Problems with the Project for the New American Century

Wes Miksa

The horrendous American Civil War and World Wars signaled that the days of knights in shining armor were over. Machine guns and nuclear weapons made war intolerable. These sentiments motivated U.S. officials to support the formation of the United Nations over half a century ago. The lessons of history apparently hadn’t informed The Project for the New American Century when it published its Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources For a New Century in September of 2000. The ambitious D.C. think tank, claiming high profile members like Paul Wolfowitz (now the Deputy Secretary of Defense) and Dick Cheney, listed as a core mission of U.S. military forces that they “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” in order to advance U.S. global leadership. In addition, the PNAC’s report recommended the U.S. explore producing new forms of nuclear weapons, create a new military service- “U.S. Space Forces,” and deploy a missile defense system around the world.

Granted, the PNAC recommended the U.S. do all this, in violation of U.S. and U.N. law, in the name of a “Pax Americana,” or global American peace akin to the Roman peace 2000 years ago (i.e., to “secure” key regions like the Middle East). However, recent wars to establish order and peace have been problematic. The expensive war in Iraq has killed uncounted Iraqis, and has brought anarchy and violence to the country and its people (although Iraq’s oil may recover some costs). During the past two years of occupation, Afghanistan has remained the world’s chief opium exporter.

Although the PNAC’s proposal to launch wars establishing a Pax Americana is untenable, I must grant that the PNAC’s report was probably correct when it anticipated that the duration of the military transformation it recommended was “likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event- like a new Pearl Harbor.” Without a massive attack against the U.S. carried out by 15 suspected Saudi terrorists, and a major propaganda campaign by the Bush Administration, Iraq never would’ve become the problem it is today.