March 1, 2005
Part of History

“In five years or 10 years or 20 years when you’re talking to your children or your grandchildren, you’re going to be able to look back on your service here and what’s been accomplished in this country with great pride and know that you have been a part of history.”—Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to US troops in Tikrit, Iraq, Dec. 24.

Not in Ground Combat

“There’s no change of policy as far as I’m concerned. … No women in combat. … Having said that, let me say, we’ve got to make sure we define combat properly. We’ve got women flying choppers and women flying fighters, which I’m perfectly content with. I think you’re talking about ground [combat].”—President Bush, interview with Washington Times, Jan. 11.

Causing Non-Peace

“If Taiwan independence elements unilaterally change the status quo and intentionally divide the nation, under such circumstances China will have no alternative but to use non-peaceful means to solve the problem.”—Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing newspaper, Wen Wei Po, as quoted by Reuters, Dec. 26.

McGovern’s Reasoning

“I’m for keeping Donald H. Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense because he is against increasing the number of American soldiers in Iraq. Sending more soldiers only means more targets for those Iraqis who don’t want our Army occupying their country.”—George McGovern, former Senator from South Dakota and 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee, letter to New York Times, Dec. 25.


“The Air Force and the Navy are paying the bills to fix the Army’s shortfall in resources.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, Washington Post, Jan. 5.

Abe Rumsfeld

“Rumsfeld needs to take a cue from Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and other great military leaders of democracies. By all means, he should challenge, cajole, probe, and question his uniformed military—and then challenge them again. But he should also encourage true dialogue, in the hope of achieving a dynamic, creative tension within the Pentagon on everything from warfighting to transformation. This is the path to healthy civil-military relations—and to true civilian control of the military.”—Mackubin Thomas Owens, Naval War College, National Review Online, Jan. 5.

Why Catch Osama

“You can make the argument that we’re better off with him [at large]. Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror.”—A.B. Krongard, departing CIA executive, London’s Sunday Times, Jan. 9.

Generals and Politics

“I don’t know of any precedent for something like this. A retired group of military officers bands together to virtually oppose a Cabinet nominee? And a nonmilitary one? It’s highly unusual, to say the least.”—Richard H. Kohn, former Air Force historian, on a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee signed by a dozen high-ranking military officers (including retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak) expressing “deep concern” about the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be attorney general, Washington Post, Jan. 4.

Wasted on Retirees

“To the extent that added pay and benefits ensure the nation does right by the men and women who fight for it, these [personnel cost] increases would seem worthwhile. Unfortunately, a large share of new spending is devoted not to helping soldiers serving today, but to improving the benefits for military retirees—that is, the small minority of veterans who stay in the military for 20 years or more and are eligible for immediate benefits upon retirement. … These deferred entitlements do nothing to help men and women now in uniform.”—Cindy Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program, New York Times, Jan. 11.

Al Qaeda and WMD

“I would say that from the perspective of terrorism, the overwhelming bulk of the evidence we have is that their efforts are focused on biological and chemical [weapons]. Not to say there aren’t any dealings with radiological materials, but the technology for bio and chem is comparatively so much easier that that’s where their efforts are concentrating.”—John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Washington Post, Dec. 29.

Lack of Postwar Plan

“While there may have been ‘plans’ at the national level, and even within various agencies within the war zone, none of these ‘plans’ operationalized the problem beyond regime collapse. There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations.”—Army Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, an official historian of the campaign in Iraq, in a study obtained and quoted by the Washington Post, Dec. 25.

Four Things To Do

“The US should consider four collaborative steps with both traditional and potential allies, including Russia and China. First, it should broaden joint experimentation. Second, a collaborative ‘spiral’ development program should be adopted for similar classes of information technology. Spiral development involves the early use of prototype equipment by troops to test it. Third, the US should dramatically expand its multinational R&D efforts. Finally, personnel exchanges within each of the three areas should be expanded.”—Arthur K. Cebrowski, then Pentagon director of force transformation, London’s Financial Times, Jan. 5.