By Chen-Roy Simpson (2005)
Abstract: Wag the Dog is a film about media manipulation. In the first section of the paper, some relatively unknown "Wag the Dog" cases are explored. In the second section, the complicity and lack of vigilance of the Media with regard to manipulation is discussed. In the final section, the paper assesses the impact of both the manipulation of the media by government and the media's own complicity in such manipulation.
Far from Fiction: Wag the Dog and the News Media in Wartime
Released in 1997, Wag the Dog was quite prescient in its central scandal (a president charged with sexual misconduct) and effectively chronicles the many ways in which the news media is manipulated. Two weeks before election, the president in Wag the Dog has allegedly had sex with a minor. In order to divert attention from this scandal, and increase support for the president, Conrad Bream, a sort of Public relations professional (played brilliantly by Robert De Niro), invents a war with the country of Albania. Bream hires the services of Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) and the movie is a sustained focus on their clever manipulation of the media. Among the many manipulations the two devise are the in studio creation of a war – digitally creating a poor Albanian village ransacked by the war; staged ceremonial events congratulating the president on his efforts in Albania; anonymous leaks to the press; and finally a public relations campaign used to engender sympathy for a 'lost soldier' when the fictionalized war is abruptly put to an end by the CIA. Initially, some of Wag the Dog's scenarios seem to be ludicrous but on closer reflection many of the tactics used in the film are quite real.
"Wag the Dog" Cases
While the relationship between media and military have never been amiable, after Vietnam a new adversarial relationship developed. Convinced that the media portrayal of the Vietnam War significantly contributed to its negative perception by the public, military officials sought new ways to suppress negative press coverage. The new set of rules were first implemented in the U.S. invasion of Grenada, 1983. Ironically, the Grenada invasion is the first war cited by Conrad Bream as an example of media distraction. When asked how the appearance of a war will distract attention, Bream says:
During Reagan’s administration, 240 Marines were killed in Beirut. 24 hours later we invade Grenada. That was their M.O. Change the story, change the lead. Its not a new concept.
Bream, of course, may be taken to imply that the Grenada invasion was specifically intended to distract media attention by "changing the story, changing the lead." This, in fact, was the claim of many writing at the time of the Grenada war. While it is doubtful that the Grenada invasion was undertaken specifically to distract attention from the Beirut killings (the decision to invade was made three days before the bombing), it is hard to imagine that the its political benefits did not play a part in its role. The Grenada invasion took place (as Bream says) just 24 hours after more than 200 marines were killed by a suicide bombing in Beirut. In his book On Bended Knee, Mark Hertsgaard states that the Marine's death had the potential to be a political disaster for President Reagan because of widespread fear in the public that Reagan could take the country to war. In fact, the war became a political triumph. Public opinions polls rose sharply after the war, spurred on by Reagan's own explanation of the war as an example of the restoration of American power (Hertsgaard, 1988 ).
It is here that we see many parallels with Wag the Dog. In the days leading up to the invasion, information was leaked to the press about it. When asked about the possibility of invasion, officials declared that the idea was "preposterous". The decision to lie was not an isolated incident by war planners but a directive from the highest offices to mislead the press. The invasion was unknown to the White House press offices or the Pentagon until one hour after the attack had already begun. One reporter managed to make it to the island but was detained on a U.S. Navy vessel (Hertsgaard, 1988 ).
The government further subverted the Press by barring reporters from going to Grenada to report on the invasion. As a result, most of the pictures and video of the war came from the government. The video footage was carefully selected: the government videos consisted of paratroopers dropping on the island and shots of students kissing the ground as they returned to America. But this distorted the reality of the invasion. Only a few students kissed the ground when they returned to America. In fact, the students as a group were divided about just how much danger they were in. Other government-supplied videos were of warehouses stockpiled with weapons, purportedly the weapons with which Cuba was going to take over Grenada. One of the reasons for invading Grenada, according to the Reagan administration was that it was being turned into a Cuban-Soviet military base whose purpose was to disrupt the Carribean and Central American region. When reporters were finally allowed access to the island, the claim that Grenadian warehouses were full of Soviet missiles and old weapons, tenaciously reported in all major news outlets and ‘supported’ by government supplied videos of said warheouses were falsified, refuting one of the rationalizations for the war. A second rational for the war was to “rescue American students” but Hertsgaard asks the interesting question “rescued from what? The clutches of Cuban trained Marxists or the combat ignited by U.S. invaders?.” Substantial evidence exists that the Americans could have safely returned without military rescue. The weekend before the invasion, for instance, Cuba and Grenada both made arrangements for Americans to depart the country if they wished (Hertsgaard, 1988 ). Thus, another war rationale was refuted. Nevertheless, the Grenada invasion was a political victory because the administration lied to the press, barred reporters from entering Grenada, and provided news outlets with their decidedly sanitized and favorable images of the war.
In the book Toxic Sludge is Good For You, authors John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton state that after being shut-out of the Grenada War, journalists raised enough controversy to lead to the creation of bi-partisan committee that tried to best balance the media and press in wartime. The idea of a media pool was developed and faced its first real challenge in the 1989 invasion of Panama to oust General Manuel Noriega. Ostensibly, the pool was to provide journalists with quick and easy access to the military and war but quickly turned out to be yet another way to subvert the role of reporters. Media pool members got to the island late, after being delayed two hours by the Pentagon. When the reporters arrived they were detained on a U.S. military base another five hours and therefore missed all the major combat actions which took place during this time. Moreover, the Media Pool was fed outdated information by the U.S. embassy instead of being taken into combat (military personnel refused to take journalists into the combat zone). Overcoming technical difficulties (with a fax machine in the Pentagon), the first pictures of the war surfaced four days later, most of which were taken by the government. The pictures and videos were of parachuting U.S. troops and the reports mostly consisted of U.S. casualties, reporting nothing on the battlefield.
However, media manipulation was not regulated to these short wars. In the 1980's, the Reagan administration secretly tried to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which in 1979 had ousted the American-friendly dictatorship of Anatasia Somoza. In order to win public support for U.S. actions against Nicaragua (trade and economic sanctions), the Reagan administration in January 1983 directed CIA director William Casey to set up an office of "Public diplomacy", described as "a set of domestic political operations comparable to what the CIA conducts against hostile forces abroad; only this time, they were turned against the three key institutions of American democracy: Congress, the press and an informed electorate ... the administration built an unprecedented bureaucracy in the [National Security Council] and the State department designed to keep the news media in line and to restrict conflicting information from reaching the American public." (Stauber & Rampton, 1995).
Following the advice of the then leading Public Relations professionals, the White House created a "communications function", of which the Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) was primarily to discredit the Sandinista government in the eyes of the American people. Soon a mythical crisis was developed which greatly resembles Bream's first actions in Wag the Dog. Bream, after finding out that the president has been charged with sexual misconduct with a minor, hatches his first plan to subvert the story: he tells his aides to leak a story about a B-3 bomber so his press office can deny press that there is B-3 bomber. Such denial means he’s not lying.
Bream: Why is the president in China?
Aide: Trade Relations.
Bream: You're goddamn right and its got nothing to do with the B-3 bomber.
Aide: There is no B-3 bomber.
Bream: I just said that. There is no B-3 bomber and I don't know why these rumors get started.
Bream cleverly concocts a diversion. Since the president is in China for trade relations, it is imperative that he stay there for a few more days in order to avoid having to answer to the allegations made against him. However, for it not to seem like the president is extending his stay in China because he does not want to face the allegations, he must give the press something to think about – a crisis involving a B-3 bomber. Bream instructs his aides to "let it slip" to a Washington reporter "I hope this [the president being in China] won’t screw up the B-3 program." Of course, the reporter will ask "what B-3 program and why should it screw it up?" to which his aide will reply "to avert the crisis." At this point in the film Bream does not know what the "crisis" is but leaking the story buys enough time to allow him to create it.
When told by one of his aides that the "story won’t prove out", Bream responds "It doesn’t have to prove out. We just have to distract them." Predictably, the reporters in the film, instead of skeptically addressing the bomber story, spend most of the time asking if the president's stay in China has anything to do with the B-3 bomber and rumors of an "Albanian Ops center." This allows the press office to deny knowledge of any B-3 bomber which only furthers speculation. One reporter asks:
Is the situation in Albania in anyway related to the Muslim fundamentalist anti-American Uprising?
To which Bream, watching the press conference on television, happily responds:
Now they get it. There you go. There's a little help.
In other words, all that needs to be done is to leak a false story and enable the curious journalists to expand on it, in the process ignoring allegations against the president. After all, "Muslim fundamentalists" and "anti-American Uprisings" present a threat to national security and "The American Way of life", which are much graver than the sexual misconduct of the president. While the obvious comparison is the President Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal*, the Nicaraguan example is more apt since no actual action was taken as in the film. Following directives to find "exploitable themes and trends", the Office of Public Diplomacy during the Reagan administration leaked uncorroborated stories purporting to show the military threat Nicaragua posed to the U.S. One such story was the 1984 "MIGS crisis." The White House leaked information to the press that claimed Nicaragua was on the verge of receiving Soviet Fighter planes. Later research showed that the story did not "prove out" but the story served its purpose. Television news frequently played the story of the MIGS crisis, to the extent that regular news programs were interrupted to give "special bulletins" about it. Moreover, the story diverted attention from the Nicaraguan election, which was held that week and in which the Sandinista government - the one Reagan was trying to overthrow - won by a large margin. In fact, the election was the first "free" Nicaraguan election, though it was soon dismissed by Reagan as a "sham." (Hertsgaard, 1988 )
The most striking example of the similarity between the events in Wag the Dog and the news media in wartime may be the 1991 Gulf War. In the film, faked news footage of a young "Albanian girl" (an actress) fleeing a ransacked, digitally created "Albanian village" is the central means by which Hollywood producer Motss hopes to convince Americans that there is actually a war going on, and most importantly compel enough sympathy and a sense of urgency to distract attention from allegations made against the president. Motss refers to the girl as his "young girl in the rubble" meant to "mobilize" public opinion in favor of the war. While the Gulf War was real, in order to justify and encourage support the Bush administration needed its own "young girl in the rubble." That girl was 15 year-old Nayirah who testified to Iraqi atrocities at the 1991 Human Rights Caucus.
In Wag the Dog the challenge was to convince Americans that there was an actual war; however, the Gulf presented the challenge of making the case for war - a task which involved doing two things: making Hussein the unique embodiment of evil and sanitizing the image of Kuwait in the eyes of Americans. In the book, Second Front, John MacArthur explains many of the details in Pr campaign of the Gulf War. Up until a week before the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein was an ally of the United States. Throughout the 1980's Hussein's ruthlessness was ignored by the United States since they both shared a mutual enemy in Iran. But the invasion changed all that. The invasion of Iraq would cause a political upheaval in the region as well as impugn on U.S. ability to control resources**. The sanitizing of Kuwait meant the portrayal of Kuwait as a young burgeoning democracy and thus worth the blood of U.S. soldiers. In the cynical words of an Army PR Hal Steward:
If and when a shooting war starts reporters will begin to wonder why American soldiers are dying for oil-rich sheiks.
Further complicating matters was the fact that Kuwait was not a young bourgeoning democracy. In 1991, Kuwait was ruled by a family oligarchy, the al-Sabah, who disbanded the Kuwaiti national assembly in 1986 giving all executive power to an Emir chosen by and from the family. Even before the disbanding of the national assembly, women were excluded from the political process and only 65,000 males out of a nation of two million were allowed to vote. Kuwait also crushed the small democratic movement it had growing, banned political rallies and had a bad reputation because of its near enslavement of its major workforce who were foreigners (MacArthur, 1992).
In order to turn public opinion for Kuwait, the Kuwaiti government financed one of the largest public relations ever. The first step was the creation of the "Citizens for a Free Kuwait" who were represented by the public relations group Hill & Knowlton. For all its efforts in the Gulf War, Hill and Knowlton received nearly 11 million US dollars in fees from the Kuwaiti government. The reach of Hill & Knowlton's campaign was wide: national days for Kuwait were scheduled; t-shirts were made; and all form of news media were bombarded with pamphlets, clips and videos. On October 10, 1991, three months before the war, the congressional Human Rights Caucus held a hearing on Capitol Hill, officially the first formal opportunity to present evidence for Iraq's human rights violations. However, the Human Rights Caucus was not a committee of congress. This is in the context in which Hill & Knowlton presented Nayirah, a 15 year-old who, in a tearful testimony, claimed to have seen Iraqi soldiers loot Kuwaiti incubators, leaving the children to die on the cold floor. Nayirah, like other witnesses that day, did not reveal her last name, citing fear of Iraqi reprisals against her family. In fact, Nayirah was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States, Saud Nasir al-Sabah, and thus hardly a reliable witness. Nevertheless, the story gained national coverage. MacArthur says of the story:
Of all the accusations made against the dictator, none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City.
The story was repeated by the president, all major media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers) and later congressmen cited the story as one of the primary examples of Iraqi barbarity and thus reason for war. Eventually the incubator story made its way to Amnesty International who knew nothing of it before the day of Nayirah's testimony. But the story was false. Kuwait's own investigators could not confirm the story, nor could Amnesty International who later retracted it after further investigations. Nayirah herself was never made available for testimony (MacArthur, 1992).
Perhaps the most insidious form of media manipulation stems from the use of pre-packaged news, or video news releases. It is still not known, for example, what videos Hill and Knowlton produced for air play on TV in the Gulf, nor are they willing to reveal this. In the article Under Bush: a New Age of Pre-packaged Television News, David Barstow and Robin Stein detail the expansion of pre-packaged news in the last decade. Pre-packaged news is news segments specifically produced to be indistinguishable from regular Network TV news, complete with scripts, interviews, and suggested lead-ins. While pre-packaged news existed in the time of the Grenada and Panama wars, in the form of favorable or "sanitized" video footage, the use of video news releases has grown exponentially since and has become much more sophisticated. These videos feature "reporters" who report on an issue, just as if it were regular news. Public relations professionals are careful to not overtly push a message though the segments never feature criticisms of their positions. The segments are distributed to various media outlets and subsequently played to millions of viewers. Networks regularly edit these video news releases by, for example, cutting the paid government employee out and using their own reporters to read the Government-written or Public relations-written script (Barstow & Stein, 2005).
Another carefully orchestrated plan of media manipulation in the film Wag the Dog remarkably resembles the use of Video News releases to engender certain sentiments in the public. In light of the President's return from China, Bream stages a ceremonial event: an Albanian young girl and her grandmother thank the president for his help in their country, and thus the segment broadcasted live in the movie serves to rationalize the fictional war to the American public by showing the good fortune it is bringing about. This deliberate act of manipulation is virtually identical in the first case the New York Times article cites, in which a jubilant Iraqi-American says "Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A." to a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. The segment was produced by the U.S. State Department.
However, the war on terrorism began before the war in Iraq - in Afghanistan. The Administration used video news releases to justify and support the war in Afghanistan. A total of 59 segments (according to the Times article) were produced, "reporting" how successful the U.S. war on Afghanistan had been. The video news releases explained that as a result of U.S. action, Afghan women were "liberated", now being free to go to school and participate in their country's politics. One such video featured reporter Tish Clark, who later learned that the segment was government produced. Clark, following standard industry practice, had edited the tape and read the script giving the segment the reality of "real news." The segment was broadcast to millions of viewers who were not made aware that the segment was a product of the government. The effective blurring of the lines between "real news" and government or PR produced news, through censorship and media complicity, has led to marriage between the media and the government, in which the government is the greater benefactor.
The Complicity of the Media
In any marriage, one expects to find some storming and shouting. But how much storming and shouting did the press do? While each of the wars from Grenada to the Gulf elicited enough anger from various journalists that new committees were formed with the expressed purpose of better accommodating the demands of journalists in Wartime, journalists consistently complied with prima facie cases of military censorship rather than vigorously challenge them..
The Grenada Invasion is case in point. A day before the invasion, two ABC reporters captured footage of U.S. Navy jets and Marine helicopters on the neighboring island of Barbados. The airplanes landed, transferring soldiers and equipment to helicopters and men in business suits to the Jets. Sharon Sacks, one of the reporters, called the U.S Embassy wanting to find out if the event was signal of invasion but was told it was an evacuation of students (later shown to be false). When this story was filed to ABC News, editor Robert Fyre declined to run the story citing Washington stories that the prospective invasion of Grenada was "preposterous". Further comments from Washington suggested that a U.S. carrier in the region was there to ferry stranded foreigners, not prepare for invasion. All of these were lies, yet the press did not run, lead with, or feature this curious case of Government censorship and deliberate misinformation in its newscasts (Hertsgaard, 1988 ).
John MacArthur, in the book Second Front, details many of the cases in which top newspapers and TV editors simply conceded to the military, showing a nascent lack of vigilance in pursuit of news and complicity with government censorship. After the failure of the National Media Pool system in the Grenada and Panama invasions, another committee was created to address the problems of the press and military in wartime. The compromise was to be tried in the Gulf war but failed miserably. Journalists were confined to hotels and could not independently report; a military escort was necessary on each report; journalists in pools could not choose stories and were instead assigned "slots" by the Pentagon; and journalists' stories had to undergo a "security review" before they could be filed, which is essentially censorship. As a result of these rules journalists agreed to in going into the Gulf War, they were effectively prevented from reporting any other news other than what the Pentagon wanted. Popular stories of the war praised the accuracy of U.S. bombs, and exaggerated the might and quantity of the Iraqi army. IF pre-packaged news represents the most insidious ways of media manipulation, then the conventional acceptance and use of Video News releases in the Journalism industry is probably its most unsettling. In a country that receives over 80 percent of its news from television, what is one to make of the fact that much of what seems like "news" produced by the stations is in fact VNRs produced by the government PR professionals? Are we to na vely assume that the seamless blending of sponsored news and "real news" has negligible impact? The specific purpose of VNRs is the promotion of a product or ideology. The news media's ostensive purpose is to report on different products, whether they be material goods or ideologies. As such, a primary feature of actual journalism is criticism. In order to fulfil its function as an informer, the journalist must be wary of promoting different ideologies, either by short shifting an idea or lacking vigilance in their reporting. The producers of VNRs have a decidedly different objective: the promotion of a product which precludes criticism. Thus, there exists an essential tension between the VNRs and the practice of journalism.
But if VNRs are common then their must be reason for their use. The primary argument for the use of VNRs is its financial benefit to stations: News networks have radically downsized while expanding coverage. The use of VNRs is a cost-saving measure that allows news organizations to gather footage that would either be too expensive to be produced or which they cannot afford at all. Unfortunately, while the argument explains the widespread and conventional use, it says nothing about ethical questions. In Media Codes of Ethics there are no articulated standards for the use of VNRs. While some codes state that work not produced by news organizations should be clearly labelled, this can hardly be sufficient. VNRs still expound, not report on or critique products or ideologies. As a result, the public is still being fed a particular ideology by a news organization. Should the government-produced events of happy Afghan women be accompanied by anything? Is merely noting that this is a product of the government sufficient to curb the ideology produced? Is the later correction of misleading statements or images sufficient? It is impossible to determine precisely how images and videos affect audience perception but that they can should give us caution in thinking that merely labelling uncritical "reporting" is sufficient to prevent propagandizing.
The Impact of "Wag the Dog" Cases
In Wag the Dog, the result of media manipulation is decidedly bleak: the Hollywood producer mysteriously ends up dead and there remains a public permanently deceived about non-existent war. In real life, the consequences are not so different though the casualty is the ability of the public to discern the truth. In the film, some characters express worry that the public will know or find out about the deception but Bream, who refuses to assert the truth or falsity of any statement in the film, gives a devastating response to such naive sentiments:
You watched The Gulf War. What do you see day after day? The one smart bomb falling down a chimney. The truth? I was in the building when we shot that shot. We shot it in a studio in Falls Church, Virginia, 1/10 scale model of a building.
Asked if the above is true, Bream responds:
How the **** do we know. You take my point?
This is the crippling skepticism that results when the lines of "real news" and government sponsored or public relations are mixed. The "point" is that the Gulf War images fed to journalists could have been easily been faked by the government. Bream has outlined a possible scenario in which the bombing could have been fictional, asserts it as "truth" but resorts to agnosticism when asked if what he asserts as true is indeed so. That is, how can you tell the difference? We simply don't know.
Moreover, and as Bream argues in the film, it is the visceral impact of the images that matter, not their truth or falsity. While the News media prides itself on its ability to issue public statements correcting mistakes, by the time the media has corrected misleading visual images the point has already been made. Says Bream:
'54, 40, or fight.' What does that mean? ...'Remember the Maine.' 'Tippcecanoe and Tyler, too.' They’re war slogans. We remember the slogans but we can't remember the war... The Gulf War, smart bomb falling down a chimney. 2,500 missions a day, 100 days. One video of one bomb. The American People bought that War. War is show business.
Bream’s language is important. Firstly, that the Americans "bought" that war, and the comparison of War to show business suggest that the images function to sell Americans a rationale for war and therefore, the images function as arguments justifying and also celebrating military action. Since the country of Albania is little known by Americans, images need to explain the terrorist threat and danger they pose. Why the terrorists are dangerous and the reason for war is explained by the video of a young girl running through the streets of Albania screaming that she has been raped. Why, again, is it justified that the president has gone to war with Albania? The compassion and gratitude shown to the president by an Albanian girl and grandmother when the president arrives. The staged event explains the success of a vague war on an unknown country. Visual images, whether they communicate truth or not have lasting impact.
But of course this conclusion isn't too distressing? Perhaps, the lesson for the public is to develop a "healthy skepticism" toward the Media itself. This is the conclusion of Robert Charles in the informative (but slightly dated) article "Video News Releases: News or Advertising" Charles argues that the charge of "fake news" levied at VNR's is misguided since VNRs often have general news value. For example, in 1993 Pepsi published VNR'S disproving reports that there were syringes in Pepsi bottles which were broadcast on news networks. However, Charles concedes that VNR'S are problematic because they can be used (and are in fact used) to communicate uncritical 'reports' on products or ideologies products. While Charles even-handed approach is appreciated, the conclusion that this should encourage a "healthy skepticism" misses a crucial point: journalists are supposed to be the skeptics. Can the public be expected to have the same time to do as much research as is assumed of journalists? Can the public, for instance, be expected to research reports from overseas? It can easily be replied that a "healthy skepticism" simply entails a suspension of judgment and compels the public to do no more than acquiesce in the face of news. However, this is insufficient. Journalists report information that is supposed to inform the public: this information can then be used by the public to act. Journalists do not present their work in a vacuum in which there is no effect on public attention. Thus, the concept of a "healthy skepticism", while a valuable concept, ignores the demand this will put on a public now expected to critically research the reports of those who are supposed to be its researchers. Though it is unacceptable for the public to take the media simply at face value, it is equally unacceptable that journalists cannot be trusted enough to give fair accounts in the absence of individual research.
Wag The Dog is often referred to as a satire because of the 'absurdity' of its central plot: the creation of a fictional war in order to distract the public from sexual allegations made against the president. On closer inspection, however, the tactics used to manipulate the Media in the film are everyday practices in the world of newsreporting - exemplified by some unknown "Wag the Dog" cases in the Grenadan, Panamanian and Gulf wars. Staged ceremonial events, anonymous (false) leaks to the press, and the creation of sympathetic characters used to explain and justify war are just some of the tactics used in the film which are replicated in the world of news reporting - all of which contributes to making Wag the Dog far from fiction.
* I say the obvious comparison because of speculation after the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings that President Clinton's retaliation, on the very day he was to face questioning about Lewinsky, was used to distract attention from his trial.
** For more information on the political aspects of the 1991 Gulf War, a good resource is John Pilger whose website is available here.
Barstow David and Robin Stein. "Under Bush: a new era of pre-packaged news." New York Times 13 Mar. 2005 (a copy of this article can be found here).
Charles, Robert. <A href="http://www.worldandi.com/public/1994/september/ci11.cfm">"Video News Releases: News or Advertising", http://www.worldandi.com/. Sep. 1994.
Hertsgaard, Mark. On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1988.
MacArthur, John. Second Front: censorship and propaganda during the Gulf War. New York: Hill & Wang, 1992.
Stauber, John and Rampton, Sheldon. Toxic sludge is good for you : lies, damn lies, and the public relations industry. Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1995. (An excerpt from the book which goes into a little more detail about the Gulf War is available here.).