America was again respected in the World. Americans again had Pride in the Nation. And America elected one of the "most qualified" Presidents to replace him, despite his lack of charisma. Bush Senior was a World War II fighter pilot, a former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, a Vice-President, and had a host of other things on his resume to demonstrate he could do the job. He soon reaped the rewards of Reagan's Arms Race. In his first year, the Iron Curtain crumbled, to the disbelief of the world. The Berlin Wall fell, the Velvet Revolution succeeded in Czechoslovakia, the Romanians hunted down and hung their brutal Communist Dictator, and the rhetoric of Perestroika and Glasnost overpowered the Soviet Union itself.
Those who had grown up in the Cold War, that remembered the brutal crackdowns of the past, waited with baited breath, expecting another, but the Soviet Army was demoralized, hungry, and tired of substituting anti-freeze for vodka. The floodgates to West Germany were opened by the Czechoslovakians and East Germans packed into their cardboard cars and took the Southern route into the West. The Autobahns of West Germany turned into traffic jams of the oppressed in cars that could barely do 60mph on roads where 120mph was the norm.
Soviet Troops were selling everything for nothing, as the Communists could no longer afford their paychecks. There's more than one report of a Soviet Soldier selling a T-72 for a case of vodka or two. The number one currency in Moscow became Marlboro cigarettes, followed by Levi Jeans, and the US Dollar. A new world of peace was being ushered in.
Despite cries of "the next Viet Nam," Bush Senior organized a coalition including Saddam's ally, Syria, the Brits, the Canadians, the Saudis, and others, to first defend Saudi Arabia from an Iraqi Invasion, and then to expel Saddam from Kuwait. America was the premier fighting force in the World, because of the Reagan Reconstruction of the 80's. It took 5 months for the 500,000 US Troops to get to and make ready for the mission. With no Soviet threat, the US was able to commit all 3 Armored (Tank) Divisions.
Osama bin Laden had offered his Islamist Terrorists as the salvation to Saudi Arabia, from Saddam's Army, but the Saudi's didn't want to chance it. OBL would feel butt-hurt that his rag-tag team was rejected in favor of an old ally with a proven record.
For 40 days and nights, Air Forces and Naval Air Forces of the World, led by the United States, rained steel and explosives on military targets in Iraq, in preparation for a ground attack. The Ground War lasted 4 days. The XVIII Airborne Corps blocked the roads to Baghdad, preventing re-enforcements, while the VII th Corps moved through the Desert Saddam assessed as impassable with a left hook back into Kuwait, destroying multiple Divisions of the Republican Guard, the elite of the Iraqi Army. The Million Man Army, the 4th largest in the world, was defeated in 100 hours by a force equal in size, against all conventional wisdom and military doctrine. "To win," the attacking force is supposed to outnumber the defenders by a ratio of 4:1 or 5:1.
Not only had America won the economic battle against industrial decline, the ideological war against totalitarian communism, the Cold War with tough diplomacy, but also a hot war against a battle tempered enemy of equal size. America was again the champion it was at the end of WWII. The question was how the world would change with only one SuperPower remaining.
Plans had already been drawn up. Bush Senior would cash in the "Peace Dividend." Without the Red Horde ready to invade Europe through the Fulda Gap, America no longer needed 18 Divisions. Germans had complained that US Troops were too militant and too noisy, so Bush Senior cut the US Presence in Germany from 250,000 to 125,000, ordering the 3rd Armored Division, the heaviest Armored Division in the World, the Elvis Presley Division, and a full Corps to roll up their colors.
East and West Germanies were re-unifying, finally, after even the Germans had given up that dream.
The Chinese were next, with the people rising up for democracy and freedom in Tianamen Square. The world cheered, until the crackdown came. A lone Chinese Civilian stood up to the tanks that came to suppress the call for Freedom and Democracy. It took Bush Senior 3 days to figure out how to respond. It appeared he was waiting on the polls to tell him what to say. His mediocre approval ratings had soared when the Troops won in Iraq, but fell to new lows as his indecision over China became apparent. He would never recover. An economic slowdown towards the end of his first four years would prove to be the final nail in his Presidential coffin. The economy had recovered by the end of the year, but the American people weren't buying the news.
Bush Senior had encouraged the Shi'a minority and the Northern Kurds to finish Saddam off. It wasn't part of the mandate for the US to overthrow the Iraqi government, and the crushing defeat of the Iraqis in Kuwait meant a quick end to the war. Saddam used his remaining military might to slaughter his citizens in the streets. He gassed the Kurds and used gunships to mow down the Shi'a in the South. Bush Senior instituted a "No-Fly Zone" in the North and South of Iraq to end the atrocities. But Saddam wasn't going away.
A condition of the 1991 Cease-Fire was that Saddam would give up his Weapons of Mass Destruction, his Chemical Weapons and his Nuclear Weapons development program. For the next decade, he would play a cat and mouse game with the UN Weapons Inspectors. From time to time, he would threaten a new invasion of Kuwait. The US would build up a force to repel it in Kuwait, then he would settle down again. Saddam ordered an assassination attempt on Bush Senior, after he had left office.
Saddam proved to be a thorn in the side of Clinton, and the question his party kept asking was why Bush Senior hadn't finished off while we were there. General Swarzkopf had performed superbly, but he had made one major flaw; he had not insisted that Saddam himself sign the cease-fire. Saddam had used that to blame the Generals that had, while declaring himself the victor, as he was clearly still in power.
Saddam's misbehaving antics, including the assassination plot on Bush Senior, proved to be a nice distraction for the Clinton Administration. Whether it was coincidence or reality, there always seemed to be a reason to launch cruise missiles at Baghdad when Clinton was having domestic problems.