Friday, March 7, 2014

First Gulf War

I read this for the 2014 War Challenge with a Twist at the reading challenge blog War Through the Generations

Hollow Victory: A Contrary View of the Gulf War - Jeffrey Record, 1993

This book about the war against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was written to counter the self-congratulatory euphoria after the brief fighting and one-sided victory. Although Record is a “inside the Beltway” military expert, having served as a Congressional aide, he is also a professor and journalist and thus more open to facts and resistant to partisan opinions. His thesis is straight-forward:

The Gulf War was a magnificent military victory barren of any significant diplomatic gains. It was fought to repel Saddam Hussein's challenge to the old order in the Persian Gulf, not to create a new one. Accordingly, future historians may regard the war as a complete failure.

This book is comprehensive, because the author has read all the contemporary reportage in the Washington Post and New York time.  A scholar, he has read the relevant political, military, and strategic books too.

He seems to feel the war ended too quickly and it was a mistake to leave Saddam in power, but he also grants the constraint on the Coalition since the U.N. mandate did not include the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Note that this book was written in 1993. It makes brief nods toward Islamic fundamentalism and sectarianism. He was more concerned about Saddam’s capacity to build weapons of mass destruction.

The tone is temperate and skeptical. The writing style jams many appositive phrases and adjective clauses so the alert reader must go slow, keeping on eye on subjects and predicates. The book is not long, but contains much food for thought, especially in light of the fallout of Bushcheney's war of choice.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts on this book. Sadly, I know so little about the Gulf Wars, but I like the idea that this one is comprehensive, though the writing style may not be my taste.

    Thanks for participating in the challenge! We hope you'll add this review to the Gulf War linky here:

  2. I do feel that the atmosphere immediately after the first war was congratulatory. And the second war really comes to mind when thinking about how the first ended so quickly. I still wonder whether either should have occurred in the first place.