June 1, 2000
Room Service at Hanoi Hilton

“Though having committed untold crimes on our people, American pilots suffered no revenge once they were captured and detained. Instead, they were well-treated with adequate food, clothing, and shelter.”-Statement currently exhibited in the Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, as recounted in an April 26 Associated Press dispatch. (See also box, below.)

No Margin for Delay

“It is clear to me that the maintenance of an aggressive but well-hedged JSF [Joint Strike Fighter] program is critical to the nation’s future defenses. The JSF will be the cornerstone of US tactical aviation for decades to come. Under current plans, at least 50 percent of the fighter/attack force structure will consist of JSF variants when the program is completed in the 2020s. … Roughly 1,500 tactical fighter/attack aircraft-or an average of about 150 per year-are expected to reach retirement age during the decade beginning in FY 2010. By contrast, the United States has procured only about 50 tactical fighter/attack aircraft on average annually over the last seven years. Thus the opportunity afforded by the post-Cold War drawdown to acquire tactical fighter/attack aircraft at levels well below steady-state replenishment rates is over. There is no margin for delay.”-Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, in a May 2 memo to Air Force and Navy secretaries and service chiefs in response to a move in the Senate to delay the program. Reported in Inside the Air Force.

The Legacy Stops Here

“The news media [are] buzzing with speculation that President Clinton will attempt, in his final months in office, to strike a major arms control deal with Russia. … White House officials have openly stated their concern that Mr. Clinton faces the prospect of leaving office without a major arms control agreement to his credit. … That, perhaps, would be, to him, a personal tragedy. Mr. Clinton wants an agreement, a signing ceremony, a final photo-op. He wants a picture [of him] shaking hands with the Russian President, broad smiles on their faces, large ornately bound treaties under their arms, as the cameras click for perhaps the last time, a final curtain call.

“I must observe that, if the price of that final curtain call is a resurrection of the US­Soviet ABM Treaty that would prevent the United States from protecting the American people against missile attack, then that price is just too high. With all due respect, I do not intend to allow this President to establish his legacy by binding the next generation of Americans to a future without a viable national missile defense.”-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an April 26 Senate floor speech.

Translation: No No-First-Use

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to large-scale aggression using conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.”-From “Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation,” approved by Russian presidential decree, dated April 21.

Joint Control of CAS/BAI

“[My] hypothesis is that there are half-dozen or so key military areas in which the joint equities supersede the service equities. I have a list of those things. I’ve given that list to my staff as a watch list and any doctrinal issues, organizational issues, training issues, procurement issues which hit that list, I said this is what we should focus on. … [Items are integrated air and missile defense; command and control; combat identification; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; battlefield strike; joint fires; and strategic mobility and deployment.]

“That list is not approved by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]. I briefed them on it. They said [it was] interesting. … I briefed the service chiefs on it, and, once again, I got neither a yes nor a no. It is simply a work list. … Some day the Chairman and the Secretary of Defense are going to have to take my private list and turn it into an official list and say that, in these areas, … the joint guys have equality or even precedence. … [The idea received] great support from [regional Commanders in Chief]. When I briefed the CINCs on it, they actually added another item-Close Air Support and Battlefield Interdiction. They added that. That wasn’t on my list.”-Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., CINC, US Joint Forces Command, in April 27 remarks to the Defense Writers Group.

Lest We Forget Dept. (Vietnam Div.)

“Vietnam should teach us an important lesson. Hanoi [is creating] a collectivist society … likely to produce greater welfare and security for its people than any local alternative ever offered, at a cost in freedom that affects a small elite.” -Stanley Hoffman, Harvard professor and Vietnam War opponent, in May 3, 1975, The New Republic.

“The greatest gift our country can give the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now.”-Rep. (now Sen.) Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), House floor speech, March 12, 1975.

“It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated.”-Producer Bert Schneider, Academy Awards presentation, April 8, 1975.

Vintage anti-war sentiments recollected by James Webb, former Navy Secretary and decorated USMC combat veteran, in an April 28, 2000, article in The Wall Street Journal.