If only George W. Bush had heeded father’s lessons in Mideast

James Carroll (“Credible presidential power,” Op-ed, Oct. 15) makes a terrible mistake in concluding that the 1991 Gulf War was merely “phase one of America’s ongoing Middle East disaster.” George H.W. Bush did indeed handle Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait with “prudent resolve.” Indeed, his actions could, much like JFK’s in 1962, serve as a model for how to respond to a crisis or to aggression in the nuclear age: Demand withdrawal and impose sanctions; if that fails, put together an international coalition to use force as a last resort; neutralize wild cards (in 1991 by getting the Soviets to agree to stay out and getting the Israelis to agree not to respond to an Iraqi missile attack); start short of all-out force (air strikes to give Saddam Hussein a last chance to withdraw); and finally, use limited force with limited objectives.

The subsequent disaster was not the necessary or inevitable outcome of the 1991 war. It was instead the result of a decision by George W. Bush to reject every critical lesson observed by his father.

Sheldon M. Stern