Posted tagged ‘PNAC’


December 11, 2014

The Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001 shocked America. Not only were three thousand citizens killed but four passenger jets were hijacked right before our eyes. How could something so catastrophic happen in a Country that spends so much on intelligence gathering?

9/11 happened early in the George W Bush – Dick Cheney Administration. It was somewhat understandable, although completely unacceptable, that a new Administration might have trouble connecting the dots. After all Osama ben Laden and al Qaeda were not unknown to the intelligence community, but it does take time for an administration to gel.

The Neoconservative element saw an opening to asset a much more proactive foreign policy. They saw a chance for the US to flex it muscles and teach these “bad people” a lesson. Little did most Americans know that neocons had populated many key jobs in the Bush/Cheney teams. Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowicz, Scooter Libby, and David Firth, all charter members of the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) began writing position papers on what the US needed to do to fight these radicals. Two products of their recommendations became the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq and enhanced interrogation techniques.

Both of these events went beyond the accepted bounds of governance and stepped into the unchartered area of war crimes.

The neocon driven frenzy connected Iraq and Saddam Hussein with 9/11 and the Iraq efforts to produce nuclear weapons. Using phony intelligence, this neocon faction got Colin Powell to say before the US Security Counsel that proof existed that Iraq was active in developing weapons of mass destruction. Time has shown this claim to be totally false.

When the Iraq invasion turned sour and instead of handing flowers to incoming US soldiers, the presumed grateful Iraqis offer IEDs to unsuspecting and unprotected US troops. Thanks to the neocons.

The neocons, however, were just getting started. They pressured the CIA and the Army to get tough with prisoners and gather intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee report issued yesterday fairly well documents the excesses of the CIA effort.

Abu Ghraib showcased the attempted corruption of the military.  When Army prison officials would not voluntarily adopt enhanced interrogation, CIA and private security contractors were brought into work in Abu Ghraib.  The rest is sad history.

The third piece of the get tough policy was to pressure the Justice Department to write opinions which held these methods as legal (thanks to Jonathan Yoo).

In both these cases, the neocon method of deflecting criticism (and frankly indictments) was to blame excess upon the low level soldiers and CIA officers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The prison guards and the CIA officers were doing what they were told to do.

The politically clever but ethically and morally lacking behavior of top Government officials such as George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld stand out for all to see… unless one is not distracted into the debate whether useful information was obtained from the use of torture or whether Saddam Hussein was a evil person or not.

Bush by apparent laziness and Cheney by misplaced intent started a ball rolling and cared not to know the details, only confirmation of results.

The fiery rhetoric we are hearing today is the frenzied GOP efforts to get this genie back in the bottle.

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee report was written only by Democrats (Republicans refused to participate).
  • The Committee did not interview any of the CIA leaders involved (They had already testified before Congress and they were currently part of an on-going criminal investigation and would be limited in what they could/would say).
  • The intelligence results may or may not have been valuable. The Committee report says no, CIA officials say yes. What is not being debated is whether enhanced methods were necessary and have clearly not lead to a safer world today. (More to the point, torture is outlawed in a treaty to which the US is a signatory.

Additionally, unless the US wishes to adopt the standard line from Russia and China that “this matter is about the internal affairs of another country and we do not meddle in those matters”, using enhanced interrogation makes the US clearly a hypocrite country.)

Abu CIA sprung from the same bad seeds.

A Day Of Infamy

March 19, 2013

Ten years ago, the US invaded and occupied the sovereign nation of Iraq.  News reports today are recalling that the war had “wide support” from both elected officials and the public.  What is that suppose to mean?

The press reports that 75% of Americans supported the war.  That is pretty strong support.  Within a few years after the going got really tough, support evaporated.  I am proud to say I was one of the 25% and saw the war for what it was.  A regime change project premised on superior military force.  (See PNAC)

I was living in Duesseldorf in March 2003.  My english speaking press was the International Herald Tribune, then a JV between the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Between the IHT and the German media, anyone could get a different perspective on what evidence actually existed to justify military action.  The preponderance said (1) there is no imminent threat, (2) there was no hard evidence of any nuclear program, and (3) there was absolutely no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.


As the war progressed (even after Mission Accomplished), the tragic consequences began to add up.  We can measure the war’s cost in deaths, those badly injured, and dollars.  All were far too much.

We should also measure its cost in terms of opening Pandora’s box and unleashing sectarian violence of unbelievable proportions.  Iraqi killing Iraqi is just as heavy a responsibility as the thousand of military members who came home with limbs missing or debilitating head injuries.

Since the war began, many have called this a Republican War.  Many have blamed George W Bush and Dick Cheney.  And indeed the war happened on the GOP watch with the drum majors, Bush and Cheney.  I am not sure, however, that the charge Republicans take us to war is fair for all times.

It is clear, however, that former President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not up to the standards of their jobs.  Their shallow thinking, inch deep preparation, poor execution, and unashamed propagandized speeches are part of history.  The Iraq War is one of America’s darkest hours.

To be absolutely clear, the military fought the war and subsequent occupation bravely and with honor.  Soldiers sacrificed much only to return to a questioning country.  This seems grossly unfair considering our service men and women’s sacrifices, but it is the same national reaction as with Vietnam.

March 19, 2003 is a day that will live in infamy.


Finally The End Is Insight

October 16, 2011

The Administration quietly announced that all US military personnel (save those assigned to the Embassy’s direct security) will pull out of Iraq on schedule at the end of the year.  For those conservatives concerned with Middle East affairs this announcement was probably a disappointment.  For those ashamed and disgusted with America’s folly of invading and occupying a sovereign country to no avail, it represented a sigh of relief.

The motivation to invade and occupy Iraq was hatched in the 1990’s.  This was not a government plan but the work of neoconservatives.  (read PNAC)  And look who the signers were: Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, and Paul Wolfowitz. 

Iraq has demonstrated once again that American military might can accomplish its battle field goals while not coming close to achieving its foreign affairs objectives.

As the door creaks slowly to the closed position, astonishingly, the Administration would have kept 3-6,000 troops in Iraq had the Iraqi government been willing to grant immunity from Iraqi courts for those stationed there.  In the end it was no immunity, no troops.

American force, no matter how well intentioned, must recognize that there are limits to what it can achieve.  The “New American Century” that the PNAC group envisioned will, instead, be lead by an America strong within itself.  We must remain strong enough to defend America but invading other lands should be seen now as counterproductive.  We need to turn our focus to fixing Congress, getting the  budget right, and returning fairness to the rules governing the distribution of wealth.

Look around at who would or could lead the world.  No one jumps out and they all have their problems.  If the US just dealt with fixing up what has gone astray at home, others would follow thankfully our lead.

The PNAC crowd just went the wrong way.

Beware ! History Writers !

January 21, 2011

Yesterday NBC aired a meeting of former President George H W Bush and his key Iraq War I advisors.  The men gathered around the table will certainly have a respected place in history given their total contribution in public life.  No one can deny them that.  On the same basis, we must be alert to those who wish to rewrite history and embellish that record.

The NBC producers got Brian Williams to ask some puff ball questions.  As Williams teed them up, “H W” and Dick Cheney hit them into the third deck.  It is unclear why President Bush (41) needed to shade history unless he was thinking of his son and the second Iraq war.

Williams asked President Bush whether the decision to invade Iraq was about the threat to the world oil supply and that Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait represented such a threat.  Astonishingly, Bush replied that the real driving force was the “unfairness” of one strong country picking on a weaker one.  Hmmm.

Williams turned his attention to Dick Cheney and asked him about the second Iraq war and the fact that many at the table as well as many other public officials viewed Iraq II as a war of choice.  Cheney, with his head tilted and speaking out of one side of his mouth, said that he had been in the White House bunker (read undisclosed location) on 9/11 and had watched the Twin Towers come down.  Cheney said he vowed, after that event, to not let that happen again on his watch.  Hmmm.

It makes little difference whether you conclude that Cheney was speaking honestly.  It is important that he get called out trying to again rewrite history.  There was no connection between 9/11 and Iraq, not then, not now.

To the point of whether he was speaking honestly, consider that no link between Iraq and 9/11 has been found in the history of the last 8 years.   A brief trip back to 1997, however, will reveal the smoking gun.  Cheney, along with a group of equally zealot neoconservatives signed a document entitle Project for the New American Century (PNAC).  This document explicitly called for toppling the Iraqi government.  (Google PNAC and read for yourself.)

Bush 41, like most good fathers, is probably more interested in rehabilitating the image and historical record for his son, George W Bush.  If there is to be any chance of not repeating the Iraq II debacle, we can not allow anyone to rewrite history and in some way bring honor and correctness to “W” decision to follow Cheney’s advice.


Fly Paper

February 15, 2010

What is worse than fly paper and just won’t go away? If your guess is former Vice President Cheney, that is a good one but not the one I am thinking of. It is none other than Johnny Bolton, former UN Ambassador, former “W” Administration aide, and former signer of PNAC (Project for the new American Century). Johnny must not be pension eligible because he keeps showing up in the “opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

On last Friday, Mr Bolton (he continually referred to President Obama as Mr. Obama), spoke out on the need to militarily strike Iran in order to “eliminate” the potential that Iran would develop nuclear weapons. This is an old saw for Bolton and other neoconservatives – shoot first, think second. He mixes the sound to arms with the need for tougher diplomatic language or his favorite, tougher sanctions. When not saying what the Obama Administration should do, he revels in listing what President Obama is doing wrong.

The blue print for Bolton’s amazing insight can be found in the PNAC document. With fellow signators such Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, Scooter Libby, and Douglas Feith, I should not have to say more. This document preached the self appointed role for the US in the 21st century to operate as the world’s policeman.  Implicit in their pronouncements is that it is all achievable.

You would think that after 8 failed years with “W” where this craziness ruled government thinking, Bolton would have moved on in his thinking. He has not.

Iran poses a threat to everyone, not just the US. Already Islamic extremists target parts of Russia and China, and terrorism knows no borders.  Somewhat surprisingly, both Russia and China are reluctant to follow Bolton’s advice.  European countries also do not see the Iranian threat the same way as does Bolton, or even the Obama Administration. They see some low level or narrowly defined level of sanctions are necessary but we should not expect them to do more than irritate.  In the meantime Europe, Russia, and China are enjoying some level of profitable trade with Iran. Hmmm.

Military action (even if done by Israel), on the other hand, is simply incredible to propose. Iraq and Afghanistan should be lessons enough.  Just a bombing (and not invasion) would be the same as pulling the plug on open unpredictable hostilities in the Middle East and most certainly worldwide. Iran would become the poster child for global jihad.

Bolton and all the other chicken hawk neoconservatives do all Americans a disservice with their brand of rhetoric and frankly are worse that fly paper, they are dangerous if we listen to them.

Bushed Tony

January 31, 2010

This week the world saw and heard a sad story unfold. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair testified before a London inquiry board. The panel sought to know “what Tony knew when” about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tony, amazingly, provided confirmation of US plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein over a year before the actual invasion. The sad part of the story is that Tony still thinks it was the right decision.

Hussein’s days were number once George W Bush (with side kick Dick Cheney) were elected. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz, Pearle, and Feith were all signators of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and just by chance all were part of the inner circle advising “W”. PNAC, a neoconservative think project, reasoned that the Middle East could not be made safe and secure unless Saddam was removed from office. These “would be” American patriots just waited for a chance gain the American voters’ ok, and 9/11 provided the pathway.

According to Tony, he did meet with Bush and Cheney, and did promise to stand with them in any confrontation with Iraq. Tony did not seem to see the phoney appearance that the subsequent British Intelligence report (Yellow cake from Niger) that “W” used as proof that Iraq had WMD, now had. Tony didn’t even flinch when reminded that there were no WMD, nor even more to the point, Iraq was in no way connected to 9/11. Tony told the panel that of course he would not have invade had Iraq come clean on their WMDs. One panelist reminded Tony that it is difficult to show you destroyed all your WMDs if you did not have them.

During the time in question, Tony was in the process of converting to the Catholic faith. It is immaterial that he converted to catholicism, the important point is he got the religious bug and knew that god was on his side.

There are many lessons from the Iraq invasion and occupations ranging from “don’t break something you don’t know how to fix” to “don’t believe anyone who says they listen to a higher authority”. What people believe is one thing, but when what they believe affects others, than it should be time out.


June 29, 2008

John McCain or Barack Obama will inherit a task that Dick Cheney and friends had never thought possible.  In 1998, Dick and other notables, many of whom populated the Bush Administration, issued the now famous “Project for the New American Century” (PNAC).  In this document, they said that America, being the sole super power, had both an obligation and a responsibility to become the world’s policeman, and put the world into the order that America (and America alone) felt was proper.  This declaration included the full range of diplomatic and military options.  A scant 10 years later the world looks much different and the US looks thoroughly not up to the task.  What has gone wrong?

First lets be clear that the US is still the number one military power in the world.  If it comes to planes, ships, or tanks, America has it over everyone else.  But this economically draining lead (2009 Defense Department budget of over $ 600 billion, 10x the next largest, and in total more than all others combined), has been shown to be insufficient to install American will beyond our boarders.  The blunder of Iraq may in the end have taught the Country an important lesson.

PRNAC, however, considers the situation of America more broadly.  PRNAC stands for “Project for the Recovering of the New America Century”.  The Bush Administration, under the misguided Cheney leadership has closed it eyes to what it should be watching over and instead charged blindly down paths it should not be entering.  There are about 1 billion Muslims in the world that do not see the world the same way as 300 million Americans.  There are over 2 and 1/2 billion Chinese and Indians who want a better way of life and competing for the same resources that America has felt its own in the past.  And, world opinion has changed.  The Bush Administration can say as often as it likes that Sadaam Hussein was an evil person but the world sees that the US invaded Iraq and has occupied it for 5+ years and seems intent on staying much longer.  This is all happening with unspeakable attrocities taking place throughout Africa and despotic regimes in Libya and North Korea, and in none of these places has the US exercised much effort, much less practiced regime change.  The question remains “why Iraq”?

And that’s not all.  The President has chosen to operate the Iraq invasion and occupation on his personal charge account (correction, the US citizens’ charge account).  He has added to this debt the fruits of a huge tax reduction (with no offsetting revenue gain) and give aways to special interests so that the national debt has doubled and rests now at over $ 9 trillion.

McCain or Obama, therefore, will need to deal with monetary and fiscal policy while having very limited means to fight the inflationary effects of rising oil prices.  One of them will need to deal immaginatively with bio fuels if we are to avoid “corn for ethanol” from driving up grain and meat prices (more inflation).  One will need to address the excesses of Wall Street that in pursuit of super high pay checks has sold the world billions and billions of dollars of worthless securities.

During the 8 short years of the Bush Administration, our currency has tanked (to about 1/2 its value when measured against the euro), dependancy on imported oil has delayed any meaningful research on alternative sources, adopting the ethanol “quick fix” has spooked the grain markets, and the stock market has plummeted robbing pension plans and personal savings accounts of value.  Everything can be fixed with time and effort.  The question is will the next President think PRNAC or PNAC?