Dec. 1, 1998
Overseas Presence

“In past years, USAF has tended to pay less attention to overseas presence than did the Navy. The emerging situation [in regional theaters] suggests that USAF should broaden its thinking in this arena. USAF forces may at least be required to perform a host of new missions in outlying areas. Beyond this, USAF forces may come to play a larger role in overseas presence than is the case today, and its overseas deployments may increase.

“Alternatively, other services may experience declining overseas commitments in ways that shift the spotlight toward the Air Force. If the future emphasis of overseas presence is to be quick power projection, USAF forces are clearly well-suited to playing a major role. Thus, the future agenda for US overseas presence offers the Air Force important opportunities if it is willing to rise to the challenge.

“How could the future agenda affect specific USAF plans and programs? … [F]uture requirements for stationing US forces overseas could necessitate more than the 20 fighter wings now in the USAF posture. … [N]ew or expanded overseas air bases and infrastructure may become critically important in the coming years. … [F]uture overseas missions may place a greater premium on long-range operations.”–From a November 1998 Rand study, “Changes Ahead: Future Directions for the US Overseas Military Presence,” by Richard L. Kugler.

Powder Keg

“For many Russians, angst about their future is compounded by suspicion about the US’ strategic intentions. The Russian press has carried numerous articles suggesting that, under the guise of “partnership,” the US is pursuing a hidden agenda not only to keep Russia weak but to bring about its fragmentation. …

“Nothing could be further from the truth. The US supports a unitary Russian state, within its current borders. The violent breakup of Russia would be immensely dangerous and destabilizing. When Czechoslovakia split in two in 1992, it was called the velvet divorce. But multiple divorces among, and perhaps within, the 89 regional entities of Russia would almost certainly not be velvet. The horror that has unfolded over the past several years in the Balkans might be replayed across 11 time zones, with 30,000 nuclear weapons in the mix.”–Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state, in a Nov. 6, 1998, speech at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

What He Was After

“At various times from at least as early as 1993, Osama bin Laden and others, known and unknown, made efforts to obtain the components of nuclear weapons. … At various times from at least as early as 1993 Osama bin Laden and others, known and unknown, made efforts to produce chemical weapons.”–From text of a Nov. 5, 1998, federal indictment returned in New York against Saudi terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

We Know the Feeling

“It is astonishing, as well as dismaying, that some of our national custodians feel morally impelled to impugn American science in the public’s eye. … Professor Gerald Holton, physicist and historian of science at Harvard University, [has] described how the Smithsonian Institution blindsided the American Chemical Society. This affair had received far less publicity than the notorious Enola Gay exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. … But, in many ways, it is a more telling example of the kind of politics that seems to predominate at the Smithsonian.

“In 1989 … the ACS commissioned the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to design a permanent exhibit on ‘Science in American Life.’ The ACS scientists naturally expected an exhibit celebrating the triumphs of American science and did not imagine that this needed to be spelled out in the contract. Five years and $5 million later, what the scientists got was an exhibition that presented American science as a series of moral debacles and environmental catastrophes: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Silent Spring, Love Canal, Three Mile Island, and the explosion of the space shuttle.”–“Fleeing Science and Reason,” by Christina Hoff Summers, in the September/October The American Enterprise.

Frequent Resort

“Our credibility in dissuading … rogues from attacking our interests, from developing and then using nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, is diminishing before our eyes and the eyes of the world. … Ironically, the lack of a strong military leads only to its more frequent use. The Reagan Administration sent forces abroad 18 times to tamp down crises; the Bush Administration, 14 times. So far in the Clinton Administration, … forces have been deployed some 50 times. These are costly deployments. Haiti alone cost $2 billion. Bosnia is well over $9 billion per year by the most conservative accounting and still climbing.”–John F. Lehman Jr., Navy secretary 1981­87, writing in the October 1998 American Spectator.

Cruising With Clinton

“When US leaders who are ill at ease with US power hear the word ‘duty,’ they reach for their cruise missiles. Those weapons provide telegenic, antiseptic action-at-a-distance. They make possible illusory decisiveness, without follow-through. The Clinton Administration has used them as a substitute for serious policy regarding Iraq and terrorism. Now cruise missiles may be fired to express ersatz seriousness about Serbia’s actions in the province of Kosovo. Someone the New York Times identifies as ‘a senior Administration official who requested anonymity’–one can see why–said, ‘We are at last serious.’ “–Political commentator George F. Will, writing in the Oct. 10, 1998, Chicago Sun-Times.