Jan. 1, 2007

“That’s a bunch of hooey. I mean, it seems to be a collection of actually old hooey brought into a piece of new hooey.”—Press Secretary Tony Snow, denying newspaper reports of a “course correction” on strategy in Iraq, White House news briefing, Oct. 19.

Not Hooey

“The idea of ‘stay the course’ is you’ve done one thing, you kick back and wait for it. And this has always been a dynamic policy that is aimed at moving forward at all times on a number of fronts. … So what you have is not ‘stay the course.’ … That is not a ‘stay the course’ policy.”—Press Secretary Snow, confirming that the President has stopped using the slogan “stay the course,” White House news briefing, Oct. 23.

Cakewalk Man Recants

“I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly dysfunctional.”—Kenneth Adelman, neoconservative activist and former Administration insider who predicted in February 2002 that the war in Iraq would be “a cakewalk,” Vanity Fair, Nov. 3.

Honest Scrub

“We need to give ourselves a good, honest scrub about what is working and what is not working, what are the impediments to progress, and what should we change about the way we’re doing it to ensure that we get to the objective that we’ve set for ourselves.” —Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Iraq strategy, “The Early Show,” CBS, Nov. 10.

The Whole Story

“Senior military officers in Rumsfeld’s watch felt their counsel was only welcomed when it was congenial to Rumsfeld’s view, and they now want the whole story, good and bad, to be reflected in whatever strategy the Administration pursues.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, on the Pentagon after the departure of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington Post, Nov. 11.

Soul of the Force

“General Moseley [T. Michael Moseley, USAF Chief of Staff] likes to say, ‘The soul of an Air Force is range and payload.’ I would salt and pepper ‘persistence’ in there as well. That is why after 53 years we are again seeking strategic assets in the form of new tankers and bombers to meet our strategic responsibilities.”—Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, speech to Precision Strike Association, Oct. 19.

Assertiveness in Space

“Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as airpower and space power.”—Introduction to new National Space Policy, released Oct. 6.

The Pols and the Polls

“Last week an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported the lowest public approval rating for Congress since 1992. What I wondered about was this: Who are the 16 percent who approve?”—Columnist Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, Oct. 25.

Future of Unmanned Aircraft

“We need for unmanned aircraft to act like manned aircraft. We need unmanned aircraft to be tasked like manned aircraft. We need unmanned aircraft to fly in strike packages with manned aircraft. We need to refuel them in the air. We should be capable of flying both manned and unmanned platforms together, to include multiple unmanned airframes controlled by one operator. And we need commanders to have the confidence that unmanned or manned, it doesn’t make a difference, as they are equally effective.”—Gen. William T. Hobbins, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, speech at Joint Air Power Competence Center in Germany, Oct. 18.

Oops, Again

“This letter is to inform you that you were among a number of veterans we provide pulmonary care service for at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, New York campus, whose personal information is on a computer that was stolen from the facility.”—Letter from Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans in New York, about yet another theft of a VA laptop, this one having happened on Sept. 6, almost two months before the letter was sent on Oct. 20.

Why We Lose

“Great powers have often performed poorly in wars against weaker enemies waging irregular warfare—so-called small wars. Such enemies have a greater will to win because they have a greater stake in the war’s outcome. In Vietnam, the Americans waged a limited war while the Vietnamese communists waged a total one. The communists sacrificed the lives of 1.1 million soldiers to win, whereas the United States quit after losing a comparatively paltry 58,000.”—Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, Baltimore Sun, Oct. 15.

Can’t Win ’Em All

“Would Defeat in Iraq Be So Bad?”

—Headline on commentary by Leslie Gelb, study director in the 1960s of the secret “Pentagon Papers,” later New York Times correspondent and president of Council on Foreign Relations, Time magazine, Oct. 23.

Noam Picks His Side

“North Korea faces the threat of the nuclear weapons the United States has in the region and, therefore, it needs to defend itself.”—Noam Chomsky, radical US academician and activist, justifying North Korea’s nuclear tests to reporters during a visit to South America,, Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 16.

The Change in War

“The Wrights invented the plane in 1903, but only 11 years after Kitty Hawk, in the first months of World War I, airplanes not only shaped the war but triggered a series of cascading events. There was a profound military effect. With air reconnaissance, commanders realized very quickly they had to deny the skies to the enemy.”—Richard P. Hallion, former chief historian of the Air Force, PBS television series “Warplane,” Nov. 8.