Jose Pimentel decided to become an Islamic extremist, taking online lessons from al-Qaida on how to make war on the West. On Nov. 19, he was arrested for allegedly plotting a string of terrorist attacks in New York. His weapon of choice was the terrorist’s friend, an improvised explosive device. Read More
Between the two World Wars, America’s Army manned sleepy outposts around the world with few troops, outdated equipment and uncertain missions.
Then a colonel at the service’s Infantry School, George C. Marshall, recognized these problems, but was in no position to fix them. He could, however, make the Army think about them. Read More
"In Tehran, the Iranians arrested an American press man,” Ronald Reagan recorded in his presidential diary on Feb. 1, 1987. “Took his passport, accused him of being Zionist spy & threw him in jail. He’s a Roman Catholic. I’m ready to kidnap the Khomeini.”
In these, his private thoughts, Reagan expressed what it took to deal with the mullahs of Iran — and playing nice was not it.
Iran has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since the mid-1980s. Evidence that Tehran is avidly pursuing nuclear weapons has been piling up since 2002. Read More
The House Armed Services Committee recently sent President Barack Obama a report outlining cuts the military would have to make under the “sequestration” formula in this year’s Budget Control Act. Unless Congress and the president agree to an alternative long-term plan to reduce the deficit (supposedly coming from the so-called “supercommittee”), there will be automatic reductions in “discretionary” spending. Read More
All the 9/11 hijackers had visas. Ergo, visas in the hands of terrorists are a deadly weapon. Such was the thinking early in the post-9/11 era.Even though the 9/11 Commission published a separate report on the threat of terrorist travel, Washington paid little attention to the findings. Instead, it embraced a bunch of knee-jerk measures, some of which did more harm than good. Efforts to keep visas out of terrorists’ hands did more to discourage tourism and curb the free exchange of people and ideas than they did to keep our enemies out of the country. Read More
On Sept. 11, 2001, America had no strategy for homeland security. That changed quickly after the attacks. The Bush White House issued the first homeland security strategy in July 2002. In putting together that strategy, the toughest choices were deciding first, what was essential to include, and second, who should be responsible for each element. These strategic choices were crucial, not just for security reasons, but because they determine who pays for what. Read More
What happens when the lights go out? It depends.
On Nov. 9, 1965, an electrical power failure plunged Northeast America into darkness. The entire city of New York went black. Despite the inconvenience, New Yorkers passed the night quietly. The most notable fallout from the evening was a spike in births nine months later. Read More
Today’s terrorists cannot match Gavrilo Princip. When the 19-year-old member of the Black Hand anarchists shot the archduke of Serbia and his wife, he didn’t just kill two royals. He triggered World War I … and more than 37 million causalities. Read More
When al-Qaida was just a startup terrorist enterprise, the Sudanese government offered the group safe harbor. But after a few years, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United States began to take notice of what was going on in that little incubator. They turned up the heat.By 1996, Osama bin Laden was looking to relocate. No longer feeling safe in Sudan, he moved al-Qaida headquarters to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Read More
In 1940, Winston Churchill declared Singapore safe. It was “not considered possible that the Japanese ... would embark on such a mad enterprise.” When the Japanese arrived in February 1942, Singapore fell in a week. “The man in the street had been led to believe that Singapore was an impregnable fortress upon which the safety of Australia, New Zealand and India depended,” wrote British historian Maj. Gen. S. Woodburn Kirby. “This belief had been rudely shattered.” Read More
Gen. Douglas MacArthur had them on the run.
The dramatic “end-run” amphibious landing at Inchon had turned the tide in the Korean War. In October 1950, MacArthur planned to catch the retreating North Korean forces with another amphibious assault at Wonsan. But this time, the surprise was on MacArthur. The enemy had fled before his men could land. Read More
Back then, $1 billion was big money. Yet, the Military Aviation Appropriations Act of 1917 and two subsequent bills passed with almost no debate. It was virtually a blank check to buy an air armada to fight World War I. The New York Times hailed the legislation, predicting that America would have “such an air fleet as the world has never known.” The battlefield skies would be flooded with thousands of American planes. Read More
In post-World War II Austria, as American and Soviet occupation forces fought for “hearts and minds,” one shrewd U.S. intelligence analyst figured out how to get what he needed — with benefits. He befriended one of Vienna’s best-known opera stars, someone who knew everyone and everything. In exchange for a few sausages from the government mess, the singer was happy to pass along the very best of rumors — and front-row tickets to boot. Read More
‘Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” — Stinger to Maverick, in “Top Gun.”
Stinger was wrong. At the end of the 1986 box-office hit, Maverick takes on a half-dozen MIG fighters. Four go down in flames. Two high tail it for home.
But it wasn’t the hot shot Navy pilot’s ego that carried the day. It was his ride: the then-state-of–the-art F-14 Tomcat.
Though the film was pure Hollywood, the hardware was real. And it impressed. After the film’s release, enlistees requesting naval aviator training skyrocketed 500 percent. Read More
President Jimmy Carter recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1978 while Congress was out on Christmas vacation. The action meant withdrawing formal recognition of the government of Taiwan and dumping our defense treaty with them.Just two months earlier, Congress had passed an amendment declaring that the White House should consult with it before making any change in U.S.-Taiwan relations. Instead, Carter waited until it was gone, then acted. Read More