Tue Mar 11 05:00:05 2003
Organization: South Movement
From: Dave Muller <email@example.com>
Mailing-List: list firstname.lastname@example.org; contact email@example.com
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 20:22:50 +1100
Subject: [southnews] Neo-Conservatives 1998 Memos a blueprint for Iraq war
Years before George W. Bush entered the White administration of House, and years before the Sept. 11 attacks set the President George W. direction of his presidency, a group of influential Bush. neo-conservatives hatched a plan to get Saddam Hussein out of power.
The group, the Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, was founded in 1997. Among its supporters were three Republican former officials who were sitting out the Democratic presidency of Bill Clinton: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.
In open letters to Clinton and GOP congressional leaders the next
year, the group called for
the removal of Saddam Hussein’s
regime from power and a shift toward a more assertive U.S. policy
in the Middle East, including the use of force if necessary to unseat
And in a report just before the 2000 election that would bring Bush to
power, the group predicted that the shift would come about slowly,
unless there were
some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a
new Pearl Harbor.
That event came on Sept. 11, 2001. By that time, Cheney was vice president, Rumsfeld was secretary of defense, and Wolfowitz his deputy at the Pentagon.
The next morning — before it was even clear who was behind the
attacks — Rumsfeld insisted at a Cabinet meeting that
Saddam’s Iraq should be
a principal target of the first round
of terrorism, according to Bob Woodward’s book Bush At War.
What started as a theory in 1997 was now on its way to becoming official U.S. foreign policy.
Some critics of the Bush administration’s foreign policy,
especially in Europe, have portrayed PNAC as, in the words of
Scotland’s Sunday Herald,
a secret blueprint for U.S. global
The group was never secret about its aims. In its 1998 open letter to
Clinton, the group openly advocated unilateral U.S. action against
we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf
War coalition to enforce the inspections regime.
The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility
that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass
destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake
military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it
means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power, they
wrote, foreshadowing the debate currently under way in the United
Of the 18 people who signed the letter, 10 are now in the Bush administration. As well as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, they include Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; John Bolton, who is undersecretary of state for disarmament; and Zalmay Khalilzad, the White House liaison to the Iraqi opposition. Other signatories include William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, and Richard Perle, chairman of the advisory Defense Science Board.
According to Kristol, the group’s thinking stemmed from the
principles of Ronald Reagan:
A strong America. A morally grounded
foreign policy ... that defended American security and American
interests. And understanding that American leadership was key to not
only world stability, but any hope for spreading democracy and freedom
around the world.
After the 1991 Gulf War ended with Saddam still in position as a
potential threat, Kristol told Nightline, he and the others had a
lots of terrible things were really being loosed upon
the world because America was being too timid, and too weak, and too
unassertive in the post-Cold War era. In reports, speeches, papers
and books, they pushed for an aggressive foreign policy to defend
U.S. interests around the globe.
Clinton did order airstrikes against Iraq in 1998, but through the
rest of his presidency and the beginning of Bush’s,
containment policy for Saddam lay dormant
— until September 2001.
Before 9/11, this group ... could not win over the president to
this extravagant image of what foreign policy required, said Ian
Lustick, a Middle East expert at the University of
After 9/11, it was able to benefit from the gigantic
eruption of political capital, combined with the supply of military
preponderance in the hands of the president. And this small group,
therefore, was able to gain direct contact and even control, now, of
the White House.
Like other critics, Lustick paints PNAC in conspiratorial tones:
This group, what I call the tom-tom beaters, have set an agenda and
have made the president feel that he has to live up to their
definitions of manliness, their definitions of success and fear, their
definitions of failure.
Kristol dismisses the allegations of conspiracy, but said the group
redoubled its efforts after 9/11 to get its message out.
We made it
very public that we thought that one consequence the president should
draw from 9/11 is that it was unacceptable to sit back and let either
terrorist groups or dictators developing weapons of mass destruction
strike first, at us, he said.
Now that American bombs could soon be falling on Iraq, Kristol admits
some sense of responsibility for pushing for a war
that will cost human lives. But, he said, he would also feel
something terrible happened because of
Kristol expressed regret that so many of America’s traditional
allies oppose military action against Iraq, but said the United States
has no choice.
I think what we’ve learned over the last 10
years is that America has to lead. Other countries won’t
act. They will follow us, but they won’t do it on their own,
Kristol believes the United States will be
vindicated when we
discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the
people of Iraq. He predicts that many of the allies who have been
reluctant to join the war effort would participate in efforts to
rebuild and democratize Iraq.