Project for the New American
by William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t February
"In the counsels of Government,
we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex.
The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists,
and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic processes." -
President Dwight Eisenhower, January 1961.
George W. Bush gave a speech Wednesday
night before the Godfather of conservative Washington think tanks,
the American Enterprise Institute. In his speech, Bush quantified
his coming war with Iraq as part of a larger struggle to bring
pro-western governments into power in the Middle East. Couched
in hopeful language describing peace and freedom for all, the
speech was in fact the closest articulation of the actual plan
for Iraq that has yet been heard from the administration.
In a previous truthout article from February
21, the ideological connections between an extremist right-wing
Washington think tank and the foreign policy aspirations of the
Bush administration were detailed.
The Project for a New American Century,
or PNAC, is a group founded in 1997 that has been agitating since
its inception for a war with Iraq. PNAC was the driving force
behind the drafting and passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act, a
bill that painted a veneer of legality over the ultimate designs
behind such a conflict. The names of every prominent PNAC member
were on a letter delivered to President Clinton in 1998 which
castigated him for not implementing the Act by driving troops
PNAC has funneled millions of taxpayer
dollars to a Hussein opposition group called the Iraqi National
Congress, and to Iraq's heir-apparent, Ahmed Chalabi, despite
the fact that Chalabi was sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian
court to 22 years in prison on 31 counts of bank fraud. Chalabi
and the INC have, over the years, gathered support for their cause
by promising oil contracts to anyone that would help to put them
in power in Iraq.
Most recently, PNAC created a new group
called The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Staffed entirely
by PNAC members, The Committee has set out to "educate"
Americans via cable news connections about the need for war in
Iraq. This group met recently with National Security Advisor Condoleezza
Rice regarding the ways and means of this education.
Who is PNAC? Its members include:
* Vice President Dick Cheney, one of
the PNAC founders, who served as Secretary of Defense for Bush
* I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's top national
* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,
also a founding member, along with four of his chief aides including;
* Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz, arguably the ideological father of the group;
* Eliot Abrams, prominent member of
Bush's National Security Council, who was pardoned by Bush Sr.
in the Iran/Contra scandal;
* John Bolton, who serves as Undersecretary
for Arms Control and International Security in the Bush administration;
* Richard Perle, former Reagan administration
official and present chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board;
* Randy Scheunemann, President of the
Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, who was Trent Lott's national
security aide and who served as an advisor to Rumsfeld on Iraq
* Bruce Jackson, Chairman of PNAC,
a position he took after serving for years as vice president of
weapons manufacturer Lockheed-Martin, and who also headed the
Republican Party Platform subcommittee for National Security and
Foreign Policy during the 2000 campaign. His section of the 2000
GOP Platform explicitly called for the removal of Saddam Hussein;
* William Kristol, noted conservative
writer for the Weekly Standard, a magazine owned along with the
Fox News Network by conservative media mogul Ruppert Murdoch.
The Project for the New American Century
seeks to establish what they call 'Pax Americana' across the globe.
Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining
superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report
released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled 'Rebuilding America's
Defenses' codifies this plan, which requires a massive increase
in defense spending and the fighting of several major theater
wars in order to establish American dominance. The first has been
achieved in Bush's new budget plan, which calls for the exact
dollar amount to be spent on defense that was requested by PNAC
in 2000. Arrangements are underway for the fighting of the wars.
The men from PNAC are in a perfect position
to see their foreign policy schemes, hatched in 1997, brought
into reality. They control the White House, the Pentagon and Defense
Department, by way of this the armed forces and intelligence communities,
and have at their feet a Republican-dominated Congress that will
rubber-stamp virtually everything on their wish list.
The first step towards the establishment
of this Pax Americana is, and has always been, the removal of
Saddam Hussein and the establishment of an American protectorate
in Iraq. The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control
of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire
a warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East;
3) To establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual
invasion and overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including
some that are allies of the United States.
Another PNAC signatory, author Norman
Podhoretz, quantified this aspect of the grand plan in the September
2002 issue of his journal, 'Commentary'. In it, Podhoretz notes
that the regimes, "that richly deserve to be overthrown and
replaced, are not confined to the three singled-out members of
the axis of evil. At a minimum, the axis should extend to Syria
and Lebanon and Libya, as well as 'friends' of America like the
Saudi royal family and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian
Authority, whether headed by Arafat or one of his henchmen."
At bottom, for Podhoretz, this action is about "the long-overdue
internal reform and modernization of Islam."
This casts Bush's speech to AEI on Wednesday
in a completely different light.
Weapons of mass destruction are a smokescreen.
Paeans to the idea of Iraqi liberation and democratization are
cynical in their inception. At the end of the day, this is not
even about oil. The drive behind this war is ideological in nature,
a crusade to 'reform' the religion of Islam as it exists in both
government and society within the Middle East. Once this is accomplished,
the road to empire will be open, ten lanes wide and steppin' out
over the line.
At the end of the day, however, ideology
is only good for bull sessions in the board room and the bar.
Something has to grease the skids, to make the whole thing worthwhile
to those involved, and entice those outside the loop to get into
Thus, the payout.
It is well known by now that Dick Cheney,
before becoming Vice President, served as chairman and chief executive
of the Dallas-based petroleum corporation Halliburton. During
his tenure, according to oil industry executives and United Nations
records, Halliburton did a brisk $73 million in business with
Saddam Hussein's Iraq. While working face-to-face with Hussein,
Cheney and Halliburton were also moving into position to capitalize
upon Hussein's removal from power. In October of 1995, the same
month Cheney was made CEO of Halliburton, that company announced
a deal that would put it first in line should war break out in
Iraq. Their job: To take control of burning oil wells, put out
the fires, and prepare them for service.
Another corporation that stands to do
well by a war in Iraq is Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton.
Ostensibly, Brown & Root is in the construction business,
and thus has won a share of the $900 million government contract
for the rebuilding of post-war Iraqi bridges, roads and other
basic infrastructure. This is but the tip of the financial iceberg,
as the oil wells will also have to be repaired after parent-company
Halliburton puts out the fires.
More ominously is Brown & Root's stock
in trade: the building of permanent American military bases. There
are twelve permanent U.S. bases in Kosovo today, all built and
maintained by Brown & Root for a multi-billion dollar profit.
If anyone should wonder why the administration has not offered
an exit strategy to the Iraq war plans, the presence of Brown
& Root should answer them succinctly. We do not plan on exiting.
In all likelihood, Brown & Root is in Iraq to build permanent
bases there, from which attacks upon other Middle Eastern nations
can be staged and managed.
Again, this casts Bush's speech on Wednesday
in a new light.
Being at the center of the action is nothing
new for Halliburton and Brown & Root. The two companies have
worked closely with governments in Algeria, Angola, Bosnia, Burma,
Croatia, Haiti, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Somalia during the worst
chapters in those nation's histories. Many environmental and human
rights groups claim that Cheney, Halliburton and Brown & Root
were, in fact, centrally involved in these fiascos. More recently,
Brown & Root was contracted by the Defense Department to build
cells for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The bill for that
one project came to $300 million.
Cheney became involved with PNAC officially
in 1997, while still profiting from deals between Halliburton
and Hussein. One year later, Cheney and PNAC began actively and
publicly agitating for war on Iraq. They have not stopped to this
Another company with a vested interest
in both war on Iraq and massively increased defense spending is
the Carlyle Group. Carlyle, a private global investment firm with
more than $12.5 billion in capital under management, was formed
in 1987. Its interests are spread across 164 companies, including
telecommunications firms and defense contractors. It is staffed
at the highest levels by former members of the Reagan and Bush
Sr. administrations. Former President George H. W. Bush is himself
employed by Carlyle as a senior advisor, as is long-time Bush
family advisor and former Secretary of State James Baker III.
One company acquired by Carlyle is United
Defense, a weapons manufacturer based in Arlington, VA. United
Defense provides the Defense Department with combat vehicle systems,
fire support, combat support vehicle systems, weapons delivery
systems, amphibious assault vehicles, combat support services
and naval armaments. Specifically, United Defense manufactures
the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the M113 armored personnel carrier,
the M88A2 Recovery Vehicle, the Grizzly, the M9 ACE, the Composite
Armored Vehicle, the M6 Linebacker, the M7 BFIST, the Armored
Gun System, the M4 Command and Control Vehicle, the Battle Command
Vehicle, the Paladin, the Crusader, and Electric Gun/Pulse Power
In other words, everything a growing Defense
Department, a war in Iraq, and a burgeoning American military
Ironically, one group that won't profit
from Carlyle's involvement in American military buildup is the
family of Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden family fortune was amassed
by Mohammed bin Laden, father of Osama, who built a multi-billion
dollar construction empire through contracts with the Saudi government.
The Saudi BinLaden Group, as this company is called, was heavily
invested in Carlyle for years. Specifically, they were invested
in Carlyle's Partners II Fund, which includes in that portfolio
United Defense and other weapons manufacturers.
This relationship was described in a September
27, 2001 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled 'Bin Laden
Family Could Profit From Jump in Defense Spending Due to Ties
to US Bank.' The 'bank' in question was the Carlyle Group. A follow-up
article published by the Journal on September 28 entitled ' Bin
Laden Family Has Intricate Ties With Washington - Saudi Clan Has
Had Access To Influential Republicans ' further describes the
relationship. In October of 2001, Saudi BinLaden and Carlyle severed
their relationship by mutual agreement. The timing is auspicious.
There are a number of depths to be plumbed
in all of this. The Bush administration has claimed all along
that this war with Iraq is about Saddam Hussein's connections
to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, though through it
all they have roundly failed to establish any basis for either
accusation. On Wednesday, Bush went further to claim that the
war is about liberating the Iraqi people and bringing democracy
to the Middle East. This ignores cultural realities on the ground
in Iraq and throughout the region that, salted with decades of
deep mistrust for American motives, make such a democracy movement
brought at the point of the sword utterly impossible to achieve.
This movement, cloaked in democracy, is
in fact a PNAC-inspired push for an American global empire. It
behooves Americans to understand that there is a great difference
between being the citizen of a constitutional democracy and being
a citizen of an empire. The establishment of an empire requires
some significant sacrifices.
Essential social, medical, educational
and retirement services will have to be gutted so that those funds
can be directed towards a necessary military buildup. Actions
taken abroad to establish the preeminence of American power, most
specifically in the Middle East, will bring a torrent of terrorist
attacks to the home front. Such attacks will bring about the final
suspension of constitutional rights and the rule of habeas corpus,
as we will find ourselves under martial law. In the end, however,
this may be inevitable. An empire cannot function with the slow,
cumbersome machine of a constitutional democracy on its back.
Empires must be ruled with speed and ruthlessness, in a manner
utterly antithetical to the way in which America has been governed
for 227 years.
And yes, of course, a great many people
It would be one thing if all of this was
based purely on the ideology of our leaders. It is another thing
altogether to consider the incredible profit motive behind it
all. The President, his father, the Vice President, a whole host
of powerful government officials, along with stockholders and
executives from Halliburton and Carlyle, stand to make a mint
off this war. Long-time corporate sponsors from the defense, construction
and petroleum industries will likewise profit enormously.
Critics of the Bush administration like
to bandy about the word "fascist" when speaking of George.
The image that word conjures is of Nazi stormtroopers marching
in unison towards Hitler's Final Solution. This does not at all
fit. It is better, in this matter, to view the Bush administration
through the eyes of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini, dubbed 'the father
of Fascism,' defined the word in a far more pertinent fashion.
"Fascism," said Mussolini, "should more properly
be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate
Boycott the French, the Germans, and the
other 114 nations who stand against this Iraq war all you wish.
France and Germany do not oppose Bush because they are cowards,
or because they enjoy the existence of Saddam Hussein. France
and Germany stand against the Bush administration because they
intend to stop this Pax Americana in its tracks if they can. They
have seen militant fascism up close and personal before, and wish
never to see it again.
Would that we Americans could be so wise.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times
bestselling author of two books - "War On Iraq" (with
Scott Ritter) available now from Context Books, and "The
Greatest Sedition is Silence," available in May 2003 from
Pluto Press. He teaches high school in Boston, MA.
Scott Lowery contributed research to this
for the New American Century