April 1, 2012

Readiness Over Size

“We made a deliberate decision to avoid a ‘hollow force’ by prioritizing readiness over force structure. A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, remarks on release of new USAF force structure changes, March 6.

Cleared for “Lethal Force”

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack. In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force. … Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”—Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., remarks to Northwestern University law school, Chicago, March 5.

Beyond Containment

“I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”—President Barack Obama, address to annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C., March 4.

Good Questions

“If there is no weapons program, what does Iran have to hide? If there is no nuclear weapons program, why are they putting their nuclear centrifuges deep underground?”—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testimony to House Appropriations subcommittee, Feb. 29.

One View of Nukes …

“It seems to me, if we end up with 500 nuclear weapons and ‘Country A’ has a couple hundred, … all the incentive in the world is for them to catch us, because it’s not that far and not that hard for them to do.”—Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), commenting on reports that the Obama Administration was eyeing an 80 percent cut in US nuclear weapons, at hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Feb. 15.

… and Another from Putin

“We should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak. We will, under no circumstances, surrender our strategic deterrent capability. Indeed, we will strengthen it.”—Vladimir Putin, now Russian President-elect, in an article titled “Being Strong,”, Feb. 21.

Ask Him About the Holocaust

“Ever since I was a national Diet representative, I have said [repeatedly] there was no [Nanjing] massacre that resulted in murders of several hundred thousands of people. We need to talk about this publicly without hesitation, instead of behind the scenes.”—Takashi Kawamura, mayor of Japanese city of Nagoya, on the subject of the Japanese Army’s 1937-1938 murder of as many as 300,000 in the captured Chinese city of Nanjing, quoted in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23.

Genetic Disorder

“After every war, we’ve brought down our military so we’re not ready for the next time we’re attacked. It’s kind of our DNA. I have a real problem with that. … Why take 50 percent of the savings out of 20 percent of the budget? You know, we need to get to where the real problem is. The Defense Department is not the problem.”—Rep. Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, remarks on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” March 4.

Thanks. We Feel Much Better Now

“You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land [area] and a long coastline, but our outlays on defense are quite low compared to other major countries. China’s limited military power is for the sake of preserving national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity. Fundamentally, it constitutes no threat to other countries.”—Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for China’s Parliament, remarks to a news conference at the National People’s Congress, quoted by, March 4.

To Apologize …

“Why wouldn’t we [apologize to Afghanistan]? This is the central word of God for them. Why wouldn’t we? We didn’t do it on purpose but we should apologize, and we did.”—Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, US commander in Afghanistan, commenting on US apology for inadvertently burning Korans, “ABC World News,” March 5.

… or Not To Apologize

“We’ve made an enormous contribution to help the [Afghan] people. … For us to be apologizing at a time like this is something which is very difficult for the American people to countenance.”—Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, remarks on “Fox News Sunday,” Feb. 26.

We Get Eyeballs

“The Pentagon has what Hollywood wants, which is ships and planes and helicopters and personnel. And Hollywood has what the Pentagon wants, which is eyeballs. It’s product placement.”—David L. Robb, author of Operation Hollywood, a book about connections between the Pentagon and the movie industry, Washington Post, Feb. 25.

Syrian Gas

“The growing breakdown of order and security in Syria could place its significant stockpiles of poison gases and operational chemical weapons at risk. … In the event of a regime collapse, it is difficult to overstate the danger these weapons could pose to allies and US forces in the region if they fall into the wrong hands.”—Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Feb. 17.

But Not Often

“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, commenting on USAF’s decision to set aside its award of a contract for light attack aircraft, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 29.