THE PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN
by Noah T. Winer, editor
MoveOn Bulletin Friday, May
The Project for the New American Century
(PNAC) is a Washington-based neo-conservative think-tank founded
in 1997 to "rally support for American global leadership."
PNAC's agenda runs far deeper than regime change in Iraq. Its
statement of principles begins with the assertion that "American
foreign and defense policy is adrift" and calls for "a
Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity."
While their tone is high-minded, their
proposal is unilateral military intervention to protect against
threats to America's status as the lone global superpower. The
statement is signed by such influential figures as Dick Cheney,
Jeb Bush, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dan Quayle, Donald
Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.
PNAC is not alone, nor did it arise from
new wells of power. Most of the founding members of PNAC held
posts in the Reagan or elder Bush administration and other neo-conservative
think-tanks, publications, and advocacy groups.
The effect of PNAC's ideology is great
on Bush -- the presidential candidate who promised a "humble,"
isolationist foreign policy. The events of September 11, 2001
provided a window of opportunity for furthering PNAC's agenda
of American empire. Understanding that agenda can help us anticipate
the Bush administration's next steps and organize accordingly.
ONE LINK If you only read one article
in this bulletin, it should be this one. This article from the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel superbly covers the influence of PNAC
in Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq. As the author writes,
the goal is to transform the Middle East through a show of U.S.
military might and "the obvious place to start is with Iraq,
which was already in trouble with the United Nations, had little
international standing and was reviled even by some Arab nations."
FORMING THE BUSH DOCTRINE The motivating
event for the neo-conservatives who founded PNAC was the end of
the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq. With Saddam's power weakened, the neo-conservatives
believed he should be eliminated permanently. Instead, the elder
President Bush encouraged the Iraqi opposition to rise up against
the Ba'ath government. As their rebellion was put down by Iraqi
troops, Bush ordered the U.S. military not to intervene, choosing
instead a strategy of containment for Saddam.
In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz, then-Under Secretary
of Defense for Policy, authored an internal policy brief on America's
military posture in the post-Cold War era: to prevent the emergence
of a new rival power through preemption rather than containment
and acting unilaterally if necessary to protect U.S. interests.
When a draft was leaked to the press, controversy erupted and
the report had to be softened.
The web accompaniment to the PBS Frontline
special "The War Behind Closed Doors" features an excellent
chronology showing how Wolfowitz's draft would become the basis
of the Bush Doctrine. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/iraq/etc/cron.html
PAX AMERICANA An important step in PNAC's
chronology is its major publication, "Rebuilding America's
Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century"
(RAD), released in September, 2000. The report takes Wolfowitz's
draft as a starting point, hailing it as "a blueprint for
maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power
rival, and shaping the international security order in line with
American principles and interests."
RAD rejects cuts in defense spending,
insisting that "Preserving the desirable strategic situation
in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally
preeminent military capability both today and in the future."
Core missions for the U.S. military include the ability to "fight
and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars"
and to reposition permanent forces in Southeast Europe and Southeast
Other samples from RAD:
"The United States has for decades
sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security.
While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate
justification, the need for a substantial American force presence
in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
"At present the United States faces
no global rival. America's grand strategy should aim to preserve
and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as
"[N]ew methods of attack -- electronic,
'non-lethal,' biological -- will be more widely available ...
'combat' likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, 'cyber-space,'
and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological
warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological
warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."
In this Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion
piece, Jay Bookman compares "Rebuilding America's Defenses"
with the current Bush defense policy. http://www.rainbowbody.org/politics/PNACgoal.htm
You can read the entire document on PNAC's
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 In discussing changes
to America's military strategy, the RAD report regretfully admits,
"the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary
change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and
catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."
Shortly after September 11, PNAC sent
a letter to President Bush welcoming his call for "a broad
and sustained campaign" and encouraging the removal of Saddam
even if Iraq could not be directly linked to the attacks. http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm
WHO'S STEERING THIS SHIP? "Most neo-conservative
defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right."
Michael Lind argues in the New Statesman and Salon magazines that
many were anti-Stalinist Trotskyists who became anti-communist
liberals, then shifted to a "militaristic and imperial right
with no precedents in American culture or political history."
PAUL WOLFOWITZ is Deputy Defense Secretary,
second-in-command at the Pentagon. Wolfowitz was promoting regime
change in Iraq and a strategy of preemptive attack in 1992, but
the elder Bush rejected his views as too radical. This is an excellent
brief from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. http://www.moveon.org/r?436
RICHARD PERLE was Assistant Secretary
of Defense in the Reagan administration and a foreign policy adviser
in George W. Bush's presidential campaign. He accepted Rumsfeld's
offer to chair the Defense Policy Board, transforming it from
obscurity to influence. In March, Perle resigned as chairman after
a controversial lobbying scandal, but remains on the Board as
a member. http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?030317fa_fact
WILLIAM KRISTOL is editor of The Weekly
Standard, a conservative political magazine with a small but elite
readership, funded by Rupert Murdoch. The son of neo-conservative
founding father Irving Kristol, he is the president of PNAC. http://www.mediatransparency.org/people/bill_kristol.htm
Other important participants are Vice-President
Dick Cheney; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Iran-contra scandal
convict Elliott Abrams, now Director of Middle East Affairs for
the National Security Council; Washington Post columnist Robert
Kagan; and special presidential envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq
A fairly complete list of PNAC participants
can be found here: http://www.opednews.com/new%20american%20century.htm
WHO PAYS THE BILLS? The Bradley Foundation,
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the primary funder of PNAC through
PNAC's parent New Citizenship Project, Inc. With the largest assets
of any right-wing foundation, Bradley has focused its efforts
on ending affirmative action, reforming welfare, and privatizing
schools. This article describes Bradley's funding of neo-conservative
think-tanks, magazines, and books like "The Bell Curve."
PAX ISRAELICA? Nearly all PNAC participants,
whether Jewish or Christian, are right-wing Zionists who support
Ariel Sharon's Likud Party. In 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith,
and others drafted a paper for incoming Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu urging him to make "a clean break" from the
Oslo peace process preferring "peace through strength,"
including the ouster of Saddam Hussein. http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm
This essay describes many of the familiar
neo-conservatives as having "dual loyalties," making
policy decisions in the interests of the State of Israel as much
as the United States. http://www.counterpunch.org/christison1213.html
POST-WAR IRAQ PNAC participants are backing
Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress in his bid to run
the interim government in Iraq. From The American Prospect, who
is Chalabi and why is he so popular with the neo-conservatives?
NEO-CONSERVATISM PNAC is in the same Washington,
D.C. office building as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI),
another major neo-conservative think-tank. They share far more
than an address: PNAC participants like Richard Perle, Thomas
Donnelly, Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Schneider, Lynne Cheney (Dick
Cheney's wife), and Irving Kristol (William Kristol's father)
are all AEI scholars and fellows.
Similar overlap is found among all the
neo-conservative think-tanks -- Hudson Institute, Center for Security
Policy, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East
Forum, and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs -- giving
the agenda of a few political elites the appearance of widespread
WHAT NEXT -- SYRIA? This piece from Foreign
Policy in Focus discusses a 2000 Middle East Forum study calling
for military force against Syria. The report, "Ending Syria's
Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role," was signed by numerous
PNAC participants. http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0304uscfl.html
IRAN? From the Washington Monthly, a smart
article that compares the neo-conservative plan for the Middle
East to "giving a few good whacks to a hornets' nest because
you want to get them out in the open and have it out with them
once and for all." http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html
CHALLENGING THE PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN
CENTURY The Peace Education Fund and California Peace Action have
launched a national advertising campaign that features the infamous
photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. The
ads ask the question: "Who Are We Arming Now?" The ad
is part of Peace Action's Campaign for a New American Foreign
Policy which is building political pressure for an alternative
to the bleak vision of the Project for the New American Century.
CONCLUSION Beyond all the specifics presented
in this bulletin and the linked resources, it's essential to remember
how interlocked the neo-conservative organizations are. They represent
the views and interests of only a tiny elite, not the popular
sentiment in the United States. Most Americans would be horrified
to learn how PNAC and others are shaping the Bush Doctrine --
both because of the ideology they describe and because they use
money and media to gain disproportionate political influence.
Money makes it easy to organize networks
and gain political influence; control of the media limits our
ability to consider the various options America has for handling
crises in the international community. The work we are doing as
MoveOn members is organizing without massive wealth and educating
without owning the media. Our work is to vocalize the love of
democratic decision-making shared by all people, clearly and with
the most complete information. Please let us know what information
you need to do this work, and we will do our best to make it available
through the bulletin.
CREDITS Research team: Leah Appet, Joanne
Comito, Lita Epstein, Anna Gavula, Terry Hackett, Zaid Khalil,
Kate Kressmann-Kehoe, Cameron McLaughlin , Janelle Miau, Sarah
Parady, Kim Plofker, and Ora Szekely.
Editing team: David Taub Bancroft, Melinda
Coyle, Nancy Evans, Eileen Gillan, and Rita Weinstein.
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for the New American Century