Gulf general attacks role of 'hawks' Schwarzkopf claims land-war pressure

September 20, 1992|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- In a new memoir that raises questions abou the conduct of the Persian Gulf war, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf complains that he was pressed by Bush administration "hawks" to start a land offensive against Iraqi forces before he was ready and before diplomatic efforts were exhausted.

In the autobiography, General Schwarzkopf criticizes the "John Wayne" mentality that he says led civilian officials in Washington try to advance the date of the ground war after Moscow mounted a last-ditch diplomatic effort that would have enabled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait.

"These were guys who had seen John Wayne in 'The Green Berets,' they'd seen 'Rambo,' they'd seen 'Patton,' and it was very easy for them to pound their desks and say: 'By God, we've got to go in there. . . . Gotta punish that son of a b ,' Of course, none of them was going to get shot at," General Schwarzkopf wrote.

General Schwarzkopf, the commander of Western forces in the war, does not identify the administration "hawks," nor address -- whether they were merely reflecting the wishes of President Bush, for whom he had only praise.

But he says the dispute over the starting date led to an emotional shouting match between himself and Gen. Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Schwarzkopf says the dispute was resolved when weather forecasters predicted better weather, and he told General Powell that he would attack Feb. 24, 1991, as planned.

Called "It Doesn't Take a Hero" and written with Peter Petre, the 530-page autobiography provides new disclosures about the planning and execution of the war and seems intended to establish the general's place in history by providing an inside account of his role in key decisions.

Bantam Books agreed to pay General Schwarzkopf $5 million for the work.

Excerpts from the book, which is expected to be published next month, are circulating among military officials, and the text has been obtained by the New York Times. It is stirring controversy among officials who dispute some of the accounts and say the general is too quick to take credit for the war's successes while assigning blame to subordinates for the shortcomings.

The book is also notable for the charges it does not make about the most sharply debated aspect of the war -- whether the ground offensive ended too soon.

A month after the war ended, when it had become apparent that a significant part of the elite Republican Guard had escaped, General Schwarzkopf asserted in a television interview with David Frost that he had recommended that U.S. forces "continue the march" but that President Bush had instead ordered a cease-fire.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney publicly rebuked the general, saying there was total agreement on when the war should be ended.

In his book, General Schwarzkopf asserts that he had no objection to ending the ground war at 100 hours. The 100-hour figure, he writes, was picked by administration officials in Washington, who "really knew how to package an historic

event."

Reacting to General Schwarzkopf's complaint about the rush to the land war, top administration officials acknowledged in interviews that they pressed him to speed up his military preparations, which had fallen behind schedule.

But they say the general was not sufficiently sensitive to the pressure they faced in trying to hold the anti-Iraq coalition together and that he naively put too much stock in Moscow's negotiating efforts.

Other disclosures in the book include:

* General Schwarzkopf severely criticized one of his senior officers, Gen. Fred Franks, the commander of the Army's VII Corps, which was assigned the mission of attacking the Republican Guard, accusing him of conducting a plodding attack.

General Schwarzkopf's complaints were vigorously disputed by a senior officer who worked for General Franks, who asserted that General Schwarzkopf was looking for a scapegoat because much of the Republican Guard was able to escape.

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