president's real goal in Iraq
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sept
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.
just didn't fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing.
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.
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.
is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the
administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?
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.
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.
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.
deterrence as a Cold War relic and instead talks of "convincing or compelling
states to accept their sovereign responsibilities."
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
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."
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.
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.' "
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.
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.
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.
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.
tracking of recommendation with current policy is hardly surprising, given
the current positions of the people who contributed to the 2000 report.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
secretary in 1992 was Richard Cheney; the document was drafted by Wolfowitz,
who at the time was defense undersecretary for policy.
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.
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.
[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.
saw the movie 'High Noon'? he asks. "We're Gary
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.
that's highly possible," he says. "We will probably need a major
concentration of forces in the Middle
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
this is about.
to the 2000 Pax Americana Report [finished before
Bush took office and two years before September 11, which now appears to be
the justification of its implementation].
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
Political science doctorate from University of
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 National Security Strategy of the United States of America – Sept 2002, by George W. Bush http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html
"Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy,
Forces and Resources For a New Century," September 2000. A Report of the
Project for the New American Century (PNAC). http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm
following is from: http://www.ceip.org/people/kagfaff.htm
a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy
William Kristol and Robert Kagan
by permission of Foreign Affairs, July/August 1996.
1996 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.
IN FOREIGN policy, conservatives are adrift. They disdain
the Wilsonian multilateralism of the Clinton
administration; they are tempted by, but so far have resisted, the neoisolationism of Patrick Buchanan; for now, they lean uncertainly
on some version of the conservative "realism" of Henry Kissinger
and his disciples. Thus, in this year's election campaign, they speak vaguely
of replacing Clinton's vacillation
with a steady, "adult" foreign policy under Robert Dole. But Clinton
has not vacillated that much recently, and Dole was reduced a few weeks ago
to asserting, in what was heralded as a major address, that there really are
differences in foreign policy between him and the president, appearances to
the contrary notwithstanding. But the fault is not Dole's; in truth, there
has been little attempt to set forth the outlines of a conservative view of
the world and America's
proper role in it.
Is such an attempt necessary, or even possible? For the past
few years, Americans, from the foreign policy big-thinker to the man on the
street, have assumed it is not. Rather, this is supposed to be a time for
unshouldering the vast responsibilities the United
States acquired at the end of the Second
World War and for concentrating its energies at home. The collapse of the
Soviet Empire has made possible a "return to normalcy" in American
foreign and defense policy, allowing the adoption of a more limited definition
of the national interest, with a commensurate reduction in overseas involvement
and defense spending.
Republicans and conservatives at first tended to be wary of
this new post-Cold War consensus. But they joined it rapidly after 1992, in
the wake of the defeat of the quintessential "foreign policy president"
by a candidate who promised to focus "like a laser" on the domestic
economy. Now conservatives tailor their foreign and defense policies to fit
the presumed new political reality: an American public that is indifferent,
if not hostile, to foreign policy and commitments abroad, more interested
in balancing the budget than in leading the world, and more intent on cashing
in the "peace dividend" than on spending to deter and fight future
wars. Most conservatives have chosen to acquiesce in rather than challenge
this public mood.
In a way, the current situation is reminiscent of the mid-1970s.
But Ronald Reagan mounted a bold challenge to the tepid consensus of that
era – a consensus that favored accommodation to and coexistence with the Soviet
Union, accepted the inevitability of America's
declining power, and considered any change in the status quo either too frightening
or too expensive. Proposing a controversial vision of ideological and strategic
victory over the forces of international communism, Reagan called for an end
to complacency in the face of the Soviet threat, large increases in defense
spending, resistance to communist advances in the Third World,
and greater moral clarity and purpose in U.S.
foreign policy. He championed American exceptionalism
when it was deeply unfashionable. Perhaps most significant, he refused to
accept the limits on American power imposed by the domestic political realities
that others assumed were fixed.
Many smart people regarded Reagan with scorn or alarm. Liberal
Democrats still reeling from the Vietnam War were, of course, appalled by
his zealotry. So were many of Reagan's fellow Republicans, especially the
Kissingerian realists then dominant in foreign affairs.
Reagan declared war on his own party, took on Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican
presidential nomination (primarily over issues of foreign policy), and trained
his guns on Kissinger, whose stewardship of U.S.
foreign policy, he charged, had "coincided precisely with the loss of
supremacy." Although Reagan lost the battle to unseat Ford, he won the
fight at the Republican convention for a platform plank on "morality
in foreign policy." Ultimately, he succeeded in transforming the Republican
party, the conservative movement in America,
and, after his election to the presidency in 1980, the country and the world.
TWENTY YEARS later, it is time once again to challenge an
and a confused American conservatism. Today's lukewarm consensus about America's
reduced role in a post-Cold War world is wrong. Conservatives should not accede
to it; it is bad for the country and, incidentally, bad for conservatism.
Conservatives will not be able to govern America
over the long term if they fail to offer a more elevated vision of America's
What should that role be? Benevolent global
hegemony. Having defeated the "evil empire," the United
States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance.
The first objective of U.S.
foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening
security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and standing up
for its principles around the world.
The aspiration to benevolent hegemony might strike some as
either hubristic or morally suspect. But a hegemon
is nothing more or less than a leader with preponderant influence and authority
over all others in its domain. That is America's
position in the world today. The leaders of Russia
understand this. At their April summit meeting, Boris Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin joined in denouncing
"hegemonism" in the post-Cold War world.
They meant this as a complaint about the United
States. It should be taken as a compliment
and a guide to action.
Consider the events of just the past six months, a period
that few observers would consider remarkable for its drama on the world stage.
In East Asia, the carrier task forces of the U.S. Seventh
Fleet helped deter Chinese aggression against democratic Taiwan,
and the 35,000 American troops stationed in South
Korea helped deter a possible invasion by
the rulers in Pyongyang. In Europe,
the United States
sent 20,000 ground troops to implement a peace agreement in the former Yugoslavia,
maintained 100,000 in Western Europe as a symbolic
commitment to European stability and security, and intervened diplomatically
to prevent the escalation of a conflict between Greece
In the Middle East, the United
States maintained the deployment of thousands
of soldiers and a strong naval presence in the Persian Gulf
region to deter possible aggression by Saddam Hussein's Iraq
or the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran,
and it mediated in the conflict between Israel
In the Western Hemisphere, the United
States completed the withdrawal of 15,000
soldiers after restoring a semblance of democratic government in Haiti
and, almost without public notice, prevented a military coup in Paraguay.
In Africa, a U.S.
expeditionary force rescued Americans and others trapped in the Liberian civil
These were just the most visible American actions of the past
six months, and just those of a military or diplomatic nature. During the
same period, the United States
made a thousand decisions in international economic forums, both as a government
and as an amalgam of large corporations and individual entrepreneurs,
that shaped the lives and fortunes of billions around the globe. America
influenced both the external and internal behavior of other countries through
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Through the United Nations,
it maintained sanctions on rogue states such as Libya,
aid programs, the United States
tried to shore up friendly democratic regimes in developing nations. The enormous
web of the global economic system, with the United
States at the center, combined with the pervasive
influence of American ideas and culture, allowed Americans to wield influence
in many other ways of which they were entirely unconscious. The simple truth
of this era was stated last year by a Serb leader trying to explain Slobodan
Milosevic's decision to finally seek rapprochement with Washington.
"As a pragmatist," the Serbian politician said, "Milosevic
knows that all satellites of the United States
are in a better position than those that are not satellites."
allies are in a better position than those who are not its allies. Most of
the world's major powers welcome U.S.
global involvement and prefer America's
benevolent hegemony to the alternatives. Instead of having to compete for
dominant global influence with many other powers, therefore, the United
States finds both the Europeans and the Japanese
-- after the United States,
the two most powerful forces in the world -- supportive of its world leadership
role. Those who anticipated the dissolution of these alliances once the common
threat of the Soviet Union disappeared have been proved
wrong. The principal concern of America's
allies these days is not that it will be too dominant but that it will withdraw.
Somehow most Americans have failed to notice that they have
never had it so good. They have never lived in a world more conducive to their
fundamental interests in a liberal international order, the spread of freedom
and democratic governance, an international economic system of free-market
capitalism and free trade, and the security of Americans not only to live
within their own borders but to travel and do business safely and without
encumbrance almost anywhere in the world. Americans have taken these remarkable
benefits of the post-Cold War era for granted, partly because it has all seemed
so easy. Despite misguided warnings of imperial overstretch, the United
States has so far exercised its hegemony
without any noticeable strain, and it has done so despite the fact that Americans
appear to be in a more insular mood than at any time since before the Second
World War. The events of the last six months have excited no particular interest
among Americans and, indeed, seem to have been regarded with the same routine
indifference as breathing and eating.
And that is the problem. The most difficult thing to preserve
is that which does not appear to need preserving. The dominant strategic and
ideological position the United States
now enjoys is the product of foreign policies and defense strategies that
are no longer being pursued. Americans have come to take the fruits of their
hegemonic power for granted. During the Cold War, the strategies of deterrence
and containment worked so well in checking the ambitions of America's
adversaries that many American liberals denied that our adversaries had ambitions
or even, for that matter, that America
had adversaries. Today the lack of a visible threat to U.S.
vital interests or to world peace has tempted Americans to absentmindedly
dismantle the material and spiritual foundations on which their national well-being
has been based. They do not notice that potential challengers are deterred
before even contemplating confrontation by their overwhelming power and influence.
The ubiquitous post-Cold War question -- where is the threat?
-- is thus misconceived. In a world in which peace and American security depend
on American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United
States faces now and in the future is its
own weakness. American hegemony is the only reliable defense against a breakdown
of peace and international order. The appropriate goal of American foreign
policy, therefore, is to preserve that hegemony as far into the future as
possible. To achieve this goal, the United
States needs a neo-Reaganite
foreign policy of military supremacy and moral confidence.
SETTING FORTH the broad outlines of such a foreign policy
is more important for the moment than deciding the best way to handle all
the individual issues that have preoccupied U.S.
policymakers and analysts. Whether or not the United
States continues to grant most-favored-nation
status to China
is less important than whether it has an overall strategy for containing,
influencing, and ultimately seeking to change the regime in Beijing.
Whether NATO expands this year or five years from now is less important than
whether NATO remains strong, active, cohesive, and under decisive American
leadership. Whether America builds 20 B-2 bombers or 3 is less important than
giving its military planners enough money to make intelligent choices that
are driven more by strategic than by budget requirements. But it is clear
that a neo-Reaganite foreign policy would have several implications.
The defense budget. Republicans
declared victory last year when they added $ 7 billion to President Clinton's
defense budget. But the hard truth is that Washington
-- now spending about $ 260 billion per year on defense -- probably needs
to spend about $ 60-$ 80 billion more each year in order to preserve America's
role as global hegemon. The United
States currently devotes about three percent
of its GNP to defense. U.S. defense planners, who must make guesses about a future that is impossible
to predict with confidence, are increasingly being forced to place all their
chips on one guess or another. They are being asked to predict whether
the future is likely to bring more conflicts like the Gulf War or peacekeeping
operations like those in Bosnia
or more great-power confrontations similar to the Cold War. The best answer
to these questions is: who can tell? The odds are that in the coming decades
face all these kinds of conflict, as well as some that have yet to be imagined.
For the past few years, American military supremacy has been
living off a legacy, specifically, the legacy of Ronald Reagan. As former
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell once noted, it
was Reagan's military, built in the 1980s to deter the Soviet Union, that won the war against Iraq.
No serious analyst of American military capabilities today doubts that the
defense budget has been cut much too far to meet America's
responsibilities to itself and to world peace. The United
States may no longer have the wherewithal
to defend against threats to America's
vital interests in Europe, Asia,
and the Middle East, much less to extend America's
current global preeminence well into the future.
The current readiness of U.S.
forces is in decline, but so is their ability to maintain an advantage in
high-technology weapons over the coming decades. In the search for some way
to meet extensive strategic requirements with inadequate resources, defense
planners have engaged in strategic fratricide. Those who favor current readiness
have been pitted against those who favor high-tech research and development;
those who favor maintaining American forward deployment at bases around the
world have been arrayed against those who insist that for the sake of economizing
the job be accomplished at long range without bases. The military is forced
to choose between army combat divisions and the next generation of bombers,
between lift capacities and force projection, between short-range and long-range
deterrence. Constructing a military force appropriate to a nation's commitments
and its resources is never an easy task, and there are always limits that
compel difficult choices. But today's limits are far too severe; the choices
they compel are too dramatic; and because military strategy and planning are
far from exact sciences, the United States
is dangerously cutting its margin for error.
The defense budget crisis is now at hand. Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs General John Shalikashvili has complained
that the weapons procurement budget has been reduced to perilously low levels,
and he has understated the problem. Since 1985, the research and development
budget has been cut by 57 percent; the procurement budget has been cut 71
percent. Both the Clinton administration
and the Republican Congress have achieved budget savings over the next few
years by pushing necessary procurement decisions into the next century. The
Clinton administration's so-called
"Bottom-Up Review" of U.S.
defense strategy has been rightly dismissed by Democrats like Senate Armed
Services Committee member Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
as "already inadequate to the present and certainly to the future."
Both the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office have
projected a shortfall of $ 50 billion to $ 100 billion over the next five
years in funding just for existing force levels and procurement plans.
These shortfalls do not even take into account the development
of new weapons, like a missile defense system capable of protecting American
territory against missiles launched from rogue states such as North Korea
or shielding, say, Los Angeles from nuclear intimidation by the Chinese during
the next crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Deployment of such a system could cost
more than $ 10 billion a year.
Add together the needed increases in the procurement budget
called for by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the justifiable increases in funding
for existing forces to make up the shortfalls identified by the GAO and the
CBO, and it becomes obvious that an increase in defense spending by $ 60 billion
to $ 80 billion is not a radical proposal. It is simply what the United
States will require to keep the peace and
defend its interests over the coming decades. If this number sounds like a
budget-buster, it should not. Today, defense spending is less than 20 percent
of the total federal budget. In 1962, before the Vietnam War, defense spending
ran at almost 50 percent of the overall budget. In 1978, before the Carter-Reagan
defense buildup, it was about 23 percent. Increases of the size required to
pursue a neo-Reaganite foreign policy today would
require returning to about that level of defense spending -- still less than
one-quarter of the federal budget.
These days, some critics complain about the fact that the
spends more on defense than the next six major powers combined. But the enormous
disparity between U.S.
military strength and that of any potential challenger is a good thing for
the world. After all, America's
world role is entirely different from that of the other powers. The more Washington
is able to make clear that it is futile to compete with American power, either
in size of forces or in technological capabilities, the less chance there
is that countries like China
or Iran will
entertain ambitions of upsetting the present world order. And that means the
will be able to save money in the long run, for it is much cheaper to deter
a war than to fight one. Americans should be glad that their defense capabilities
are as great as the next six powers combined. Indeed, they may even want to
enshrine this disparity in U.S.
defense strategy. Great Britain in the late 19th century maintained a "two-power
standard" for its navy, insisting that at all times the British navy
should be as large as the next two naval powers combined, whoever they might
be. Perhaps the United States
should inaugurate such a two- (or three-, or four-) power standard of its
own, which would preserve its military supremacy regardless of the near-term
Citizen involvement. A gap
is growing, meanwhile, between America's
professional military, uncomfortable with some of the missions that the new
American role requires, and a civilian population increasingly unaware of
or indifferent to the importance of its military's efforts abroad. U.S. military
leaders harbor justifiable suspicions that while they serve as a kind of foreign
legion, doing the hard work of American-style "empire management,"
American civilians at home, preoccupied with the distribution of tax breaks
and government benefits, will not come to their support when the going gets
tough. Weak political leadership and a poor job of educating the citizenry
to the responsibilities of global hegemony have created an increasingly distinct
and alienated military culture. Ask any mechanic or mess boy on an aircraft
carrier why he is patrolling the oceans, and he can give a more sophisticated
explanation of power projection than 99 percent of American college graduates.
It is foolish to imagine that the United States can lead the world effectively
while the overwhelming majority of the population neither understands nor
is involved, in any real way, with its international mission.
The president and other political leaders can take steps to
close the growing separation of civilian and military cultures in our society.
They can remind civilians of the sacrifices being made by U.S. forces overseas
and explain what those sacrifices are for. A clear statement of America's
global mission can help the public understand why U.S. troops are deployed
overseas and can help reassure military leaders of public support in difficult
circumstances. It could also lay the groundwork for reasserting more comprehensive
civilian control over the military.
There could be further efforts to involve more citizens in
military service. Perhaps the United States has reached the point where a
return to the draft is not feasible because of the high degree of professionalization
of the military services. But there are other ways to lower the barriers between
civilian and military life. Expanded forms of reserve service could give many
more Americans experience of the military and an appreciation of military
virtues. Conservatives preach that citizenship is not only about rights but
also about responsibilities. There is no more profound responsibility than
the defense of the nation and its principles.
Moral clarity. Finally, American
foreign policy should be informed with a clear moral purpose, based on the
understanding that its moral goals and its fundamental national interests
are almost always in harmony. The United States
achieved its present position of strength not by practicing a foreign policy
of live and let live, nor by passively waiting for threats to arise, but by
actively promoting American principles of governance abroad -- democracy,
free markets, respect for liberty. During the Reagan
years, the United States pressed for changes in right-wing and left-wing dictatorships
alike, among both friends and foes -- in the Philippines, South Korea, Eastern
Europe and even the Soviet Union. The purpose was not Wilsonian
idealistic whimsy. The policy of putting pressure on authoritarian and totalitarian
regimes had practical aims and, in the end, delivered strategic benefits.
Support for American principles around the world can be sustained only by
the continuing exertion of American influence. Some of that influence comes
from the aid provided to friendly regimes that are trying to carry out democratic
and free market reforms. However strong the case for reform of foreign aid
programs, such programs deserve to be maintained as a useful way of exerting
American influence abroad. And sometimes that means not just supporting U.S.
friends and gently pressuring other nations but actively pursuing policies
in Iran, Cuba, or China, for instance -- ultimately intended to bring about
a change of regime. In any case, the United States should not blindly "do
business" with every nation, no matter its regime. Armand Hammerism should not be a tenet of conservative foreign policy.
NSC-68 TO 1996
THIS SWEEPING, neo-Reaganite foreign
policy agenda may seem ambitious for these tepid times. Politicians in both
parties will protest that the American people will not support the burdens
of such a policy. There are two answers to this criticism.
First, it is already clear that, on the present course, Washington
will find it increasingly impossible to fulfill even the less ambitious foreign
policies of the realists, including the defense of so-called "vital"
interests in Europe and Asia. Without a broad, sustaining foreign policy vision,
the American people will be inclined to withdraw from the world and will lose
sight of their abiding interest in vigorous world leadership. Without a sense
of mission, they will seek deeper and deeper cuts in the defense and foreign
affairs budgets and gradually decimate the tools of U.S. hegemony.
Consider what has happened in only the past few years. Ronald
Reagan's exceptionalist appeal did not survive the presidency of George
Bush, where self-proclaimed pragmatists like James Baker found it easier to
justify the Gulf War to the American people in terms of "jobs" than
as a defense of a world order shaped to suit American interests and principles.
Then, having discarded the overarching Reaganite
vision that had sustained a globally active foreign policy through the last
decade of the Cold War, the Bush administration in 1992 saw its own prodigious
foreign policy successes swept into the dustbin by Clinton political adviser
James Carville's campaign logic: "It's the economy, stupid." By
the time conservatives took their seats as the congressional opposition in
1993, they had abandoned not only Reaganism but
to some degree foreign policy itself.
Now the common wisdom holds that Dole's solid victory over
Buchanan in the primaries constituted a triumphant reassertion of conservative
internationalism over neoisolationism. But the common
wisdom may prove wrong. On the stump during the Republican primaries this
year, what little passion and energy there was on foreign policy issues came
from Buchanan and his followers. Over the past four years Buchanan's fiery
"America First" rhetoric has filled the vacuum among conservatives
created by the abandonment of Reagan's very different kind of patriotic mission.
It is now an open question how long the beleaguered conservative realists
will be able to resist the combined assault of Buchanan's "isolationism
of the heart" and the Republican budget hawks on Capitol Hill.
History also shows, however, that the American people can
be summoned to meet the challenges of global leadership if statesmen make
the case loudly, cogently, and persistently. As troubles arise and the need
to act becomes clear, those who have laid the foundation for a necessary shift
in policy have a chance to lead Americans onto a new course. In 1950, Paul
Nitze and other Truman administration officials
drafted the famous planning document NSC-68, a call for an all-out effort
to meet the Soviet challenge that included a full-scale ideological confrontation
and massive increases in defense spending. At first, their proposals languished.
President Truman, worried about angering a hostile,
budget-conscious Congress and an American public which was enjoying an era
of peace and prosperity, for months refused to approve the defense spending
proposals. It took the North Korean invasion of South Korea to allow the administration
to rally support for the prescriptions of NSC-68. Before the Korean War, American
politicians were fighting over whether the defense budget ought to be $ 15
billion or $ 16 billion; most believed more defense spending would bankrupt
the nation. The next year, the defense budget was over $ 50 billion.
A similar sequence of events unfolded in the 1970s. When Reagan
and the "Scoop" Jackson Democrats began sounding the alarm about
the Soviet danger, the American public was not ready to listen. Then came
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
and the seizure of American hostages in Iran.
By the time Jimmy Carter professed to have learned more about the Soviet Union
than he had ever known before, Reagan and his fellow conservatives in both
parties had laid the intellectual foundation for the military buildup of the
IN THEORY, either party could lay the groundwork for a neo-Reaganite foreign policy over the next decade. The Democrats,
after all, led the nation to assume its new global responsibilities in the
late 1940s and early 1950s under President Truman and Secretary of State Dean
Acheson. It is unlikely, however, that they are prepared to pursue such a
course today. Republicans may have lost their way in the last few years, but
the Democrats are still recovering from their post-Vietnam trauma of two decades
ago. President Clinton has proved a better manager of foreign policy than
many expected, but he has not been up to the larger task of preparing and
inspiring the nation to embrace the role of global leadership. He, too, has
tailored his internationalist activism to fit the constraints of a popular
mood that White House pollsters believe is disinclined to sacrifice blood
and treasure in the name of overseas commitments. His Pentagon officials talk
more about exit strategies than about national objectives. His administration
has promised global leadership on the cheap, refusing to seek the levels of
defense spending needed to meet the broad goals it claims to want to achieve
in the world. Even Clinton's boldest overseas adventures, in Bosnia and Haiti,
have come only after strenuous and prolonged efforts to avoid intervention.
Republicans are surely the genuine heirs to the Reagan tradition.
The 1994 election is often said to have represented one last victory for Ronald
Reagan's domestic agenda. But Reagan's earlier successes rested as much on
foreign as on domestic policy. Over the long term, victory for American conservatives
depends on recapturing the spirit of Reagan's foreign policy as well. Indeed,
American conservatism cannot govern by domestic policy alone. In the 1990s
conservatives have built their agenda on two pillars of Reaganism:
relimiting government to curtail the most intrusive and counterproductive
aspects of the modern welfare state, and reversing the widespread collapse
of morals and standards in American society. But it is hard to imagine conservatives
achieving a lasting political realignment in this country without the third
pillar: a coherent set of foreign policy principles that at least bear some
resemblance to those propounded by Reagan. The remoralization of America at home ultimately requires the
remoralization of American foreign policy. For both follow
from Americans' belief that the principles of the Declaration of Independence
are not merely the choices of a particular culture but are universal, enduring,
"self-evident" truths. That has been, after all, the main point
of the conservatives' war against a relativistic multiculturalism. For conservatives
to preach the importance of upholding the core elements of the Western tradition
at home, but to profess indifference to the fate of American principles abroad,
is an inconsistency that cannot help but gnaw at the heart of conservatism.
Conservatives these days succumb easily to the charming old
metaphor of the United States as a "city on a hill." They hark back,
as George Kennan did in these pages not long ago, to the admonition
of John Quincy Adams that America
ought not go "abroad in search of monsters to
destroy." But why not? The alternative is to
leave monsters on the loose, ravaging and pillaging to their hearts' content,
as Americans stand by and watch. What may have been wise counsel in 1823,
when America was a small, isolated power in a world of European giants, is
no longer so, when America is the giant. Because America has the capacity
to contain or destroy many of the world's monsters, most of which can be found
without much searching, and because the responsibility for the peace and security
of the international order rests so heavily on America's shoulders, a policy
of sitting atop a hill and leading by example becomes in practice a policy
of cowardice and dishonor.
And more is at stake than honor. Without a broader, more enlightened
understanding of America's
interests, conservatism will too easily degenerate into the pinched nationalism
of Buchanan's "America First," where the appeal to narrow stir-interest
masks a deeper form of stir-loathing. A true "conservatism of the heart"
ought to emphasize both personal and national responsibility, relish the opportunity
for national engagement, embrace the possibility of national greatness, and
restore a sense of the heroic, which has been sorely lacking in American foreign
policy -- and American conservatism in recent years. George Kennan
was right 50 years ago in his famous "X" article: the American people
ought to feel a "certain gratitude to a Providence, which by providing
[them] with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a
nation dependent on pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities
of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear."
This is as true today -- if less obviously so -- as it was at the beginning
of the Cold War.
A neo-Reaganite foreign policy would
be good for conservatives, good for America,
and good for the world. It is worth recalling that the most successful Republican
presidents of this century, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, both inspired
Americans to assume cheerfully the new international responsibilities that
went with increased power and influence. Both celebrated American exceptionalism.
Both made Americans proud of their leading role in world affairs. Deprived
of the support of an elevated patriotism, bereft of the ability to appeal
to national honor, conservatives will ultimately fail in their effort to govern
Americans will fail in their responsibility to lead the world.
PNAC text in PDF form
Invasion of Iraq: Playing into the Hands of the Devil or "Being There"
for the Seventh Generation --
Includes an analysis of the PNAC (Paux Americana Report from
Scotland's Sunday Herald. (OCT 7,
US Plan for World Domination an article by Anatol Lieven
of the Carnegie Institiute at the London review of Books
on the PNAC an article by John Pilger. The men who now surround
George W Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor"
Perle, Rumsfeld aide, pentagon advisor, and one of the founders of the PNAC
embrolied in potential scandal which eventually lead to his resignation.
Perle Resigns (Reuters March 27, 2003)
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