Nov. 1, 2006
Well, That’s Important

“A recent poll found that nearly three-quarters of those asked could name each of the Three Stooges—Larry, Curly, and Moe—but only 42 percent were able to name the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.”—Brit Hume, Fox News, Aug. 15.

What Strain? What War

“President Bush said Monday that the Iraq War is ‘straining the psyche of our country.’ What country is he talking about? The United States? If that’s what the President thinks, he ought to get out of the house a little more. Unless you’re in the military, or related to someone who is, the only strain you’re feeling from this war is—whatthe price of gasoline maybe?”—Dan Rodricks, columnist, Baltimore Sun, Aug. 24.

Center of the Struggle

“For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America—it is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.”—President Bush, speech to Military Officers Association of America, Sept. 5.

Carried Away With Airpower

“What happens time and again is that militaries get carried away by the power and imagined invincibility of their air forces and forget that there are things they can’t do well. … Air strategists now forgotten—Billy Mitchell, Giulio Douhet, Alexander de Seversky—all grossly overestimated aircraft.”—Fred Reed on “the failure of Israel’s air campaign in Lebanon to be decisive,” Washington Times, Aug. 18.

65 Years Out of Date

“Since the evolution of air, land, and naval components in joint warfare, no strategically successful military leader has expected one service to be ‘decisive’ on its own. To say that Israeli airpower failed because it did not unilaterally defeat an entrenched Hezbollah guerilla force is just as wrong as to blame ground forces for failing to seize and hold ground alone without help from air, sea, and space. … It is time to stop referring selectively to assertions made by early airpower doctrine writers 65 or more years ago and get to the latest chapters on air and space thinking to understand the real wars of today.”—Retired Gen. John P. Jumper, former Air Force Chief of Staff, letter responding to Fred Reed column, Washington Times, Sept. 6.

Then There’s Ralph

“Precision targeting systems and other superweapons are dangerously seductive to civilian leaders looking for military wins on the cheap. Exaggerated promises about capabilities—made by contractors, lobbyists, and bedazzled generals—delude Presidents and Prime Ministers into believing that war can be swift and immaculate, with minimal friendly or even enemy casualties.”—Ralph Peters, retired Army officer-columnist-author, attacking airpower (again) and calling for more boots on the ground, USA Today, Sept. 6.

Force Commander’s Perspective

“We must also remember that, in the heat of battle, the factor that makes the difference for ISAF is airpower. Time and time again, through hundreds and hundreds of missions, it is the skill of our aircrews that has saved our troops on the ground and paved the way to success.”—British Lt. Gen. David Richards, commander of NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Sept. 4.

General Schizophrenia

“General Affirms Anbar Analysis.”—headline, Washington Post, Sept. 13.

“Grim Report Out of Anbar Disputed by General.”—headline, New York Times, Sept. 13.

Rumsfeld Assails Critics

“Any moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, American Legion national convention, Aug. 29.

Formerly Released, Now Classified

“The Department of Defense takes the responsibility for classifying information seriously. This includes classifying information at the lowest level possible.”—Maj. Patrick Ryder, Pentagon spokesman, on the recent classification of previously open information (such as the often-published number of strategic weapons in the US nuclear arsenal in the Cold War), Washington Post, Aug. 21.

Methods Not Disclosed

“I cannot describe the specific methods used. I think you understand why. If I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe and lawful and necessary.”—President Bush on interrogation methods in war on terrorism, New York Times, Sept. 8.

Vessey on Values

“I continue to read and hear that we are facing a ‘different enemy’ in the War on Terror; no matter how true that may be, inhumanity and cruelty are not new to warfare nor to enemies we have faced in the past. In my short 46 years in the armed forces, Americans confronted the horrors of the prison camps of the Japanese in World War II, the North Koreans in 1950-53, and the North Vietnamese in the long years of the Vietnam War, as well as knowledge of the Nazis’ holocaust depredations in World War II. Through those years, we held to our own values. We should continue to do so.”—Retired Army Gen. John W. Vessey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about treatment of prisoners and interrogation methods, Sept. 12.

Balancing the Reductions

“If you’re going to lose close to 200 fighter pilots, then you have to have a good reason to keep 900-plus bandsmen.”—Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, on cuts to USAF bands as part of ongoing manpower reductions, Air Force Times, Sept. 4.