Manlio Dinucci (Il Manifesto, 15 January 2021)
At 2:20 of 17 January 1991 (Gulf time), US helicopters enter Iraqi territory, destroying two radar stations with Hellfire missiles. Shortly thereafter, Tomahawk cruise missiles and F-117A Stealth fighters hit other nerve centers, blinding the air defenses of the capital. CNN broadcasts around the world images of the Baghdad sky illuminated by blind-firing anti-aircraft tracers, a "spectacle" that the reporter compares to the festive fireworks of the 4 July. Thus begins what the Pentagon describes as the most destructive military action ever carried out in such a short time with non-nuclear weapons, model of future wars.
Paradoxically, war breaks out when "peace breaks out" (according to the slogan of the time). After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union itself were about to dissolve. “The cold war is over, we have entered a new era that offers great hope ", announces President Bush, but "the Gulf crisis reminds us that there are still autonomous sources of turbulence in the world".
In reality, the "turbulence" is being triggered by Washington to take full advantage of the fact that, with the breakup of the Soviet bloc, the United States, as they officially state, they remain «the only state with a force, a scope and influence in every dimension - political, economic and military - truly global: there is no substitute for American leadership ".
After supporting Saddam Hussein's Iraq in Khomeini's war against Iran in the 1980s, the US pushed Kuwait, which helped Iraq fight Iran, to demand from Baghdad the immediate repayment of a loan of tens of billions of dollars and to exploit excessively, damaging Iraq, the oil field that extends under both territories. As the tension between the two countries grew, the 25 July 1990 US ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, assured Saddam Hussein that he "has direct instructions from the President to seek better relations with Iraq" and that "we have no opinion on your border dispute with Kuwait".
One week later, with a colossal political miscalculation, Iraq invades Kuwait, subsequently proposing to withdraw in exchange for certain concessions, including access to the Gulf denied it when Great Britain redesigned the map of the Middle East in the 1920s.
The trap has sprung. The United States - which has long been preparing for war, observing the deployment of Iraqi forces with military satellites and identifying the targets to be hit - formed an international coalition that sends a large army of 750 thousand men under the orders of US General Schwarzkopf.
In November 1990 the UN Security Council approved - with 12 votes in favor (including that of the USSR), 2 contrary (Cuba e Yemen) and China's abstention - the Resolution 678 which authorized the use of "all necessary means" against Iraq.
The Gulf War was the first war in which the Italian Republic participated under US command, violating the article 11 of the Constitution. NATO, while not participating officially as such, puts its forces and bases at its disposal.
Immediately after the war, NATO launched, along the lines of the new US strategy, the "new strategic concept of the Alliance", that Italy copied with the "new defense model". We thus pass from war to war, presenting them as "humanitarian operations for the export of democracy": Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2011, and others.
This is the war that, as stated by President Bush in 1991, would open «a better future – a new world community united by the growing consensus that force cannot be used "and that for this reason" the Gulf crisis will go down in history as the crucible of the new world order ". This is testified by the millions of deaths, invalids, orphans, refugees provoked by the Gulf War, to which are added one and a half million deaths, including half a million children, caused by the subsequent 12 years of embargo on Iraq and the long-term effects of depleted uranium shells, plus the many others caused by the new war of 2003. The trail of death, originated thirty years ago from the first post-Cold War war, continues to spread.
The war figures
In the war, called "Desert Storm", the US and allied aviation carried out in 43 days, with 2800 planes, beyond 110 thousand sorties, dropping 250 thousand bombs, including those in clusters that released beyond 10 millions of submunitions.
The air and ground forces used 700-800 tons of depleted uranium shells, including a million 30mm shots fired from airplanes and helicopters, and 14000 from 120 mm shots from tanks. Thousands of depleted uranium warheads were also used, by cruise missiles and rockets.
The US forces are flanked by the British (36000 men) and French (15600); Saudi Arabia ranks 67500 actual, Egypt 35600, Syria 20800, the Emirates 14000, Pakistan 10000 (more 2000 afghani mujahideen), Canada 2200, Bangladesh 2000, Italy 1300, Morocco 1200, Australia 600, Spain 500, Holland and Belgium 400 each, Greece 200; participates with military forces also Turkey, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, New Zeland, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Honduras, Senegal, Niger.
An unprecedented deployment, from the Second World War onwards, composed of forces from all continents.
Italy participated in the war with 12 Tornado fighter-bombers, which carried out 226 raids by dropping 566 bombs in missions decided and coordinated by the US command. The US base at Camp Darby supplied the air and land forces in the Gulf from Italy.
The United States, which provided 70% of 750 thousand men of the coalition, engaged in war the 75% of their tactical aircraft (1950 out of 2600); the 42% of their most modern tanks (2500 out of 6000); the 46% of their aircraft carriers (6 out of 13); the 37% of their terrestrial strengths (280000 out of 761000); the 46% percent of the marines (90000 out of 195300).
(Il Manifesto, 15 January 2021)