May 1, 2012

He’s a New Man. Oh, Wait …

“We are approaching a stage where narrow-mindedness is a killer.”—The late Osama bin Laden, comment in personal papers seized from his Pakistan hideout, Washington Post, March 19.

Testing. Testing.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [Russian strongman Vladimir Putin] to give me space. … This is my last election. … After my election I have more flexibility.”—President Obama, private remark to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, overheard on a live microphone during their meeting in Seoul, Washington Post, March 26.

Basic Training

“At all the [Air Force recruiting] accession sources, we have a course and a program of instruction that emphasizes, in my shorthand, that we don’t beat up on our wives, we don’t beat up on our kids, and we don’t assault our teammates, our fellow airmen.”—Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, remarks at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 20.

Looking Up From Down Under

“We have had US soldiers before, and they are very well-behaved nice boys. They will be popular with a certain section of the female population.”—Geoff Annear, owner of Bogart’s pub in Darwin, Australia, commenting on arrival of a US Marine Corps unit, Northern Territory News, April 4.

Call to Arms

“I implore you—no, I beg you—to stop this from happening. … Stage an insurrection in this country. When you leave here today call … your loved ones. … The cuts are real, and we’ve already begun to feel the effects.”—Rep. Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, exhorting workers at the Northrop Grumman plant in Palmdale to rise up against defense cuts, Los Angeles Times, April 3.

Cocktail Dilemma

“The New York Times reports that US intelligence agencies are sure, or pretty sure, that Iran ‘still has not decided to pursue a weapon.’ … All this sounds like it matters a whole lot. It doesn’t. You may not be able to divine whether a drinker, holding a bottle of Johnnie Walker in one hand and a glass tinkling with ice in the other, actually intends to pour himself a drink. And perhaps he doesn’t. But the important thing, at least when it comes to intervention, is not to present him with the opportunity in the first place. … To have sufficient quantities of enriched uranium is, so to speak, the whiskey of a nuclear weapons program. By contrast, ‘weaponization’—the vessel into which you pour and through which you can deliver the enriched uranium cocktail—is merely the glass.”—Columnist Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, March 20.

Defending the Air Guard

“I have significant concerns about the way the Air Force’s proposed cuts fall disproportionately on the National Guard, and I question the logic that the Air Force used in crafting their proposal.”—Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,, March 20.

Walk of Death

“The [Iranian] nuclear threat is growing. They are getting relatively close to the place where they can make the decision to assemble all three parts of their program—enrichment, missile, weaponization. … [Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] hasn’t said ‘put it together’ yet. Have they decided to sprint to making the device that blows up? Probably not. But are they walking to a device that blows up? Yes.”—Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), House Intelligence Committee, interview with, March 23.

How Many Confirmed Cases

“The International Atomic Energy Agency is aware of more than 2,000 confirmed cases of illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive material in the past 18 years. In a sting operation in Moldova last year, police seized a quantity of highly enriched uranium—material that can be used in a nuclear weapon—from an individual who was trying to sell it. … I do not wish to be alarmist. Progress continues to be made in protecting vulnerable material and establishing effective border controls. But more needs to be done.”—Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, op-ed in the Washington Post, March 26.

Ready, Spend, Aim

“I am still not remotely satisfied with where we are in cyber. I daresay, we’d spend a lot more if we could figure out where to spend it.”—Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, remarks to a defense conference in Arlington, Va., Washington Post, March 19.

Panetta on Polls

“We cannot fight wars by polls. If we do that, we’re in deep trouble. We have to operate based on what we believe is the best strategy to achieve the mission that we are embarked on. And the mission here is to safeguard our country by ensuring that the Taliban and al Qaeda never again find a safe haven in Afghanistan.”—Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, responding to poll results showing Americans are tired of the Afghan war, press conference in Ottawa, March 27.

Myth of the Damaged Vet

“What worries me … is that there’s a tendency to kind of paint a brush across every single soldier, male and female, who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and think that they’ve come back with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. That’s simply not the case. There are many soldiers who have gone on four, five, and six deployments and show no signs of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. When we do that, when we kind of paint everybody with this, it has second- and third-order effects. I worry about the employer who says, well, you know, should I really hire this infantryman who spent six years fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan and bring him onto my company if there’s a possibility that they have post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury?”—Retired US Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, former vice chief of staff, interview with NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” March 18.