Feb. 1, 2011

Hey, Let’s Disarm Ourselves

“For those who say we can’t touch it (the Pentagon budget) and shouldn’t touch it, that’s absurd. We’ve got to. There’s no way we’re going to have the fiscal responsibility we need without addressing defense spending.”—Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), member of the House Appropriations Committee, interview with Reuters, Jan. 4.

Seeing Is Believing

“Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything.”—USAF Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, assistant deputy chief of staff for ISR, on the capabilities of Gorgon Stare, a revolutionary airborne surveillance system. Quoted in Washington Post, Jan. 2.

Auld Lange Psycho

“The danger of war should be removed and peace safeguarded in the Korean Peninsula. If a war breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.”—North Korea’s annual New Year’s message, carried in official state press dispatch, Jan. 1.

Jaws Drop, Minds Boggle

“Our jaws just dropped. I expected a couple dozen garage-shop operations. I didn’t believe there would be an industrial-scale facility, ready and available. … It was a modern facility and with three rows of pairs of centrifuges—altogether, 2,000 centrifuges. It really was mind-boggling.”—US nuclear scientist Siegfried S. Hecker, commenting on North Korea’s new uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon at a seminar at Stanford University, Nov. 29.

Chinese Trajectory

“Today, per capita GDP in China is 19 percent that of the US, compared with 4 percent when economic reform began just over 30 years ago. Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore were already there as early as 1950; Taiwan got there in 1970, and South Korea got there in 1975. … Only a foolhardy man would bet against China’s following the same trajectory in the decades ahead.”—Niall Ferguson, Harvard Business School professor, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18.

Our Man in Kabul

“If I had to choose sides today, I’d choose the Taliban [over the US and the international community]. … We will fight with you against terrorism. But terrorism is not invading Afghan homes.”—Afghan President Hamid Karzai, from an interview quoted in Washington Post, Dec. 13.

No Unscheduled Leave

“This is a survivable event. L.A. isn’t going to fall into the ocean and be gone forever. It will be a really bad day, but we need everyone to show up to work and save lives.”—Brendan Applegate, Naval Postgraduate School Center for Asymmetric Warfare, on prospects for surviving a terrorist nuclear attack in California. Quoted in USA Today, Dec. 16.

Totally Out There

“We’re starting it in July of 2011, and we’re going to be totally out of there, come hell or high water, by 2014.”—Vice President Joseph Biden, remarks about US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Dec. 19.

Invitation of China

“Clearly, China’s communist leadership is not impressed by the Administration’s ending of F-22 production, its retirement of the Navy’s nuclear cruise missile, START treaty reductions in US missile warheads, and its refusal to consider US space warfare capabilities. Such weakness is the surest way to invite military adventurism from China.”—Richard Fisher Jr., Washington, D.C.-based China military-affairs specialist, quoted in Washington Times, Dec. 27.

The Power of Stuxnet

“It is obvious that several years of preparation went into the design of this attack. … Stuxnet is like the arrival of an F-35 fighter jet on a World War I battlefield. The technology is that much superior to anything ever seen before, and to what was assumed possible.”—German Cyber expert Ralph Langner, in a blog post about the Stuxnet computer “worm” that had attacked Iranian nuclear sites, Nov. 19.

Or For That Matter, the Huns’

“To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s.”—Colman McCarthy, director of the Center for Teaching Peace, Washington, D.C., Washington Post, Dec. 30.

A Small World After All

“We are heading for five Typhoon squadrons and one JSF [Joint Strike Fighter] squadron. It will be a six-squadron world. That’s what’s on the books.”—RAF Air Vice Marshal Greg J. Bagwell, commander of RAF’s air combat group, quoted in Defense News, Dec. 11.

High-end Riflemen

“The Marine Corps used to say, ‘Our weapons system is the marine,’ and tout its affordability as a service, but they seem to have become enamored with the very high-end programs that in previous years they would have criticized the Army or the Air Force for pursuing.”—Retired USMC Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., as quoted in New York Times, Jan. 6.

A Hundred Questions Bloom

“When we talk about a threat, it’s a combination of capabilities and intentions. The capabilities are becoming more and more clearly defined, and they’re more and more clearly targeted at limiting American abilities to project military power into the western Pacific. What’s unclear to us is the intent. China’s military modernization is certainly their right. What others question is how that military power is going to be used.”—Abraham M. Denmark, former China country director in the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, quoted in New York Times, Jan. 5.

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