In George H.W. Bush's "A World Transformed," published well before his son became president, the former president wrote of "incalculable human and political costs" if his administration had sought to effect a regime change in Iraq in 1991.

"Going in and thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression," he wrote. Bush was responding to critics who questioned liberating Kuwait but not toppling Saddam.

The senior Bush's Sec. of State James Baker foresaw a similar quagmire in a 1996 op/ed piece: "Iraqi(s) ... could be expected to resist an enemy seizure of their own country with a ferocity not previously demonstrated on the battlefield."