Dec. 1, 2006
Quagmire Theories

“The American people have heard the critics say we’re failing—but their reasons keep changing. In the first days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the critics warned that we were headed toward a ‘quagmire.’ And then when the Taliban fell, and operations began in Iraq, the critics held up the multinational coalition in Afghanistan as a model and said it showed that everything we were doing in Iraq was wrong. And now some of the critics who praised the multinational coalition we built in Afghanistan claim that the country is in danger of failing because we don’t have enough American troops there.”—President Bush, Reserve Officers Association, Sept. 29.


“It seems to me the situation is simply drifting sideways.”—Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, returning from his eighth trip to Iraq, Chicago Tribune Online, Oct. 6.


“We’re starting to see this conflict here transition from an insurgency against us to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis.”—Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of the multinational force in Iraq, Associated Press, Sept. 22.

Wild Blue Wonder

“With one bold leap, the Air Force jumps into first place for having the most distinctive service memorial in the Washington area.”—Washington Post review of the new Air Force Memorial, overlooking Arlington Cemetery and the Pentagon, Oct. 12.

It Ends With “Play Ball”

“A recent Harris poll found that two out of three American adults don’t know all of the words to ‘The Star Spangled Banner’—and many don’t even know which song is our national anthem or why it was written.”—The National Anthem Project, July.

Fools Beware

“My experience with Secretary Rumsfeld is he doesn’t brook fools. But if you come to the table with a solid position, he’s going to listen and he’s going to make a decision based on your input.”—Ret. Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force Chief of Staff and former member of the Defense Policy Board, PBS Online NewsHour, Oct. 2.

Timing Was Right

“After a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.”—President Bush, announcing departure of Donald H. Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, Nov. 8.

Diminishing Influence

“The most important thing the US does in Asia is provide the guarantee of Japanese security, which dampens the chances of strategic competition between Japan and China. But China has grown a lot stronger economically since 2000, and America looks weaker militarily since 9/11, so people in Asia see a more equal relationship between China and America emerging.”—Hugh White, professor of strategic studies, Australian National University, Boston Globe, Sept. 22.

McPeak’s Advice

“Now I think what we must do is just leave. Our presence there sabotages our own national interest. … The situation on the ground will be terrible, but it’s time to face an unpleasant reality. We’re going to lose and it’s irretrievable. … If you keep doing what you have been doing and expect a different result, that’s the clinical definition of insanity.”—Ret. Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff, on the war in Iraq, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn., Oct. 8.

The Long Air War

“We’ve been doing this in the Arabian Gulf in large numbers since August of 1990 when the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing deployed into the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. The Air Force has never left the Middle East. It is critical for us all to understand the following: The Air Force has been in continual combat since that time—16 straight years through operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Vigilant Warrior, Desert Fox, and now Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In fact, we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan 14 months longer than the United States fought World War II.”—Gen. T. Michael Moseley, USAF Chief of Staff, Air Force Print News, Oct. 12.

Space Madness

“We need to stop the madness of piling payloads onto our satellites and get launches on a more regular pace. We have seen huge leaps forward in technology and have tried to push technology into space when it may not have been ready, and that’s damn near killed our launch industry because the schedule has been so badly mauled by delays.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, Defense News, Sept. 25.

The Cyberspace Threat

“Enemies who cannot match us on land, at sea, in the air, or in space are exploiting the fact that in cyberspace you have a very low entry cost. Low cost is what makes that domain extremely attractive to nations, criminal and terrorist organizations who could not possibly attack the United States symmetrically. All you need to do is buy a laptop or a cell phone. As a matter of fact, you can just go to an Internet cafe and not even buy that stuff. You can buy yourself a phone card and you can cause high-impact effects.”—Lani Kass, director of the Air Force Cyberspace Task Force, Air Force Print News, Oct. 5.

Killing Is Insufficient

“We understand that we can’t kill our way to victory. We have to be out ahead of the sound of guns, not chasing the sound of guns.”—Vice Adm. Eric T. Olson, deputy commander, US Special Operations Command, Baltimore Sun, Sept. 24.