Feb. 1, 2009

Population Gap

“Today, in any given minute in the United States, 40 babies are born. In China, it’s 160. In India, it’s 280. When you look at the population of 18-to-35 [year-old] males, there’s an explosion in southern Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa, in South America.”—Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pacific Stars and Stripes, Nov 22.

Full of [it]

“And to those who have argued [that] deterrence is a fading phenomenon, something from the Cold War that is no longer applicable, they are full of [it].”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 26.

Lethal Solution

“The equation is simple: We kill them, or we lose. Fighting fanatics is a zero-sum game. And let’s stop saying, ‘We can’t kill our way out of this problem.’ Faced with faith-drunk killers, there’s no other way out. History doesn’t reveal a single exception.”—Ralph Peters, retired Army officer turned author and columnist, New York Post, Nov. 13.

Nuclear Japan

“It would be [a] good [idea] to have the issue of whether Japan should have nuclear weapons discussed. I think that such a debate alone would enhance Japan’s deterrence against nuclear attacks.”—Gen. Toshio Tamogami, a month after his ouster as chief of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force for declaring that Japan was not an aggressor in World War II, Xinhua News Agency, Dec. 1.

Alternative in Ground War

“We are considering a major infusion of more US troops and dollars into Afghanistan in an effort to thwart a rising Taliban insurgency. An alternative policy would focus much more than we are doing now on training, equipping, and supporting indigenous forces to fight insurgencies in their own region in their own ways, rather than for US forces to do most of the direct fighting. … The direct fighting against insurgents would be done by indigenous forces, not US ground forces, unless necessary.”—Retired Gen. John A. Wickham Jr., Army Chief of Staff from 1983 to 1987, Arizona Daily Star, Nov. 9.

WMD Attack by 2013

“Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.”—Report of Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, New York Times, Dec. 1.

Bush’s Biggest Regret

“The biggest regret of all the Presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction [were] a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my Administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.”—President George W. Bush, ABC News, Dec. 1.

Missing Advocates

“Apart from the Special Forces community and some dissident colonels, however, for decades there has been no strong, deeply rooted constituency inside the Pentagon or elsewhere for institutionalizing the capabilities necessary to wage asymmetric or irregular conflict—and to quickly meet the ever-changing needs of forces engaged in these conflicts.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Foreign Affairs, January.

Unified Korea

“We see a unified Korea as likely by 2025 and assess the peninsula will probably be denuclearized, either via ongoing diplomacy or as a necessary condition for international acceptance and cooperation with a needy new Korea.”—National Intelligence Council report, Washington Times, Nov. 19.


“The rim of the great Asian continent is already home to five nuclear powers: China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Russia.”—US Joint Forces Command report, Nov. 25. The Pentagon subsequently said inclusion of North Korea was a mistake.

Shifted Focus

“Iraq is now a rear-guard action on the part of al Qaeda. They’ve changed their strategic focus not to Afghanistan but to Pakistan, because Pakistan is the closest place where you have the nexus of terrorism and nuclear weapons.”—Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26.

Rumsfeld Calls for Patience

“The singular trait of the American way of war is the remarkable ability of our military to advance, absorb setbacks, adapt, and ultimately triumph based upon the unique circumstances of a given campaign. Thus it has been throughout our history. And thus it will be in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we have the patience and wisdom to learn from our successes, and if our leaders have the wherewithal to persevere even when it is not popular to do so.”—Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, New York Times commentary, Nov. 23.

Internal Combustion

“I’ve already seen how things get worse as the result of an oil price collapse. It’s dangerous—but people who have not governed a nuclear-armed country don’t quite understand that.”—Yegor Gaidar, who was acting prime minister of Russia in 1992, on social unrest generated by the most recent crash of Russian oil industry, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 19.

PR and Propaganda

“Without clearly defined strategic communications responsibilities, DOD may appear to merge inappropriately the public affairs and information operations functions.”—Pentagon inspector general on contracted-out Defense Department “strategic communications” program with blurred lines between public relations and propaganda, Washington Post, Dec. 12.