The postwar euphoria, which brought us parades and flag-covered T-shirts and hopes of making millions in the aftermath of the liberation of Kuwait, has faded into oblivion -- coincidentally with the capping of the last oil fire in that tattered nation.
Governor Schaefer was right to try to jump on board months ago when it looked as if the war-torn nation was going to have to rebuild virtually from the ground up, and that it couldn't possibly carry out the task itself. The partnership that was cemented last spring was an injection of hope in a debilitated economy: Thanks to Schaefer's jaunt to the Mideast, businesses here got assurances of entre to the highest echelons in Kuwait. Then came the officious pronouncement that, whenever possible, all U.S. businesses shipping goods to Kuwait would use the Port of Baltimore or BWI airport. But less than a year later, the austere office in the World Trade Center, intended as the hub of the newfound deals, has closed. Not a dollar's worth of business has been done.
From a purely pragmatic perspective, the Kuwait-Maryland partnership is an abysmal failure. Nonetheless, the very attempt -- the hours of work and planning on the part of Governor Schaefer and other state officials as well as many people in the private sector -- along with the exemplary spirit of public-private cooperation is a resource that this state will retain, and use, long after the gulf war is a simply another chapter in the history books.