In Tokyo, I’m reacquainting myself with the International Herald Tribune, which The New York Times recently won from it’s erstwhile partner, a Washington paper, in a stereotypical maneuver of the Old West.

We’re beginning to gather quotes which future historians can plunder:

David Obey: Speaking to Donald Rumsfeld at a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Representative David Obey (D-Wisconsin) said, with respect to Rumsfeld’s request for ‘flexibility’ in use of appropriated money: “Flexibility is one thing, but being able to turn the Constitution into a pretzel is another thing.”[Note 1]

The Non Sequitur cartoon of 29 March 2003 shows two prisoners in a shared cell, and one explains “ . . . so, long story short, it turns out that for the rest of us, the legal term for pre-emptive strike is ‘felonious assault’ . . .” [Note 2] IHT, 29-30 March 2003.]

Lieutenant General William Wallace, commander of US Army units in the Iraq War: “The enemy we’re fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against . . . ” [Note 3] In full, the quote is: “The enemy we’re fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because of the paramilitary forces. We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight.” In fairness, however, failure of the gamers to anticipate cannot be attributed to the paramilitaries, who probably did not take part in designing, conducting, or interpreting the war-games. However, they do seem to work in QA.

Vladimir Putin: The war is “in danger of rocking global stability and the foundations of international law. . . . The only correct solution to the Iraqi problem is the immediate end to military activity in Iraq and resumption of a political settlement in the UN Security Council.&#147 [Note 4]


“I think we probably did underestimate the ability of this regime to commit war crimes.” Paul Wolfowitz, 2003.03.28 [or 27, or 29]. In context, he’s talking about Iraq, but out of context?

UPI 29 March 2003:

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Friday the military plan is on track, even if the schedule has been delayed by supply problems, a massive sandstorm, or fierce opposition.

“A military plan is not a timetable. It is a plan for achieving an objective,” Wolfowitz said to the Foreign Press Club. “I don’t think you can say they underestimated the resistance or that the resistance is so stunning when they’re so far into Iraq with basically a week into this war.”

Wolfowitz said if the Pentagon underestimated anything it was the will of the enemy to violate the norms of war.

“I think we probably did underestimate the willingness of this regime to commit war crimes,” he said.

U.S. Central Command officials and Pentagon officials have gone to lengths to list their alleged violations: using a hospital as a military command center, pretending to surrender and then ambushing troops, pretending to be U.S. soldiers and shooting Iraqis who surrender to them, forcing unwilling soldiers to fight at gunpoint, and executing civilians.

“I don’t think we anticipated so many people who would pretend to surrender and then shoot. I don’t think we anticipated such a level of execution squads inside Basra. But I would not exaggerate the degree of difficulty that this presents,” Wolfowitz said.


[Note 1] The New York Times, 28 March 2003.

[Note 2] International Herald Tribune, 29-30 March 2003.

[Note 3] The New York Times, in IHT, above.

[Note 4] AP, in the International Herald Tribune, 29-30 March 2003.

[Bruce’s Blog: 2003.03.29. Post: Bxx Short Link: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/?p=61. Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/quotes-to-remember/]

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