May 2, 2006
The longer the fiasco in Iraq drags on, the more we hear the folks who
cooked up the idea of invading that sand dune republic denying that
they had anything to do with it. Crooks and Liars provided this John Bolton quote from a press conference televised last week on CNN.
We did not violate the UN charter in the war to
overthrow Saddam Hussein and that plan was not drawn...at the Project
for the New American Century.
John's memory must be slipping, what with all those responsibilities he
has as Ambassador to the United Nations now. Maybe it's time to
help him refresh it.
Under the fold: a stroll down Selective Memory Lane...
June 3, 1997: PNAC issues its Statement of Principles.
"American foreign and defense policy is adrift," it states at the
beginning, and goes on to criticize the Clinton administration.
This document contains no specific mention of Iraq, but does
admonish that, "America has a vital role in maintaining peace and
security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East," and that "we need to
increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our
global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the
Among the signatories are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul
Wolfowitz, as well as PNAC co-founders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan.
January 19, 1998: John Bolton publishes "Congress Versus Iraq" in Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard.
He slams President Clinton for being soft on Iraq, and exhorts
Congress to force Clinton into taking more aggressive action against
January 26, 1998: PNAC sends a letter to President Clinton
urging military action to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power.
A key passage states that if America continues its containment
policy, "...the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends
and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant
portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard."
Keep that in mind the next time young Mister Bush says invading Iraq
wasn't about Israel or oil. (Please note that I have no problem
with America keeping Israel under its protective umbrella. But we
didn't need to invade Iraq to do it.)
And, oh, one of the signatures on that letter belongs to a guy named John Bolton.
A copy of the letter appears in the Washington Post on January 27.
January 30, 1998: PNAC founders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan publish "Bombing is not Enough" in the New York Times.
"Saddam Hussein must go," it says. "If Mr. Clinton is
serious about protecting us and our allies from Iraqi biological and
chemical weapons, he will order ground forces to the gulf. Four heavy
divisions and two airborne divisions are available for deployment. The
President should act, and Congress should support him in the only
policy that can succeed."
There's no question: PNAC was specifically calling for an armed
invasion of Iraq by ground forces. How many teams of lawyers do
they need to talk their way around that?
February 2, 1998: Robert Kagan publishes "Saddam's Impending Victory" in Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard. Kagan again calls for removal of Hussein by force and compares him to Hitler.
February 26, 1998: Kristol and Kagan publish "A 'Great Victory' for Iraq" in the Washington Post.
"Unless we are willing to live in a world where everyone has to
'do business' with Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction, we need
to be willing to use U.S. air power and ground troops to get rid of
March 9, 1998: Bolton publishes "Kofi Hour" in the Weekly Standard and criticizes the Clinton administration for working through the UN to deal with Hussein.
September 18, 1998: PNAC's Paul Wolfowitz testifies before the House National Security Committee on Iraq
during which he condemns the Clinton's Iraq policy. "The Clinton
Administration repeatedly makes excuses for its own weakness..."
September 28, 1998: Robert Kagan's "A Way to Oust Saddam" appears in the Weekly Standard.
"It has long been clear that the only way to rid the world of
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction is to rid Iraq of Saddam."
November 16, 1998: An non-attributed editorial in the Weekly Standard
titled "How to Attack Iraq" says, "It now seems fairly certain that
some time in the next few weeks the Clinton administration will have to
strike Iraq. There really are no acceptable alternatives."
January 4, 1999: Robert Kagan's "Saddam Wins-Again" appears in the Weekly Standard. More castigation of UN and Clinton administration efforts to contain Saddam Hussein.
There's much more. You can read the entire PNAC literature on Iraq at the group's website, starting here.
But let's take a close look at two key PNAC documents from the 21st century.
Rebuilding America's Defenses
was published in September 2000, just before the presidential election
that brought George W. Bush into power. This neoconservative
manifesto revealed that the PNAC's ambitions in the Middle East were
only obliquely related to Saddam Hussein.
The United States has for decades sought to play a more
permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict
with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a
substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of
the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Page 14.)
In other words, Hussein was merely the convenient excuse for
establishing permanent military bases in the heart of the Middle East
and controlling the flow of the region's oil.
But the PNACers realized that the road to achieving their dream of a
global American empire was "...likely to be a long one, absent some
catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor."
On September 11, 2001 PNAC got its Pearl Harbor, and a significant
portion of its membership held key policy making posts in the Bush
administration, some of the most notable among them being Cheney,
Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Bolton.
On September 20, nine days after the 9/11 attacks, PNAC wrote a letter to Mister Bush
that said, "...even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the
attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its
sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from
power in Iraq."
DNA evidence couldn't provide better proof that the PNAC formulated the
Bush administration's Iraq policy than the paper trail the PNAC itself
provides. For Bolton to deny that the PNAC "planned" the Iraq
invasion goes beyond irony, beyond the absurd, beyond the Orwellian.
There's a temptation to shrug one's shoulders and say, "Why dwell on this? It's in the past."
But it's not in the past. We're living with the neoconservative
nightmare today and there's no telling how long it will take to undo
their damage, partly because they're still in power and they're still
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his weekday commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.