Have you ever heard of the Project for the New American Century? Being a political science major, I have seen the name arise in classes, but courses never covered whether it was anything other than one of the hundreds of lobbying firms in Washington.
The group’s purpose since its conception in mid-1997 has been to reform what it saw as a lapse in defense capabilities of the United States. In the organization’s own words, “We are jeopardizing the nation’s ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead.”
Sounds fairly innocuous except for their solutions to the problem: to defend America internally by whatever means necessary, to conduct multi-theater, simultaneous wars, to create a missile defense shield and even to train a “U.S. Space Force” with the duty of controlling outer space.
Finally, they call on defense spending to be a minimum of 3.5 percent of the gross domestic product, adding $20 billion per year regardless of need.
The PNAC would have the federal government pump huge amounts of funds into needless defense programs, fight a continual World War II-type conflict and rule with an iron fist over outer space.
In any other situation, I would shrug off the group as just another neo-Reagan asylum, reminiscing of days when trillions were wasted while the country’s wealthy prospered and everyone else suffered.
I would have shrugged it off, if not for some of the people supporting these statements. Perhaps you’ve heard of them: Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and, oddly, Jeb Bush.
In 2000, this consortium of criminals (at least two of the signatories of PNAC were implicated or convicted of crimes) and “trickle-downers” suddenly were in charge of the U.S. Defense Department. These men desperately wanted to implement their asinine projects, but, again in their own words, “The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent of some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Conveniently, Osama provided them with that “Pearl Harbor,” and the PNACers quickly put their plans into action. Just weeks after the attacks we were “defending the homeland” with the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security was formed.
We are fighting simultaneous, multi-theater wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems only a matter of time before we plunge U.S. forces into Iran and North Korea, despite recent assurances.
In 2002, Bush and Co.’s Nuclear Posture Review leaked a confidential paper put out by the administration to outline U.S. nuclear strategy for the next several years. The Review outlined a plan to stop arms control and increase the capabilities of U.S. nuclear weapons.
And can anyone guess what percentage of the gross domestic product Bush proposed for defense spending? That’s right, he proposed 3.5 percent.
How is all this allowed to happen? How have we gone from a country that saves Europe from the clutches of fascism and stops genocide in the former Yugoslavia to the country that invades countries willy-nilly to advance a right-wing agenda?
Mainly, we have done it by using fear. President George W. Bush has invoked Sept. 11 for everything from paying for his unjust wars to keeping from having to pay tolls on Sunday drives through Texas. Dubya actually used Sept. 11 as a justification for tax cuts; how exactly are the two in any way related?
The ideas of PNAC have, for the most part, failed miserably. The only reason these deficient programs are allowed to continue is the Bush Administration’s constant reminder that “you too may someday be killed by terrorists,” even though the odds of such a thing happening are slightly less than being killed by an asteroid.
Joe Roma is a senior majoring in English. firstname.lastname@example.org