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Pax Americana

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See the Wikipedia article on Pax Americana.

The following content refers to George W. Bush's National Security Strategy, which has nothing to do with Peace and does not contain either "pax" or "peace" in its formal documents, referred to in the following content as "the plan".

Journalist Jay Bookman observed that the plan "marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that the plan attributes largely to the attacks of September 11, 2001." [1]

In response to the threat of terrorism, Bush's plan calls for a "newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies." Bookman says that it speaks in blunt terms of what the plan calls American internationalism, of ignoring international opinion if that suits U.S. interests. "The best defense is a good offense," the document asserts.

The plan "dismisses deterrence as a Cold War relic" and, rather, speaks about 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 [U.S.] global military presence."

To accomplish this goal, 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 plan repeatedly refers to terrorism, Bookman adds, which is misleading since the "approach of the new National Security Strategy was clearly not inspired by" the events of September 11. The same language is found in a report -- Rebuilding America's Defenses - Strategies, Forces and Resources For a New Century -- issued in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The report was co-chaired by Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, with Thomas Donnelly the principal author. Bookman refers to the PNAC as "a group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire."

The plan goes on to say that, "At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals ... The challenge of this coming century," it continues, "is to preserve and enhance this American peace."

To do this, the plan calls for the United States to "increase defense spending from 3 percent of gross domestic product to as much as 3.8 percent." For 2003, the Bush administration requested a defense budget of $379 billion, which equates almost exactly to 3.8 percent of the GDP.

The plan 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 ... 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.'"

Constabulary duties

"Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the authors of the PNAC 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 George Walker Bush tagged them as the Axis of Evil. In their report, the authors 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.'"

The report says "U.S. forces will be required to perform constabulary duties with the United States acting as policeman of the world. The report states 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, the authors 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." This, Bookman observes, "helps to explain another of the mysteries of our post-September 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."

The potential implications are immense

Bookman points out the obvious: "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, Yale professor of classical Greek history and an "influential advocate of a more aggressive foreign policy", who also served as co-chairman of the 2000 PNAC project, acknowledges that likelihood. "If [our allies] want a free ride," Kagan says, "and they probably will, we can't stop that." Kagan also argues that "the United States, given its unique position, has no choice but to act anyway."

The change to the United States' foreign policy is not, Bookman says, something that Kagan 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."

Likewise, Kagan and others have avoided terms such as empire, "understanding its connotations." However, "they also argue that it would be naive and dangerous to reject the role that history has thrust upon us." Kagan, for one, "willingly embraces the idea that the United States would establish permanent military bases in a post-war Iraq."

"I think that's highly possible," Kagan 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

Secretary of Defense Donald H. 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," Bookman says, "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," Bookman adds, "more than a decade later, the events of September 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."

Also see Donald Kagan's rebuttal to Jay Bookman's article on October 6, 2002, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A full text version of Kagan's rebuttal was also published on the PNAC web site.

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