Neo Conservatives used the pages of Commentary and The Public Interest to defend the Vietnam War and advance their aggressive anti-communist policies. The Vietnam War began the gradual destruction of foreign policy bipartisanship in the United States. In foreign affairs, the Neo Conservatives tended to take a Manichean viewpoint, seeing only “good” and “evil” and this attitude persisted after the Soviet Union finally collapsed. Even with the collapse of Soviet power, the Neo Conservatives were eventually to convert most of their Republican allies to a unilateralist, assertive, crusading approach to foreign policy. On the other hand, the Neo Conservatives quickly embraced modified laissez faire economics. Indeed, their conversion to conservatism was often related to the appeal of market fundamentalism and their disillusionment with the welfare state. Many of them came to excel as apologists for so-called market fundamentalism, often writing on behalf of conservative think tanks. They eventually succeeded in shifting the “popular focus from workers to entrepreneurs, from income to wealth, from job creation to share-price increases, and from government policy innovation to private-sector autonomy.”
When the US withdrew from Vietnam, the Neo Conservatives knew that battling another menace was necessary to revitalize the martial spirit of the American people. In foreign affairs, the Neo Conservatives were impatient with the gradual, moderate approach of those who pursued containment as the basic strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union. The Neo Conservatives were anxious to confront more directly the Soviets and to deploy American power to reshape the world to conform to American ideals. Neo Conservative intellectuals had contempt for Henry Kissinger, who worked for accommodation with the Soviet Union. They were hawkish, critical of deterrence, and inclined to exaggerate the power of the Soviet Union. They were convinced that theirs’ was a righteous cause and that any means were justified in battling Communism. Though they were highly moralistic, their policies were amoral. Since President Richard Nixon opened relations with China and pursued détente, there was a tendency for politicians and writers to believe the Cold War was on the way to being ended. One reason they so disliked Jimmy Carter and called him an “isolationist” and “appeaser” is that they understood that the Georgian was pursuing Nixon’s policy of defusing the Cold War. It is doubtful that many liberals grasped this. They followed Norman Podhoretz in warning that the United States was about to be “Finlandized” into economic and political subordination to the Soviet Union. In the eighties, they eagerly worked for Ronald Reagan because he harped on the evil of communism. Working for him, they called the right-wing Contra thugs in Nicaragua and Angola’s Jonas Savimbi “freedom fighters.”
The Neo Conservatives eventually developed a core doctrine that held that democratic states were friendly states and that the US should vigorously be promoting democracy around the world. In 1976, some of them formed the Committee on the Present Danger. In addition to Neo Conservatives there were traditional nationalists Elmo Zumwalt, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Nitze, Eugene Rostow, and William Casey. These people also believed that the Soviets were employing terrorism as a major weapon in the Cold War. Under Reagan, the new conservatives and their allies assumed important posts. Jean Kirkpatrick became Ambassador to the United Nations, and Bill Casey led the CIA. Richard Perle became assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, and Elliott Abrams became assistant secretary of state for international relations. He is a strong friend of Israel, having said, “there can be no doubt that Jews..are to stand apart –except for Israel- from the rest of the population.”
Perle has been an important figure in the Republican foreign policy apparatus for a long time. But for some reason he has maintained his political registration as a Democrat. Paul Wolfowitz ran the State Department’s policy planning staff for two years.
For a time Wolfowitz was the leader of a group at the CIA called “Team B,” an assemblage of conservative scholars who were very critical of CIA estimates and developed an alarmist projection of Soviet power that p[roved to be wrong and inaccurate on many counts. Gerald Ford permitted Director George H.W. Bush to put them in high places when Ronald Reagan showed strength in the 1976 primaries. They wanted the CIA to estimate that the Soviet Union was more powerful than it was. Wolfowitz, a former academician, also served as Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Indonesia, where he was a strong booster of President Haji Suharto, known as “the most corrupt world leader in recent history.” Wolfowitz backed policies that threatened human rights and aspirations for democracy and helped inspire the reckless deregulation of banking there which resulted in the economic collapse of 1997.”
The Neo Conservatives loved Reagan’s belligerent rhetoric but were deeply frustrated because he did not close in to kill off the Soviet Union --the “evil empire.” Yet they eventually concluded that Reagan embraced enough of their new foreign policy fundamentalism to bring down the Soviet empire, and this became the paradigm for the future. Results came from engagement, bold actions, and a potent and threatening military. Paul Berman has noted “Neo Conservative foreign policy thinking has all along indulged a romance of ruthlessness- an expectation that small numbers of people might be able to play a decisive role in world events, if only their ferocity could be released. In the Reagan years they had some opportunities to shape events. Casey ousted and marginalized CIA analysts whose views did not coincide with his. Oliver North and his associates illegally supplied right wing rebels in Nicaragua and protected their drug trade. The unleashed ferocity of these people resulted in the Iran Contra scandal.
Typical of the Jewish NeoCons was Paul D. Wolfowitz, who was to have a strong influence on Republican military and foreign policy in the administrations of the Bushes. While at the University of Chicago, he became the protégé of Albert Wohlstetter, a hawkish geo-military thinker who would later become a bitter critic of détente. Although Wolfowitz used promotion of democracy as a reason for the second Iraq War, some accuse him of having a “passionate hatred of democracy.” This was because he and other Neo Conservatives were strong backers of brutal tactics in the 1980s to quell democratic movements in Latin America. He had been pushing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein since 1979 and eventually fashioned a doctrine that called for a U.S. war to overthrow Saddam as a first step in remodeling the region to make it safe for Israel. In time he would exert enormous influence.
Because the Neo Conservative were urban and intellectuals, they were not entirely accepted by the New Right. Eliot Abrams, Norman Podhorentz’s son-in-law, was another influential Neo Conservative who served in the Reagan administration and was convicted of lying to Congress. He was to direct White House Middle East policy for George W. Bush. Perhaps the most influential Neo Conservative foreign policy spokesman was Richard Perle who worked with Donald Rumsfeld in the Ford Administration to damage the Salt II Arms Treaty. Known as the “Prince of Darkness,” – a title he shared with Bob Novak-- Richard Perle became another key advisor in the second Bush administration. As Assistant Secretary of Defense, he played a major role in persuading Ronald Reagan to spend vast amounts on defense and to launch the so-called Star Wars defensive missile system. Perle and other Neo Conservatives occupied second and third tier positions in the Reagan administration. James Baker, Bush Sr.’s Secretary of State, was uncomfortable with their foreign policy moralism and grandiose designs and “couldn’t wait to sweep [them] out.” Their moralism would later be called “hard Wilsonianism.”
Perle and other Neo Conservatives believed that the end of the Cold War gave the United States a golden opportunity to reshape the Middle East. While working for the Reagan administration, he was discovered assisting an Israeli arms manufacturer. By the 1990s, he came to oppose the Israel-Palestine peace process, used his influence with Israel to scuttle Bill Clinton’s Camp David Peace Conference, and advised Israel to set aside talks with the Palestinians and concentrate on overthrowing the Iraqi government and reconfigure the political dynamics of the region. Once in power, Wolfowitz urged the administration to give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians. The Neo Conservatives had worried that the fall of the Soviet Union would mean the loss of “a defining foreign demon,” as Norman Podhoretz put it. For that reason, they welcomed the First Gulf War. Irving Kristol thought it was always an excellent sign when the people wanted to fight a war.
At the end of the First Gulf War, Neo Conservative Paul Wolfowitz believed that George W. Bush muffed an opportunity to oust Saddam Hussein. In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, working for then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney wrote a paper entitled “Defense Planning Guidance Defense” stating that the United States should pay less attention to the opinions of allies and be more willing to use force to gain its ends in the world. It justified the use of preemptive force when necessary to reshape the world as the US wanted. Zalmay Khalilzad, who was then the Bush administration’s ambassador to Iraq, assisted them. This paper embodied what came to be known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Secretary Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, his undersecretary for policy, looked to the day when the US would cash in on its military preeminence to reorder the world along the lines of American democracy and values. They looked forward to a permanent military presence on six continents as a means of preventing “potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” These views conflicted with the outlook of the senior Bush and the paper was put aside. Their proposals were considered rash and extreme at the time, but these views were to become the nucleus of the Bush Doctrine, which was enunciated in 2002.
Richard Perle was a key architect of Neo Conservative foreign policy. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and attends meetings of the editorial board of the Jerusalem Post. Perle is a close friend of David Wurmser, another AEI scholar, known for his hawkish, pro-Israel views. In the administration of the younger Bush, he operated an intelligence and disinformation shop first in the State Department and then in the Pentagon, where his task was to build a case for invading Iraq and to shoot down CIA reports. Other NeoCons to operate out of the AEI were Michael Ledeen and Irving Kristol. As ayoung man, Ledeen was a journalist in Rome where he developed respect for the Italian Fascists. He became a leading NeoCon theorist. Allies Matthew Sculy and John Shattan are well positioned in the White House and I. Lewis Libby is Vice President Cheney’s chief-of-staff. Prize-winning London based journalist John Pilger considered Perle a dangerous person who thought about “total war” in the 1980s against the Soviet Union and later applied the same approach to Iraq. Perle became head of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Council under George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. As the secretary’s chief advisor in the administration of George W. Bush, he is credited with foreshadowing the administration’s new defense doctrine of pre-emptive threats and strikes. Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush and subsequently served two years as president of the World Bank.
In the second Bush administration, Wolfowitz’s unilateral militarism found eager supporters in an administration shaped by traditional deep- southern militarism. The United States started to dismantle test treaties and agreements, question the value of the Oslo Accord, and refused to sign Kyoto Agreement It also did all it could to undermine the International Criminal Court and persuaded one hundred countries to sign treaties exempting U.S. citizens and employees from its jurisdiction Larry Franklin, a Neo Conservative Pentagon analyst, was not a Jew but shared the Neo Conservative view that there was no difference between the foreign policy objectives of the United States and Israel. In January 2006, he was sentenced to twelve years incarceration for passing secret information to the Israeli embassy and two operatives for the IIPAC. The judge noted he was a nice fellow who thought he was helping his country.
Perle and the Neo Conservatives used the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction to push the United States into invading Iraq in 2003. After no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, Perle brushed aside the questions of weapons of mass destruction ( WMDs) and praised the administration for getting into Iraq in time. Next on his agenda were North Korea and Iran, whom he saw as states that sponsored terrorism.
The Neo Conservative hawks found strong support coming from the New Right, with the exception of Patrick Buchanan and his followers. The Buchananites saw imperialism as unconservative and believed young Bush’s war in Iraq was a massive blunder. In foreign affairs, the Neo Conservatives and Religious Right frequently found common ground. Members of the Christian Right had supported what was had been called foreign policy fundamentalists who were impatient with restraint in the use of force against Communism. It was a somewhat older form of foreign policy fundamentalism than that of the Neo Conservatives. It was less into Wilsonian crusading and more into the use of brute force when necessary variety. Still, it was a very good match. By playing to the cultural and military fundamentalism of the Christian Right, the Neo Conservative had a very good shot at capturing the heart of America. Neo Conservatives worked hard to win over the Religious Right, but they grew uneasy when the Christian Evangelicals started to dominate the party. Charles Krauthammer and Chris Caldwell were heard to complain about “yahoos” who emitted the rebel yell and were most probably racists.
The foreign policy fundamentalists of the 1960s and 1970s were impatient with foreign policy professionals who seemed to be too concerned with complexities, nuances, and desire to avoid a unilateralist foreign policy. Alexander Haig, Ronald Reagan’s first Secretary of State, could be classified as a foreign policy fundamentalist. He once stunned Howard Baker and Michael Deaver by talking about bombing Cuba, saying, “We can make that fucking place look like a parking lot!” Neo Conservative hawks shared this impatience and were idealists who believed that the United States should be more willing to use its power to transform the world to greater proximity to US ideals. Their concerns converged most frequently in the Middle East. The Christian Right had theological reasons to protect Israel, and many of the Neo Conservative hawks were Jews and supportive of the aggressive and militant Likud Party. Overlooking the already greatly deteriorated State of the Soviet Union, they saw the Reagan defense program as a “Hail Mary pass” that worked. They also saw George H. W. Bush’s victory in the 1991 Gulf War as another bold stroke for which they deserved much credit.
These successes reinforced the idea that by just “leaning forward,” in Wolfowitz’s words, the US could make great positive changes in the world. As the Soviet Union imploded, Neo Conservatives saw a golden opportunity for the United States to deal with its remaining enemies. Charles Krauthammer wrote a column entitled ”Universal Dominion: Toward a Unipolar World,” in which he spelled out the Neo Conservative doctrine of “a unipolar world whose center is a confederated West” led by the sole superpower, the United States. The term “unipolar” did not survive, but Neo Conservatives continued to build on their vision of the United States using its power to reshape the world.
Many Neo Conservatives were members of “the Vulcans,” the team Condoleezza Rice assembled to tutor George W. Bush in foreign affairs. Rice was not a Neo Conservative, but NeoCon hardliners managed to make a convert of George W. Bush. Many of their views could be found in an influential policy paper, which would become an outline for Bush foreign policy. In September 2000, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) released “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources for a New Century.” It called for a regime change in Iraq, which would make that country a key American base for effecting other changes in the Middle East, where there was to be a permanent US military presence in several countries. The authors believed that corrupt and undemocratic governments in the Middle East bred terrorism and that in order to combat terrorism it was necessary to replace these regimes with democracies. For this reason, changing regimes in Egypt and Jordan was also desirable. When Joshua Micah Marshall asked Richard Perle about upending the regime in Egypt, Perle responded, “Surely we can do better than Mubarek.”
Both the Neo Conservatives and the Bush family retainers were agreed that the US should invade Iraq, but they had somewhat different reasons for doing so. Almost certainly, George H.W. Bush expected that and family retainers like James Baker III, Brent Scowcroft, and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia would guide the younger Bush and keep the NeoCons in line. They trusted Dick Cheney to be a faithful trustee, even though he was very close to the elder Bush’s long-time enemy, Donald Rumsfeld. They did not expect old line nationalists Cheney and Rumsfeld to form an alliance with the Neo Cons or for the younger Bush to often ignore the advice of Baker and Scowcroft. In the end, the major voices in policy making became those of Cheney and Rumsfeld. However, Baker and the Big Oil elements did manage to prevail holding down Iraqi oil production to boost gasoline and fuel oil prices.
The occupation of Iraq was to be the first of a series of victories in “multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.” It indicated that getting U.S. troops into the Gulf area “transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The PNAC position paper also recommended reviving a biochemical weapons program, the creation of a Star Wars type missile defense system, increased defense spending, and repudiation of the ABM treaty. It was critical of the old policy of deterrence and noted that past Pentagon plans for a war against North Korea did not include force requirements for entering that country and removing an abhorrent regime. The United Nations was portrayed as a potential rival and obstacle. Martin Perez, publisher of The New Republic, and James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA, were connected to this think tank.
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and his mentor Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Eliot Abrams, Jeb Bush, and Paul Wolfowitz were also associated with PNAC. The report was rewritten for the National Security Council in 2002. Robert Kagan and William Kristol were among those who founded PNAC in 1997. Kagan, a classical scholar, believes that Americans by nature are warriors and that Europeans are pacifists. Americans are at their moral best when engaged in battle. Bill Kristol, son of a founder of the Neo Conservatives, is sometimes called a “mini-con,” suggesting that the second generation of Neo Conservatives lacked the profundity of their fathers.
PNAC had a staff filled with people who had been with the Committee for the Present Danger, which wanted to win the cold war, and Friends of the Democratic Center, which worked hard to support right-wing elements in Nicaragua and El Salvador. PNAC founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which worked with Condoleezza Rice to develop plans to educate Americans about the danger Iraq posed to US security. Perle headed a committee of eighteen that recommended reemphasizing the peace process and looking more toward the eventual democratization of the Middle East as a means for solving Israel’s problems in the region. Douglas Feith, one of the drafters, was to become Under-Secretary for Policy in the Bush Pentagon. The PNAC white paper reflected views expressed in an earlier position paper that was prepared for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netenyahu, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Middle East” by a team led by Richard Perle. They wanted Bibi to stop pursuing policies in accordance with the Oslo Accords and focus on weakening Syria and working to overthrow Saddam Hussein. They believed that Turkey and Jordan would work with Israel toward these goals. William Kristol and Robert Kagan also urged pre-emptive action against potential terrorist states in a 1996 Foreign Affairs article. Neo Conservatives in 1998 wrote a letter to President Clinton demanding preemptive action against Iraq. When Clinton bombed Iraq for four days, many Republicans criticized him for taking aggressive action and trying to distract public attention from his sex scandal.
There were other Republican elements that viewed an attack on Iraq as desirable because it would reduce energy problems. The extent to which a concern for a rapidly growing dependence on Arab-controlled hydrocarbons influenced Neo Conservative policy is unclear. The Baker Institute, which was not a Neo Conservative operation, produced a report for Cheney’s energy task force in April 2001, in which it focused on this energy problem and added that Iraq was “a destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets. The Cheney task force recommended “military intervention” to eliminate this threat to U.S. security. It is possible that Bush was not “duped” by the Neo Conservatives. It may be more likely that traditional conservatives exploited “the Neo Conservatives’ ideological arsenal to advance his preferred set of policies than visa versa.”
The Neo Conservatives were within the mainstream of modern American foreign policy to the extent that they genuinely want material prosperity, democracy, and freedom for other peoples. Even their belief that this is the moment for the United States to move decisively to make the world better is in line with the call for an American Century that was heard after World War II. However, their insistence upon preemptive action is a radical departure, and their unilateralism and scorn for international cooperation are sharp departures from decades of American policy. The hawkish Neo Conservatives were in a position to have a great influence on public opinion. William Safire had a New York Times column, and Krauthammer repeatedly pressed for war in his Washington Post column. Robert Bartley was editor of The Wall Street Journal. A network of Perle friends was well positioned in the think tanks. Meyra Wurmser was at the Hudson Institute and had founded The Middle East Media Research Institute, which turned out to be financed by Israeli military intelligence. Her husband, David Wurmser headed Middle East Studies at AEI.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists launched an horrific attack on the United States, which gave the Neo Conservatives a golden opportunity to implement their policies. Nine days later, Neo Conservative leader Bill Kristol, published an “Open Letter to the President” in the Weekly Standard, a magazine founded with $10 million Rupert Murdock donated for the creation of a Neo Conservative magazine. Kristol demanded that an effort be made to remove Saddam Hussein from power due to his hostility to U.S. interests and possible links to terrorism. By removing him, the U.S. would be establishing a “safe zone” in the Middle East. He also called for retaliation against Iran and Syria because they had backed Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that had repeatedly attacked Israel. Forty-one Neo Conservatives signed the letter, including William Bennett, Francis Fukuyama, Midge Decter and her husband Norman Podhorentz, Deputy Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, Jean Kirkpatrick, Robert Kagan, Frank Gafney, and Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman. The latter was affiliated with the Center for Strategic Studies, and Kagan wrote for the Weekly Standard.
Tom Donnelly of PNAC joined the chorus of those calling for an attack on Iraq, noting that this time a half million troops would not be necessary. The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg used the so-called “Ledeen Doctrine” to justify an attack on Iraq. Former Pentagon official Michael Ledeen was described as believing that “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.” Ledeen had taught at Washington University and also assisted Lt. Colonel Oliver North to sell arms to the Ayatollah. In his book The War Against Terror Masters, Ledeen identified the countries that should be attacked: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Ledeen revealed a bit of the Neo Conservatives’ Jacobin streak, stating “Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad.” It was necessary to destroy enemies “to advance our historic mission” because they “have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity which menaces their traditions--and names them for their inability to keep pace.” On September 24,2002, Michael Ledeen wrote in The London Times that “The real foe is Middle Eastern tyranny” and called for regime change in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority as well as Iraq. After the Second Gulf War, he put Iran and Syria on the future hit list, saying “No one I know wants to wage war on Iran and Syria, but I believe there is now a clear recognition that we must defend ourselves against them.” The NeoCons saw a successful war against Iraq as the first step in bringing democracy to the Middle East and moving decisively against Israel’s enemies. Ledeen once claimed,” Americans believe that peace is normal, but that’s not true. Life isn’t like that. Peace is abnormal.”
James Woolsey would later tell a UCLA Republican audience that the United States was involved in “World War IV” and said it would last “ considerably longer than World Wars I or II.” He spoke strongly of forcing Syria into line with US policy. At about the same time, Wolfowitz was telling a congressional committee “we need to think about our policy in respect to a country [Syria] that harbors terrorists or harbors war criminals.” When the UN failed to back Bush’s invasion of Iraq, conservative circles began to hum with plans for replacing it.
Perle caused a great stir when he brought Laurent Murawiec to the Pentagon Policy Council on July 10, 2002, and she suggested that the US attack Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as Iraq. He was a Rand Corporation analyst who had also worked for Lyndon La Rouche. Murawiec identified Saudi Arabia as “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent of the United States”.
The Bush Doctrine
Though most of the leading Neo Conservative hawks had no particular expertise in the Middle East or Islamic affairs, they were behind President Bush’s drive in 2002 and 2003 for war against Iraq. They were brilliant people capable of concocting brilliant schemes that sometimes worked; the problem was their impatience with detail and the opinion of other people and nations. They adhered to a domino-like theory that the dictator’s fall would bring democracy to much of the Middle East. They played a major role in Bush’s successful efforts to transfer fear of Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein. A major long-term triumph for these Neo Conservative hawks was the Bush Doctrine, which was unveiled September 20, 2003. The roots of this aggressive foreign policy go back to a position paper Wolfowitz, and his deputy I. Lewis Libby, wrote for Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1992. These ideas were more fully fleshed out in a paper issued by the Project for the New American Century in September 2000. The Bush Doctrine envisioned a new American global empire, in which the United States would act as a world policeman and impose its will by force when necessary, and it justified preemptive strikes against enemies who could damage the United States and its interests. In effect, Bush was saying that the rest of the world must accept American judgments about when its interests are so threatened that it must use force preemptively. It later developed that the intelligence claims the US used to invade Iraq in 2003 were so flawed that the administration had squandered much credibility elsewhere in the world. The doctrine’s logic was faulty in that it was argued that other nations must not resort to preemptive war, but it was a noble venture when the US undertook it.
Critics charged that it was fashioned by zealots who saw no limits to U.S. power and were intent on militarizing U.S. Foreign policy. The authors of the doctrine saw no problems in unilateralism and the U.S. throwing its weight around so long as its intentions were good.
National security professionals in the State and Defense Departments were infuriated by the “cowboy tactics” these people recommended. The national security establishment saw force as a last resort, and preferred to use it only in concert with allies. Moreover, they worried about unintended consequences of rash actions and feared that, though getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing, that the aftermath of a war could create great problems. They were of the opinion that Clinton had put Saddam “in a box” and believed that the UN inspections further neutralized the Iraqi dictator. Those who took this position maintained that Saddam would not supply terrorists with weapons because he knew what the consequences would be. Moreover, it was believed unlikely that he would attack a U.S. ally. They note that it was unclear in 1990 whether the U.S. was committed to Kuwait before Saddam invaded.
In 2002, it soon became clear that Bush had made up his mind that the U.S. must go to war with Iraq, but it not quite clear why the matter had become so urgent. At West Point’s spring, 2002 commencement, Bush argued that the war against terrorism made it necessary for new thinking about defense and noted that the U.S. “cannot put our trust in the word of tyrants.” It would soon become clear that he thought it necessary to turn away from deterrence and containment and move toward preemptive action against perceived enemies, among whom was Iraq. In a major address before the American Enterprise Institute in March 2003, the President echoed the PNAC position paper in justifying his call for war. He saw the creation of a democratic Iraq as the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian problem. A democratic Iraq would lead to the transformation of the region and the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
The enunciation of the Bush Doctrine in September 2002 marked the triumph of Neo Conservative foreign policy. The Bush administration sent a position paper on national security strategy to Congress on September 20, 2002 that Bush Doctrine was enunciated. Law required this submission to Congress, but this was no ordinary paper. This “National Security Strategy for the United States” outlined a bold and somewhat aggressive stance that downplayed the long-standing doctrine of containment and announced that the US must have the right to preemptive strikes and war against its new enemies, terrorist states and terrorist organizations. Because the new foes were able to easily attack the United States with various weapons of mass destruction, the point was that the US must engage in “preemptive deterrence” (“anticipatory self-defense”) before the enemy had developed the capacity to attack the US or its friends. This approach had the obvious advantage of surprise and the use of a smaller force. But this preemptive deterrence was straining long-standing alliances and setting a precedent for other nations to use the same doctrine.
This extraordinary doctrine announced that the United States would never again allow another state to equal it in military power, and claimed the right to use its power to advance the cause of freedom anywhere in the world. The doctrine proclaimed that there was “a single sustainable model for national success,” and it was comprised of democracy, free enterprise, and democracy. The Bush Doctrine left to the United States to define these terms.
It was not completely clear if free enterprise meant unfettered capitalism and opening other countries to the ministrations of the International Monetary fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. However, in discussing lower taxes and pro-growth regulatory policies in messianic terms, it left little doubt that the Washington Consensus policies of the IMF and World Bank were to be applied everywhere. Its discussion of economics was couched in the terms of a closed intellectual system; there was no room for doubt or discussion. It is possible that the authors of the document saw 9/11 as a reaction against American economic policies. Around the time of that tragedy, trade representative Robert B. Zoellick suggested there were “intellectual connections” between opponents of US globalism and terrorists. In the same vein, Bush said “the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, and we will defeat them by expanding and encouraging world trade.”
While the document appeared at a time when the administration was preparing public opinion for a preemptive strike against Iraq, much more was involved. It justified and placed in perspective the unilateral foreign policy the Bush administration had been following since its inception. The foundations for this sharp departure from American was a repudiation of the traditional policy of the first Bush, who was committed to multilateralism and international institutions, and who accepted the view that America was strongest when it was leading international efforts. Wolfowitz and the other designers of the Bush Doctrine may well have been operating out of genuinely utopian instincts, believing others would not react adversely to American unilateralism when they saw that it produced good results.
The Bush Doctrine assumes that lasting peace consisted of a world so ordered as to be friendly to American values and enterprise and preservation of the US position as sole superpower. The US was to assume the roles of “high-noon sheriff and proselytizing missionary.” One observer thought that it was only the logical extension of the general American belief that God gave the US a special role in history and that it had every right to be Number One. He noted that while a few radicals and intellectuals objected, and that the new Bush Doctrine “commands broad assent in virtually all segments of American society.”
The invasion of Iraq provided an opportunity to implement NeoCon doctrines It is difficult to find agreement on the extent to which oil influenced the decision to invade. There is a methodological problem here because no official went on record saying oil was a major consideration. Indeed, several said the exact opposite, but they eventually established records for lacking truthfulness. Many apply strict social science method in this case to accept the default position—that is, lacking airtight proof to the contrary, we accept official statements. Yet few think Bush would have invaded Iraq if it only exported rugs and pottery.
Paul O’Neill, a former Bush Secretary of the Treasury , said as much and talked about how White House officials were studying Iraq oil maps. We know that several energy position papers noted that Saddam Hussein was a “wild card” and a “swing producer” in the words of a Council on Foreign Relations Report. A report by the Baker Institute at Rice portrayed him as an irresponsible player on the international oil market.
Saddam could not be expected to always play by the rules and might sharply raise or lower production, creating an instability that the world’s oil barons deplored. According to OPEC general secretary Ali Rodriguez, Saddam and Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi were discussing a sharp reduction of oil exports to the West in April 2002. Those reports probably led to the US backed but unsuccessful coup against Chavez in Venezuela. That country had helped combat the 1973 oil embargo but could not be expected to do so again in 2002 with Chavez in power.
It is known that there were two approaches to moving against Iraq in 2003. The State Department organized a planning meeting at the home of Falah Aljibury, who worked for Regan and the senior Bush on Iraqi affairs. The plan was to insert forces to assist a coup, which would replace Saddam with a Bathist general we could control. There would be no long and costly occupation. Iraq’s oil transactions would b3ecome stable and predictable.
The Neo Conservative had very different ideas, and they had the upper hand in the Bush foreign policy operation. Their views were contained in a document entitled “Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth.” In order to privatize Iraqi’s state owned industries—especially oil, a full invasion and occupation were required. The Pentagon supported this effort to create a private enterprise utopia.
The first American pro-consul in Iraq was retired General Jay Garner, a well-trained historian. He understood the Middle East, and promised elections in 90 days. Of course elections would have nullified NeoCon plans, which he read and rejected, but they would have produced friends rather than enemies for the United States in Iraq. He was soon “relocate,” and his replacement was Paul Bremer, III, a NeoCon and former managing director of Kissinger and Associates. He quickly privatized most businesses and banking, but ran into a huge roadblock when it came to oil. The problem was the NeoCon plan was that privatizing oil would weaken OPEC and, by increasing production, lower gas prices. Not the least of the problem, it offered no guaranteed that U.S. producers would control Iraqi oil. Speaking for U.s. big oil, Chevron CEO Philip Carroll, with the strong support of James Baker, III and US-Saudi interests, intervened and vetoed the plan. The Bush Administration accepted Carroll’s intervention, and soon Bremer was gone. The new US dispensation for Iraq oil would be a state controlled monopoly that would be guided and work through big US firms. Historically, Iraqi oil production had been held down to keep prices up, and this pattern was to continue. Now production levels were far below pre-invasion levels. The NeoCons lost their bid to battle OPEC and drive down oil prices, but they were successful in privatizing a great deal of Iraq’s economy.
The NeoCon foreign policy doctrines represented a form of militant foreign policy fundamentalism, and they provided a convenient means for the U.S .to short-circuit international law and the United Nations Charter. The Bush Doctrine reflected the impatience of its framers with international criticism and the gradualism and care required to implement containment policies. At a more fundamental level, it was another aspect of the New Right’s cultural wars to restore the old doctrine of Manifest Destiny and remove the deep shame that had attended the evacuation of Saigon and was a frontal attack on all those who thought America was in danger of doing sometime wrong. It would vanquish moral relativism and restore moral authority and the imperial presidency.
Most attributed the failed George W. Bush adventure in Iraq to the influence of the NeoCons, but they nevertheless retained great influence in his White House. They worked ceaselessly to build a case for attacking Iran appeared to fall short of gathering enough support to accomplish this. Russell Kirk once sadly remarked : “They aspire to bring about a world of uniformity and dull standardization, Americanized, industrialized, democratized, ‘logicalized’, and boring. They are cultural and economic imperialists, many of them.”
Sherman has written African American Baseball: A Brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.
- Sherman De Brosse
- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!