Project for a New American Century

PNAC: the "Mein Kampf" of World War IV

"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 process of [military] 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 ...
... advanced forms of biological warfare that can "target" specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."

-- Rebuilding America’s Defenses, September 2000, Project for a New American Century

signed by Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle, Scooter Libby, et al.


The Project for a New Chinese Century
Geopolitically, Iran will be next because the real target is elsewhere, and too strong to strike directly. The real target in the neoconservatives' sites is China, and always has been. The game is encirclement, and it's purpose, the frustration of the Project for the New Chinese Century.


The Project for a New European Century
The Project for a New European Century
By Mark Leonard | Friday, May 27, 2005
Amidst bouts of European gloom and doom, Mark Leonard, author of "Perpetual Power: Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century," has a different vision. Counterintuitive though it may seem, he argues that a “New European Century” will emerge. Why? Surely not because Europe will run the world as an empire — but because the European way of doing things will become the world’s.


"We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself."
- Rebuilding America’s Defenses, September, 2000

"States like [North Korea, Iran, and Iraq], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."
- Bush State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002


Wagging the Dogs of War


Project for a New American Century
neo-fascist think tank that spelled out global American empire in late 1990's - most of its participants are now senior members of the Cheney-Bush regime - Exposing the Project for the New American Century
An effort to investigate, analyze, and expose the Project for the New American Century, and its plan for a "unipolar" world.

Published on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 by the Inter Press Service
"New American Century" Project Ends With A Whimper
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Is the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which did so much to promote the invasion of Iraq and an Israel-centred "global war on terror", closing down?

In the absence of an official announcement and the failure since late last year of a live person to answer its telephone number, a Washington Post obituary would seem to be definitive. And, sure enough, the Post quoted one unidentified source presumably linked to PNAC that the group was "heading toward closing" with the feeling of "goal accomplished".

In fact, the nine-year-old group, whose 27 founders included Vice President Dick Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, among at least half a dozen of the most powerful hawks in the George W. Bush administration's first term, has been inactive since January 2005, when it issued the last of its "statements", an appeal to significantly increase the size of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to cope with the growing demands of the kind of "Pax Americana" it had done so much to promote.

How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle:
A PNAC Primer Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
May 26, 2003

Recently, I was the guest on a radio talk-show hosted by a thoroughly decent far-right Republican. I got verbally battered, but returned fire and, I think, held my own. Toward the end of the hour, I mentioned that the National Security Strategy -- promulgated by the Bush Administration in September 2002 -- now included attacking possible future competitors first, assuming regional hegemony by force of arms, controlling energy resources around the globe, maintaining a permanent-war strategy, etc.
"I'm not making up this stuff," I said. "It's all talked about openly by the neo-conservatives of the Project for the New American Century -- who now are in charge of America's military and foreign policy -- and published as official U.S. doctrine in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America."
The talk-show host seemed to gulp, and then replied: "If you really can demonstrate all that, you probably can deny George Bush a second term in 2004."
Two things became apparent in that exchange: 1) Even a well-educated, intelligent radio commentator was unaware of some of this information; and, 2) Once presented with it, this conservative icon understood immediately the implications of what would happen if the American voting public found out about these policies.


Bush Terror Elite Wanted 9/11 to Happen by John Pilger 12 December 2002
"Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor". Its published aims have, alarmingly, come true."

A Willful Blindness, by George Monbiot, The Guardian (London, England),12271,911702,00.html

Hell-Bent for War: For Six Years, Rightwing Think Tanks Have Been Pushing an Invasion of Iraq
The Origins of the Bush Iraq War Plan
The 1998 Rumsfeld & Wolfowitz Memo to Clinton
by JASON LEOPOLD,11581,905992,00.html

This war is brought to you by ...
By Pepe Escobar Asia Times Mar 20, 2003

They've won. They got their war against Afghanistan (planned before September 11). They're getting their war against Iraq (planned slightly after September 11). After Iraq, they plan to get their wars against Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Last Sunday, one of them, Vice President Dick Cheney, said that President George W Bush would have to make "a very difficult decision" on Iraq. Not really. The decision had already been taken for him in the autumn of 2001. ....
An Asia Times Online investigation reveals this is no conspiracy theory: it's all about the implementation of a project.
The lexicon of the Bush doctrine of unilateral world domination is laid out in detail by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), founded in Washington in 1997. The ideological, political, economic and military fundamentals of American foreign policy - and uncontested world hegemony - for the 21st century are there for all to see.
PNAC's credo is officially to muster "the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests". PNAC states that the US must be sure of "deterring any potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role" - without ever mentioning these competitors, the European Union, Russia or China, by name. The UN is predictably dismissed as "a forum for leftists, anti-Zionists and anti-imperialists". The UN is only as good as it supports American policy.
The PNAC mixes a peculiar brand of messianic internationalism with realpolitik founded over a stark analysis of American oil interests. ...
These exponents include Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an advisory panel to the Pentagon made up of leading figures in national security and defense, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Reagan-era White House adviser Elliott Abrahms.
The 'Right' Way To Dominate The World
Harley Sorensen, Special to SF Gate
Monday, September 30, 2002
SF Gate

If you like conspiracies, you'll love an article in the Sept. 15 Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland). In the article, author Neil Mackay reveals a plan by the Bush administration to take over the world. Mackay doesn't say that Bush plans to take over the world, but the plan he cites gives that impression.

The plan was drawn up and published by a conservative think tank known as "The Project for the New American Century." It was published in September 2000, before Bush was elected president. According to another report, this one in The Moscow Times, an outline of the plan was drawn up much earlier, in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was president and anticipating re-election.

The team that drew up the first version was headed by Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense and flushed with success over the Gulf War. Others involved included Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad ("special envoy" to Afghanistan), John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush, and I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby (Cheney's current chief of staff). (In the strange, interconnected world of Washington, Lewis also was an attorney for Marc Rich, whose pardon by President Bill Clinton drew the ire of Republicans.)

What I'm calling the plan to take over the world was titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses -- Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century." The think tank that wrote it is headed by William Kristol, often seen on television as a conservative commentator. According to a Sept. 17 editorial in The Charleston Gazette, Kristol was paid $100,000 a year by Enron, the troubled energy broker. The think tank grew out of the New Citizenship Project, which was funded by the conservative Bradley Foundation, a part of Rockwell Automation, a former defense contractor.

These convoluted relationships remind me of the laughter and derision that greeted Hillary Clinton when she referred to "a vast right-wing conspiracy. " In any event, Hillary's husband gets mentioned often, and always derisively, in the "take over the world" plan. He is repeatedly accused of "degrading" America's defenses. George W. Bush, when he was running for president, made the same accusations. Then, when elected, he submitted the same military budget that Clinton had previously submitted. It wasn't until after Sept. 11, 2001, that Bush asked Congress for more military spending. Our military budget, by the way, is bigger than that of "the next eight spenders combined, and 22 times the combined military budgets of our fiercest enemies -- Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Iraq and Sudan," according to an article by Frida Berrigan, a research associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Policy Center, posted on

According to the CIA, the U.S. military budget in 1999 was $276.7 billion. Compare that with the military spending plans of the United Kingdom ($36.9 billion), China ($12.6 billion), France ($39.8 billion) and Iceland ($0). And, incidentally, we're told our service people now fighting in Afghanistan are part of the world's best-ever fighting machine, but that very same machine was said to be in dangerous disrepair by George W. Bush when he was running for office and by the authors of the "take over the world" plan. In essence, the "take over the world" plan says we should be equipped to fight and win multiple simultaneous wars in widely separated parts of the world.

It suggests that we should move into the Gulf region and control the flow of oil, particularly in Iraq, even if Saddam Hussein ceases to exist. The Moscow Times article on the plan compares it with "Mein Kampf."

I'd be the last person to compare anyone with Hitler, but I have to admit that the plan drawn up by the Cheney people -- for whichever Bush happened to be in power at the time -- reads in some respects remarkably like "Mein Kampf."

It has the same kind of arrogance, the sense that we are right and everyone else is wrong, the unquestioned belief that only our great nation is capable of leading all the lesser nations out of the wilderness.

It goes further than that, hinting broadly that only the conservative members of our government can be trusted to lead the world safely to an American-dominated planet.

The plan is very dry reading and 90 pages long, but I suggest you scan it if you have the time. If you read between the lines, you'll conclude -- as I have -- that we're going to invade Iraq no matter what. Our leaders believe it's our destiny to control the world.

Harley Sorensen is a longtime journalist and iconoclast. His column appears
Global Eye -- Dark Passage
By Chris Floyd

Not since "Mein Kampf" has a geopolitical punch been so blatantly telegraphed, years ahead of the blow.

Adolf Hitler clearly spelled out his plans to destroy the Jews and launch wars of conquest to secure German domination of world affairs in his 1925 book, long before he ever assumed power. Despite the zigzags of rhetoric he later employed, the various PR spins and temporary justifications offered for this or that particular policy, any attentive reader of his vile regurgitation could have divined his intentions as he drove his country -- and the world -- to murderous upheaval.

Similarly -- in method, if not entirely in substance -- the Bush Regime's foreign policy is also being carried out according to a strict blueprint written years ago, then renewed a few months before the Regime was installed in power by the judicial coup of December 2000.

The first version, mentioned in passing here last week, was drafted by a team operating under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992. It set out a new doctrine for U.S. power in the 21st century, an aggressive, unilateral approach that would secure American domination of world affairs -- "by force if necessary," as one of the acolytes put it.

When the Dominators were temporarily ousted from government after 1992, they continued their strategic planning with funding from the military-energy-security apparatus and right-wing foundations. This culminated in a new group, the aptly-named Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Members included hard-right players like Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad (now "special envoy" to the satrapy of Afghanistan) and other empire aspirants currently perched in the upper reaches of government power.

In September 2000, PNAC updated the original Cheney plan in a published report, "Strengthening America's Defenses." In this and related documents, the earlier precepts were reiterated and refined. The plans called for unprecedented hikes in military spending, the plantation of American bases in Central Asia and the Middle East, the toppling of recalcitrant regimes, the militarization of outer space, the abrogation of international treaties, the willingness to use nuclear weapons and control of the world's energy resources.

And the present course of action was clearly set forth: "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."

But Iraq is just a stepping stone. Iran is next -- indeed, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the PNAC team say that Iran is "perhaps a far greater threat" to U.S. oil hegemony. Other nations will follow, including Russia and China. In one way or another -- by military means or economic dominance, by conquest, alliance or silent acquiescence -- they must all be brought to heel, forcibly prevented from "challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

These texts spring from the Dominators' quasi-religious cult of "American exceptionalism," the belief in the unique and utter goodness of the American soul -- embodied chiefly by the nation's moneyed elite, of course -- and the irredeemable, metaphysical evil of all those who would oppose or criticize the elite's righteous (and conveniently self-serving) policies.

Anyone still "puzzled" over the Bush Regime's behavior need only look to these documents for enlightenment. They have long been available to the media -- which accepted Bush's transparent campaign lies about a "more humble foreign policy" at face value -- but have only now started attracting wider notice, in the New Yorker magazine this spring, and this week in the Glasgow Sunday Herald.

The documents explain America's relentless march across Afghanistan, Central Asia and soon into the Middle East. They explain the Bush Regime's otherwise unfathomable rejection of international law, its fanatical devotion to so-called missile defense, its gargantuan increases in military spending -- even its antediluvian energy policy, which mandates the continued primacy of oil and gas in the world economy. (They can't conquer the sun or monopolize the wind, so there's no profit, no leverage for personal gain and geopolitical power in pursuing viable alternatives to oil.) The Sept. 11 attacks gave the Regime a pretext for greatly accelerating this published program of global dominance, but they would have pursued it in any case.

So there will be war: either soon, after the November mid-term elections, or -- in the unlikely event that Iraq's offer of inspections is accepted -- then later, after some "provocation" or "obstruction," no doubt in good time before the 2004 presidential vote. The purse-lipped rhetoric about "liberation" and "moral clarity" is just so much desert sand being thrown in our eyes. Backstage, the Bush Regime is playing Mafia-style hardball, warning reluctant allies to get on board now or else miss out on their cut of the loot when America -- not a "democratic Iraq" -- divvies up Saddam's oil fields: a shakedown detailed this week by the Economist, among many others.

The Dominators dream of empire. Not only will it extend their temporal power, they believe it will also give them immortality. One of their chief gurus, Reaganite firebreather Michael Ledeen, says that if the Dominators reject "clever diplomacy" and "just wage total war" to subjugate the Middle East, "our children will sing great songs about us years from now." This madness, this bin Laden-like megalomania, is now driving the hijacked American republic -- and the world -- to murderous upheaval.

It's all there in the text, set down in black and white.

Read it and weep.

"Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President,"
Glasgow Sunday Herald, Sept. 15, 2002

"Foreign Policy Blueprint,", March 2002

"US and the Triumph of Unilateralism,"
Asia Times, Sept. 10, 2002

"George Bush and the World,"
New York Review of Books, Sept. 26, 2002 issue

"The Next World Order,"
The New Yorker, March 25, 2002

"Saddam in the Crosshairs,"
Village Voice, Nov. 21-27, 2001

"Rebuilding America's Defenses,"
Project for a New Century, September 2000
"Statement of Principles,"
Project for a New American Century, June 3, 1997

"Fortunes of war await Bush's circle after attacks on Iraq,"
The Independent (UK), Sept. 15, 2002

"Don't Mention the O-Word,"
The Economist, Sept. 12, 2002

"Backing on Iraq? Let's Make a Deal,"
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 13, 2002

"In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil is a Key Issue,"
Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2002

"Cronies in Arms,"
New York Times, Sept. 17, 2002

"Questions That Won't Be Asked About Iraq,"
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Republican, Texas, Sept. 10, 2002

"Bombs Will Deepen Iraq's Nightmare: An Iraqi Dissident Speaks,"
The Guardian, Sept. 17, 2002,3604,793464,00.html

"Looking War in the Face,"
Boston Globe, Sept. 10, 2002

Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 1993

January 27, 2003
Street Legal:
Neither Protests, Prayers Nor Diplomacy Will Stop Bush Drive to War

All that was missing was what one of the PNAC planners called a "Pearl Harbor-type event" to galvanize public support for unlimited military action.
No, we don't hold with the theory that the Regime planned the Sept. 11 attacks. Nor is there yet a preponderance of public evidence to indicate that they specifically allowed it to happen --although their criminal negligence before the attack, and their strangely lethargic response during it, does call their competence and morality into severe question. But it wouldn't have required a nefarious conspiracy --or a crystal ball --to see that a big blowback from the renegade CIA army of Islamic extremists was going to hit home sooner or later. You just had to be ready to exploit it.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
Whitewashing "The Plan"

To the surprise of many, ABC’s Nightline aired a segment on the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) last week. I caught the show, and figured I’d weigh in here with my impressions. (Thanks to Ray Sweatman for motivating me to post this, which is adapted from an email I sent him)
In general, I thought the show was a whitewash. Nightline presented no new information with their report; outside of journalistic ineptitude, there’s no reason why this story could not have aired months ago, when it might have had a chance to influence public discourse. Instead, it airs when war is pretty much a foregone conclusion, and after most people have made up their mind about whether Dubya should unleash the dogs of hell.
What particularly annoyed me was the way Nightline framed the story. Ted Koppel opened things up by quoting Neil MacKay’s piece from the Sunday Herald (which broke the PNAC story last September, at least in journalistic circles) and Chris Floyd’s follow up article on it for the Moscow Times. Koppel basically called both authors conspiracy theorists, which was entirely unfair. Nightline didn’t break this story – other folks had to – and now along comes Teddy K. to put the facts straight. That’s the way this was outlined.
Koppel then played off the conspiracy theme to introduce a taped segment by one of the Nightline journalists (Jackie Judd). The rest of the show tears at the conspiracy notion until the audience is left with the impression that Bill Kristol and the boys really have American interests at heart and aren’t the imperialists they so plainly are (and readily admit, albeit in different words).
Nightline essentially allowed the PNACers to make their case without any significant challenge to their worldview. Ian Lustick, a UPenn professor, was presented as a foil, but he popped up very briefly in the taped segment and his contribution was marginal. In contrast, Bill Kristol was allowed to make his sales pitch, and given the opportunity to elaborate at length about his theory on foreign policy.
The fact that Kristol was interviewed extensively in the taped segment and then allowed to go one-on-one with Koppel in studio is unacceptable. Nightline could have just as easily aired the pre-taped journalistic piece, and then put Kristol on with someone else, someone who was not a PNAC flack. Take your pick: the previously mentioned MacKay, Jay Bookman (who wrote the first major American op-ed piece on PNAC for AJC), Nick Lemann (he wrote about PNAC even prior to MacKay, for the New Yorker), or Jim Lobe (the IPS reporter who has written extensively on PNAC, frequently for Foreign Policy in Focus), to name the obvious options.
Overall, yes, it's good that the PNAC story made its way onto television. I suppose the more people know about the plan, the better. And, hopefully, it will encourage viewers to investigate this further.
I do, however, feel like the program served more as political inoculation than anything else. It connected few dots, and led the viewer to believe that a bunch of smart folks were simply contributing ideas to the foreign policy debate, and not actually exploiting historical circumstance and their close proximity to the corridors of power to drive through an ideological agenda that has, for the most part, been hidden from public scrutiny.
Rather than taking a deep, probing look at the PNAC, Nightline can now put it on its list of stories covered. This is not something that deserves 20 minutes at 11:35pm. It’s the story that needs to be placed at the center of the debate on Iraq, precisely because you cannot understand what’s been going on for the past few months (years?) without knowing about PNAC. More or less, this Nightline report left the viewer with the notion that “there’s nothing to see here, folks.”
And, as anyone who has been following this story all along knows, that’s hardly the case.

[NB: A transcript of the Nightline program is available here
Perhaps one of the creepiest sections of the PNAC report was pointed out to me by a picketer of today's AEI meeting. The passage, which appears on page 60 of the above-linked report, reads:
"Information systems will become an important focus of attack, particularly for U.S. enemies seeking to short-circuit sophisticated American forces. And advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."

War? Mazeltov!
by Hussein Shobokshi, Arab News, 4/1/03

After the brutal death in Israel of the American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by a bulldozer, the following telephone conversation took place between Paul Wolfowitz and Ariel Sharon. Wolfowitz phoned Sharon and said, “Hey, Ariel, lighten up a bit. That was an American you killed and it is increasing the pressure on me and Richard Perle.” Sharon listened to Wolfowitz, gave a sub-human grunt and wiped his drooling saliva from his grotesque belly before hanging up.
There is no doubt in any objective and honest person’s mind that there is a link between the US-led war on Iraq and Israel. That link seems to be growing with various revelations that cite the agenda which the neocons in the American administration share with the Likud Party in Israel. The neocons, a group of extreme ultra-right conservative politicians, mostly Jews, have basically taken over American foreign policy for the sake of protecting the Jewish state. There is a list of countries and regions in the Middle East that such leading neocons as Podhoretz, Bennett, Ledeen, Perle, Wolfowitz and the ex-prime ministers of Israel regard as targets for destruction. They include Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran. As is now widely known, the genesis of the idea for occupying Iraq dates back to the early 1990s.
Richard Perle, often described as the intellectual driving force behind President Bush’s world-view, has for years pressed US and Israeli leaders to go to war against Iraq. On July 8, 1996, shortly after Netanyahu’s election victory over Shimon Peres, Perle handed Netanyahu a strategy paper entitled “A Clear Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” It called for the removal of Saddam Hussein as a key Israeli objective and as a means of weakening Syria. The call for an attack on Iraq was then taken up in 1997 by a right-wing American group called “The Project for a New American Century” whose members included Richard Perle, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Middle East Director of Bush’s National Security Council, Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and two influential conservative editors, William Krista of the Weekly Standard and Norman Podhoretz of Commentary.
With friends such as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney, and backed by half a dozen right-wing think-tanks, this group made a formidable pressure group. The terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11 gave the advocates of American empire and of the US-Israeli alliance their chance. They were able to make the inexperienced President George W. Bush, who came to power after a questionable election, the vehicle for their agenda.
The result is the war we are now witnessing. The ultimate objective is to change the map of the Middle East by destroying or intimidating all enemies of the US and Israel. If America’s imperium turns out to be benevolent, which is most improbable, the Arabs may accept it for a while. But they will always resist Israeli domination of the region.
That is the major flaw in the project. For whose benefit and advantage will there be endless wars in a region that holds nothing important for America except for oil which is sold to it anyway. Who would benefit from such enmity between the West and Islam and by putting the clash of civilizations into high gear? One simple answer — one country, one man, one party: Israel, Sharon and Likud.
Come on, give me hava!
Israel, the only country in the Middle East with weapons of mass destruction, disobeys all UN resolutions, occupies land and massacres civilians on a daily basis — with the complete blessings and support of the US government.
I beg you to give me hava!
This war could not have come at a better time for Israel. It is perfect and ideal. Israel will be encouraged to show restraint. During the Gulf War of 1991, the US bribed Israel to show restraint. This time not only is the US giving it billions but also giving it a green light as well for mass killings and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. What these neoconservatives seek is to shed American blood in order to make the world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it. The neocons seek an American empire and “sharonites” seek hegemony in the Middle East.
The two plans fit perfectly. And though neocons insist that it was Sept. 11 that made the argument for war on Iraq and extremist Islam, the genesis of their war plans go back much further. America promised the world peace, freedom and liberty, but what it is doing in Iraq is nothing short of misery, horror and hypocrisy. The killing of innocent civilians in great numbers every day, all to protect a brutal terrorist like Sharon and his henchmen in Israel is shameful and disgraceful. Sharon of course is enjoying every minute of this tragedy.
Hava nagila hava.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 9/29/02

The president's real goal in Iraq
Jay Bookman
Bookman is
the deputy
page editor
of The Atlanta

The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.
D Donald Kagan: Comparing America to ancient empires is 'ludicrous'
Download "Rebuilding America's Defenses" report
Read President Bush's National Security Strategy
"Rebuilding America's Defenses," a 2000 report by the Project for the New American Century, listed 27 people as having attended meetings or contributed papers in preparation of the report. Among them are six who have since assumed key defense and foreign policy positions in the Bush administration. And the report seems to have become a blueprint for Bush's foreign and defense policy.Paul Wolfowitz
Political science doctorate from University of Chicago and dean of the international relations program at Johns Hopkins University during the 1990s. Served in the Reagan State Department, moved to the Pentagon during the first Bush administration as undersecretary of defense for policy. Sworn in as deputy defense secretary in March 2001.
John Bolton
Yale Law grad who worked in the Reagan administration as an assistant attorney general. Switched to the State Department in the first Bush administration as assistant secretary for international organization affairs. Sworn in as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, May 2001.
Eliot Cohen
Harvard doctorate in government who taught at Harvard and at the Naval War College. Now directs strategic studies at Johns Hopkins and is the author of several books on military strategy. Was on the Defense Department's policy planning staff in the first Bush administration and is now on Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board.
I. Lewis Libby
Law degree from Columbia (Yale undergrad). Held advisory positions in the Reagan State Department. Was a partner in a Washington law firm in the late '80s before becoming deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in the first Bush administration (under Dick Cheney). Now is the vice president's chief of staff.
Dov Zakheim
Doctorate in economics and politics from Oxford University. Worked on policy issues in the Reagan Defense Department and went into private defense consulting during the 1990s. Was foreign policy adviser to the 2000 Bush campaign. Sworn in as undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Pentagon, May 2001.
Stephen Cambone
Political science doctorate from Claremont Graduate School. Was in charge of strategic defense policy at the Defense Department in the first Bush administration. Now heads the Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation at the Defense Department.

The pieces just didn't fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing.
In recent days, those missing pieces have finally begun to fall into place. As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.
This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.
Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?
Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.
In an interview Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brushed aside that suggestion, noting that the United States does not covet other nations' territory. That may be true, but 57 years after World War II ended, we still have major bases in Germany and Japan. We will do the same in Iraq.
And why has the administration dismissed the option of containing and deterring Iraq, as we had the Soviet Union for 45 years? Because even if it worked, containment and deterrence would not allow the expansion of American power. Besides, they are beneath us as an empire. Rome did not stoop to containment; it conquered. And so should we.
Among the architects of this would-be American Empire are a group of brilliant and powerful people who now hold key positions in the Bush administration: They envision the creation and enforcement of what they call a worldwide "Pax Americana," or American peace. But so far, the American people have not appreciated the true extent of that ambition.
Part of it's laid out in the National Security Strategy, a document in which each administration outlines its approach to defending the country. The Bush administration plan, released Sept. 20, marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that it attributes largely to the attacks of Sept. 11.
To address the terrorism threat, the president's report lays out a newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies. It speaks in blunt terms of what it calls "American internationalism," of ignoring international opinion if that suits U.S. interests. "The best defense is a good offense," the document asserts.
It dismisses deterrence as a Cold War relic and instead talks of "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities."
In essence, it lays out a plan for permanent U.S. military and economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by international treaty or concern. And to make that plan a reality, it envisions a stark expansion of our global military presence.
"The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia," the document warns, "as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. troops."
The report's repeated references to terrorism are misleading, however, because the approach of the new National Security Strategy was clearly not inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can be found in much the same language in a report issued in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.
"At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals," the report said. stated two years ago. "The challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this 'American peace.' "
Familiar themes
Overall, that 2000 report reads like a blueprint for current Bush defense policy. Most of what it advocates, the Bush administration has tried to accomplish. For example, the project report urged the repudiation of the anti-ballistic missile treaty and a commitment to a global missile defense system. The administration has taken that course.
It recommended that to project sufficient power worldwide to enforce Pax Americana, the United States would have to increase defense spending from 3 percent of gross domestic product to as much as 3.8 percent. For next year, the Bush administration has requested a defense budget of $379 billion, almost exactly 3.8 percent of GDP.
It advocates the "transformation" of the U.S. military to meet its expanded obligations, including the cancellation of such outmoded defense programs as the Crusader artillery system. That's exactly the message being preached by Rumsfeld and others.
It urges the development of small nuclear warheads "required in targeting the very deep, underground hardened bunkers that are being built by many of our potential adversaries." This year the GOP-led U.S. House gave the Pentagon the green light to develop such a weapon, called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, while the Senate has so far balked.
That close tracking of recommendation with current policy is hardly surprising, given the current positions of the people who contributed to the 2000 report.
Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department.
'Constabulary duties'
Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the authors of the project report could be more frank and less diplomatic than they were in drafting the National Security Strategy. Back in 2000, they clearly identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as primary short-term targets, well before President Bush tagged them as the Axis of Evil. In their report, they criticize the fact that in war planning against North Korea and Iraq, "past Pentagon wargames have given little or no consideration to the force requirements necessary not only to defeat an attack but to remove these regimes from power."
To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says U.S. forces will be required to perform "constabulary duties" -- the United States acting as policeman of the world -- and says that such actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations."
To meet those responsibilities, and to ensure that no country dares to challenge the United States, the report advocates a much larger military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition to the roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already deployed.
More specifically, they argue that we need permanent military bases in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and in Southeast Asia, where no such bases now exist. That helps to explain another of the mysteries of our post-Sept. 11 reaction, in which the Bush administration rushed to install U.S. troops in Georgia and the Philippines, as well as our eagerness to send military advisers to assist in the civil war in Colombia.
The 2000 report directly acknowledges its debt to a still earlier document, drafted in 1992 by the Defense Department. That document had also envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power. When leaked in final draft form, however, the proposal drew so much criticism that it was hastily withdrawn and repudiated by the first President Bush.
Effect on allies
The defense secretary in 1992 was Richard Cheney; the document was drafted by Wolfowitz, who at the time was defense undersecretary for policy.
The potential implications of a Pax Americana are immense.
One is the effect on our allies. Once we assert the unilateral right to act as the world's policeman, our allies will quickly recede into the background. Eventually, we will be forced to spend American wealth and American blood protecting the peace while other nations redirect their wealth to such things as health care for their citizenry.
Donald Kagan, a professor of classical Greek history at Yale and an influential advocate of a more aggressive foreign policy -- he served as co-chairman of the 2000 New Century project -- acknowledges that likelihood.
"If [our allies] want a free ride, and they probably will, we can't stop that," he says. But he also argues that the United States, given its unique position, has no choice but to act anyway.
"You saw the movie 'High Noon'? he asks. "We're Gary Cooper."
Accepting the Cooper role would be an historic change in who we are as a nation, and in how we operate in the international arena. Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign policy, a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military intervention.
For the same reason, Kagan and others shy away from terms such as empire, understanding its connotations. But they also argue that it would be naive and dangerous to reject the role that history has thrust upon us. Kagan, for example, willingly embraces the idea that the United States would establish permanent military bases in a post-war Iraq.
"I think that's highly possible," he says. "We will probably need a major concentration of forces in the Middle East over a long period of time. That will come at a price, but think of the price of not having it. When we have economic problems, it's been caused by disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no disruption in oil supplies."
Costly global commitment
Rumsfeld and Kagan believe that a successful war against Iraq will produce other benefits, such as serving an object lesson for nations such as Iran and Syria. Rumsfeld, as befits his sensitive position, puts it rather gently. If a regime change were to take place in Iraq, other nations pursuing weapons of mass destruction "would get the message that having them . . . is attracting attention that is not favorable and is not helpful," he says.
Kagan is more blunt.
"People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react," he notes. "Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet since we started blowing things up."
The cost of such a global commitment would be enormous. In 2000, we spent $281 billion on our military, which was more than the next 11 nations combined. By 2003, our expenditures will have risen to $378 billion. In other words, the increase in our defense budget from 1999-2003 will be more than the total amount spent annually by China, our next largest competitor.
The lure of empire is ancient and powerful, and over the millennia it has driven men to commit terrible crimes on its behalf. But with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, a global empire was essentially laid at the feet of the United States. To the chagrin of some, we did not seize it at the time, in large part because the American people have never been comfortable with themselves as a New Rome.
Now, more than a decade later, the events of Sept. 11 have given those advocates of empire a new opportunity to press their case with a new president. So in debating whether to invade Iraq, we are really debating the role that the United States will play in the years and decades to come.
Are peace and security best achieved by seeking strong alliances and international consensus, led by the United States? Or is it necessary to take a more unilateral approach, accepting and enhancing the global dominance that, according to some, history has thrust upon us?
If we do decide to seize empire, we should make that decision knowingly, as a democracy. The price of maintaining an empire is always high. Kagan and others argue that the price of rejecting it would be higher still.
That's what this is about.