Dr. Geoffrey Wawro: 'Having seemed to settle on limited aims, Bush casually expanded them, enjoining Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam. His actual words were not stirring—"In my own view, I've always said it would be—that the Iraqi people should put him aside and that would facilitate the resolution of all these problems that exist, and would certainly facilitate the acceptance of Iraq back into the family of peace-loving nations"—but they sufficed to trigger an uprising, which further complicated the war's termination. Suddenly the U.S. was responsible for all of those rebels answering Bush's call to arms. Yet at the Safwan negotiations, Schwarzkopf carelessly authorized the Iraqis to use helicopter gunships on their side of the cease-fire line. The Iraqi generals were so surprised by that concession— which permitted them to strafe and rocket Kurds and Shiites from the air—that one of the Iraqi generals incredulously asked: "So you mean even the helicopters that are armed can fly in the Iraqi skies?" Having first foresworn a breakup of Iraq and then encouraged one, the Bush administration spent the last days of the conflict watching its would-be insurgents being hunted into "no-fly zones" and debating what to do. Bush finally accepted Scowcroft's position that he must leave Iraq united and reasonably strong to balance Iranian power. Powell and Schwarzkopf warned against any "Lebanonization" of Iraq that, as Powell put it, would leave Washington to "sort out 2,000 years of Mesopotamian history." It's too bad they didn't enforce that view until after all of those Iraqis had been driven from their homes and slaughtered.
Overall, Bush 41's careless termination of the Persian Gulf War arguably sowed the seeds of the Bush 43 administration's invasion of Iraq. No demand was made for the surrender of WMD. The Republican Guard pulled off a "desert Dunkirk" to fight another day. Neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz, who served in Cheney's Pentagon and protested the mildness of the war's end, were later emboldened to go "all the way" in Iraq, reasoning that great opportunities for regime change had been squandered in 1991.'