The good news for the U.S. troops engaged in the Persian Gulf War is that President Bush is planning a surprisingly quick and massive withdrawal immediately after the war ends. There will be no loitering in the sand for U.S. forces. Bush has another surprise up his sleeve, too -- a peace conference to settle Arab-Israeli differences. But there will be no peace for Palestinians.
The president has secretly given his word to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Fahd that the majority of troops will be gone, possibly in less than a month after a victory. The promise is crucial to Arab leaders, who don't want the United States to become a de facto colonial power in the Persian Gulf.
The swift and massive pullout is only one intriguing element of the postwar plan now being drafted by the National Security Council, State and Defense departments. Bush must have a workable diplomatic plan in place, or the postwar chaos could obliterate the high price America may pay in loss of human life.
The royal Kuwaiti Sabah family will be restored to power, but in secret discussions between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Kuwaiti exiles, a consensus has been reached that Kuwait must allow democratic reforms. That means reconvening parliament and allowing opposition parties to flourish. Bush does not want historians to recall this as the war that was fought "to make the world safe for monarchies."
The president's current plan is to institute a regional security arrangement including the promise that U.S. troops will return if necessary to defend a country in the region.
Kuwait will be protected by a combined force of Egyptian, Saudi and Kuwaiti troops trained by the United States and equipped with American state-of-the-art weapons like the Patriot missiles.
Both the NSC and the State Department experts believe that this war will mean the end of "Pan Arabism" -- the uniting of all Arabs as a single political, military and economic empire. Time and again the different Arab leaders have shown that their chief interest is to wield power over their own countries, not to be one voice in a council of Arab leaders. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein effectively killed Pan Arabism when he swallowed up another Arab country, some experts believe.
Another surprise Bush will roll out after the war is a call for a multinational peace conference to settle Arab-Israeli issues -- something he was unwilling to do while Iraqi troops occupied Kuwait. It is the only way of insuring peace in the region, which is one of Bush's stated aims for fighting this war in the first place.
Bush administration experts and intelligence sources are predicting that it will be years before a solution is reached for the Palestinian problem. The only thing the Palestinians may get is a joint-stewardship arrangement over the occupied territories by Jordan and Israel. A Palestinian state is unlikely, according to some experts, for at least a decade.