Vodkapundit makes an unusual but compelling case that Gulf War I was a complete disaster. And that we're still paying for it today. It's unconventional, but pretty creative and brings up a lot of things relevant to the war now.
First, there's our current push to "liberalize" and "democratize" the Middle East, which Green thinks is all repair job from back then:
Quite unintentionally, the way we "ended" the Gulf War demonstrated to the world that the status quo in the Middle East, no matter how illiberal, was just dandy with us. Insane dictator? Not our problem. Oil-soaked sheiks lost their homes? We'll co-sign the mortgage with blood. All this in a region full of lopsided applecarts, all waiting for a good push.
Then there's perhaps the fact that the first war was too multilateral, and the US probably could've used a few less unsavory characters as allies:
To be fair, seeking UN approval probably wasn't such a bad thing. But out choice of allies was akin to George Washington getting a lapdance from Mao Tse-Tung. I mean, really – was it wise to demonstrate solidarity with Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia? Was "we're standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your oppressors!" the right message to send to the people of the Middle East? Liberals and conservatives alike marveled at GHW Bush's Rolodex, and his ability to call in favors from despots near and far. Fifteen years later, we're still paying for his long distance bill.
Having left Saddam in power, we were also forced to leave troops behind in Saudi Arabia. For that reason, Osama bin Laden declared war on us for Despoiling the Holy Places, or Loitering on the Sacred Loam, or something. That one sure came back to bite us on the ass. In all fairness though, Osama is a clever fellow and undoubtedly would have eventually found some reason to smite us. That new Gillette Fusion, for example, is allowing millions of dhimmi to keep their faces infidel-smooth, and in record time. Nevertheless, our decisions back then handed Osama a loaded gun. In retrospect, it's no surprise he fired it at us.
Then there's the mindset it cursed us with afterward:
It's said that our military's history-making victory cured us of Vietnam Syndrome – the idea that any American use-of-force was doomed to failure abroad and division at home. First off, that's just plain wrong. After President Bush presented his ultimatum to the Taliban in October, 2001, Senator Harry Reid asked what "our exit strategy" would be. I dunno, Harry – retreat from Manhattan? Vietnam Syndrome isn't gone; it's infecting probably 20% of our population and at least a third of Congress. In addition, Gulf War I seems to have left us with a new disease, which I've creatively named "Gulf War Syndrome."
Gulf War Syndrome manifests itself in delusions that all wars can be fought quickly, cleanly, and with a minimum of fuss. Additional symptoms include feverish reliance on the Smiling Kofi, nervous trembling at the thought of a sustained effort, and in extreme cases, a partisan form of Tourette's Syndrome.
So there's Gulf War I, re-thought in some pretty convincing ways. And with little relation to the commonly parroted "we should've taken Saddam out when we had the chance" meme.