Aug. 1, 2003

Terrorists? Where

“ Is there really an entity called al Qaeda? Was it in Afghanistan? Does it exist now?”—Syrian President Bashar Assad, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anba, quoted by Los Angeles Times, May 26.

McPeak and Powell

“ The country is much better off having him where he is—an honest, hardworking guy. I applaud him. … He’s a national resource, a treasure. He hasn’t changed any since he was Chairman. I disagreed with him now and then, sometimes to the point of heated words. He might have been right on some of those issues.”—Retired Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff, about Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speech in Bend, Ore., May 28.

The Bastards in Washington

“ I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media. Not that I cared very much.”—UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, The Guardian (UK), June 11.

France Chides Pentagon

“ The American Defense Secretary believes the United States is the only military, economic, and financial power in the world. We do not share this vision.”—Michele Alliot–Marie, French defense minister, interview with Le Monde, reported by Reuters, June 14.

New and Old Europeans

“ The distinction between old and new in Europe today is really not a matter of age or size or geography. It’s really a matter of attitude, of the vision that countries bring to the trans-Atlantic relationship. … It should come as no surprise that many of the nations with fresh memories of tyranny and occupation have been among those most willing to face the new threats and contribute to dealing with them.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, speech at the Marshall Center, Garmisch–Partenkirchen, Germany, June 11.

Our Bon Amis

“ For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism, and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction by dictators. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain—but enough about the French.”—Lady Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, speech to Atlantic Bridge, New York, May 14.

Threat Not Yet

There is a significant group of people out there who say that China is going to be a military superpower and it will be an adversary to the United States. And it may well turn out that way but not in the near future.”—Harold Brown, former Secretary of Defense and participant in Council on Foreign Relations study that says China’s military is at least two decades away from military challenge to US, New York Times, May 23.

Glad He ’s Gone

“ The [European Union] may have been divided about the means of Iraqi disarmament, but no one contested the objective of disarmament. Europeans had no doubt that Iraq under Saddam was a brutal and murderous regime.”—Guenter Burghardt, European Union ambassador to US, speech at San Diego University, San Diego Union–Tribune, May 23.


“ The war on terrorism is fundamentally altering our global policies. We have discarded our half-century reliance on the Atlantic alliance for collective security. We have marginalized the United Nations at the precise time it should have been empowered to undertake peacemaking roles. And we have alienated key regional powers, including Russia, China, and India, at a time when we should be encouraging them to assume greater responsibilities for regional stability.”—Gary Hart, former US senator and recent Presidential candidate, signed op-ed, Boston Globe, June 2.

Stretching the Facts

“ There is no question in my mind (policy-makers) distorted the situation, either because they had bad intelligence or because they misinterpreted it.”—Stansfield Turner, CIA director in the Carter Administration, on assessment of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, USA Today, June 18.

You’re Outta Here

“ Many poor performers are also just bad employees in general, so you’re lucky if a poor performer comes into work and punches you out. That way you can just fire him.”—Bill Wiley, former Merit Systems Protection Board employee, on the difficulty of firing civil servants, Federal Times, June 9.

Eager To Learn

“ The first time I met Bush 43 I knew he was different. Two things became clear. One, he didn’t know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn’t know very much. Most people are reluctant to say when they don’t know something, a word or a term they haven’t heard before. Not him. You’d raise a point, and he’d say, ‘I didn’t realize that. Can you explain that?’ He was eager to learn.”—Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, on George W. Bush at the beginning of the 2000 election campaign, Vanity Fair, July.

Pluperfect Standard

“ If you’re going to have a doctrine of pre-emption, then you sure as heck better have pluperfect intelligence.”—Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, (D-W.Va.), USA Today, June 6.