Jan. 1, 2011

China’s the One

“The Chinese have enormous influence over [North Korea], … and yet, … they appear unwilling to use it. … We appreciate Beijing’s offer to propose an emergency six-party gathering, but … we first need an appropriate basis for the resumption of talks. There is none, so long as North Korea persists in its illegal, ill-advised, and dangerous behavior. … China has unique influence. Therefore, they bear unique responsibility. Now is the time for Beijing to step up to that responsibility.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Dec. 8 remarks to the press in Seoul, South Korea.

Tale of Two Pilots

“I don’t know what ‘fifth generation’ means, except that, when I talk to an F-22 pilot, he makes it clear that he flies a fifth generation jet, and I don’t.”—Maj. Chris Cassem, F-15E pilot at the USAF Weapons School, Nov. 30, Aviation Week.

Oh, Shut Up

“It is entirely possible that [North Korea’s] recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang’s shelling of a South Korean island … are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future.”—Former President Jimmy Carter, Nov. 24, Washington Post.

Bipolar Briefings

“Gates Gets a Sobering War Update”—Headline on Dec. 8 Los Angeles Times dispatch from Kabul, Afghanistan. “Petraeus Gives Gates an Upbeat Assessment”—Dec. 8, headline on National Journal story from Kabul.

Signifying Nothing

“Do Europeans want to be actors on the international stage, or do they want to be the actors in a play they are not writing? At the pace we’re going, Europe is progressively becoming a protectorate, and in 50 years, we will become the game in a balancing act between the new powers and will be under a Sino-American dominion.”—Former French Defense Minister Herve Morin, quoted in the Dec. 5 Los Angeles Times.

Darth Obama

“In the first 20 months of the Obama Administration, the CIA reportedly conducted at least 126 … drone strikes in Pakistan—nearly triple the Bush Administration’s total—killing at least 800 people. As many as 15 other significant commanders in al Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated groups have been felled by drones under Obama.”—Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, both of the New America Foundation, writing in December 2010 issue of The Atlantic.

Boots in the Air

“I would argue that there isn’t an Army remotely piloted aircraft operator who has a clue on how to operate in international airspace. This is not a pejorative comment. I am just saying what the reality is.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, Oct. 6, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Dear Jackass

“The government of Kim Jong Il has been determined to do anything but interconnect with the rest of the world. … Such despotic regimes understand [they] … can inflict large-scale damage through cyber attacks. After all, it is not so painful to disrupt the information superhighway if you are riding a mule.”—Former Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-Va.), High Frontier, the Air Force Space Command journal, released Nov. 15.

Sen. Maverick (R-Ariz.)

“McCain is not a big fan of the Air Force. In fact, he hates the Air Force.”—F. Whitten Peters, former Secretary of the Air Force, speaking of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in “Own the Sky” in the November Washingtonian Magazine.

Anchors A-Waste

“I’m convinced that China will, within 10 years, certainly, have aircraft carriers or air-capable ships of a sort. I think that’s great. I think I love this. As a former Navy guy, I’d love to see China invest all its money in aircraft carriers, which are more and more just big submarine targets.”—Bernard Cole, National War College professor, in a Nov. 5 lecture to Center for National Policy, Washington, D.C.

Sunshine Patriots, Santa Fe Div.

“We always thank our servicemen and our veterans. We pray for their safety. To then turn around and say, ‘But we don’t want to be inconvenienced in the least by your getting the training you need,’ is hypocritical.”—Chris Calvert, former USAF pilot and now member of Santa Fe City Council, N.M., quoted in the Nov. 8 Wall Street Journal. Calvert was referring to critics of USAF training flights in the area.

Nukes Are Iran’s Choice

“The only long-term solution in avoiding an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it’s not in their interest. Everything else is a short-term solution, is a two-to-three-year solution. And if it’s a military solution, as far as I’m concerned, it will only make them—it will bring together a divided nation, it will make them absolutely committed to attaining nuclear weapons, and they will just go deeper and more covert.”—Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, remarks to the Wall Street Journal CEO Conference, Washington, D.C., Nov. 16.

Wait! What Means “Stealth”

“The radar network acts as the watchful eyes of the air defense system in all the border areas of the country and in various locations, detecting the slightest movements within the skies of the Islamic Republic, accurately monitoring them all.”—Iranian Air Marshal Hamid Arzhangi, Nov. 19 remarks to Fars News Agency, regarding Iran’s new air defense system.

Well, Of Course It Is!

“An unusual breed of Asian snakes can glide long distances in the air, and the Department of Defense is funding research at Virginia Tech to find out why.”—From a Nov. 23 Washington Post story, “Pentagon Seeks Flying Snakes’ Secret.”