A Statement on the Persian Gulf Crisis
On September 11, just after returning to Washington from his one-day summit meeting in Helsinki with Mikhail Gorbachev, George Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. While most of his speech was devoted to the crisis in the Persian Gulf, Bush said nothing that he had not already said many times before in the weeks since Iraq under Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait and he had then responded by sending American forces to Saudi Arabia. Yet the President’s rhetoric on this occasion was generally interpreted as a subtle effort to prepare American public opinion for the actual use of those forces in combat—for, as one commentator put it, bloodshed in the Persian Gulf.
I must confess that, watching him deliver the speech on television, I had not interpreted it that way. Perhaps the subtle effort he was supposedly making was a little too subtle. Or it may be that I was overly influenced by all the other signals which had by then been pouring forth in a steady stream from the White House and the State Department to the effect that our strategy for driving Iraq out of Kuwait rested entirely on a tightening of the economic embargo already in place and an intensification of diplomatic pressures on Saddam Hussein.
About the Author
Norman Podhoretz has been writing for COMMENTARY for 56 years.