The Project for a New American Century is a think-tank for aggressive 'defense,' initiated in 1997 by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. These men---all top Bush I, later Bush II, administration officials with corporate defense connections---essentially formulated the current policy.
At first glance the PNAC's statement of intent seems innocuous enough---to promote "American global leadership." But if you probe further, it's clear that PNAC views U.S. world dominance, a Pax Americana---militarily and economically, if not politically and culturally---as the goal.
All of this conveniently dovetails with a Religious Right worldview: Armageddon and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Iraq happens to be the latter-day Babylon of Revelation infamy. If I were a foreign citizen---one needn't be a Muslim fundamentalist---I'd be concerned about the implications.
Though the PNAC's concern is global, not surprisingly, a significant part of its attention is focused on the strategic and religious hotbed of the Middle East:
"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq [this was published in 2000] provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." (p. 26)
A year later came the attacks of September 11. It is clear that the "War on Terrorism" implements a global strategy conceived long before 9/11; and from a Religious Right perspective, this is a "holy war"---a crusade against evil.
The paper calls for "American military preeminence that is consistent with the requirements of a strategy of American global leadership." It then lists three main missions: 1) global missile defenses [i.e. "Star Wars"], 2) control of space and cyberspace [i.e. total control of information], and 3) pursuing a two-stage strategy of transforming conventional forces [i.e. enormous defense budget]. (p. 63)
This is music to the ears of private defense contractors.
Enter The Carlyle Group, the investment firm located in Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue, conveniently midway between the White House and the Capital building.
The Carlyle Group links U.S. military policy with vast personal fortunes---its forte is pairing the powerful with the rich. A number of its big players are from Texas and/or have interests in oil. Among those with Carlyle connections: former President George Bush, the Saudi bin Laden family, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, and former Secretary of State James Baker III.
The Group buys undervalued defense-related businesses, and resells them for a profit. It relies on wealthy investors, powerful influence, and inside information---knowing where public money is likely to be spent, or be cut. It's one of Washington's biggest 'revolving doors.'
The Group blossomed in the lull of the late eighties 'peace dividend.' With the ending of the U.S.-Soviet arms race, the defense industry was in a slump. Carlyle bought devalued businesses, saw PNAC agenda on the horizon, and gloated as the Middle East crisis heated up.