Iraqi forces were resoundly pummeled by a multinational coalition, led by the United States and supported by Arab nations in the area.
What was perhaps the most interesting fact was that during the Gulf War, Israel supported the joint U.S.-Arab coalition, despite the fact that many of the Arab nations in this group had in fact been at war with Israel a couple of decades earlier. Now there is a new problem in the Middle East. Hussein has decided not to let United Nations inspectors into his country to inspect suspected stockpiles of biological weapons. In response, the United States has warned Iraq that military action would once again be the result of Saddam's continued defiance of international will. In this particular case, the same allies who supported the United States during the Gulf War now are less than eager to throw their hats into the ring and get behind this latest effort. In fact, Russia has gone so far as to blame the United States for being "too loud" in this effort.
Russia essentially is saying that the United States is risking a war that would not be as "popular" as the Gulf War was.
Waging war because a friend in a notoriously unfriendly place was invaded is one thing. Waging war because some doors were slammed in some faces is another. The United States is facing a totally different situation in the Persian Gulf than it did a few years ago, and it must tread cautiously. Where it once enjoyed the support of other Arab nations, as well as European powers, now the U.S. is finding a less than enthusiastic response to its military plans.
Thus far, some of the other Persian Gulf states like Kuwait (obviously) have supported the U.S., but have essentially said that the U.S. is on its own. The only government to step up and give unquestioned and total support has been Great Britain. With the eyes of the world turned to the spectacle of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan has asked the United States to delay any military action until after the games are over.
In a world that is still getting used to the rapid changes of the 1990s, such as a re-united Germany, a fallen Soviet Union, a more open China and a Middle East that might finally see peace (maybe), perhaps taking a break and watching the best athletes the world has to offer compete would be the right thing at the moment.