June 1, 2009

What Terrorism

“In my speech, although I did not use the word ‘terrorism,’ I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”—Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, Spiegel Online, March 16.

What War

“This Administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT). Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”—E-mail from Office of Management and Budget, officially downplayed as the “opinion of a career civil servant,” Washington Post, March 25.

What Don’t You Understand

“The Administration has stopped using the phrase, and I think that speaks for itself.”—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the rebranding of the “War on Terror,” Wall Street Journal,March 31.


“If it’s appropriate, I’ll use it [Global War on Terror]. … Perhaps a better— another way—to refer to it would be, you know,a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm.”—Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, March 25.

God and the QDR

“If God really hates you, you may end up working on a Quadrennial Defense Review: the most pointless and destructive planning effort imaginable. You will waste two years on a document decoupled from a real-world force plan, from an honest set of decisions about manpower or procurement, with no clear budget or [future years defense plan], and with no metrics to measure or determine its success. If God merely dislikes you, you may end up helping your service Chief or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs draft one of those vague, anodyne strategy documents that is all concepts and no plans or execution. If God is totally indifferent, you will end up working on our national strategy and simply be irrelevant.”—Anthony H. Cordesman, National Defense University, March 11.

Nuclear Free

“The United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.”—President Obama, speech in Czech Republic, April 5.

Behind in Influence

“This is a disaster for the Air Force and airpower in general. I think you would have to read into the recommendation that the Air Force doesn’t have the political influence of the other services.”—Loren B. Thompson, Lexington Institute, on major shifts proposed in the defense budget, with Air Force programs taking heavy cuts, Dayton Daily News, April 7.

NATO in Its Dotage

“Present-day NATO is a shadow of what it once was. Calling it a successful alliance today is the equivalent of calling General Motors a successful car company—it privileges nostalgia over self-awareness.”—Andrew J. Bace-vich, Boston University, Los Angeles Times, April 2.

The Robots Decide

“The trend is clear. Warfare will continue and autonomous robots will ultimately be deployed in its conduct. The time available to make the decision to shoot or not to shoot is becoming too short for remote humans to make intelligent informed decisions.”—Ronald Arkin, Georgia Institute of Techno-logy, in a study commissioned by the Army, Chicago Tribune, March 30.

Stakes in Pakistan

“Pakistan is 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the US Army, and al Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn’t control. The Pakistani military and police and intelligence service don’t follow the civilian government; they are essentially a rogue state within a state. … The collapse of Pakistan, al Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover—that would dwarf everything we’ve seen in the War on Terror today.”—David Kilcullen, Australian anthropologist and advisor to Gen. David H. Petraeus during troop surge in Iraq, Washington Post, March 22.

Ballistic Missiles Passé

“Ballistic missiles are about as passé as e-mail. Nobody does it anymore. If you’re going to do something over the next couple of years to address the unknown, then my dollar is going to go toward sensor and command and control.”—Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on missile defense, Reuters, March 23.

What Ails Procurement

“The defense procurement system is a mess, and previous Pentagon reforms have faltered, thanks mostly to the micromanagers on Capitol Hill who are often more interested in funneling money to their home states than in spending dollars most effectively. Democrats and Republicans both belly up to this bar, usually while castigating the executive branch for failing to make ‘tough choices.’”—Wall Street Journal editorial, April 10.

All In

“Let there be no doubt—we, in your Air Force, are ‘all in’ and ready to ‘double down’ in the face of adversity. Our priority is to partner with the joint and coalition team to win today’s fight. … We are taking every feasible initiative to serve as a trustworthy partner in delivering game-changing capabilities with precision and reliability. … Hear me loud and clear when I say that we are all in. This is our priority as an Air Force.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, American Legion annual conference, March 3.