May 1, 2000

Bombing Innocent Civilians

“The most obscene chapter in recent American history is the conduct of the Kosovo conflict, when the President of the United States refused to prepare for ground operations, refused to have airpower used effectively. … He had them flying at 15,000 feet, where they killed innocent civilians because they were dropping bombs from such … high altitude.”-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Presidential aspirant, in Feb. 15 South Carolina Republican debate.

The Life of a Lone Pilot

“None of this is to argue that commanders should be cavalier about risks to their troops. But risk reduction should not be permitted to torpedo mission accomplishment. Was the life of any lone American pilot-and a volunteer professional at that-really more valuable than the fate of more than 1,600,000 Kosovar Albanians?”-Jeffrey Record, a member of the faculty of the Air War College, in the article “Gutless Giant?” published in the March 2000 issue of Proceedings.

Don’t Listen, Don’t Hear

“There is a serious question in the findings of the [Pentagon] survey on gays in the military. How is it that 20 percent of the military respondents said they had not heard offensive remarks or jokes about gays? Either they are lying or, even more troubling, completely oblivious to their fellow service members. It would even be hard to believe that one in five civilians has not heard a derogatory remark about homosexuals.”-Charles Moskos, noted military sociologist at Northwestern University, in March 28 letter to The New York Times.

The Warless War

“[L]ook at the history of casualties, … almost half a million killed in World War II, over 35,000 killed in Korea, and more than 50,000 killed in Vietnam, and zero combat deaths in Kosovo. In my judgment, this country will never again permit the armed forces to be engaged in conflicts which inflict the level of casualties we have seen historically. So what do you do? You move toward the unmanned type of military vehicle to carry out missions which are high risk in nature. … The driving force is the culture in our country today, which says, ‘Hey! If our soldiers want to go to war, so be it, but don’t let any of them get hurt.’ “-Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, quoted in National Journal, March 4, 2000.

So Listen Up, Youse Guys

“Let me advise all these people in Taiwan: Do not just act on impulse at this juncture which will decide the future course that China and Taiwan will follow. Otherwise, I’m afraid you won’t get another opportunity to regret.”-Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, in March 15 news conference in Beijing on the eve of the Taiwanese presidential election.

Duking Out the JSF

“My real fear, though, is the Joint Strike Fighter. … When those airplanes get jumped by enemy aircraft, you need a number of airplanes that will be able to fight that classification of airplanes, like the Su-27, Su-35, and Su-37. … If you don’t have the numbers of aircraft, you’re going to have a problem. The JSF [is] limited to $28 million apiece. If you have an airplane up there where you can’t go neutral with the enemy, you’re going to need more airplanes that can, like the F-22.”-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.), in interview with reporter Frank Wolfe of Defense Daily.

French Cooking

“The European Union [plan to create] a 60,000-person rapid reaction force is, to me, deeply troubling. … If this is truly a rhetorical army or force, is that going to do any good? [If it is] in fact going to be a 60,000[-person] force not subject to the command of the NATO commander or the Atlantic Council but subject to the will or the whims of the European parliament, … I look upon it as being literally an abrogation of European responsibility to NATO.

“None of them [European nations] have announced any plan to increase the military budget for their defense budgets. Some have announced that they’re going to decrease them. …

“[The] NATO Alliance … operates by consensus. I don’t know how in the name of heaven the European parliament operates, and who’ll be making the decisions, … especially when you have the French to deal with. And let me say that this American is very, very aggravated when the president of France goes to Beijing and says he’s seeking a strategic partnership with China to counteract American hegemony. I’m not sure that’s an ally that I’m totally willing to depend upon.”-Rep. Herbert H. Bateman (R-Va.), chairman of military readiness panel of the House Armed Services Committee, in Feb. 17 hearing remarks.

We Provoked Them

“Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia writes that ‘a year ago, American and NATO warplanes began 78 days of air assaults that halted the murderous assault of Slobodan Milosevic on the Kosovar Albanians.’ Mr. Byrd would have done better to substitute the word ‘initiated’ for ‘halted.’ By the best figures available to me, the Serbs pushed 25,000 Kosovars across adjacent borders in the two years before the bombing began and expelled approximately 750,000 more after the air assaults commenced. These figures come to fewer than 40 people a day before March 24, 1999, and to approximately 9,600 a day after that date. In effect, the United States and NATO stepped into the trap that Mr. Milosevic had set. Kosovo is horrible enough to contemplate without congratulating ourselves for what we ‘halted.’ “-Norman Mailer, novelist, nonfiction writer, essayist, screenwriter, ex-political candidate, and public persona, in March 20 letter to The New York Times.