In their own words

Perceptive

“I think the message from the Australian people is they do want to see a change to the way politics is conducted.” — Julia Gillard.

Leadership

“We should be ashamed of the way we led the country.” — Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Planning ahead — 1

“For a very long period of time, we’re going to be on the ground [in Iraq], even if it’s solely in support of its US weapons systems.” — Ryan C. Crocker, former US ambassador in Baghdad.

Planning ahead — 2

“Fairly limited numbers.” — US war secretary Robert Gates, describing promised US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan next year.

Fun

“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling.” — Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, new chief of the US Central Command, February 2005.

Payoff

“The decision [on withdrawing US troops from Iraq] will bear directly on the payoff the United States could yet reap … in the form of a democratic ally in a combustible region that would be a check on Iranian power and offer U.S. access to Iraq’s vast oil reserves.” — International Herald Tribune, August 12.

Paltry

“It seems like a paltry sum.” — David M. Smick, a Washington, DC, financial adviser, on the US$550 million fine that the Goldman Sachs investment bank had agreed to pay to settle charges that it had misled investors. (The fine represents 15 days’ worth of Goldman Sachs’ annual profits.)

Security

“The watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying.” — A spokesperson for the US Transportation Security Administration, asked to comment on the case of a six-year-old girl whose name showed up on the government’s “no-fly list”.