A NEW YEAR
Year's Day arrived and the headline across the front page of the Gulf News read "Dawn of New Hope." Under normal circumstances, a statement like this might mark the beginning of any new year. For the pilots of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, however, the first day of 1991 was of little significance. The day could have been 7 June. No one would have known the difference. No one drank champagne on New Year's Eve; there were no party hats, streamers, or
magic countdowns. The only date with meaning was 15 January, the deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.
The lead story in the Khaleej Times reported that President Bush had outlined a proposal for Secretary of State James Baker
to meet with Tariq Aziz in Switzerland on either 7, 8, or 9 January. The president called the proposal "one last attempt to go the extra mile for peace."
Later in the afternoon, I ran into Redman and Maj. Glenn "Ahkbar" Bender on the front steps of the o'club. I asked if there had been any word about President Bush's proposal. Ahkbar said a meeting between Aziz and Baker was set to take place in Geneva on Wednesday, 9 January.
Three days before this
meeting, in a speech marking Army Day, Saddam Hussein declared that the Iraqi army had "unshakable faith in their mission in the struggle which will not break regardless of the sacrifices.... The return of Kuwait to Iraq is a fact and not a claim. It is the nineteenth province on the map of Iraq.... The Iraqi army will entail great sacrifices in quantity and quality." Saddam continued: "But the result will please friends and displease foes. This is a battle
for the sake of Palestine. Iraq is pitted against the U.S. administration, its puppet Zionist entity, and those bad people who have allied with them."