Questions and answers about the gulf crisis

January 15, 1991

Last week, The Sun's readers told us what questions they had about the Persian Gulf crisis. Here are more answers to your questions, gathered by The Sun's reporters in Washington and Baltimore.

Q: How long do the experts think a gulf war would last?

A: Various war-fighting scenarios have yielded estimates of five days to six months or more. Each prediction has depended on how much damage and casualties Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is willing to endure before he succumbs and pulls all his troops out of Kuwait. The short-war predictions assume that the devastating air strikes alone would be enough to compel a withdrawal.

Q: Are Saddam Hussein and King Hussein of Jordan related?

A: They are not directly related. Recently Saddam Hussein has claimed, and King Hussein has not disputed, that he is a distant cousin of the king's.

Q: How come Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., isn't supporting President Bush when he supported President John F. Kennedy over Cuba?

A: Senator Kennedy believes sanctions and diplomacy can still achieve the administration's objectives. If the international coalition went to war with Iraq, he said last week, it would be "brutal and costly," and 90 percent of the casualties would be Americans. Though the Cuban missile crisis was over before his election to the Senate, he supported President Kennedy, his brother. The Cuban missile crisis ended with a secret diplomatic solution: removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey.

Q: What do Vietnam veterans think of the difficulty of fighting in the gulf?

A: There is widespread agreement among veterans that fighting a war in the desert is likely to be easier since there are few #F hiding places for Iraqi forces, who have generally dug themselves into a static defense of occupied Kuwait. The Vietnam War lacked a clear "front" line and involved mobile, well-concealed enemy forces in a terrain consisting of mountains, jungles and rivers. But many senior military officials in Saudi Arabia who served in Vietnam caution that the war option must have the strong support of the American people and enough resources to assure a decisive victory.

Q: If fighting starts, would it be limited to pushing Iraq out of Kuwait, or would the goal be to destroy President Hussein?

A: President Bush has not listed the destruction of Saddam Hussein as one of his policy goals, but officials have said privately that removing Mr. Hussein from power is among the administration's top aims, along with neutralizing much of Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development capacity.

Q: If war comes, would that lead to more jobs in the marine construction/repair industry? Would more government contracts be awarded in the Baltimore area?

A: Expect no immediate boom, but it could have beneficial long-term effects, local industry observers say. When the naval and commercial shipping vessels now in the Persian Gulf return home, there's going to be a lot of work for ship-repair yards. The outbreak of war could also eventually increase the number of government contracts, particularly in the defense industries that abound in the Baltimore-Washington area. But defense industry workers should expect this upsurge to take a while before they see it in the form of increased jobs, experts say.

Q: How can I get information about joining a peace group? What are the phone numbers of peace organizations?

A: Following is a list of some local and national organizations involved in the peace movement: American Friends Service Committee, 366-7200; Baltimore Coalition to Stop U.S. in the Middle East, 235-7040; Homewood Friends Meeting House, 235-4438; Jonah House, 669-6265; Progressive Action Center, 243-2077; SANE/FREEZE, 235-4438; Viva House, 233-0488; Progressive Student Network, Chicago, 312-404-6615; National Campaign for Peace in the Middle East, New York, 212-727-3069.

Q: How can I get counseling about conscientious objection to war? Phone numbers?

A: The American Friends Service Committee (366-7200) offers CO counseling.

Q: Please print the text of the United Nations resolution Mr. Bush keeps citing.

A: The U.N. Security Council has adopted more than a dozen resolutions on the gulf crisis since Kuwait was invaded Aug. 2, many demanding that Iraq get out of Kuwait. President Bush is relying primarily upon Resolution 678, adopted Nov. 29. The key wording of the key paragraph -- Paragraph 2 -- says that the Security Council "authorizes member states cooperating with the government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements . . . the foregoing resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement [those] resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area."

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