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Perceptions of an Air Campaign - Andrew J. Padavich (Gulf War 1991)

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On 16 January 1991, a coalition of nations led by the United States launched a series of air strikes against Iraq to force that country to withdraw from Kuwait. What followed was an intense aerial bombardment of Iraqi military and civilian infrastructure which lasted until 24 February when the coalition began a ground offensive. After four days of ground fighting Iraq withdrew from Kuwait. American pictorial print media created a historical interpretation of the 1991 Persian Gulf War in the sense that selected images were immediately published to a broad audience and these images provided an acceptable story of the war. Perceptions of an Air Campaign examines the cultural meanings of the air war and how these meanings took shape in the narrative pictorial print media produced. The narrative is intricately related to the legacy of the Vietnam War. For generations, Americans viewed contemporary war, politics, foreign affairs, and culture through their memories of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. President George H.W. Bush guaranteed the U.S. public that the Gulf War was consciously being constructed to avoid a conflict similar to Vietnam. According to the president, the United States was going to war with enough resources for a swift and decisive victory, thereby avoiding the Vietnam pitfall of an open-ended conflict. Pictorial print media articulated a narrative displaying U.S. military strength and dominance that fulfilled Bush’s promise. http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/468
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  PERCEPTIONS OF AN AIR CAMPAIGN:THE 1991 PERSIAN GULF WAR AS PORTRAYED BY MAJOR AMERICAN PRINTMEDIA SOURCESbyANDREW J. PADAVICHB.A., Saint Ambrose University, 2005A THESISsubmitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degreeMASTER OF ARTSDepartment of HistoryCollege of Arts and SciencesKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITYManhattan, Kansas2007Approved by:Major ProfessorDr. Donald Mrozek   Abstract On 16 January 1991, a coalition of nations led by the United States launched a series of airstrikes against Iraq to force that country to withdraw from Kuwait. What followed was anintense aerial bombardment of Iraqi military and civilian infrastructure which lasted until 24February when the coalition began a ground offensive. After four days of ground fighting Iraqwithdrew from Kuwait. American pictorial print media created a historical interpretation of the1991 Persian Gulf War in the sense that selected images were immediately published to a broadaudience and these images provided an acceptable story of the war. Perceptions of an Air Campaign examines the cultural meanings of the air war and how these meanings took shape inthe narrative pictorial print media produced. The narrative is intricately related to the legacy of the Vietnam War. For generations, Americans viewed contemporary war, politics, foreignaffairs, and culture through their memories of the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. President GeorgeH.W. Bush guaranteed the U.S. public that the Gulf War was consciously being constructed toavoid a conflict similar to Vietnam. According to the president, the United States was going towar with enough resources for a swift and decisive victory, thereby avoiding the Vietnam pitfallof an open-ended conflict. Pictorial print media articulated a narrative displaying U.S. militarystrength and dominance that fulfilled Bush’s promise.  iii Table of Contents Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………….ivIntroduction………………………………………………………………………….…….1CHAPTER 1 “By God, We’ve Kicked the Vietnam Syndrome”………………………..9The Air War as a Renewal of American ConfidenceCHAPTER 2 “Pure Pilot Initiative”…………………………………………………….25The Combat Pilot as a Lone WarriorCHAPTER 3 “Gary Cooper Come to the Persian Gulf War”…………………………..48The Combat Pilot as a Morally Righteous WarriorConclusion………………………………………………….............................................78Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………..84 \   iv Acknowledgements I owe countless people my thanks for their support, not all of whom can be mentionedhere. I owe my greatest debt of gratitude to Dr. Donald Mrozek, my advisor, for his support andguidance. Many thanks also to Dr. Charles Sanders and Dr. Louise Breen for providinginsightful comments during the revision process. Thanks are due to Dr. Greg Eiselein who hasenriched my understanding of cultural studies.The research for this work was conducted at Kansas State University in Manhattan,Kansas. I would like to thank the librarians and archivists who assisted my research, especiallythose at Hale Library’s microform desk. I also wish to thank whoever decided to makemicroform copies free. Your actions saved me hundreds of dollars.Special thanks go to my family and friends in Illinois and Kansas for their ongoingsupport. I owe a massive thanks to Jim and Diane Lee for allowing me to stay in their homeduring the last months of the writing process. Your kindness, generosity, and patience will neverbe forgotten. I would like to thank Gene Rietfors who provided helpful comments on earlydrafts of my research and his wife Penny for her hospitality. Suzanne Campbell deserves thanksfor her ability to uplift anyone’s spirit. I hope that the late Joseph and Betty Depaepe, mygrandparents, knew how much they impacted me on my personal development and that their sonknows how much influence he has had on my professional development. Thanks are due to mygrandparents, Milo and Joan Padavich, for their support and encouragement. Most of all, I thank my parents and sister for their unwavering belief in me, pep talks, patience, and unconditionallove.Andrew J. PadavichKansas State UniversityOctober 2007
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