Interview with Gen. Schwarzkopf

 
Excerpts from an interview by David Frost with Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of allied forces in the gulf war (aired March 27, 1991):

 

Q: What was the psychological profile of Saddam Hussein? Did you assume he was clever,
cunning or crazy like a fox?

A: I don't think he's mad. Someone once asked, "What is the difference between me and Saddam
Hussein?" The answer is, "I have a conscience and he doesn't." If you look at the way he has
risen to power, it has been over dead bodies and murders. He has absolutely no conscience, no
regard for human life and views the taking of human life as just one more step in his progress to
the top.
 
Q: If you'd been running his military operation, would you have gone straight into Saudi Arabia
before anyone could have responded?
 
A: Yes, no question about it, militarily that would have been the course of action. Probably the
major miscalculation on the part of Saddam and his military is they never thought that the free
world would care if Kuwait was taken.

Q: With the second day of the air war, you had one of your worst moments, with the Scud attack
on Israel and the fear that Israel might join in?
 
A: That was a concern. I wouldn't say that it was one of the worst moments. We all expected the
Scud attack on Israel. Then it became a question of how soon can we get it under control. And
would Israel be patient enough to allow us to get it under control before they decided to enter
into the fray.

Q: Could you have held it together, do you think?

A: I think parts of it would have stayed together. But I don't think we could have held it all
together, and it certainly would have made our task much, much more difficult in the long run.

Q: Iraqi television broadcast those interviews with the captured allied pilots, most of whom had
been brutalized. Can you remember where you saw those pictures ... and how you reacted?

A: Sitting right here looking at that television set right up there. ... I was angry. But, I also knew
at that time that they were paying a terrible price. It was a combination of anger at them for doing
that because it was such a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention and, at the same time,
compassion for not only the pilots, but their families. ... I didn't like the idea that I was seeing it
on CNN. I will have to state that openly. I did resent CNN aiding and abetting an enemy who
was violating the Geneva Convention. ... That bothers me. But, of course, I am not in the news
business; and then there's First Amendment rights and the American public's right to know. I just
think that in the future, when people choose to justify their actions based upon the American
public's right to know, they'd better check with the American public first.

Q: What attitude does a military man with a conscience like you've got ... take toward the 50,000
or 100,000 deaths on the other side?

A: I feel two ways. No. 1, I regret the death of anyone. No. 2, we only had 150 people killed.
And, the reason why we only had 150 people killed is because we so fiercely went after them. ...
I'm not proud of killing, of being responsible for the death of a single person. I never will be.
But, perhaps, by the loss of those lives, we have saved literally hundreds of thousands more in
this entire region for many, many years to come.

Q: How were you consulted about the cease-fire? How did it happen?

A: Gen. [Colin] Powell and I talked to each other several times a day. ... So, after the third day,
we knew we had them. ... There was no way out for them. ... And I reported that situation to Gen.
Powell. And he and I discussed, have we accomplished our military objectives. The campaign
objectives. And the answer was ``yes."

Q: Had you totally destroyed it (the Republican Guard)?

 A: Well, yeah. I mean it is a question of how do you define the word destroy. ... You know we
didn't destroy them to the very last tank. And again, this is a point that I think may be lost on a lot
of people. That was a very courageous decision on the part of the president to also stop the
offensive. ... Frankly, my recommendation had been continue the march ... and make it a battle of
annihilation. And the president made the decision that we should stop at a given time, at a given
place that did leave some escape routes open for them to get back out, and I think it was a very
humane decision.

Q: When you went to the talks about the cease-fire ... looking back now, what angers you most
about their infractions or breaches?

 A: Now, let me make very clear that this is Norm Schwarzkopf's personal opinion, OK, and
certainly not a position of the government or anything like that. I think they suckered me. ... When
they said to me, "We would like to fly helicopters," I said not over our forces. "Oh, no, no
definitely not over your forces, just over Iraq, because for the transportation of government
officials." That seemed like a reasonable request. ... I think I was suckered because I think they
intended - right then, when they asked that question - to use those helicopters against the
insurrections that were going on.

Q: There'll be a cease-fire, but there won't be peace until Saddam Hussein goes?

A: I would not speak for all the leadership of the gulf nations, but I think that they are going to be
much more comfortable when Saddam is gone because Saddam is Iraq. As far as the actions of
the Iraqi government, they are the actions and orders of one man: Saddam. And he is the one that
has inflicted the Iran-Iraq war on the gulf. He is the one that has inflicted this catastrophic
occurrence in Kuwait. He is the one that has inflicted the ecological disaster.

Q: If, after that list, Saddam Hussein got off scot-free, it wouldn't be right, would it?

A: Again, this is my personal opinion. ... He's not getting off. But, as I say, philosophically, the
man is a war criminal by any definition you choose to apply. ... I cannot envision a government
of Iraq handing over a Saddam to the world court to do so. ... But practically, what normally
happens to people like Saddam Hussein is, at some point, they are taken care of by their own
folks.

Q: What's the greatest lesson you've learned out of all of this?

 A: I think that there is one really fundamental military truth. And that's that you can add up the
correlation of forces, you can look at the number of tanks, you can look at the number of
airplanes, you can look at all these factors of military might and put them together. But unless the
soldier on the ground, or the airman in the air, has the will to win, has the strength of character to go into battle, believes that his cause is just, and has the support of his country ... all the rest of
that stuff is irrelevant. ... And I am convinced that because of the support of the world ... that
gave them a great, great advantage that the Iraqi forces didn't have.

 Q: Our casualties were much lower than we were led to fear in advance. ... But, they weren't
miraculous for those killed in action.

A: No. And I grieve for every one of those families. And I still grieve. We're still losing people
out there. And, you know, every human life is special and so I do grieve for those families, and I
always will.

 
By USA TODAY