June 1, 2010

It Never Happened

“Sept. 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the War on Terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Washington Post, March 7.

Not a War

“There is no cyberwar. I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept.”—Obama Administration cybersecurity czar Howard Schmidt, declaring that the focus should instead be on fighting online crime and espionage,, March 4.

The Outlook for Osama

“Let’s deal with reality. The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom. The possibility of catching him alive is infinitesimal. He will be killed by us or he will be killed by his own people so he can’t be captured by us.”—Attorney General Eric Holder, Associated Press, March 16.

No New F-15s or F-16s

“We do not think it is wise to dissipate the limited pool of resources that we have available for [the] F-35 by procuring new, lesser capable aircraft that will last as long.”—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Reuters, March 30.

Army’s Own Airpower

“The airpower provided by our sister services has dominated the third dimension, but the Army is unable to leverage that third dimension. [During the past year], we’ve had two combat outposts overrun by superior forces. Those are losses that we consider unacceptable, because we couldn’t see what was going on around the outposts.”Timothy Muchmore, director of Army Quadrennial Defense Review, on Army need for its own remotely piloted aircraft, National Defense, April.

Crud Cruise Missiles

“One of my very real concerns is the ability of a nation state or a non-nation-state actor to gain access to a lower-tech missile that could be launched from somewhere off our shore. … Our ability to detect what I’ll call cruise missiles or crud cruise missiles is limited to the existing radar systems that we have today. … This is an area [where] we have concern, and we’re continuing to work within the department to expand.”—Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander, US Northern Command and NORAD, House Armed Services Committee, March 18.

Watch Out Below

“My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”—Rep. Henry C. Johnson (D-Ga.), House Armed Services Committee hearing on stationing troops on Guam, March 26.

New Approach to History

“I wanted to increase the focus on joint, interagency, coalition warfare and expose the cadets to more of that. That’s much different than the wars our history department was teaching. … No one service does its missions without the capabilities brought by other services, but for our airmen to understand the challenges of our brethren on the ground, it is paramount.”—Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 29.

Vanishing Air Superiority

“One of these days, over the Taiwan straits or Central Asia, we will learn that eternal air superiority is not guaranteed to the United States as some kind of codicil to Manifest Destiny. American air forces will inevitably suffer a whipping unlike any they’ve endured in decades, and American troops and sailors will have to learn how to operate in conditions where we lack air superiority, something unheard of since 1943.”—J. R. Dunn, American Thinker, March 4.

Fighter Risk

“It appears to me that the recommendation to retire 250 fighters from the Air Force and the subsequent budget reductions were made before the Secretary of Defense announced he was terminating the F-22 production and before any of us learned of the years of delay now forecast in Joint Strike Fighter fielding. So while the Air Force assumptions back in 2008 led to a conclusion that short-term risk was manageable, the fact is today those assumptions are not reality. Despite that, it appears the Air Force is going ahead with the plan.”—Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.), House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on Navy and Air Force combat aviation programs, March 24.

Russia and Its Terrorists

“We have torn off the heads of the most odious bandits, but clearly this was not enough. [Expanded measures] need to be not just more effective, but harsher, crueler.”—Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Wall Street Journal, April 2.

Wars of Racism

“Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different. Does that sound familiar, by any chance, to what’s going on today?”

—Actor Tom Hanks, co-producer of HBO series “The Pacific,” declaring World War II in the Pacific to have been a war of racism and terror, Time, March 11.

Division of Labor

“In the early 1980s, US officials were particularly worried that the system for command and control of nuclear weapons had become outdated and began taking actions to improve it. One day, President Ronald Reagan told one of his assistants, Thomas C. Reed, that he didn’t want to fly away in a helicopter if there was a nuclear alert. ‘I want to sit here in the office,’ Reagan said. Referring to Vice President George H. W. Bush, Reagan added, ‘Getting into the helicopter is George’s job.’”—David E. Hoffman, Foreign Policy, April 2.

Importing Sand to Iraq

“Based on the specs that we have for blast walls, it takes a particular grain and quality of sand. That sand is not in Iraq, so you have to bring the sand in.”—Maj. Gen. Phillip E. McGhee, director of resource management for US Third Army, New York Times, March 31.