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The Calm Before Desert Storm

Two months before the Gulf War began in 1991, President George H. W. Bush greeted U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia

I asked my former boss, whose son has engaged in his own confrontation with his father’s old Iraqi nemesis, about the photograph, and what it means to him now. "This photo could be about today," he replied. "A different president, and different troops; but the readiness and determination by the president and the troops are exactly the same today as they were back at Thanksgiving 1990."

Commenting on the moment in Walker’s book, the former president recalls: "I had my mind set that we were going to have to go to war, and the irony is that troops we talked to were saying, ‘We’re ready. We want to get it over with and go home.’ And nobody in the United States believed that they could get it over with such speed and such efficiency and with so little loss of innocent life. But when I looked out at these faces, at this point I know I was thinking, ‘How many of these kids are going to have to die for their country?’"

Bush Senior had gone to war himself as a young man, so he knew what it was like to be one of these soldiers. Perhaps this explains his stance, the look on his face, the bronze thing, as he might put it, because no one looks that majestic just tossing tie clips.

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