“Nuclear weapons are inherently dangerous, hugely expensive, militarily inefficient, and morally indefensible. . . . I realize that the notion nuclear weapons bring security–the idea that somehow we were in charge, that somehow all of this was infallible and manageable, and we could make it work . . . is fatally flawed.”–Gen. George Lee Butler, USAF (Ret.), Strategic Air Command’s final commander in chief, in a December 4, 1996, Washington Post article.
“It [abolition of nuclear weapons] is an unachievable goal, and it is a perilous, potentially perilous, goal. Happily, it is unachievable, because if it were not, it would be quite dangerous to the country.
“It is perilous because the smaller the nuclear weapons inventories group, the greater is the premium on having just a few nuclear weapons. Under those circumstances, the inhibition on the use of nuclear weapons would diminish. The chief inhibition on the use of nuclear weapons today is the knowledge that there are powers–most notably the United States–that are in a position to retaliate if weapons are used. . . . “[W]e must recognize . . . that that genie can never be stuffed back in the bottle. You cannot expunge from the mind of man the knowledge of producing nuclear weapons.”–James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975, in a December 4, 1996, appearance on PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.”
“We promised people over the past three or four decades that we would be there for them, cradle to grave, with no-cost health care. I believed that in the ’60s. I believed that in the ’70s. In the ’90s, as we got smaller, we closed 40 percent of the Air Force beds. It’s an undeliverable service in 1996 and beyond: . . . [a] total, in-house, direct, cradle-to-grave health-care system. So, as we get smaller, we’ve got to turn to partnerships with the civilian sector to do it.”–Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Edgar R. Anderson, Jr., Air Force surgeon general, in an interview with Air Force News Service on November 12, 1996, three days before he retired from active duty.
“The power to deny or to destroy is possessed by each of the military services. The contribution of land forces to the joint [military operation] is the power to exercise direct, continuing, and comprehensive control over land, its resources, and its peoples. It is this direct, continuing, and comprehensive control over land, resources, and people that allows land power to make permanent the otherwise transitory advantages achieved by air and naval forces.”–“Army Vision 2010,” a November 1996 US Army white paper spelling out the service’s principles and concept of itself.
“We have successfully achieved every aspect of the military annex and the Dayton agreement, . . . [but] the conditions for peace still do not exist in Bosnia[-Hercegovina], and there’s still the danger that if our forces were to leave Bosnia next month, the war would resume, having thereby lost the very great benefits we got by going in with IFOR in the first place. . . . Putting it in simple terms, the operation was a success, but the patient is still in danger of dying.”–Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, in a November 15, 1996, news conference called to announce that US troops would be staying in Bosnia for another year.
“Our people are very patient, but if it gets into their liver, if patience snaps, nothing can stop them. Then one will have to work very seriously to restore everything to the channel of common sense.”–Alexander Lebed, former Russian chief of national security, in a November 19, 1996, New York press conference wherein he warned of dangers posed by Russia’s “humiliated and pauperized” armed forces.
“Erosion by Design”
“The past four years have witnessed the dramatic decline of the US nuclear weapons complex and the uniquely skilled work force that is responsible for maintaining our nuclear deterrent. The Administration’s laissez-faire approach to stewardship of the nuclear stockpile . . . is clearly threatening the nation’s long-term ability to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile. . . . The Administration’s actions–or, in this case, inactions–speak much louder than its words. . . . In my mind, it’s no longer a question of the Administration’s ‘benign neglect’ of our nation’s nuclear forces but, instead, a compelling case can be made that it is a matter of ‘erosion by design.’ “–Rep. Floyd D. Spence (R-S. C.), chairman of the House National Security Committee, in an October 30, 1996, statement to accompany a report critical of US nuclear management.
Why the JSF
“If I want the F-16 to operate in the 2010 environment–with increasing proliferation of things like SA-10s, -12s, -15s, -17s, which are not only being readily marketed but are being readily consumed around the world–I have to, to make an F-16 survive, add a great deal of packaging and other external support. . . . When we assess the cost of doing that vs. the cost of [building the Joint Strike Fighter] to provide survivability and lethality, this turns out to be the more cost-effective way to do that.”–Lt. Gen. George K. Muellner, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), in a November 16, 1996, Pentagon briefing on the Joint Strike Fighter.