness. And saying that he was ordered to commit this misfeasance overlooks the fact that he agreed with it.

    You can keep insulting me all you want, but that doesn’t much improve your argument.

    • #19
    • December 30, 2012 at 7:46 am
  20. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Pejman Yousefzadeh: The objectives of the UN resolution–and the congressional one authorizing the use of force–were met with Saddam’s ouster from Kuwait. Marching on Baghdad would have entailed the same occupation problems that beset the United States in the aftermath of removing Saddam from power (and I write this as one who supported Gulf War II), and would have lost us the very same allies who were fighting alongside us. Additionally, Schwarzkopf was ordered to stand down–and it was the right decision. · 4 hours ago

    Yeah Pej – Skyler knows all that and doesn’t care – I just enjoy the double decade quarterbacking.

    No matter, some folk are incapable of saying ‘good enough’.

    • #20
    • December 30, 2012 at 8:53 am
  21. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher
    Skyler: … he was a willing participant in the ongoing general staff mentality of ignoring the laws of war when they pose a disadvantage to the enemy…

    Truly, you must acquaint me with these laws of war that were conveniently ignored. Even though I was there I am unacquainted with this ribald tale.

    • #21
    • December 30, 2012 at 8:55 am
  22. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    The laws of war make it very clear that if attacks are made from civilian homes or mosques, then they are no longer protected and may be destroyed. We ignore this law of war.

    The laws of war and international treaty make it clear that if a sovereign nation, such as Pakistan, demonstrates that they have no control of their borders and what happens within them such that attacks are made from those borders, then the nation such as Pakistan has no right to claim that their sovereignty is being violated when we act to stop the attacks ourselves.

    The laws of war make it clear that we are under no obligation to set up governments that tell us how to fight the war in that country, yet we have twice set up Islamic Republics in Afghanistan and Iraq that ignore the human rights enshrined in our form of government and have allowed them to persecute religions, minorities, and women while at the same time dictating to us how we will fight the war that allows these oppressive governments to exist.

    You claim to know what you’re talking about, Instugator, but you don’t.

    • #22
    • December 30, 2012 at 9:39 am
  23. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    And General Schwarzkopf was just as willing to play that game as most of the generals that have come along since. We have since seen Generals in Iraq who have expressed wonderment in 2005 that there were still battles going on which they apparently couldn’t see from their comfy green zones. We have had Generals refuse to accept more troops in Iraq when they were available because they . . . well, I never did understand their logic, but it sure made it convenient for the politicians to say we didn’t need more troops.

    And Schwarzkopf declared a victory in the Gulf War when he had nothing of the sort. Yes, he killed a lot of people, and he got a lot to surrender, and he precipitated a withdrawal from Kuwait, but that was not a victory when Saddam was still able to take his Republican Guard and start massacring the people that supported us and needed our support. He turned a massive tactical advantage into a nullity.

    The standard for whether he was a good general is not how good we felt when the battle ended, but how good our national security ended up. And he left it worse.

    • #23
    • December 30, 2012 at 9:49 am
  24. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    I apologize for insulting you Skyler.

    Your analysis of GW1 is not based on the conditions as they obtained at the time – Nonetheless, you have your meme and you are determined to push it without regard to opposing views – therefore I leave it to you to say whatever you want on Stormin Norman’s memorial.

    I’ve said my peace.

    • #24
    • December 31, 2012 at 7:42 am
  25. Profile photo of Skyler Member

    I thought I was clear in pointing out that it wasn’t the insight of the day that matters, but the result that obtained.

    • #25
    • December 31, 2012 at 8:01 am