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The Ideology of the War Makers

When Richard Perle, an architect of administration strategy in the Mid-East, resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a key advisory arm for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in March 2003, the resignation sparked fresh attention to the role of the brain trust behind the war. On this page is a collection of items relating to these issues, in reverse chronological order, dating back over ten years.

January 23, 2005
Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain: The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad. more...

December 30, 2004
Scowcroft Out, Neocons Take Complete Control: The elder Bush's national security advisor was the last remnant of traditional Republican realism permitted to exist within the administration. But no longer. more...

September 12, 2004
Preventive War: A Failed Doctrine: Mr. Cheney is wrong to disparage law-enforcement cooperation with allies as an important weapon in this war. Offensive wars against hypothetical dangers like Iraq estrange America from its main European and Asian allies, and leave Washington looking like an aggressor to much of the Arab and Muslim world. more...

August 22, 2004
War Heats Up in the Neoconservative Fold: In the 18 months since President Bush declared war on Iraq, the close-knit community of hawkish intellectuals who built the case for the invasion have largely stood their ground. Lately, however, there has been emerging discord within their ranks over the lessons from the war. more...

August 7, 2004
Douglas Feith: Our War Plan Cast a Wide Net: The term "war" meant that the enemy could not be thought of as a set of individuals who had perpetrated a particular crime. Nor was the enemy necessarily a single distinct organization. Rather, the enemy was understood to comprise all those who contributed to the terrorist threat to the United States. more...

July 23, 2004
Committee On Present Deception: The Committee on the Present Danger had two earlier incarnations, both designed to use fear to nudge Congress towards more hawkish positions. Now some veterans from CPD II and neocon stalwarts have revived the committee. But this time, CPD III is trying to prop up a failing Bush administration. more...

May 27, 2004
Washington's Neo-Con Chalabi Nightmare: Washington, which was just weeks ago in the grip of neoconservative orthodoxy and absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and righteousness, is now in the throes of agonizing events and being ripped apart by investigations. more...

April 23, 2004
Shedding More Light on Bush's War Party: While the American military endures its worst trial of fire yet, in Washington the attention is all on what led up to the Iraq invasion. We Americans are inveterate chest-beaters, and here we go again. But the vehicle this time is not only congressional hearings on intelligence failures but, more and more, the books. more...

March 29, 2004
The Empire Backfires – By Jonathan Schell: The Bush Doctrine aims to establish lasting American hegemony over the entire globe, and its ultimate means is to overthrow regimes of which the United States disapproves, pre-emptively if necessary. It represents more than a revolution in American policy; if successful, it would amount to an overturn of the existing international order. more...

March 16, 2004
Illusions of Empire: Defining the New American Order: The debate on empire is back. This is not surprising, as the United States dominates the world as no state ever has. It emerged from the Cold War the only superpower, and no geopolitical or ideological contenders are in sight. more...

March 11, 2004
Tomorrow the World – Book Review by Thomas Powers: Perle brushes aside the failure to find the weapons which were cited to justify the American invasion. "The critics' emphasis on stockpiles," he writes, "seems to us seriously misplaced." Iraq fortunately was stopped in time, but other outlaws remain: "Why let an enemy grow stronger?" more...

February 23, 2004
A Tragedy of Errors – Book Review by Michael Lind: Lind calls An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, by David Frum and Richard Perle, a "manifesto of neoconservative grand strategy." Lind also addresses the "vicious slur" perpetrated by conservative pundit David Brooks – "According to Brooks, 'To hear these people [liberals who complain about neocons] describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.' He writes that 'con' is short for 'conservative' and 'neo' is short for 'Jewish.'" more...

December 22, 2003
U.S. New & World Report Investigative Report: Keeping Secrets For the past three years, the Bush administration has quietly but efficiently dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government--cloaking its own affairs from scrutiny and removing from the public domain important information on health, safety, and environmental matters. The result has been a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government while making increasing amounts of information unavailable to the taxpayers who pay for its collection and analysis. more...

December 9, 2003
The Radical – What Dick Cheney Really Believes: When Cheney signed on as Bush's running mate in 2000, many people expected him to bring George H.W. Bush's realist foreign policy instincts with him. U.S. News & World Report quickly dubbed him "bush's back-to-the-future veep pick." After all, Cheney had spent the latter half of the 1990s as CEO of one of the world's largest oil-services companies, where he argued against economic sanctions and for engagement with tyrannies like Iran. And Cheney had not spent the '90s – as his longtime ally Wolfowitz had – publicly agonizing over the decision to leave Saddam's regime intact. more...

November 20, 2003
War critics astonished as Richard Perle admits invasion was illegal: International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal. In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing." more...

June 12, 2003
The Neocons in Power – Book Review by Elizabeth Drew: The word "neoconservative" originally referred to former liberals and leftists who were dismayed by the countercultural movements of the 1960s and the Great Society, and adopted conservative views against government welfare programs, and in favor of interventionist foreign policies. A group of today's "neocons" now hold key positions in the Pentagon and in the White House and they even have a mole in the State Department. more...

June 9, 2003
Truth and Consequences: US News & World Reports' Big Story: Colin Powell had gathered with other top U.S. officials to rehearse his testimony at the U.N. At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. “I'm not reading this,” he declared. “This is bullshit.” Read the original US News story that created headlines worldwide. more...

April 18, 2003
Chaos in the Middle East Is the Bush Hawks' Plan: In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East, writes Joshua Micah Marshall in The Washington Monthly. more...

April 3, 2003
Richard Perle's Corporate Adventures: Richard Perle's resignation as chairman of the Defense Policy Board capped a tumultuous month for the neoconservative who spent the past decade stoking the fires for the U.S. onslaught on Iraq. Perle's fate was sealed when it was reported that he was active in Trireme Partners, a private fund currying Saudi investment in homeland security companies; and in the Autonomy Corporation, a British company that sells eavesdropping software to the FBI and to U.S. and British and Italian intelligence; and lobbying for Global Crossing at the Pentagon. Some Democrats now argue that Perle's conflicts of interest are so serious that he should quit the board altogether. But such an ethical threshold would force almost one-third of Rumsfeld's board off the panel. Nine of the board's thirty members have ties to defense and security-related companies that collectively won more than $76 billion in US defense contracts over the past two years. read story...

March 30, 2003
Corruption at the Defense Policy Board? "Of the 30 members of the Defense Policy Board, the government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon, at least nine have ties to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002. Four members are registered lobbyists, one of whom represents two of the three largest defense contractors." So reports the Center for Public Integrity.
           Read the story about conflicts of interest...
           Board members list with capsule profiles...

March 17, 2003
Perle Caught in a Conflict of Interest? Seymour M. Hersh, in The New Yorker magazine, wrote a revealing account of Richard Perle's role as "a managing partner in a venture-capital company called Trireme Partners [which invests] in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense... Trireme’s business potential depended on a war in Iraq taking place." Hersh quotes "the Saudi-born businessman Adnan Khashoggi [who] brokered billions of dollars in arms and aircraft sales for the Saudi royal family, earning hundreds of millions in commissions and fees... 'If there is no war,' he told me, 'why is there a need for security? If there is a war, of course, billions of dollars will have to be spent.' He commented, "You Americans blind yourself with your high integrity and your democratic morality against peddling influence, but they [Perle and his partners] were peddling influence." more...

February 20, 2003
Chronology of the Doctrines of War: Frontline, the PBS public affairs series, has developed a chronology of the development of the 1992 Perle-Wolfowitz vision of a war for American hegemony in the Middle East. Policy analysts note that there are many elements in the 2002 NSS document which bear a strong resemblance to recommendations presented in Paul Wolfowitz's controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft written in 1992 under the first Bush administration. Note that on 9-13, two days after 9-11, Wolfowitz signals that the U.S. will enlarge its campaign against terror to include Iraq: "I think one has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that's why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign." He has been working toward this moment for over a decade (see below). more...

April 7, 2003
Famed Prince of Darkness Richard Perle is a political animal unique to Washington. He has successfully melded personal, ideological and commercial entrepreneurship into a polished package that looks kosher just so long as no one examines its particulars. Too bad for Perle, Rabbi Sy Hersh decided to take a look in the March 17 New Yorker. more...

March 28, 2003
Perle's Role as Warmaker Now Out in the Open: With the war underway, new battle lines to shape the parameters of U.S. policy toward post-war Iraq have moved out of the shadows and into public view. Neoconservatives who allied themselves with traditional right-wing Republicans to push for war in Iraq are now trying to enlist veterans of the Democratic administration of former President Bill Clinton to realize their post-war plans for transforming Iraq. more...

March 27, 2003
Perle and the Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, a group founded in 1997 that has been agitating since its inception for a war with Iraq: The Committee has set out to "educate" Americans via cable news connections about the need for war in Iraq. This group met recently with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice regarding the ways and means of this education. more...

February 21, 2003
The PNAC Agenda is a Fantasy of Empire: Above all else, PNAC desires and demands one thing: The establishment of a global American empire to bend the will of all nations. They chafe at the idea that the United States, the last remaining superpower, does not do more by way of economic and military force to bring the rest of the world under the umbrella of a new socio-economic Pax Americana. more...

January 25, 2003
Frontline Interview with Richard Perle: In this interview with Frontline, Perle makes the case for using a war with Iraq to remake the Middle East, and he stresses the significance of Sept. 11 in shaping the Bush administration's thinking about the links between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. He acknowledges the continuity from war planning in 1991-1992, and the opportunity provided by 9-11 to revive those plans. more...

January 13, 2003
How Did the War Party Get Started? Conservative columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, writing for the American Conservative, quotes the president from the book, 'Bush at War': “Look, our strategy is to create chaos, to create a vacuum.” Citing "another quote from the president, in which he again reflects the obsessive chaos theory of the neoconservatives surrounding him like sentinels and for whom Iraq has become the sina quo non of political existence: 'We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation.' Whew." more...

September 29, 2002
The President's Real Goal in Iraq: "The official story on Iraq has never made sense," wrote Jay Bookman, the deputy editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, last September. "The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence."     more...

September 17, 2002
White House National Security Policy – U.S. as the Sole Superpower: "The major institutions of American national security were designed in a different era to meet different requirements. All of them must be transformed. It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength.We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge. Our military’s highest priority is to defend the United States." more...

March 11, 2002
The Objective Was Clear: Topple Saddam. But how? The Bush Administration was sharply divided about Iraq. There was widespread agreement that Saddam Hussein must be overthrown, but no agreement about how to get it done. The President gave his feuding agencies a deadline of April 15th (2002) to come up with a "coagulated plan," as one senior State Department official put it, for ending the regime. The President expected to meet that month with Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, whose support for the Iraqi operation was considered essential... more...

November 5, 2001
Wolfowitz and Perle: Three Decades of War Planning: For almost 30 years, says Jude Wanniski, Wolfowitz and Perle have complemented each other nicely, with Perle playing the tactician and Wolfowitz the more circumspect scholar. But around the end of the Gulf War, Wolfowitz was anything but circumspect, arguing not only for a final push to Baghdad but, later and more vociferously, for fielding U.S. forces in support of the ill-fated Kurdish and Shia intifadas against Saddam. Since then, he's backed all possible funding and support for the Iraqi National Congress, a hopelessly ineffectual expatriate (and, many say, corrupt) opposition group. more...

September 2000
Perle Associates Draft a Blueprint for U.S. Strategy: "Today, the U.S. is blessed with wealthy, powerful and democratic allies in every part of the world; it is in the midst of the longest economic expansion in its history; and its political and economic principles are almost universally embraced. At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals. The challenge for the coming century is to preserve and enhance this "American Peace." Yet unless the United States maintains sufficient military strength, this opportunity will be lost." Make you nostalgic? This strategy document is by the Project for the New American Century, established in the spring of 1997 when participants Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and other Perle associates were out of office during the Clinton years. more...

January 26, 1998
Perle, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Neo-Cons' Open Letter to Clinton: "Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is ... removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy." more...

July 8, 1996
Perle Drafts a Strategy Document for Israel: "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions... Syria recently signaled that it and Iran might prefer a weak, but barely surviving Saddam, if only to undermine and humiliate Jordan in its efforts to remove Saddam..." Perle's document on "Securing the Realm" urged Israel to stop moralizing and get tough. more...

August 24, 1995
Ideological Roots: Jude Wanniski Argues for Empire: "The United States, after all, is unique itself in the family of nations. It is the only nation that began as a state, one that brought forth a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal. The success of this experiment, which has drawn from a leadership pool that contains the children of every nation on earth, is now in a position to teach and guide the world at large. It is a benevolent American Empire that is now our responsibility, one that should hold back its threats of military might in order to influence by example." more...

March 8, 1992
Wolfowitz Strategy Document Leaked to N.Y. Times: In the waning months of the first Bush administration, the N.Y. Times reported: "In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union. A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, and which Defense Secretary Dick Cheney expects to release later this month, states that part of the American mission will be "convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests." North Korea and Iraq were singled out. more...

March 23, 2003
Backstory: How did the U.S. end up taking on Saddam?: "F___ Saddam. We're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room. Read the entire story from Time Magazine: more...

April 2, 2003
Backstory: The Thirty-Year Itch: Three decades ago, in the throes of the energy crisis, Washington's hawks conceived of a strategy for US control of the Persian Gulf's oil. Now, with the same strategists firmly in control of the White House, the Bush administration is playing out their script for global dominance. So reports Mother Jones in this in-depth report on the past 30 years of planning for war in Iraq. more...

April 12, 2003
The Bush Administration: A series of articles from The Nation magazine – reportage and editorial opinion – on the policies and practices of the Bush White House. more...

March 29, 2003
Primary Sources Related to the American Empire: What were the origins of the Bush Doctrine that openly declares our national investment in a Pax Americana? Here are additional sources of information: