The Gulf War in 20/20

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NEW YORK CITY: Five years to the day after the United States launched its ferocious air attack on Iraq, the man George Bush called a new Hitler is still in power. And Bush, the undisputed victor in the war, is not. Tonight, President Bush will admit in a Public Broadcasting Service television interview with David Frost: "I miscalculated," a reference to his decision to stop short of driving Hussein from power when he had the chance. Says President Bush: "I thought he'd be gone." TIME's Edward Barnes, who covered the war for LIFE Magazine, reports that this is only one of many ironies of the Gulf War, which began on January 17, 1991, and was over by February 27. "Despite the fact that it was one of the most decisive victories in American military history," says Barnes, "there weren't any fundamental political changes as a result. Saudi Arabia is just as anti-democratic as it was then and Iraq is more repressive than ever." Bush's mistake was compounded, says Barnes, by General Norman Schwarzkopf, who brokered the peace in a desert tent on March 3, 1991. "When Schwarzkopf allowed the Iraqis to put their helicopter gunships back in the air, he basically handed Iraq back to Hussein. Almost immediately he was able to put down insurrections in the north and the south. And when the United States refused to help, that was the end of it."