Gene Healy, in his June 30 column, declared that the Gulf War was "America's opening Iraq mistake.”

Was it really a mistake to stop the aggression of a madman bent on becoming a modern-day King Nebuchadnezzar, on a quest to invade quite possibly a huge swath of southwest Asia?

Was liberating the peaceful country of Kuwait, which was invaded and whose citizens suffered through seven months of brutal occupation by a murderous, raping, and sadistic legion of Iraqi soldiers, a mistake?

Was it a mistake that 33 other countries joined us in what became the largest coalition of countries since World War II, in order to expel the Iraqi invaders and liberate Kuwait? Were ALL 34 countries mistaken, hoodwinked and bamboozled simultaneously?

Was it a mistake that President George H.W. Bush, Cabinet officials, Congress, and our men and women in uniform all did the right thing?

At its core, that's exactly what the Gulf War was all about. Good versus bad, right versus wrong. Our country, along with the other coalition members, had the courage to stand together and do what was right regardless of the possible outcome.

And the outcome was as close to textbook perfect as a war can be. If we would have done as Healy suggests, we would have ignored the atrocities being committed and done nothing. That's not the kind of country the U.S. is, and thankfully that is not what happened.

Does he really believe Saddam Hussein would have stopped with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia? I believe the citizens of Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates might think otherwise.

As to Healy's assertion that there were no Iraqi troops on the Saudi Arabian border, maybe he should ask the Marines who fought in the battle for the Saudi border town of Khafji in January 1991 if there were any Iraqi soldiers there, or the families of the 43 coalition troops killed at Khafji, 25 of them American.

Weighing the pros and cons of U.S. involvement in the Gulf based on the impact to our economy or the extra cost at the gas pump is a warped retrospective on Healy's part, along with his opinion that Operation Desert Storm pulled us into an entanglement. What entanglement?

Once our objectives were met, and Kuwait was liberated, Bush declared a ceasefire. The job was done. Our job was never to go all the way to Baghdad like many revisionists and armchair quarterbacks like to insist. Our job was to liberate Kuwait, and that's what we did.

Osama bin Laden and his group of murderers would have invariably used some other reason to come over here and kill Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. I don't believe for a second that if we would have elected to turn our back on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the other coalition countries in 1990-91 that America would be any safer now from the threat of terrorism.

Scott C. Stump, a Marine Corps veteran of the Gulf War from Waynesville, N.C., is president of the National Desert Storm Veterans War Memorial Association.