Corporate Think Tanks and
the Doctrine of Aggressive Militarism
by William Hartung and Michelle
Multinational Monitor magazine,
The aggressive first-strike military strategy
now animating U.S. policy toward Iraq was developed during the
1990s by a network of corporate-backed conservative think tanks.
Each major element of the Bush administration's
national security strategy-from the doctrines of preemptive strikes
and "regime change" in Iraq, to its aggressive nuclear
posture and commitment to deploying a Star Wars-style missile
defense system-was developed and refined before the Bush administration
took office, at corporate-backed conservative think tanks like
the Center for Security Policy, the National Institute for Public
Policy and the Project for a New American Century.
Unilateralist ideologues formerly affiliated
with these ,` think tanks, along with the 32 major administration
appointees who are former executives with, consultants for, or
significant shareholders of top defense contractors, are driving
U.S. foreign and military policy.
The arms lobby is exerting more influence
over policy making than at any time since President Dwight D.
Eisenhower first warned of the dangers of the military-industrial
complex over 40 years ago.
The theory behind Bush's war posturing
towards Iraq can be found in the administration's September 2002
National Security Strategy. "While the United States will
constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community,"
states the strategy paper, "we will not hesitate to act alone,
if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting
preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing
harm against our people and our country."
This preemption doctrine is now the stated
rationale for going to war against Iraq, despite the fact that
Saddam Hussein and Iraq pose no immediate threat to the United
States or its allies.
The preemption doctrine is actually misnamed.
Preemption suggests striking first against a nation that is poised
to attack. The Bush doctrine is much more open-ended, implying
that a U.S. attack is justified if a nation or organization might
pose a threat at some unknown future date.
The strategy of "preemptive war"
set out in the Bush national security strategy can be traced to
the conservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose
members have pressed this approach for more than a decade. In
the run-up to the 2000 presidential election, PNAC published a
report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses" which has served
as a blueprint for the Bush-Rumsfeld Pentagon military strategy,
up to and including the coining of terms such as "regime
PNAC was founded in 1997 and is headed
by project directors William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard,
Robert Kagan, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard and columnist
for the Washington Post, and Bruce Jackson, a long-time Lockheed
Martin executive who recently left the corporation to work full
time on military policy issues. Its statement of principles recalls
Administration's success" and urges
a return to a "military that is strong and ready to meet
both present and future challenges." PNAC's founding document
was signed by Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and
numerous others who have gone on to become major players in the
Bush national security team. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin
recently hired PNAC's deputy director and principal author of
the report, Thomas Donnelly.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS: HERE TO STAY
Two decades ago, President Reagan unveiled
his Star 1 Wars scheme with the intention of rendering nuclear
weapons "impotent and obsolete."
Today, the word coming from the Pentagon's
recently released Nuclear Posture Review is that nuclear weapons
are here to stay. If the recommendations from the Bush administration's
review are carried out, the declared purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons
could change from deterrence and weapon of last resort to a central,
usable component of the U.S. anti-terror arsenal.
The origins of this dramatic shift in
U.S. nuclear policy trace to corporate-financed think tanks like
the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP). NIPP's January
2001 report, "Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear
Forces and Arms Control," served as a model for the Bush
administration's review. There are a number of parallels in the
two reports. Both recommend developing a new generation of "usable"
lower-yield nuclear weapons, expanding the U.S. nuclear "hit
list" and expanding the set of scenarios in which nuclear
weapons may be used.
Three members of the study group which
produced the NIPP report are now in the administration. These
include National Security Council members Stephen Hadley and Robert
Joseph and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Stephen
Cambone. NIPP Director Keith Payne- probably best known for his
infamous 1980 essay on nuclear war, "Victory is Possible"-was
appointed head of the Pentagon's Deterrence Concepts Advisory
Panel, which will help the Pentagon to implement the Nuclear Posture
NIPP is closely aligned with the nuclear
weapons industry. Its advisory board includes Kathleen Bailey,
who spent six years as an analyst at the Lawrence Livermore nuclear
weapons laboratory, Charles Kupperman, vice president for national
missile defense programs at Lockheed Martin, and Robert Barker,
a 30-year veteran of Lawrence Livermore weapons lab.
MISSILE DEFENSE: PLOY OR DEPLOY?
In December, President Bush adopted another
of the conservative ideologues and weapons lobbying groups' top
priorities: missile defense system deployment by 2004.
Bush made the announcement even though
the groundbased missile defense system failed its most recent
test, and despite the conclusion of the December 2001 National
This paper concluded that "U.S. territory
is more likely to be attacked" with weapons of mass destruction
by countries or terrorist groups using "ships, trucks, airplanes
or other means" than by a long-range ballistic missile. Those
delivery systems will evade ballistic missile defenses, rendering
useless the costly proposed investments in Star Wars technology
At the forefront of the missile defense
lobby is the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a corporate-financed
advocacy group with at least eight defense executives on its advisory
board at any given time. A sixth of the Center's revenue comes
directly from defense corporations.
CSP boasts that no fewer than 22 former
advisory board members or close associates in the Bush administration.
CSP alumni in key posts include its former chair of the board,
Douglas Feith, who now serves as undersecretary of defense for
policy, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim, Defense Policy Board
chair Richard Perle, and longtime friend and financial supporter
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, INC.
It is not just industry-backed think tanks
that have infiltrated the administration. Former executives, consultants
or shareholders of top U.S. defense companies pervade the Bush
national security team.
Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest
defense contractor, has more connections to the Bush administration
than any other major defense contractor-eight current policy makers
had direct or indirect ties to the company before joining the
administration. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney,
served on Lockheed's board of directors from 1994 until January
2001, accumulating more than $500,000 in deferred director's fees
in the process. Former Lockheed Chief Operating Officer Peter
Teets is now Undersecretary of the Air Force and Director of the
National Reconnaissance Office, a post that includes making decisions
on the acquisition of everything from reconnaissance satellites
to space-based elements of missile defense.
Northrop Grumman, which is now the nation's
third largest defense contractor as a result of its recent acquisition
of TRW and Newport News Shipbuilding, follows closely behind Lockheed
with seven former officials, consultants or shareholders in the
Bush administration. Northrop's most important link is Secretary
of the Air Force James Roche, a former company vice president.
The company's influence within the Air Force is reinforced by
the presence of Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations,
Environment and Logistics Nelson Gibbs, who served as corporate
comptroller at Northrop from 1991 to 1999. Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim and Undersecretary
of Defense Douglas Feith all had consulting contracts or served
on paid advisory boards for Northrop prior to joining the administration.
Other ties include: Secretary of the Navy
Gordon England, a former vice president at General Dynamics, Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a former member of Raytheon's
board of directors and consultant to Boeing, and Senior Adviser
to the President Karl Rove, who owned between $100,000 and $250,000
in Boeing stock, according to disclosure forms he has filed.
HOGS AT THE TROUGH
The overarching concern of the ideologues
and the arms industry is to increase military spending. On this
score, they have been tremendously successful. In its two years
in office, the Bush administration has sought more than $150 billion
in new military spending, the vast majority of which has been
approved by Congress with few questions asked. Spending on national
defense is nearing $400 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2003, up
from $329 billion when Bush took office.
In addition to the rapid increases in
its yearly budget, Congress has approved $30 billion in emergency
and supplemental spending for the Pentagon since 9/11. Billions
more of supplemental funds have gone to the State Department for
military assistance for allies and nations supporting the war
on terrorism, as well as to the various agencies that have been
targeted for inclusion in the Department of Homeland Defense.
Orders for the new high-tech weapons on
display in Afghanistan include the Joint Direct Attack Munition,
or JDAM, made by Boeing, Raytheon's Tomahawk missile, and Northrop
Grumman's $10 million-a-copy unmanned aerial vehicle, the Global
Hawk. The FY 2003 budget includes approximately $3.2 billion for
more of these systems.
And despite talk of "skipping a generation"
in weapons procurement for the past two years, defense contractors
will continue to make money off the weapons of yesterday, too.
The FY 2003 budget includes more than $17 billion for Cold War
relics that Rumsfeld once said he wanted to abandon. These weapons
include: the Air Force's F-22 Raptor (prime contractors: Lockheed
Martin, Boeing and the Pratt and Whitney Division of United Technologies;
FY 2003 budget: $4.7 billion);
* the Navy's F-18E/F fighter plane (Boeing,
General Electric and Northrop Grumman, $3.3 billion);
* Joint Strike Fighter/F-35 (Lockheed
Martin and Northrop Grumman, $3.5 billion);
* the V-22 Osprey (Boeing Vertol and the
Bell Helicopter Division of Textron, $1.2 billion);
* the DDG-51 destroyer (Bath Iron Works
and the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Northrop Grumman, $2.4
* the Virginia class attack submarine
(Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and the Newport News
Shipbuilding division of Northrop Grumman, $2.2 billion).
The centerpiece of the Bush nuclear doctrine,
the "New Triad" of long-range strike systems, missile
defenses and a revitalized nuclear weapons complex, will involve,
during the next five years, at least $33 billion in spending over
and above that projected by the Clinton administration. Missile
defense spending for FY 2003 will exceed $8 billion, while the
costs of deploying a multi-tiered missile defense system could
easily reach $200 billion over the next decade-providing a steady
stream of contracts for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and
Spending on the related budget category
of homeland security has increased dramatically as well, from
$19.5 billion in FY 2001 to $37.7 billion in FY 2003, providing
yet another source of revenue for the big defense contractors.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman,
Raytheon and General Dynamics have all adapted their marketing
strategies and are repackaging their products for use in domestic
security. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have received a
long-term, multi-billion dollar contract to beef up the Coast
Guard, and General Dynamics has been awarded a $611 million contract
to modernize the service's 30-year-old search-and-rescue communications
system. Boeing is looking into how its sensors designed to track
enemy missiles could be used to locate and identify hijacked planes.
Lockheed is trying to adapt military simulators to train local
emergency response teams. And Raytheon is pitching its hand-held
thermal-imaging devices, designed for the military, as useful
for fire fighters searching through collapsed buildings.
A provision in the Homeland Security Act
requires government agencies to grant 23 percent of their prime
contracts to small businesses, and small companies are excitedly
joining the giant corporations in shopping high-tech proposals
to the government.
Among others, Air Structures is introducing
fortified vinyl domes for quarantining infected communities in
the aftermath of a potential bioterror attack, Visionics is looking
into designing facial recognition technology and PointSource Technologies
is developing a sensor to detect biological agents in the air
For now, the military-industrial-think
tank complex is on the ascendancy.
Exploiting the fears following 9/11, and
impervious to budgetary constraints imposed on virtually every
other form of federal spending, the ideologue-industry nexus is
driving the United States to war in Iraq and a permanently aggressive
war-fighting posture that will simultaneously starve other government
programs and make the world a much more dangerous place.
William Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca
are the Director and Senior Research Associate at the World Policy
Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center.
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