Bush Follows the Road Map

The Progressive magazine, May 2003

Long before September 11, some of the most powerful men in the Bush Administration had been dreaming up schemes for world domination. Blueprints have been on the drawing boards for more than a decade now that describe the outlines of Bush's interventionist policy. Drawn up by hawks in the waning days of the first Bush Administration, and recirculated by William Kristol and other leaders of the neoconservative movement in the last several years, these blueprints are revealing for two basic reasons. First, they show that September 11 served as pretext for ripping up the old designs of U.S. policy. And second, they demonstrate that the Iraq War is no aberration but merely a test case of the new policy. More wars are on the way.

The original, profoundly influential sketch of George W. Bush's new, radical foreign policy was written back in 1992 by a Pentagon official working under Dick Cheney, then the Secretary of Defense. That official was Paul Wolfowitz, who was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Wolfowitz is now Donald Rumsfeld's Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Wolfowitz drew up a draft document called the Defense Policy Guidance, and it bears an eerie resemblance to the new National Security Strategy that Bush adopted last fall.

Wolfowitz stressed the need for "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." Eleven years later, Bush's new strategy says, "The President has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened."

Wolfowitz also asserted the importance of "preemptive military intervention." Ten years later, Bush's new strategy says, "We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively."

Wolfowitz said the United States should use military power to protect "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil." Bush's new doctrine is not that explicit about oil; it doesn't need to be. His war against Iraq speaks volumes.

Wolfowitz showed no interest in working through the United Nations. Instead, he advocated unilateral action when "collective action cannot be orchestrated." Bush himself crudely paraphrased this policy tenet in his March 6 press conference: "When it comes to our security, if we need to act we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so," he said. "We really don't need anybody's permission."

So extreme was the Wolfowitz draft that when it leaked out, it caused a huge stir, and Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft ordered it diluted beyond recognition.

But Wolfowitz (and his master, Cheney) did not forget about the plan. Instead, it found a home a few years later in a new think tank, created in 1997, called the Project for the New American Century.

Chaired by William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, the group in its founding statement articulated a strategy of preventive war. It talked about the need "to challenge regimes hostile to our interests." And it urged the President to "shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire." Compare those words to Bush's statement on the eve of his invasion of Iraq: "We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies

The project's founding statement was signed by Wolfowitz, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, I. Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff, who worked with Wolfowitz on the 1992 document), and a host of conservative bigwigs, including Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Elliott Abrams (the disgraced Reagan official who is now at the National Security Council), Steve Forbes, Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Zalmay Khalilzad (Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan and the Kurds), Francis Fukuyama, and Frank Gaffney. There was, by the way, a Bush on the list: Jeb.

On January 26, 1998, the Project for the New American Century sent a letter to President Clinton explicitly calling for "removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy." Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz signed this letter, as did many of the other original signatories. Newcomers were John Bolton (now one of Colin Powell's minders at the State Department), Richard Armitage (Powell's deputy), former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, and Richard Perle, who recently had to resign as head of Rumsfeld's Defense Advisory Board in response to allegations by Seymour Hersh and others that Perle was using his influence to lobby for foreign clients. (Perle remains on the board, however.)

Then, in September 2000, the Project for the New American Century put out a report -entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses." In its introduction, the report bowed to Wolfowitz. "The Defense Policy Guidance (DPG), drafted in the early months of 19-92, provided "for a blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival.... The basic tenets of the DPG, in our judgment, remain sound."

More than two years prior to Bush's "axis of evil" speech, this report identified Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as potential short-term targets, as Jay Bookman of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted, and it urged the Pentagon to study how "to remove these regimes from power.

It said the Pentagon should be "prepared to fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars." And it said the Pentagon should "perform the 'constabulary' duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions." The report humbly offered itself as a "road map for the nation's immediate and future defense plans."

Astonishingly, the report anticipates the value that an attack on the United States would have in getting its transformative agenda adopted. "The process of transformation . . . is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor." This was a year before September 11!

Given that this little group of neoconservatives has captured the foreign and military policies of the United States, it behooves us to watch what they are saying now. Their words are not reassuring. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iran and Syria on March 28 not to help Saddam Hussein, he hinted the United States was prepared to widen this war. Syria allegedly was giving night-vision goggles to Iraqi forces, and Rumsfeld said he considered "such trafficking as hostile acts and would hold the Syrian government accountable." And he gave what he called "a warning shot" to Iran so it would order a unit of its Revolutionary Guard to back off from Iraqi territory.

A White House aide notified Bush that "his unpredictable Defense Secretary had just raised the specter of a broader confrontation," The New York Times reported. "Bush smiled a moment at
the latest example of Mr. Rumsfeld's brazeness, recalled the aide. Then he said one word-'Good.'"

When Under Secretary of State John Bolton, visiting Israel in February, left "no doubt America will attack Iraq and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran, and North Korea afterward," as reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, his view received little notice in the United States. It deserves more.

When Richard Perle, writing in The Guardian on March 21, said, "Iraq is one, but there are others," we need to take heed.

When Woolsey told college students on April 2 that the United States was engaged in a "Fourth World War" that will last longer than World War I and World War II and only slightly less than the Cold War, it's time to take note. He mentioned Iran and Syria, as well as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And he said the United States is "on the march."

When William Kristol, in a new book co-authored with Lawrence F. Kaplan, writes about "Baghdad and beyond" almost as a slogan, the sign is clear.

"The mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there," Kaplan and Kristol write in The War over Iraq. "Were the United States to retreat after victory into complacency and self-absorption, as it did the last time it went to war in Iraq, new dangers would soon arise. Preventing this outcome will be a burden, of which war in Iraq represents but the first installment." (Beijing, beware: The United States should "work for the fall of the Communist Party in China," the authors write.)

Some hawks may be more circumspect than others, but their true desire is unmistakable. "We don't want to talk about a broader agenda now," one Bush aide said. "It's not the time. The time will come.

Wolfowitz had his coming-out party on CBS's Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox News Sunday April 6.

Bob Schieffer of CBS asked him whether Iraq was "step one in a wider war," and he responded," I think the President's been clear from September 12 basically of 2001, since the horror of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon, that we've got to confront terrorism in a way that we never thought about it before and particularly this danger of the connection between terrorist networks and states that support terrorism and have weapons of mass destruction." Wolfowitz added that the danger cannot be addressed "on a purely military basis."

Tim Russert of NBC asked Wolfowitz, "What should the American people be prepared for vis-a-vis Iran, North Korea, Syria?" Wolfowitz said each case is different, and military force is only one means, but added, "We'd like to see change in a lot of places."

Fox's Tony Snow pursued the same line, with perhaps a telling emphasis on Syria. Do the Syrians understand, asked Snow, that "they're risking much bigger trouble with us?"

Wolfowitz: "I hope they understand it. It's strange regime, you know, it's pretty brutal in itself. I don't know what game they're playing, but they need to stop.

Then Snow asked, point blank, "Would you like to see regime change in Damascus?" Wolfowitz responded, "Our focus right now is getting rid of this regime in Baghdad."

From all of this rhetoric, it's clear that the architects of the Iraq War are by no means satisfied. They are intent on keeping the Bush Administration on its course of war, which is running at a pace of one a year.

Such a policy of permanent war will take a grim toll in innocent human lives, it will sow anti-American resentment around the world, and it will bankrupt this nation. (Kaplan and Kristol recommend spending "100 billion per year above current defense budgets." That would put the Pentagon on a $500 billion annual allowance.)

Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, Perle, Woolsey, and Kristol are determining the fate of this country. We, as citizens, never got to vote on this radical new doctrine. When Bush was running for President, he did not articulate this vision. Quite the contrary: He said he wanted a more "humble" America. But nothing could be more audacious than his current course.

It is incumbent upon our representatives in Washington to call this gang on the carpet. And it's incumbent upon us, as citizens, to do everything in our power nonviolently to stop this gang from plunging the United States into one potential disaster after another.

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