Dec. 1, 1994
The North Korean Nuke Deal

“This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world.”

President Clinton, in October 18, 1994, remarks to the White House press, referring to the agreement between Washington and Pyongyang that limits North Korea’s nuclear program at a cost of US economic and political concessions and inadequate inspections for five years.

Don’t Start Packing Just Yet

“This agreement provides an environment which allows for improvement of the political relationships [between the United States and North Korea]. It does not guarantee that [emphasis added]. If that environment works and if the political agreements do improve, then we can start looking more seriously at our deployments and our equipment. In the meantime, I don’t see any reason for changing them.”

William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, in October 21, 1994, remarks in South Korea about the need to maintain a large US military force on the peninsula to deal with the huge North Korean conventional force. He was referring to the just-completed US­North Korean nuclear accord.

Progress, Popularity, and McPeak

I suspect that somewhere in the tenure of any leader of a large organization, you confront the choice between popularity and progress. Progress on roles and missions will be very unpopular. My standing with my brother service chiefs [on the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and so on is not all that good. The Air Force is activist on this question of roles and missions change. We see it as essential, as really having been necessary for a long time. . . . This is an opportunity to change the way we’re doing business, and that kind of change is not going to be very popular.”

Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, USAF Chief of Staff, in October 11, 1994, remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D. C. General McPeak, who retired on October 25, was referring to his blunt, public calls for all of the armed services to embrace major changes in their roles and missions.

Hollow Force II

“I believe we are now seeing the beginning of a new hollow force. . . . The armed services have been working to preserve current, or near-term, readiness. They are maintaining current readiness at the expense of future, or long-term, readiness. In other words, the services are spending their dollars to keep equipment operating in the high-tempo environment of expanding, nontraditional missions, rather than developing and buying modern equipment. The services are doing this not because it is sound policy but because the Administration has stated that readiness is its number one priority. . . . The services do not have the funds to maintain either current or future readiness, and certainly not both. . . . As a result of the unrealistic objective to maintain the appearance of readiness with current budget levels, both current and future readiness are evaporating.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Armed Services Committee, in a September 1994 report, “Going Hollow: The Warnings of the Chiefs of Staff.”

Supreme National Interests

“I want to make a distinction between national interest and supreme national interest. . . . By supreme national interest, I mean an action that can threaten the survival of the United States or one of our allies. The attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor was a clear example. . . . The Soviet Union during the Cold War threatened the survival of the United States. . . . We still have a situation in Russia that potentially affects the supreme national interest of the United States. . . . The threat from North Korea to South Korea affects the supreme national interest of the United States. . . .

“There are many situations where our national interests are involved, but not our supreme national interest. The two most obvious examples today are in Bosnia and in Haiti. I draw a sharp distinction between these and the previous cases, because the latter do not involve survival of the United States and therefore we don’t contemplate a full-scale war, or even the threat of full-scale war, to deal with these problems.”

Secretary of Defense Perry, in September 21, 1994, remarks to the American Business Conference.

Department of Faint Praise

“I am not sure what [the Smithsonian Institution’s critics] expect in great museums. I believe that our role is not simply to offer a romantic portrait of the nation’s past; Hollywood and Disney do that quite well. Rather, the Smithsonian is dedicated to accuracy and overall balance. . . . We could hardly fill our role as an educational institution if we limited ourselves to uncritical adulation [of the US]. On balance, however, America comes out quite well in the Smithsonian’s exhibits because America, on balance, is a great nation.”

I. Michael Heyman, new head of the Smithsonian Institution, in a letter published October 31, 1994, in US News & World Report. Mr. Heyman was responding to criticisms of the National Air and Space Museum’s proposed exhibit of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic weapon on Hiroshima in August 1945, and other Smithsonian exhibits.

The Delicate Art of Chinese Diplomacy

“We can work together to commonly deal with a bastard.”

Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, in a February 23, 1973, statement to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, referring to the Soviet Union; quoted in a June 13, 1994, Los Angeles Times report on the contents of a secret diplomatic history of Sino-American relations.