March 1, 1998
Down a Rat Hole

“You don’t need blueprints to draw very sensible conclusions [about the layout of an underground military target]. I think we are doing extremely well in judging what the buried structure must look like. … The cost of building a penetrator [weapon able to reach and destroy such a target] is trivial compared to [the cost of] burying oneself ever deeper in the ground. In this particular chess match, it is better to be on the penetrator end than on the burying end, because the burying end will go broke.”–Harold P. Smith Jr., DoD official for nuclear, biological, and chemical defense programs, in Jan. 30, 1998, remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington.

Nuclear Test Ban for Dummies

“The point of the treaty is to ban the bang, not to ban the bomb.”–Robert Bell, National Security Council official, in a Feb. 2, 1998, briefing on the proposed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Mullahs and Missiles

“When I testified here a year ago, I said that Iran, which had received extensive missile assistance from North Korea, would probably have medium-range missiles capable of hitting Saudi Arabia and Israel in less than 10 years. Since I testified, Iran’s success in gaining technology and material from Russian companies, combined with recent indigenous Iranian advances, means that it could have a medium-range missile much sooner than I assessed last year.”–George Tenet, CIA director, in Jan. 28, 1998, testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concerning worldwide threats.

Mustafa the Magnificent

“During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, and after the deployment of the multinational force, I gathered the Lebanese resistance leaders together and told them: Do whatever you want with the US, British, and other forces, but I do not want a single Italian soldier to be hurt …because I do not want a single tear falling from the eyes of [Italian actress] Gina Lollobrigida. … I’ve been fond of her ever since my youth.”–Gen. Mustafa Tlass, Syrian defense minister, in Jan. 1, 1998, newspaper interview about events in Beirut in 1982­83.

Blonding Insight

“It seems like a total guy thing that’s going on herethis whole idea, this whole macho thing of wanting to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I think the idea that the Republicans found out about it and sort of said, ‘This is a great idea; let’s accuse them [Clinton Administration officials] of going after Arlington Cemetery,’ was the kind of thing that I don’t think a group of women Republicans would ever get up to.”–Sally Quinn, Washington pundit, to Ted Koppel, in a Dec. 5, 1997, “Nightline” broadcast about controversial waivers granted for burials at Arlington National Cemetery.

Schlesinger Doctrine

“My view is this should be approached very cautiously. Repeat: very cautiously. This process, of which de-alerting is a part, can be carried too far in the direction of sheer nuclear disarmament.”–Former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, quoted in the Dec. 12, 1997, Washington Times, regarding DoD’s development of a major strategic weapons plan that would lower the alert status of US nuclear forces by removing critical components.

The Term Is “Quagmire”

“There’s a difference between saying it [the commitment of US forces in Bosnia] is indefinite and [saying] it is infinite. … We ought to stay until the seeds of peace have taken much deeper root and can become self-sustaining.”–Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, appearing on CBS’ Dec. 21, 1997, broadcast of “Face the Nation,” to defend President Clinton’s decision to ignore the promised June 1998 date for a pullout of US troops.

Advance to the Rear

“After two years of a massive military presence costing the US over $7 billion, the situation remains explosive. This only underscores the need to establish a realistic, achievable military mission that, when accomplished, will permit an orderly withdrawal in the future.”–Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a Dec. 18, 1997, statement responding to President Clinton’s statement on Bosnia.

“Halt Phase,” Anyone

“CBO estimated how long it would take US mobility assets proposed for early next century … to transport all of the Army’s forces and associated equipment to two conflicts that broke out 45 days apart. CBO’s results indicate that getting all Army forces to the theater for an initial conflict in the Middle East could require as much as 140 days, rather than the 90 days assumed in some DoD plans. The time required to complete deliveries to a second theater could be almost 200 days. … CBO’s analysis suggests that delivering all Army forces to both theaters might take as long as 240 dayssignificantly longer than the 135 days consistent with DoD’s notional schedule.”–From CBO report, “Structuring the Active and Reserve Army for the 21st Century,” December 1997.

Cause and No Effect

“People in the Pentagon like to say: ‘Every time there’s been a crisis, the United States Navy [and] United States Marine Corps have been there 63 percent of the time.’ The second part of that paragraph says, ‘The crisis happened even though you were there.'”–Gen. John J. Sheehan, USMC (Ret.), former commander of US Atlantic Command, in mid-January remarks to a technology conference in San Diego.