Feb. 1, 2003

Waiting for the Call

“My feeling was that—and it’s not an ego thing, but in military terms—I am a silver bullet. I can generate attention quickly. I have a credibility on the subject [Iraq] that most people don’t. … If my country ever calls upon me to serve, if someone thought I could ever be a good assistant secretary of defense or state, I would smartly salute and go off to serve my country.”—Scott Ritter, former UN arms inspector turned antiwar activist, quoted in the New York Times Magazine, Nov. 24.

Let Your Feet Bleed

“Don’t be attracted to easy paths, because the paths that make your feet bleed are the only way to get ahead in life.”—Pamphlet of sayings from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, quoted in the Boston Globe, Dec. 12.

Not Yet a Superpower

“As of 1940, the United States stood fourteenth in global military power, trailing Germany, France, Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.”—Craig Nelson, in The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid, quoted in the New York Times, Nov. 17.

Run, Osama! They’re Dropping Nuance!

“Although airpower is critical to both deterrence and warfighting, it lacks nuance. Airpower is either on or off. Thus, its threatened use in situations involving less than vital interests lacks credibility. It is therefore not always politically useful.”—Mackubin Thomas Owens, Naval War College professor, Washington Times, Nov. 24.

Digesting the Information

“The first thing I’m going to do is let the experience find its own organic place.”—Actor Sean Penn, preparing to return from peace mission to Iraq, quoted in the Washington Post, Dec. 16.

The Main Action

“It’s ever more obvious, as airpower begins to keep the promise that it’s had all along, that it is the main action, and other action is ancillary and supporting. The facts are what they are.”—Retired Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff, quoted in the Washington Post Magazine, Dec. 15.

Ridge’s Ark

“He has a monumental task in front of him. It’s like asking Noah to build the ark after the rain has started to fall.”—Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D–Conn.), on President Bush’s naming of Tom Ridge to head the Department of Homeland Security, quoted in the New York Times, Nov. 26.

Patriotism Lite

“I call this patriotism lite. We have a lot of folks who are talking the talk, who say they support the military, but who are really not walking the walk.”—Sociologist Charles Moskos, on Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University poll in which half the respondents said they did not want their children to choose a military career, quoted in the Seattle Post–Intelligencer, Nov. 26.

Bush on Leadership

“A president has got to be the calcium in the backbone. If I weaken, the whole team weakens. If I’m doubtful, I can assure you there will be a lot of doubt.”—George W. Bush to reporter–author Bob Woodward for his book Bush at War, quoted in the Washington Post, Nov. 22.

Nimble Nozzles

“We can spray faster than they can plant.”—US narcotics official on a US–funded program to eradicate coca crops by herbicidal spray in Colombia, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Nov. 24.

Frogs and Onions

“For meals, I had to forage for food. Wild onions were the easiest to find. The only other food I could find was frogs. For two long weeks, I lived on nothing but frogs and onions. It’s not a diet I would recommend. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks and couldn’t stand to eat onions for years afterward.”—Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R–Pa.), former Air Force officer and Vietnam veteran, on his survival training, quoted in the Washington Times, Nov. 27.

The Spectrum From A to B

“We’re taking the … Web site and rebuilding it as a one-stop shopping for the antiwar movement. It’s a campaign of all different kinds of groups, from the National Council of Churches to the International Socialists organization. I just got a call from the Raging Grannies of Palo Alto, who want to join.”—Andrea Buffa, cochairwoman of Mothers Against War, a new antiwar protest network, quoted in the Washington Post, Dec. 2.

Unequal Sacrifice

“More than 130,000 reservists have been activated—taken from their civilian jobs and their families—since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Some of them are in their second year of service, because no one is available to replace them. Thousands more will be called up if we fight Iraq. Almost everywhere you look, the element of shared sacrifice that should be expected in a nation at war is missing. A few people are being asked to give up a lot.”—David S. Broder, Washington Post, Dec. 4.

Alternative to the UN

“I hear it said that the UN is imperfect but it’s the only one we’ve got. It seems to me that if you’ve got a fire extinguisher that you know won’t work, you don’t approach a fire with it because it’s the only one you’ve got. You find another way to put out the fire. … Why is the United Nations a greater source of legitimacy than NATO?”—Richard Perle, International Herald Tribune, Nov. 28.