Project for the New American Century

From Academic Kids

The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, is a Washington, DC based think tank. The group was established in spring 1997 as a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting "American global leadership". The chairman is William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and FOX News regular. The group is an initiative of the New Citizenship Project, a non-profit 501c3 organization that is funded by the Bradley Foundation. [1] (

Present and former members include several prominent members of the Republican Party and Bush Administration, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle, Richard Armitage, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, William J. Bennett, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Ellen Bork, the wife of Robert Bork. A large number of its ideas and its members are associated with the neoconservative movement. PNAC has seven full-time staff members, in addition to its board of directors.

The PNAC is quite controversial. Some have raised concerns that the project has been proposing military and economic domination of land, space, and cyberspace by the United States, so as to establish American dominance in world affairs (Pax Americana) for the future—hence the term "the New American Century", based on the idea that the 20th century was the American Century.


Core views and beliefs

The PNAC website [2] ( states the group's "fundamental propositions", which are

  • "American leadership is good both for America and for the world"
  • "such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle"
  • "too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership."

The PNAC also made a statement of principles ( at their 1997 inception.

As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?

The PNAC advocates "a policy of military strength and moral clarity" which includes:

  • A significant increase of U.S. defense spending.
  • Strengthening ties with the U.S.'s allies and to challenge regimes hostile to U.S. interests and values.
  • Promoting the cause of political and economic freedom outside the U.S.
  • Preserving and extending an international order friendly to U.S. security, prosperity, and principles.

The PNAC and its members had long called for the United States to abandon the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the US and the Soviet Union, from which the US withdrew in 2002. The PNAC also proposes to control the new "international commons" of space and "cyberspace" and pave the way for the creation of a new military service—U.S. Space Forces—with the mission of space control. In 1998, Donald Rumsfeld chaired a bipartisan commission on the US Ballistic Missile Threat towards advancement of these goals.

Rebuilding America's Defenses

In September 2000, the PNAC issued a 90-page report entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, And Resources For A New Century (, and proceeding "from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces." The report has been the subject of much analysis and criticism.

The group states that when diplomacy or sanctions fail, the United States must be prepared to take military action. PNAC argues that the current Cold War deployment of forces is obsolete and that force deployment must reflect the post-Cold War duties that the US forces have been called upon to perform. Constabulary duties such as peace keeping in the Balkans and the enforcement of the No Fly Zones in Iraq have put a strain upon and reduced the readiness of US forces. The PNAC recommends the forward redeployment of US forces at new strategically placed permanent military bases. Permanent bases ease the strain on US forces, allowing readiness to be maintained and the carrier fleet to be reduced. Furthermore the military should be enlarged, equipped and trained for the peacekeeping role it is increasingly called upon to fulfill. This global police force would have the power to keep law and order around the world in accordance with United States interests. The PNAC also advocates that the United States government should capitalize on its military and economic superiority to gain unchallengeable superiority through all means necessary, including military force.

Position on Iraq

The 2000 Rebuilding America's Defenses report recommends improved planning and deployment in order to reduce the strain caused by enforcing the No Fly Zones and to free up an aircraft carrier. It uses the U.S.'s Gulf War success as an example of why the world requires American military might. Looking ahead, the report states "while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for US military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein" and "Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region".


The PNAC has been the subject of considerable criticism and controversy, both among members of the left and right. Critics on both sides dispute the premise that American "world leadership" is desirable for the world or even for America. The PNAC's harshest critics argue that it represents a disturbingly ambitious, borderline imperial agenda of global U.S. military expansionism and dominance. Critics of the U.S.'s poor international relations take umbrage at the PNAC's unashamed position of maintaining the U.S.'s privileged position as sole world superpower.

Supporters of the project reply that the PNAC's goals are not fundamentally different to other conservative foreign policy assements of the past. American conservatives have traditionally favored a militarily strong United States, and advocated the country take aggressive positions when its interests are threatened. Supporters thus see the PNAC as the target of unfair conspiracy theories, mainly motivated by left wing politics.

Criticisms of position on Iraq

In 1998, following marked Iraqi unwillingness to co-operate with UN weapons inspections, members of the PNAC including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz wrote to the president, Bill Clinton, urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power. The letter argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the U.S., its Middle-East allies and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction. The letter also stated "American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council." The letter argues that an Iraq war would be justified by Saddam Hussein's defiance of UN "containment" policy and his persistent threat to U.S. interests.

Many critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq make the claim that the U.S.'s "bullying" of the international community into supporting the 2003 Iraq war, and the fact that the war went ahead despite reservations from some in the international community, stem from the positions of prominent neo-conservatives in the Bush administration. Some critics of the Bush administration see the 1998 letter to President Clinton as a "smoking gun" [3] (, showing that a second Gulf War was a foregone conclusion. These critics see the letter as evidence of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle's opinions, five years prior to the Iraq invasion. Rory Bremner, citing the letter, said "that's what they want—regime change—and nothing, not Blair, not the UN, not Hans Blix, not France, Germany, Russia, China, not the threat of terrorism, or Arab reservations, or lack of evidence or the Peace March, not even our own brave Jack Straw is going to stand in their way." [4] ( George Monbiot, citing the letter, said "to pretend that this battle begins and ends in Iraq requires a wilful denial of the context in which it occurs. That context is a blunt attempt by the superpower to reshape the world to suit itself." [5] (

Some proponents of the war claim it was not a foregone conclusion unless one assumed that Saddam would continue to be intransigent and that France, Russia, Germany and China would continue to block unanimity on the UN security council. They argue that opposition on the UN security council encouraged Saddam in his belief that his delaying tactics would work and the sanctions would eventually be lifted. In 2003, the US led an invasion of Iraq, despite failing to obtain a second UN Security Council resolution on the matter.

A line frequently quoted from Rebuilding America's Defenses famously refers to the possibility of a "catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor" (page 51). This quote is part of a discussion about military use of information technologies, where the report asserts that full transformation to new technologies is likely to be a slow process unless some "catalyzing" event causes the military to upgrade more quickly. Despite this context, some opponents of the Bush administration use this quote as evidence for their belief in the conspiracy theory that the US Government was complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. See the article 9/11 domestic conspiracy theory for further information on this topic. Many critics also claim that the PNAC believed this "new Pearl Harbor" would justify war on Iraq, but there is no evidence in the report to back up this assertion.

Bush administration

After the 2000 election of George W. Bush, many of the PNAC's members were appointed to key positions within the new President's administration:

Name Department Title Remarks
Elliott Abrams National Security Council Representative for Middle Eastern Affairs President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Richard Armitage Department of State (2001-2005) Deputy Secretary of State
John R. Bolton Department of State Current nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Previously served as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in the first administration of GWB.
Dick Cheney Bush Administration Vice President PNAC founder
Seth Cropsey Voice of America Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau
Paula Dobriansky Department of State Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs
Francis Fukuyama President's Council on Bioethics Council Member Professor of International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University
Bruce Jackson U.S. Committee on NATO President
Zalmay Khalilzad U.S.-Afghanistan Embassy in Kabul Ambassador
Lewis Libby Bush Administration Chief of Staff for the Vice President
Peter W. Rodman Department of Defense Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security
Donald Rumsfeld Department of Defense Secretary of Defense PNAC founder
Randy Scheunemann U.S. Committee on NATO, Project on Transitional Democracies, International Republican Institute Member Founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
Paul Wolfowitz World Bank President Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005
Dov S. Zakheim Department of Defense Comptroller
Robert B. Zoellick Department of State Deputy Secretary of State Office of the United States Trade Representative (2001-2005);

Other members

See also

External links

  • (ram video file) ( - Project for New American Century's Tom Donnelly advocating war in Iraq (September, 2002)
  • ( - PNAC homepage
  • (pdf) ( - 'Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century' (September, 2000)
  • ( - PNAC 'open letter' to President Bill Clinton (January 16, 1998)
  • ( - NPR interview with PNAC chairman William Kristol (audio, April 1, 2003)
  • ( - 'An American Empire?' (audio interview, September 10, 2001)
  • ( - 'The U.S. As an Empire, Revisited' (audio interview, September 10, 2002)
  • ( - PNAC page at Sourcewatch (a wiki-project of the Center for Media and Democracy)

Analysis of PNAC

  • ( - 'Analysis: Power Americana: The US appears to be heading to war with Iraq whatever happens, with implications for the future conduct of American foreign policy', Paul Reynolds, BBC News Online world affairs correspondent (March 2, 2003)
  • (ram video file) ( - Rory Bremner (alleges decision to invade Iraq made in 1998 by PNAC members)
  • (,12239,905990,00.html) - 'Could Tony Blair look at the internet now, please? Why is the British Prime Minister the only person who seems to be unaware of the US hawks' agenda', Terry Jones (March 2, 2003)
  • (,11581,949384,00.html) - 'Why look in the crystal ball?' Terry Jones (May 4, 2003)
  • ( - 'Project for the New American Empire' (spoof)
  • ( - PNAC info and sources (members and their letters)
  • ( - 'Frontline: the war behind closed doors: analyses, PBS
  • ( - 'Exposing the Project for the New American Century: An effort to investigate, analyze, and expose the Project for the New American Century, and its plan'
  • ( - 'New York, you've been used', William Rivers Pitt, (questioning PNAC)
  • ( - 'Meacher: terrorism a pretext for conquest: British official charges US "stood down" on 9/11', Bill Vann (September 8, 2003) alleges that the decision to invade Iraq was made in 1998 by PNAC members (interpretation of Michael Meacher, former cabinet minister for Tony Blair)de:Project for the New American Century

fr:Project for the New American Century ja:アメリカ新世紀プロジェクト nl:Project for the New American Century pl:Project for the New American Century


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