Feb. 1, 2013

No Fun, Part I

“Let’s not even pretend we’re going to get a Secretary [of Defense] who can keep the force from going hollow. For the next couple of years, this job just isn’t going to be a lot of fun.”—James J. Carfano, Heritage Foundation, McClatchey News Service dispatch, Jan. 1.

No Fun, Part II

“This is an in-your-face nomination by the President to all of us who are supportive of Israel. I don’t know what [Chuck Hagel’s] management experience is regarding the Pentagon—little, if any—so I think it’s an incredibly controversial choice, and it looks like the second term of [President] Obama is going to be an in-your-face term.”—Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), on selection for Defense Secretary of former Sen. Charles T. Hagel (R-Neb.), a frequent critic of “the Jewish lobby,” CNN, Jan. 6.

Silver Lining

“To have jointness, the separateness of our services is a requirement. It takes 25 years to hone the expertise to be a competent division commander on the ground, a battle group commander at sea, or a theater air component commander. … To optimally integrate service component capabilities under a joint force commander … means that the services must evolve with the notion of interdependency, rather than self-sufficiency, as a guiding principle in building their service program and personnel plans. If there is any single ‘benefit’ that may result from reduced resources for the Department of Defense, it is that it may stimulate this kind of evolution within the services.”—Retired USAF Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, AOL Defense, Jan. 2.

Iowa, Indiana, Israel …

“Failure to reach a satisfactory negotiated solution [on nuclear weapons] with Iran should not be viewed as the trigger for a new US-initiated war. … A more prudent and productive course for the United States would be to continue the painful sanctions against Iran while formally adopting for the Middle East the same policy that for decades successfully protected America’s European and Asian allies against the much more dangerous threats emanating from Stalinist Russia and lately from nuclear-armed North Korea. An Iranian military threat aimed at Israel or any other US friend in the Middle East would be treated as if directed at the United States itself and would precipitate a commensurate US response.”—Zbigniew Brzezinski, President James Carter’s national security advisor, Washington Post, Jan. 3.

Déjà Vu All Over Again …

“Today, the scenario of Afghanistan is exactly like that of one year before the withdrawal of Soviet Union [in 1989]. The Americans and their allies are tired of fighting. They can neither bear the casualties nor the expenses of this war any more. They are left with no other option except withdrawal.”—Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Daily Telegraph of London, Jan. 2.

… And Again

“The Soviet Union did not understand religious and ethnic factors sufficiently and overestimated the capacity of Afghan society to move very fast toward a modern era, in this case socialism. Here I see similarities with the approach of the United States, especially with all the discussion about trying to leave behind an Afghanistan that is democratic and respects the rights of women—ideas that simply are not accepted across the broad society there.”—Svetlana Savranskaya, director of Russian programs at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., New York Times, Jan. 1.

True, and …

“These leadership decisions are emblematic of the Marine Corps’ effectiveness and high-level contributions to global military operations over the last decade.”—Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), on why so many top joint service commands have been going to USMC officers, Washington Times, Dec. 31.

… Also True

“They [marines] are better at politics.”—Retired USAF Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, Washington Times, Dec. 31.

Except Without the Pimples

“The agency is a funny place, very insular. It’s like middle-schoolers with clearances. … Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks? If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.”—An unnamed former CIA officer, in a story about the new film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” Washington Post, Dec. 10.

Boy Scout Co-Prosperity Sphere

“Among the [war] criminals enshrined at Yasukuni is Iwane Matsui, commander of the troops that carried out the Nanjing Massacre, a six-week takeover of the Chinese historical capital in 1937 that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. … At the shrine’s museum, only two paragraphs are devoted to what happened in Nanjing, and neither describes a massacre. The museum explains in English and Japanese only how the Japanese Imperial Army occupied the city to discourage ‘the Chinese from continuing their resistance.’ “—Story about the Yasukuni shrine in Japan, Washington Post, Dec. 10.

Getting Worse, Not Better

“The problem [of military sexual abuse] is getting worse. It’s not getting better. Part of the reason is people don’t want to admit what everyone knows to be true: Men and women are human beings. They react to each other. They do things they are not proud of. Rank has nothing to do with it. It’s not solely a gender issue. Both sexes are involved. All ranks. … The only thing the military can do is try to encourage discipline instead of indiscipline, and try to avoid the kind of hazardous situations that just make it worse.”—Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness, quoted in the Washington Times, Jan. 3.

A Huge Problem

“My message to the State Department has been very simple, and that is, we’re going to solve this. We’re not going to be defensive about it. We’re not going to pretend that this was not a problem—this was a huge problem.”—President Obama, referring to lax security that contributed to the September 2012 terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Dec. 30.