Conquest for Fun and Profit
“As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?” Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Statement of Principles.
11/24/03: (Vive le Canada) The above statement seems innocuous enough on the surface. A group of concerned Americans who want to see their country do well. We all want our countries to do well...to prosper and be recognised for their assets. We even want other countries to do well because if they prosper so will we. There is nothing wrong with prosperity.
But there IS something wrong with this particular group of concerned Americans . They don’t care whether other countries do well. They would, in fact, prefer that other countries NOT do so well. The people at the Project for a New American Century feel very strongly that the USA should dominate the planet and that any country or group of countries that challenges them, militarily or economically, is a threat that needs to be taken care of.
So what is the Project for a New American Century? Basically it’s a right-wing think tank. What makes it different is its membership. On June 3, 1997, PNAC laid out its agenda. Twenty five people signed that document: Elliott Abrams, Bill Bennett, Gary Bauer, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis *censored*uyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalizad, 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.
Some of those names are better known than others, many of them hold senior positions in the Bush White House, but all are influential. Toss in the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank similar to the PNAC complete with similar connections and you have the makings of an empire. This is not really an empire in the traditional sense though. It appears to be, with the US acting in what those who control it see as the best interests of the country, just the latest version of the Roman Empire. That has little to do with the long-term plans of America’s neo-conservative leaders.
What are the policies of PNAC? Control of the world economy with an eye to ensuring the wealth of a very few already-wealthy Americans is the big one. Everything else flows from that. They see nothing wrong with pre-emptive war. They see nothing wrong with human rights violations. They see no reason why the world should look to the UN instead of the US for leadership. They want to be sure that they control outer space. They would also like to limit dissent, including controlling cyberspace. Nice goals.
The real trick to the Bush Administration, the Project for a New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, and several smaller groups is the changes they are bringing about. Those changes have long-term implications that go far beyond partisan politics. When Robert Zoellick, a member of the PNAC, goes to trade forums in Cancun or Miami and, not getting his way, begins swinging bilateral deals, it has little to do with the American government. It is an attempt to weaken the power of all governments in regulating business. When the US illegally invades Iraq and then breaks international law by privatising state-owned enterprises, it has little to do with what is best for the US. It is an attempt to give privately owned business a political foot-hold in the Middle East. When conservative Canadians look at the policies and actions of the neo-conservatives running the US and suggest cozying up to them even further, we too become culpable in the attempts of a select few to run the world to their own advantage.
It’s that “select few” that’s the real sticking point. Those who speak out against the policies of the Project for a New American Century, policies being instituted by Bush and his cabinet, are often accused of being anti-American even while the accusers skirt around the existence of such a group. That’s the real trick that supporters of the PNAC have to perform...getting their policies instituted while hiding the fact that what they doing is not in the best interests of most Americans and does not follow the ideas behind the Constitution of the United States of America.
There is a reason that there has been so little coverage of neo-conservative think tanks in the mainstream US and Canadian press. That press has become increasingly controlled by a very few, very wealthy group of individuals, people whose personal interests are entwined with the success of the ultra-right wing now in control of the White House. To expose what is really going on would very much be biting the hand that feeds them.
Some test balloons have been sent out. Irving Kristol, the self-proclaimed god-father of the neo-conservative movement and father of William Kristol, has written a column and a book on the birth and ideas of the movement. In an article for the Weekly Standard, Kristol praised Bush for giving new life to the neo-conservative movement. A look at the roster of PNAC members and a glance at who holds what positions in the White House shows why Kristol is so proud of Bush...the far right controls the White House, and the far right is on its way to controlling the world.
That control is unlikely to disappear when Bush does. The policies being instituted are too far reaching. They are also extremely hard to just walk away from. No matter who wins the White House in 2004 or 2008, they will still have to deal with Bush's legacy. Assuming that a Democrat takes over, will they have the willpower to expose the depth of the damage done? Will they have the ability to resist pressure from groups that do not want the depth of the damage exposed?
The reality is that whoever next controls the White House will still have troops in Iraq, still have questionable trade deals in place or already being negotiated, still have to meet with the well-earned distrust of the world. Trying to turn policies 180 degrees, especially when saddled with a huge debt, ever-rising costs, few real allies, a hostile press (look at the way they went after Clinton, and he was pretty far right), and an extremely powerful neo-conservative lobby, is enough to challenge even the most well-meaning President.
Manwhile, the reality in Canada is that our next Prime Minister has expressed his intentions to get even closer to the US, no matter who is running things or what their policies are. The Project for a New American Century is not that ideologically different from the Fraser Institute or other right-wing pressure groups in Canada. PNAC may be trying to take over the world for the benefit of wealthy few, but the right in Canada, including large and influential parts of our Liberal party, is all too willing to cheer them on.
So what can be done? The short-term answer is, “Not much.” The important thing is to keep learning and speaking out and to encourage Americans to do the same. It is very important that speaking out does not become the anti-Americanism we are so often accused of. The protests must be against the policies of the American government and those that control and aid them. Those policies have nothing to do with democracy or freedom--they have to do with concentrating power, real power, beyond the reach of legislation and governments. The policies of PNAC and the Bush regime and those in Canada and around the world that support them also have to do with control, wealth, and personal greed.
That doesn’t mean that it is inevitable that these people will take over the world or that the damage cannot be reversed. It does mean that even if George W. Bush is removed from power next year, it will take years of concerted effort to repair the damage done. If Bush retains power until 2008 reversing the damage will take much more time. Repairing that damage will very much entail convincing leaders the world over, including Canada and the EU, to never fall into the same traps again because PNAC, its members, and its influence will be around for quite some time.
The Thirty Year Itch
The Power Brokers
Reverend Blair was raised in Saskatchewan and currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He comes from a long line of social activists and cried on Tommy Douglas before his first birthday. His column appears biweekly on Vive le Canada.