March 1, 2011

No Exit

“Abu Ghraib and its follow-on effects, including the continued drum-beat of ‘torture’ maintained by partisan critics of the war and the President, became a damaging distraction. More than anything else I have failed to do, … I regret that I did not leave at that point.”—excerpt from Known and Unknown, the memoir of former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, published Feb. 8.

Torture at Club Gitmo

“A 48-year-old former Taliban commander dropped dead, apparently of a heart attack, after exercising on an elliptical machine in the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.”—from Los Angeles Times story about the demise of detainee Awal Gul, Feb. 4.

Calling Madame Defarge

“The worldwide euphoria that has greeted the Egyptian uprising is understandable. All revolutions are blissful in the first days. The romance could be forgiven if this were Paris 1789. But it is not. In the intervening 222 years, we have learned how these things can end. … Yes, the Egyptian revolution is broad-based. But so were the French and the Russian and the Iranian revolutions.”—Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, Feb. 4.

All You Need Is Love

“Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”—President Obama, State of the Union address, Jan. 25.

Retirement Planning

“Development of this new bomber will leverage more mature technologies, and we think will reduce the risk in the program, allow us to deliver with greater confidence on schedule and in quantities sufficient to support the long-term sustainment of long-range bomber capabilities after the current fleets of B-1s and B-52s retire.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, in remarks to reporters in Washington, D.C., about prospective launch of a new long-range strike program, Jan. 12.

Go With Pharaoh

“Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things, and he’s been very responsible. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”—Vice President Joseph Biden, remarks made in PBS “NewsHour” interview, Jan. 27.

Previously, They Were Alive

“After the great increase in American drone attacks, we see very few fighters, particularly foreign militants. Previously, they used to roam around in large numbers fearlessly.”—Aslam Wazir, shopkeeper in Mir Ali, Pakistan, as quoted in Washington Times, Jan. 16.

Let the Next Guy Do It

“Two of the JSF variants—the Air Force version and the Navy’s carrier-based version—are proceeding satisfactorily. By comparison, the Marine Corps’ short takeoff and vertical landing variant is experiencing significant testing problems. … I am placing the STOVL variant on the equivalent of a two-year probation. If we cannot fix this variant during this timeframe and get it back on track in terms of performance, cost, and schedule, then I believe it should be canceled.—Remarks about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Jan 6.

Inchon, September 1950

“Our nation’s amphibious capability remains the Corps’ priority.”—Statement by Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, Jan. 6.

Amphib-o-nomics, Simplified

“The EFV … has already consumed more than $3 billion to develop, and will cost another $12 billion to build, all for a fleet with the capacity to put 4,000 troops ashore.”—Gates, regarding cancellation of the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, an amphibious craft, Jan. 6.

Get the Net

“That’s the [US] attitude: ‘We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals.’ That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command. … This is not an atypical attitude among some military. It’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function. … They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins.”—Vaunted journalist Seymour Hersh, remarks in Doha, Qatar, as recounted by Blake Hounshell in Foreign Policy Magazine, Jan. 18.

We’ll Always Have Inchon

“I personally think he [Gates] is trying to destroy the Marine Corps. If you take away their core competency [amphibious warfare], you’re not going to have a Marine Corps anymore.”—Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), former marine, in blast at Gates on EFV decision, in Politico, Jan. 6.

Uh, Which Military Was That

“As a woman, I found the US military to be one of the best places to work because they had completely removed sex from the equation. It is the most un-sexist environment I have ever worked in. … It is not quite natural.”—Emma Sky, British advisor to US commanders in Iraq, quoted in Washington Post, Jan. 9.

Strangers in the Night

“America doesn’t know its military and the United States military doesn’t know America.”—Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in speech at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10.

Gorby Un-Mania

“He tricked us! I knew he would betray us!”—The late Saddam Hussein, quoted in New York Times, Jan. 19. The Times story, based on Iraqi archives, refers to Saddam’s Feb. 24, 1991, blast at then-Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who had failed to prevent a US ground invasion.

Sure To Be Helpful

“Officials Provide Advice on Post-Deployment Intimacy Issues.—Actual headline on American Forces Press Service item, Jan. 27.