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Project for the New American Century

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was a neo-conservative think tank (1997 to 2006) that had strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute. PNAC's web site said it was "established in the spring of 1997" as "a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership."

PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocated for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration. The Project was an initiative of the New Citizenship Project (501c3). [1]

In 2009 two of PNAC's founders, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, began what some termed "PNAC 2.0," The Foreign Policy Initiative.

History

The PNAC was co-founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan in 1997[2], with roots in the 1992 Pentagon. PNAC's original 25 signatories were an eclectic mix of academics and neo-conservative politicians, several of whom have subsequently found positions in the presidential administration of George Walker Bush. PNAC is noteworthy for its focus on Iraq, a preoccupation that began before Bush became president and predates the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 1998, the group wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott (then Senate Majority Leader) and Newt Gingrich (then Speaker of the House of Representatives), demanding a harder line against Iraq. By then, the group had grown in numbers, adding individuals such as former Reagan-era U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and long-time Washington cold warrior/pro-LikudRichard N. Perle.

According to William Rivers Pitt, "Two events brought PNAC into the mainstream of American government: the disputed election of George W. Bush and the attacks of September 11th. When Bush assumed the Presidency, the men who created and nurtured the imperial dreams of PNAC became the men who run the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the White House. When the Towers came down, these men saw, at long last, their chance to turn their White Papers into substantive policy."[3]

Several original PNAC members, including Cheney, Khalilzad and the Bush family, have ties to the oil industry. Many other members have been long-time fixtures in the U.S. military establishment or Cold War "strategic studies," including Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Paula Dobriansky, Aaron Friedberg, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald H. Rumsfeld, John R. Bolton, Vin Weber, and Paul Dundes Wolfowitz. It should not be surprising, therefore, that while the group devotes inordinate attention to Iraq, its most general focus has been on a need to "re-arm America." The prospect of mining oil riches may explain part of the group's focus on Iraq, but this motivation has been buried under the rhetoric of national security and the need for strong national defense.

To justify a need to "rearm" the country, however, reasons must be found. In the more peaceable world of the late 1990s, with no rival super-power in sight, Iraq and "ballistic missile defense" against "rogue states" were the main games in town. The group's links to advocacy for ballistic missile defense came through Donald Rumsfeld, who in 1998 chaired a bi-partisan commission on the "US Ballistic Missile Threat" and Vin Weber, a registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin and other Fortune 500 companies.

According to a February 27, 2003, editorial by William Rivers Pitt, PNAC

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 into Baghdad.
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. ...
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.[4]

Key positions

Among the key conclusions of PNAC's defense strategy document (Rebuilding America's Defenses) were the following [4]:

  • "Develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world."
  • "Control the new 'international commons' of space and 'cyberspace,' and pave the way for the creation of a new military service--U.S. Space Forces--with the mission of space control."
  • "Increase defense spending, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually."
  • "Exploit the 'revolution in military affairs' [transformation to high-tech, unmanned weaponry] to insure the long-term superiority of U.S. conventional forces."
  • "Need to develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets of military requirements" complaining that the U.S. has "virtually ceased development of safer and more effective nuclear weapons."
  • "Facing up to the realities of multiple constabulary missions that will require a permanent allocation of U.S. forces."
  • "America must defend its homeland" by "reconfiguring its nuclear force" and by missile defense systems that "counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction."
  • "Need for a larger U.S. security perimeter" and the U.S. "should seek to establish a network of 'deployment bases' or 'forward operating bases' to increase the reach of current and future forces," citing the need to move beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia to increased permanent military presence in Southeast Asia and "other regions of East Asia." Necessary "to cope with the rise of China to great-power status."
  • Redirecting the U.S. Air Force to move "toward a global first-strike force."
  • End the Clinton administration's "devotion" to the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.
  • "North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or similar states [should not be allowed] to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies, or threaten the American homeland itself."
  • "Main military missions" necessary to "preserve Pax Americana" and a "unipolar 21st century" are the following: "secure and expand zones of democratic peace, deter rise of new great-power competitor, defend key regions (Europe, East Asia, Middle East), and exploit transformation of war."

According to the PNAC report, "The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time: even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself." To preserve this "American peace" through the 21st century, the PNAC report concludes that the global order "must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence." The report struck a prescient note when it observed that "the process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."

Many of PNAC's conclusions and recommendations were reflected in the White House's National Security Strategy document of September 2002, which reflects the "peace through strength" credo that shapes PNAC strategic thinking.

Personnel

Original 25 signatories were:

Source

Leadership

Top leadership from their about page as of June 2007:[5]

Project directors:

Other leaders:

Other PNAC members (Updated June 2007)

Non-overlapping signatories to a January 28, 2005, letter to Congress

Source: Letter to Congress on Increasing U.S. Ground Forces, PNAC, January 28, 2005.

See the Right Web Profile.

Funding

MediaTransparency.org has documented $600,000 in donations to PNAC since 1997 from conservative foundations.[6] Funders include:

Contact information

Project for the New American Century
1150 17th St. NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 293-4983
Fax: (202) 293-4572
http://www.newamericancentury.org/

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Jim Lobe, ""New American Century" Project Ends With A Whimper", CommonDreams.org, June 13, 2006.
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. [3]

PNAC documents

External articles

General

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

This article was created March 13, 2003.