AND SO THE BUSH administration rejected any diplomatic conclusion to the Gulf war, and the AirLand war began hours after the deadline. As the ground war began, the TV networks revealed that during the visit of Colin Powell and Dick Cheney to Saudi Arabia on the weekend of February 9 a decision had been made that 8:00 p.m. February 23 would be the "go date." Consequently, during the time of the Soviet/Iraqi peace negotiations, Bush decided that if he was to carry out the Pentagon's plan, he would have to set an ultimatum for noon Saturday, so as not to postpone the ground offensive. Schwarzkopf therefore had the go-ahead in his hand, and the White House and the Pentagon were just waiting for the deadline to pass in order to begin the AirLand war. Thus, the Soviet and Iraqi peace initiatives were just a sideshow that the war planners sabotaged by delivering an ultimatum that it would be impossible for the Iraqis to accept.