In the early 1990s, under the Bush Sr. administration, troops from the United States and more than thirty other nations arrived in Saudi Arabia to mount an offensive against Saddam Hussein’s regime, to take back Kuwait and its valuable oil reserves. It worked, Iraqi soldiers surrendered, and America’s military claimed victory (with 294 deaths).
It was during this same Persian Gulf War, during which Dick Cheney served as secretary of the Defense Department, that the U.S. military suspended its decades-old policy of dismissing gay troops — just two years before President Bill Clinton would sign Don’t Ask Don’t Tell into law. As Clinton’s own Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili would later remark, “enforcement of the ban was suspended without problems during the Persian Gulf War, and there were no reports of angry departures.”
Indeed, in war time, the Pentagon believed it necessary to halt a ban on gay soldiers, at a time when gay soldiers could be dismissed without even “telling.”