spin -- about Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, torture -- in effect they're using
incompetence as their defense. How can you try to censure or impeach us,
they're saying, when we didn't know what was happening, what to do or how
to do it?
Their incompetence by this time has been well-documented and par for the
Bush course. But, as the evidence demonstrates, in each of those cases
they knew a lot more than they let on, having received adequate warnings
of the scenarios that were about to unfold.
They knew the levees might well be breached in New Orleans and did
nothing; more than 1000 died. They knew a major al Qaida attack was coming
in late-Summer 2001, probably by air and aimed at icon American targets in
New York and Washington, and did nothing; nearly 3000 died. They knew
their own advisers had alerted them that Saddam had no WMD and no
connection to the 9/11 attacks, but they went ahead anyway and lied the
Congress and American people into Iraq; tens of thousands of U.S. troops
and Iraqi civilians have died and are continuing to do so. They knew,
because they had approved the "harsh" interrogation methods, that tortures
were being carried out on prisoners in U.S. care, but they did nothing
(until photos leaked to the press); more than 100 detainees have died, and
many thousands more have been brutalized and/or humiliated. They knew that
eavesdropping on American citizens was illegal without court-sanctioned
warrants, but they went ahead anyway, convinced nobody would ever learn of
All of that is reprehensible, and will be added to the list of charges for
the eventual impeachment hearings of Bush and Cheney, and/or to the
criminal trials of those two and their subordinates. But what I propose to
talk about here are not specifics of the high crimes, misdemeanors and
thorough-going bunglings. To do that is to focus on the trees while
ignoring the forest; we need to go deeper and find out who planted the
AN IDEOLOGY OF GREED & CONQUEST
To get a handle on how Bush&Co. took America into its current domestic and
foreign crises, one must first understand that their policies and actions
did not originate after Bush was installed in the White House in January
of 2001. The philosophy of greed and power-amassment already was in place
years prior to that.
And so it's time to re-examine The Project for The New American Century,
about which still too little is known by the American public. There were a
number of us writing about PNAC three years ago -- William Rivers Pitt,
myself, Neil Mackay, John Pilger, Tj Templeton and others -- but, after an
initial flurry of interest by the media, discussion about that neo-con
think tank mostly dissolved.
Much of the following takes off from my original 2003 essay
"How We Got Into This Imperial Pickle: A PNAC Primer:"
A PNAC Primer" -- which is the most widely reprinted article I've ever
written. That piece has been updated to reflect the new evidence that has
surfaced in the past several years.
THE ORIGINS OF THE CRISIS
Most of us Americans saw the end of the Cold War as a harbinger of a more
peaceful globe, and we relaxed knowing that the Communist world was no
longer a threat to the U.S. The Soviet Union, our partner in MAD (Mutually
Assured Destruction) and Cold War rivalry around the globe, was no more.
This meant a partial vacuum in international affairs. Nature abhors a
The only major vacuum-filler still standing after the Cold War was the
United States. The U.S. could continue the so-called "soft imperialism"
approach, the kind of diplomatic, well-disguised defense of U.S. interests
(largely corporate) carried out under Bush#1, Reagan, Clinton, et al. Or
one could go the Karl Rove route of speeding up the process and
accomplishing those same domestic and foreign ends overtly -- with an
attitude of arrogance and in-your-face bullying -- within maybe one or two
Some of the ideological roots of today's Bush Administration
power-wielders could be traced back to the political philosopher Leo
Strauss (short version: act aggressively, do whatever you have to do to
win), and to GOP rightist Barry Goldwater and his rabid anti-communist
followers in the early-1960s. But, for simplicity's sake let's stick
closer to our own time.
In the early-1990s, a group of ideologues and power-politicians, most of
whom had been in positions of authority in the Reagan Administration,
found themselves on the outside looking in during the Clinton era, and
were relegated to the fringe of the Republican Party's far-right. The
members of this group in 1997 would found PNAC, The
Project for the New American Century (PNAC); their aim was to
prepare for the day when Republicans regained control of the White House,
and, it was hoped, the other two branches of government as well. When that
day came, their vision of how the U.S. should move in the world would be
in place and ready to go, straight off-the-shelf into official policy.
PNAC was not a rag-tag group of lightweight amateurs. The PNAC founders
were heavy hitters, with juice: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, James
Woolsey, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Bolton, Zalmay
M. Khalilzad, William Bennett, Dan Quayle, Jeb Bush, et al., most of whom
were movers-and-shakers in previous Administrations, savvy as to how to
exercise power to the max in Washington. But even given their reputations
and clout, the openly militarist views of this group -- attacking other
countries "pre-emptively," for example -- were regarded as too extreme to
be taken seriously by the generally mainstream, small-government,
isolationist conservatives who controlled the Republican Party.
THE EARLY DAYS OF PNAC
To prepare the ground for the PNAC-like ideas that were circulating in the
HardRight, several wealthy billionaires and corporations helped set up
far-right think-tanks, and bought up various media outlets -- newspapers,
magazines, TV networks, radio talk shows, cable channels, etc. -- in
support of that day when all the political tumblers would click into place
and the HardRight cabal and their supporters could assume control.