Aug. 1, 2011

McCain on “Decisive” Airpower

“I’ve always been in favor of the use of additional airpower [in Libya]. The AC-130 gunships and the A-10 are unique assets the United States has. … It’s wide open spaces, and airpower can have a decisive role.”—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), interview with the Financial Times, published July 5.

No “Hollow Force”

“Even as the United States addresses fiscal challenges at home, there will be no hollow force on my watch. … I do not believe in the false choice between fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.”—New Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, e-mail message to US servicemen and -women, July 1.

USAF and the Seven Dwarfs

“That first night, coalition airpower decimated the Libyan regime’s ability to launch air attacks against its own population and stopped the armored columns advancing on Benghazi. By the end of March, our Air Force contributed over 65 percent of coalition sorties, providing more than 99 percent of all operational airlift, filling over 70 percent of the coalition’s air-refueling requirements, and supplying 50 percent of the reconnaissance and 40 percent of the strike sorties.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, in statement, July 4.

As He Has Before

“I advise you to withdraw, or everything you have will be destroyed. This people [can] convey the battle to the Mediterranean and can transmit it to Europe. … Your homes, your offices, and your families can be legitimate military targets as you did make our offices and our houses and our children legitimate military targets.”—Col. Muammar Qaddafi, speech in Tripoli, Libya, July 1.

Delayed Reaction

“The political penalties for cutting weapons systems and delaying reinvestment in equipment and infrastructure are close to zero for those in office today. But the penalty for being ill-prepared tomorrow … can be measured in American lives lost. … [Former Pentagon chief] Gates has said that he’s already made the ‘easy’ cuts, yet there are serious questions whether some of them—such as reducing the number of F-22 fighters, Navy cruisers, missile-defense interceptors, and strategic delivery systems—leave America ill-prepared for a conventional conflict and erode the strong deterrent necessary to prevent it.”—Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Wall Street Journal, July 1.

Gates at the Bridge

“People in [the Pentagon] understand that we’re going to have to make some contribution to getting the deficit down, but at the same time, the external factors that drive the size of our forces haven’t changed at all. If anything, they are getting more worrisome.”—Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, remarks in interview with Bloomberg News, June 29.

Gates, a Second Opinion

“Bob Gates is likely to be remembered as the man who enabled the very thing he’s warning against right now—namely, dramatic cuts in the modernization of our forces, the hollowing out of the United States military, and a weakening of the United States to project power and be a credible ally in an increasingly dangerous world. This is the irony of his now Hamlet-esque warnings. Much of this is a direct result of his own tenure.”—Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy, quoted in Washington Times, June 27.

Come Home, America

“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. … America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”—President Obama, televised White House speech announcing the first troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, June 22.

Airpower, and Only Airpower

“As globalization continues to give rise to more numerous and shared interests around the world—and as technology further enables ever-more-rapid rates of change—only airpower’s ability to traverse vast distances with unmatched speed and unparalleled versatility can provide truly timely and high-confidence national responses.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, remarks to Global Air Chiefs Conference in Turkey, July 2.

Our Man in Kabul

“President Karzai … appears to be increasingly estranged not only from his NATO allies but also from reality. … In a speech earlier this month, Karzai suggested to an audience of his countrymen that NATO forces were using nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. … It will not be difficult to say goodbye to a man like this.”—Dexter Filkins, writing in The New Yorker, July 4.

Smallness All Around

“If Americans were to hear Karzai’s ingratitude as often as they were exposed to Anthony Weiner’s private parts, US troops would be on their way out of Afghanistan next week.”—Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in Daily Beast, June 20.

John Wilkes Obama

“The most protracted and least surreptitious assassination attempt in history.”—Columnist George F. Will’s description of US intervention against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, in the Washington Post, June 19.

Cyber Life, Cyber Death

“Just as nuclear warfare was the strategic war of the industrial era, cyber warfare has become the strategic war of the information era, and this has become a form of battle that is massively destructive and concerns the life and death of nations.”—Senior Col. Ye Zheng and Zhao Baoxian, strategists in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences, as quoted in Reuters dispatch from Beijing, June 3.

Entangling Alliance

“Ten years ago, US defense investment represented almost half of all defense expenditure in the whole alliance. Today it is 75 percent. … The American people ask, and legitimately so, Why should we carry the heavy burden to ensure international peace and stability?”—NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, interview with The Guardian, June 16.