1962 Revisited in Persian Gulf

 

1962 also was destined, I felt, to bring back the ghost of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the month of October. On October 29, 1997, the Iraqi Weapons Crisis began. This time the issue revolved around missiles and terrorists armed with anthrax and VX rather than nuclear warheads. It also lasted for four months rather than two weeks.

Once again the Russians were our adversaries, supporting Saddam's regime. While visiting Baghdad, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky unsuccessfully urged his friend Saddam Hussein to launch a missile strike against the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf. Zhirinovsky also pledged that he would send the Russian navy into the Gulf and attack U.S. warships. Meanwhile, former general Alexander Lebed was warning the U.S. that one hundred "nuclear suitcases" were missing from the Russian arsenal, possibly in the hands of Moslem terrorists or Russian black marketeers. The U.S. was warning Iraq that if anthrax was used against Israel, nuclear weapons might be used against Baghdad. A red-faced Boris Yeltsin pounded his fist repeatedly in vitriolic rage with each "Nyet!," he uttered. If Clinton launched Operation Desert Thunder, there would be a third world war he declared.

US Fighter Jet awaits take-offOperation Desert Thunder, which would have been launched during the new moon on February 26, 1998, would not have been the relatively bloodless campaign that Operation Desert Fox turned out to be later that year in December. Iraqi civilians, many of who were quartered in presidential palaces as "voluntary" human shields or lived nearby military targets, would have been sitting ducks. Estimates of what the Iraqi civilian dead would be after the planned attack was launched was 800,000. Ohio State University once again became the site of anti-war protests. The war that was narrowly averted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on February 23, 1998 in all likelihood would have turned a large a part of the Middle East into one gigantic graveyard. In retaliation, terrorists or Russian operatives posing as terrorists armed with "stolen" nuclear suitcases might have destroyed several dozen U.S. cities.


 

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