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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/31/08

Hell to Pay

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Originally published by Truthdig, October 30,2008

Sen. John McCain's ideological ties to the Bush-Cheney administration have mostly passed beneath the radar of the mainstream media, but if McCain loses the presidential race to Barack Obama, his neoconservative legacy could erupt into the open with a force that should not be underestimated.

    In a little discussed speech titled "A Period of Consequences," given at The Citadel military college in South Carolina on Sept. 23, 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush laid out his plan for America. Bush's speech succinctly reflected the ideology of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative institute initiated in 1997 by The New Citizenship Project, under the direction of its president, Sen. John McCain.

    Bush's Citadel speech was mirrored by a report that PNAC produced in September 2000, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century" ("RAD"). As noted by the authors of "RAD," PNAC was based on the defense strategy outlined by Dick Cheney's Defense Department in the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration.

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    The DPG (also known as the Wolfowitz Report) provided a "blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." The PNAC directors had lamented the fact that the DPG was "leaked [by The New York Times and The Washington Post] before it had been formally approved." It was criticized as "an effort by 'cold warriors' to keep defense spending high ... despite the collapse of the Soviet Union," and was subsequently "buried by the new [Clinton] administration." PNAC was accordingly organized to resurrect Cheney's defunct plan. [The quotations are from the "RAD" document.]

    PNAC's plan was a long-term project to be accomplished over decades. It sought to transform the military through research and the development of advanced warfare technologies. The approach included a global anti-ballistic missile system (the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative), a more effective nuclear capability, modernization of conventional weapons and development of biological and chemical weapons. The proposed biological weapons included ones that could " 'target' specific genotypes" and thereby "transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool." The PNAC plan shunned arms control and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as obstacles to U.S. pre-eminence and ability to thwart the rise of other great geopolitical powers. Thus it sought to cultivate and use military superiority "to preserve an international security environment conducive to American interests and ideals." [All quotations from "RAD."]

    In his Citadel speech, Bush proclaimed: "… if elected, I will set three goals: I will renew the bond of trust between the American president and the American military. I will defend the American people against missiles and terror. And I will begin creating the military of the next century." But he was very clear that the project would not be completed by the time his administration ended. "Even if I am elected," he said, "I will not command the new military we create. That will be left to a president who comes after me. The results of our effort will not be seen for many years."

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    Obviously, to carry out the PNAC vision, Bush's successor would have to be dedicated to the vision. This individual could not, as did Bill Clinton, present a conflicting ideology. Currently, the only candidate who appears to satisfy this requirement is John McCain - who, as mentioned, was a principal founder of PNAC. In addition, his campaign advisers and likely members of a McCain administration largely consist of former PNAC officials and signatories, including William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Randy Scheunemann, James Woolsey, John R. Bolton, Robert B. Zollick, Gary Schmitt, Richard Armitage, Max Boot and Michael Goldfarb.

    There are two important considerations. First, the Bush/PNAC administration has a decade of planning and implementation at stake on the upcoming election. Second, a McCain presidency would assuredly mean another four years of militaristic Bush/PNAC policies.

    So what, in particular, could we expect from a McCain administration? President Bush's Citadel speech gives us some answers, as does PNAC's "RAD." Following are (1) statements from the 2000 PNAC "RAD," (2) parallel remarks made by Bush in his 1999 Citadel speech and (3) what we might expect from John McCain as president and a PNAC supporter.

    Strategic Defense Initiative:

    PNAC: "Creating a system of global missile defenses is but the first task of transformation."

    Bush: "At the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy anti-ballistic missile systems, both theater and national, to guard against attack and blackmail."

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    In line with this PNAC/Bush transformative priority, McCain has indicated his support of global missile defenses, a project that was scrapped under Clinton because of its costliness, destabilizing effects and failure to provide a bulletproof missile defense system.

    Control of the Internet:

    PNAC: "… divine [find] ways to control the new 'international commons' of … cyberspace."

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Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is Technology of Oppression: Preserving Freedom and Dignity in an Age of Mass, Warrantless Surveillance(Palegrave Macmillan, 2014.) He is a Fellow at the (more...)

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