Some five years prior to Ronald Reagan becoming President of the United States, the first wave of neo-conservatives formed the infamous Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). Of its 61 original directors, 29 eventually found positions in the Reagan administration.
Some of the key members of this latter group were Donald Rumsfeld, George P. Shultz, who became Secretary of State under Reagan, Ken Adelman, who became head of the oxymoronic Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), Richard Perle, who became Assistant Secretary of Defense, and several hawkish academics who were the personification of the contemporary neo-con, such as Colin S. Gray and Richard Pipes.
Pipes was a member of a secret team outside the CIA, called “Team B,” organized by then CIA Director George Bush Sr. Their goal was to exaggerate the Soviet threat to the point of creating a crisis situation. They, together with Reagan and the CPD, then planned to abandon the existing policy of mutual assured destruction (MAD) in favour of a mad plan to win a nuclear war by all means, including pre-emption and the weaponization of space (“Star Wars”). They also set out to scuttle the key SALT II Treaty. Together with Caspar Weinberger and later Paul Wolfowitz, who entered government service under Presidents Ford and Carter, the first wave of neo-cons came to power in the Reagan administration.
A key person in the neo-cons’ rise to power was Albert Wohlstetter, who was part of Project Rand, the Rand Corporation’s contribution to the new U.S. military policy of nuclear war-fighting and war-winning. A secret study led by Wohlstetter, Rand Report R-244-5, applied game theory to defeating the Soviet Union in a nuclear war. Wohlstetter left Rand in 1962 for academia, but strongly influenced one of his students, Paul Wolfowitz, who, together with Richard Perle, became the penultimate neo-cons. They strongly supported the secret “Team B” report, but also urged a major focus to include the Middle East and the geopolitics of oil. Both found positions of influence in the government. Later, Wolfowitz and Perle served under Dick Cheney when he was Secretary of Defense in the Bush Sr. administration. The neo-con noose was tightening around the neck of U.S. foreign policy.
Joining this coterie of neo-cons a few years later were Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. In 1990, they produced a definitive study, the Defense Guidance Planning (DGP) document, which was leaked to the New York Times. In this study, the U.S. was to “maintain the mechanisms for deferring potential competitors from ever aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” It strongly supported pre-emptive strikes as the only way to assure U.S. domination of the world, and went so far as to assert that “the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated (my emphasis). The war on Iraq and the focus on oil were set into inevitable motion, as well as the declaration of UN irrelevance. The truly key figure in these policies is defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who earlier had also been Gerald Ford’s Secretary of Defense.
By 2000, the neo-cons found the perfect puppet for their plans of global domination--George W. Bush--and were able to codify the DPG document of 1990 into official U.S. policy. They first set about to trash the entire nuclear arms control regime and the many treaties of which it was composed. They also proceeded to complete the original Star Wars fantasy, now converted into a National Missile Defense (NMD) program.
The unjustified invasion of Iraq was plotted and launched by Bush’s neo-con advisors, who must be held accountable for all those killed in the initial bombings and for all the subsequent casualties, including U.S. and other “coalition of the willing” soldiers, as well as thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. The capture of Saddam Hussein was a welcome development, and it is only fitting that he be put on trial for his brutal crimes against humanity. But similar charges could be laid against George W. Bush and his neo-con group--and we can only hope they will be made eventually to face their own Nuremberg-style judgment.
For the time being, the U.S. is free to act as CEO of a corporate-ruled world, but it is not yet in total control. It has recently been forced to withdraw its tariff on steel imports, and a growing rebellion is being mounted by some economically developing countries, such as Brazil and Ecuador, against the U.S.-dominated World Trade Organization. Our overriding hope, however, has to be that Bush will not be re-elected in 2004, and that stronger non-violent opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq will emerge, both in that country and in the U.S. itself.
Until then, however, the small group of neo-cons who have seized power in America continue to direct U.S. policy, authorizing pre-emptive strikes against any perceived enemy, discounting the rightful and legal role of international law and the UN, and trashing almost the entire range of nuclear arms treaties. They have consolidated the marriage of wealth and power to a degree never previously experienced. They intend to purchase the 2004 presidential election. They have replaced communism with an amorphous terrorism as the target for a never-ending war whose ultimate objective is a global American Empire. And the “spin-doctors” they employ have totally abandoned the truth in the pursuit of these goals. Many millions of Americans and millions in other countries, including Canada, have unfortunately been conned by these neo-cons. If the worst happens and Bush wins re-election in November, the neo-cons will have another four years to implement their plan to make the U.S. ruler of the world, economically and ideologically, as well as militarily.
No worse fate for humanity--short of the planet’s colliding with an asteroid-- could possibly be imagined.
(Fred Knelman, Ph.D. -- [email protected] -- is a long-time peace activist and author based in Victoria.)