Project for the New American Century

from the book

Robbing Us Blind

by Steve Brouwer

In 1997, a small group of potentially powerful people, just twenty five of them, announced the formation of a new organization dedicated to building up the power of the United States to unparalleled levels. They were clearly looking forward to the presidential election of 2000 and the beginning of a new millennium, because they called their organization "The Project for the New American Century" (PNAC). Among the principal signers of the Statement of Principles were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, as well as a number of people whom they recruited to join them in the Bush administration, including Cheney's National Security Adviser, I. Lewis Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Middle East envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, and new special Middle East envoy Elliot Abrams. A few right-wing Republican politicians, Jeb Bush, Dan Quayle, and Steve Forbes signed on; two influential representatives of the Christian Right, William Bennett and Gary Bauer; and some influential neo-conservative intellectuals and writers, such as Francis Fukuyama, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Eliot Cohen. This was a pretty tight group; according to their declaration of principles they were committed:

"to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles."

Intimately connected to those who signed the declaration of principles were other people who had drafted much of the language of the organization and would later make the recommendations of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) into the foundation of a new, definitive U.S. policy-for example, Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board that reports to the Pentagon; William Kristol of The Weekly Standard; John Bolton, at the State Department as chief arms control negotiator; and Douglas Feith, chief assistant to Rumsfeld. The Project for a New American Century from the beginning saw itself as an agent of bold change, one that could strengthen Israel as well as the United States. Just a year before its founding, in 1996, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was presented with a report that recommended repudiation of the Oslo Accords and the whole idea of "land for peace," and instead called for the seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as encouraging an outright invasion of Iraq by the United States. It then suggested the next items that should be on the agenda: toppling the governments of Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. This report, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," was co authored by Perle, Feith, and David Wurmser, who now works at the State Department under Bolton. A few days later these ideas, which would later become key policies of both Netanyahu and Sharon, were endorsed by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

In the next few years, John Bolton and others wrote essays for the PNAC and for the neo conservative press that expounded upon these three themes: expanding Israel, taking out Iraq, and subduing the rest of the Middle East in one way or another. By the fall of 2002, advocates of this position were sharing their enthusiasm with the mainstream media. Interviewed in The Boston Globe, Meyrav Wurmser, wife of David Wurmser and director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the ultra-right Hudson Institute, was enthusiastic about the extended effects of the U.S. establishing "democracy" in Iraq: "Everyone will flip out, starting with the Saudis. It will send shock waves throughout the Arab world... After a war with Iraq, then you really shape the region."

This position was bolstered by support from various other neo-conservative allies and the right-wing foundations. Writing in the London Telegraph on the first anniversary of 9/11 was Michael Ledeen, who holds a special position as "freedom analyst" at the American Enterprise Institute. He once worked as a foreign policy propagandist for the Reagan/Bush administration in the 1 980s and formulated much of the misleading anti-Communist rhetoric that led to the Central American wars. Ledeen described a "war of vast dimensions" coming in the Middle East, one that would topple "tyrannies and replace them with freer societies, as was done after the Second World War ....A war on such a scale has hardly been mentioned by commentators and politicians, yet it is implicit in everything President Bush has said and done ... America's enemies will soon be the subject of revolutionary change at its hands."

James Woolsey, the former CIA director under Clinton who later joined the neo-conservative effort at PNAC, seconded Ledeen's arguments at a NATO conference in Prague in November of 2002 and announced that "Iraq can be seen as the first battle of the fourth world war."

Within this context, the program for building up the right wing in Israel and conducting a widespread war to "liberate" Iraq was not an end in itself, but part of an even bigger geo-political transformation, the new role that was being assumed by the United States. In September of 2000, just before the presidential election, the Project for a New American Century came out with a detailed blueprint for the military and foreign policy of the future Bush administration, a report called "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century" The ninety page report bluntly suggested the direction that the U.S. would end up pursuing a year later after the attacks of September 11, 2001: "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."

The rest of the document outlined most of the detailed program that Bush presented two years later in the fall of 2002. "The National Security of the United States" was the Bush Gang's plan for nothing less than a total change in the declared foreign policy of the United States. Whereas in the past the U.S. had claimed to be resisting hostile regimes such as the Soviet Union through containment and pledged itself to work within a variety of global organizations and treaties that promoted peace, the new policy was clearly imperial in tone. It stated that the United State would not be constrained by membership in multinational peacekeeping organizations - "we will be prepared to act apart when our interests and unique responsibilities require" - and when necessary would construct "coalitions of the willing" to follow its bidding.

The new National Security Doctrine suggested that the U.S. had the right to discourage others nations from building up their military power and could act "to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." This included the new explicit policy of "pre-emptive" war whenever the U.S. feels threatened: "America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." What is more, the new American edict told other nations that the conservative economic objectives of the Republican Party were policies that should be implemented throughout the whole world. The list included the following requirements: "pro-growth legal and regulatory policies to encourage business investment, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity; tax policies-particularly lower marginal tax rates-that improve incentives for work and investment... strong financial systems that allow capital to be put to its most efficient use; sound fiscal policies to support business activity... and free trade that provides new avenues for growth and fosters the diffusion of technologies and ideas that increase productivity and opportunity.''

This new foreign policy was the basis for the speech that Bush made to the United Nations in September of 2002. He told them that the United States was ready to go it alone in the world if the U.N. did not join his preemptive war. The U.S. would take any action that it deemed necessary, against Iraq or anyone else. His administration was making preparations to act quickly and decisively by shedding its various multilateral constraints.

Robbing Us Blind

New World Order

Index of Website

Home Page