Rebuilding America's Defenses' and the Projectfor the New American Centuryby Bette StockbauerJune 18, 2003
"Rebuilding America'sDefenses (RAD)" is a policydocument published by aneoconservative Washingtonthink tank called the Projectfor the New AmericanCentury (PNAC). Its pageshave been compared toHitler's Mein Kampf in thatthey outline an aggressivemilitary plan for U.S. worlddomination during the comingcentury. And just as Hitler's book was not taken seriously until after his catastrophic rise topower, so it seems that relatively few Americans are expressing alarm at this publisheddocument that is a blueprint for many of the present actions of the Bush administration, actionswhich have begun to destabilize the balance of power between the nations of the world.
There is, indeed, much reason for alarm because PNAC is not an ordinary think tank and "RAD"is not an ordinary policy paper. Many PNAC members now hold key positions in the WhiteHouse, Defense and State Departments, among them Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, PaulWolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Lewis Libby, and John Bolton, along with others inlesser positions. William Kristol, writer for the conservative magazine, the Weekly Standard, ischairman of the group.
Some of these men have been advocating for a strong military posture since the ending of coldwar hostilities with the Soviet Union. Wishing to capitalize on the fact that the US had emergedas the world's preeminent superpower, they have lobbied for increases in military spending inorder to establish what they call a Pax Americana that will reap the rewards of complete militaryand commercial control of land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. This, they said, would beaccomplished by the waging of "multiple simultaneous large-scale wars" and one of their firstorders of business was always the removal of Saddam Hussein, thereby giving the US a toeholdin the oil-rich Middle East.
During the Clinton presidency, when the Republicans were out of power, this militaristic wing inAmerican politics became highly organized and efficient. They formed the PNAC in 1997 Andpublished "RAD" in September 2000. Determined to have their world empire, they offered aneerie prophecy on page 52 of that document about how it might be accomplished, "Further, theprocess of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one,absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor." Their dream of acatalyzing event could not have been better actualized than in the events of 9/11.
Although there could have been many responses to the tragedy of 9/11, the Bush administrationseized upon that event to mold public opinion into accepting many ideas embodied in "RAD".The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, was being proposed by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz one dayafter 9/11, even before anyone knew who was responsible for the attacks. As soon as the waragainst Afghanistan was completed, the focus of US policy became regime change in Iraq, withall of the tragic consequences we are now seeing in that country.
Policies advocated in "RAD" are being enacted with terrifyingspeed, such as denigration of the UN, importance of HomelandSecurity, abrogation of international agreements, revamping ofthe US nuclear program and the spread of American militarypower into all corners of the globe by preemptive engagement. InIraq we have seen the embodiment of "RAD" directives that callfor the subjugation of regimes considered hostile to US interestsand the prevention of military build-up in countries that maychallenge US power. Bush's "Axis of Evil" nations Iraq, Iran and
North Korea are mentioned numerous times as potential trouble spots and there is repeatedinsistence that the US establish military outposts in the Middle East and East Asia.
Most frightening is its complete isolation from any ideas of world unity and cooperative action.The authors appear to be intent on waging war as an answer to the problems of our planet,tragically imagining that peace can be won by enforcing American values on every other nation.A more chilling statement of the PNAC devotion to militaristic domination cannot be found thanin Richard Perle's concept of "total war". "No stages," he said, "This is total war. We are fightinga variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to doAfghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just letour vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece togetherclever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us yearsfrom now."
This article is a summarization of "RAD." I believe it is of importance to become familiar withthis document because it is determining US policy decisions which will have far reachingrepercussions for decades to come. Subject areas are arranged under three topics: A. PaxAmericana, outlining the rationale for global empire, B. Securing Global Hegemony, pinpointingregions that are considered trouble spots for US policy, C. Using the Military to Gain Empire,outlining military plans for complete world domination. My personal comments are in italics;page numbers are from the original document. See URLs at the end for further reading.A. Pax Americana
The building of Pax Americana has become possible, claims "RAD," because the fall of theSoviet Union gave the United States status as the world's preeminent superpower. Consequentlythe US must now work hard, not only to maintain that position, but to spread its military mightinto geographic areas that are ideologically opposed to its influence, waging "multiplesimultaneous large-scale wars" to subdue countries that may stand in the way of US globalpreeminence. Rationales offered for going to war with other nations are the preservation of the"American peace" and the spread of "democracy."
On Preserving American Preeminence
"It is not a choice between preeminence today and preeminencetomorrow. Global leadership is not something exercised at ourleisure, when the mood strikes us or when our core nationalsecurity interests are directly threatened; then it is already toolate. Rather, it is a choice whether or not to maintain Americanmilitary preeminence, to secure American geopolitical leadership,and to preserve the American peace" (p. 76).
"The Cold War world was a bipolar world; the 21st century worldis for the moment, at least decidedly unipolar, with Americaas the world's 'sole superpower.' America's strategic goal used tobe containment of the Soviet Union; today the task is to preservean international security environment conducive to Americaninterests and ideals. The military's job during the Cold War wasto deter Soviet expansionism. Today its task is to secure andexpand the 'zones of democratic peace;' to deter the rise of a new great-power competitor; defendkey regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; and to preserve American preeminencethrough the coming transformation of war made possible by new technologies" (p. 2).
Four Vital Missions
"RAD" lists four vital missions "demanded by US global leadership":
"Homeland Defense. . . . the United States . . . must counteract the effects of the proliferation ofballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter USmilitary action by threatening US allies and the American homeland itself. Of all the new andcurrent missions for US armed forces, this must have priority.
"Large Wars. Second, the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy andwin multiple simultaneous large-scale wars and also to be able to respond to unanticipatedcontingencies in regions where it does not maintain forward-based forces.
"Constabulary Duties. Third, the Pentagon must retain forces to preserve the current peace inways that fall short of conducting major theater campaigns. . . . These duties are today's mostfrequent missions, requiring forces configured for combat but capable of long-term, independentconstabulary operations.
"Transform US Armed Forces. Finally, the Pentagon must begin now to exploit the so-called'revolution in military affairs,' sparked by the introduction of advanced technologies into militarysystems; this must be regarded as a separate and critical mission worthy of a share of forcestructure and defense budgets" (p. 6).
". . . the failure to provide sufficient forces to execute thesefour missions must result in problems for American strategy.And the failure to prepare for tomorrow's challenges willensure that the current Pax Americana comes to an early end"(p. 13).
On Usurping the Power of the UN
"Further, these constabulary missions are far more complexand likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping'missions. For one, they demand American political leadershiprather than that of the United Nations, as the failure of theUN mission in the Balkans and the relative success of NATOoperations there attests. Nor can the United States assume aUN-like stance of neutrality. . . . American troops, inparticular, must be regarded as part of an overwhelminglypowerful force" (p. 11).
B. Securing Global Hegemony
"RAD" takes the posture that only the US should manipulate international relations and pointsout "trouble spots" that may cause future problems, like all of East Asia, and Iraq, Iran, andNorth Korea (now labeled by George Bush as the "Axis of Evil"). There is concern that severalnations might come together to challenge US interests. Consequently any nation that producesnuclear weapons or engages in significant arms buildup will be viewed as a potential threat.
"America's global leadership, and its role as the guarantor of the current great-power peace,relies upon the safety of the American homeland; the preservation of a favorable balance ofpower in Europe, the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region, and East Asia; andthe general stability of the international system of nation-states relative to terrorists, organizedcrime, and other 'non-state actors.'
"A retreat from any one of these requirements would call America's status as the world's leadingpower into question. As we have seen, even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting andincomplete triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility. The failure todefine a coherent global security and military strategy during the postCold War period hasinvited challenges; states seeking to establish regional hegemony continue to probe for the limitsof the American security perimeter" (p. 5).
Axis of Evil
"The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable torogue powers with small, inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or otherweapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states toundermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland
itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort,should not be so trivially squandered" (p. 75).
Iraq and the Persian Gulf
"Although the no-fly-zone air operations over northern and southern Iraq have continued withoutpause for almost a decade, they remain an essential element in US strategy and force posture inthe Persian Gulf region. Ending these operations would hand Saddam Hussein an importantvictory, something any American leader would be loath to do" (p. 11).
"The Air Force presence in the Gulf region is a vital one for US military strategy, and the UnitedStates should consider it a de facto permanent presence, even as it seeks ways to lessen Saudi,Kuwaiti and regional concerns about US presence" (p. 35).
"Raising US military strength in East Asia is the key tocoping with the rise of China to great power status.
"The prospect is that East Asia will become anincreasingly important region, marked by the rise ofChinese power.A similar rationale argues in favor ofretaining substantial forces in Japan. In recent years, thestationing of large forces in Okinawa has becomeincreasingly controversial in Japanese domestic politics,and while efforts to accommodate local sensibilities arewarranted, it is essential to retain the capabilities USforces in Okinawa represent. If the United States is toremain the guarantor of security in Northeast Asia, and tohold together a de facto alliance whose other main pillarsare Korea and Japan maintaining forward-based USforces is essential" (p. 18).
"Reflecting the gradual shift in the focus of American strategic concerns toward East Asia, amajority of the US fleet, including two thirds of all carrier battle groups, should be concentratedin the Pacific. A new, permanent forward base should be established in Southeast Asia" (p. 39).
"Despite the shifting focus of conflict in Europe, a requirement to station US forces in northernand central Europe remains. The region is stable, but a continued American presence helps toassure the major European powers, especially Germany, that the United States retains itslongstanding security interest in the continent. This is especially important in light of the nascentEuropean moves toward an independent defense 'identity' and policy; it is important that NATOnot be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in Europeansecurity affairs" (p. 16).
"American military preeminence will continue to rest in significant part on the ability tomaintain sufficient land forces to achieve political goals such as removing a dangerous andhostile regime when necessary" (p. 61).
"America's adversaries will continue to resist thebuilding of the American peace; when they seean opportunity as Saddam Hussein did in 1990,they will employ their most powerful armedforces to win on the battlefield what they couldnot win in peaceful competition; and Americanarmed forces will remain the core of efforts todeter, defeat, or remove from power regionalaggressors" (p. 10).
C. Using the Military to Gain Empire
One stated objective of "RAD" is "to outline the large, 'full-spectrum' forces that are necessary toconduct the varied tasks demanded by a strategy of American preeminence for today andtomorrow" (p. 5). Much of the document is an elucidation of those missions and includesspecific recommendations about weaponry, deployment patterns, increased personnel anddefense spending. It envisions a future in which the United States is in complete control of land,sea, air, space and cyberspace of planet Earth and urges a new rendition of Reagan's "Star Wars"defense shield program.
"Until the process of transformation is treated as an enduring military mission worthy of aconstant allocation of dollars and forces it will remain stillborn" (p. 60).
"If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation onunquestioned US military preeminence" (p. 4).
"In sum, the 1990s have been a 'decade of defense neglect'. This leaves the next president of theUnited States with an enormous challenge: he must increase military spending to preserveAmerican geopolitical leadership, or he must pull back from the security commitments that arethe measure of America's position as the world's sole superpower and the final guarantee ofsecurity, democratic freedoms and individual political rights" (p. 4).
"American landpower remains the essential link in the chain that translates US militarysupremacy into American geopolitical preeminence. . . . Regimes are difficult to change basedupon punishment alone. If land forces are to survive and retain their unique strategic purpose in aworld where it is increasingly easy to deliver firepower precisely at long ranges, they mustchange as well, becoming more stealthy, mobile, deployable and able to operate in a dispersedfashion. The US Army, and American land forces more generally, must increasingly
complement the strike capabilities of the otherservices. Conversely, an American militaryforce that lacks the ability to employ ground forcesthat can survive and maneuver rapidly onfuture battlefields will deprive US politicalleaders of a decisive tool of diplomacy" (p.30).
"Because of its inherent mobility andflexibility, the Air Force will be the first USmilitary force to arrive in a theater duringtimes of crisis; as such, the Air Force mustretain its ability to deploy and sustain
sufficient numbers of aircraft to deter wars and shape any conflict in its earliest stages. Indeed, itis the Air Force, along with the Army, that remains the core of America's ability to applydecisive military power when it pleases. To dissipate this ability to deliver a rapid hammer blowis to lose the key component of American military preeminence" (p. 37).
"The end of the Cold War leaves the US Navy in a position of unchallenged supremacy on thehigh seas, a dominance surpassing that even of the British Navy in the 19th and early parts of the20th century. With the remains of the Soviet fleet now largely rusting in port, the open oceansare America's, and the lines of communication open from the coasts of the United States toEurope, the Persian Gulf and East Asia. Yet this very success calls the need for the current forcestructure into question. Further, the advance of precision-strike technology may mean that navalsurface combatants, and especially the large-deck aircraft carriers that are the Navy's capitalships, may not survive in the high-technology wars of the coming decades. Finally, the natureand pattern of Navy presence missions may be out of synch with emerging strategic realities. Insum, though it stands without peer today, the Navy faces major challenges to its traditional and,in the past, highly successful methods of operation" (p. 39).
Overseas Bases to Advance American Geopolitical Interests
"There should be a strong strategic synergy between US forces overseas and in a reinforcingposture: units operating abroad are an indication of American geopolitical interests andleadership, provide significant military power to shape events and, in wartime, create theconditions for victory when reinforced. Conversely, maintaining the ability to deliver anunquestioned 'knockout punch' through the rapid introduction of stateside units will increase theshaping power of forces operating overseas and the vitality of our alliances. In sum, we see anenduring need for large-scale American forces" (p. 74).
"As a supplement to forces stationed abroad under long-term basing arrangements, the UnitedStates should seek to establish a network of 'deployment bases' or 'forward operating bases' to
increase the reach of current and future forces. Not only will such an approach improve theability to project force to outlying regions, it will help circumvent the political, practical andfinancial constraints on expanding the network of American bases overseas" (p. 19).
"of all the elements of US military force posture, perhapsnone is more in need of reevaluation than America's nuclearweapons. Nuclear weapons remain a critical component ofAmerican military power but it is unclear whether the currentUS nuclear arsenal is well-suited to the emerging postColdWar world. . . . there may be a need to develop a new family ofnuclear weapons designed to address new sets of militaryrequirements, such as would be required in targeting the verydeep underground, hardened bunkers that are being built bymany of our potential adversaries" (p. 8). If the United States isto have a nuclear deterrent that is both effective and safe, it willneed to test." (pp. 78).
"But what should finally drive the size and character of ournuclear forces is not numerical parity with Russian capabilitiesbut maintaining American strategic superiority and, with thatsuperiority, a capability to deter possible hostile coalitions of nuclear powers. US nuclearsuperiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will be an essential element in preservingAmerican leadership in a more complex and chaotic world" (p. 8).
Space Command Control of the "International Commons"
". . . control of space defined by Space Command as 'the ability to assure access to space,freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space' must be an essential element of our military strategy" (p. 55).
"The ability to have access to, operate in, and dominate the aerospace environment has becomethe key to military success in modern, high-technology warfare. . . . How well the Air Force risesto the many challenges it faces even should it receive increased budgets will go far towarddetermining whether US military forces retain the combat edge they now enjoy" (pp. 3839).
"Much as control of the high seas and the protection of international commerce definedglobal powers in the past, so will control of the new 'international commons' be a key to worldpower in the future. An America incapable of protecting its interests or that of its allies in spaceor the 'infosphere' will find it difficult to exert global political leadership" (p. 51).
"As Space Command also recognizes, the United States must also have the capability to denyAmerica's adversaries the use of commercial space platforms for military purposes in times ofcrises and conflicts. Indeed, space is likely to become the new 'international commons', wherecommercial and security interests are intertwined and related. (Pp. 5455).
"Building an effective, robust, layered, global system of missile defenses is a prerequisite formaintaining American preeminence" (p. 54).
". . . effective ballistic missile defenseswill be the central element in the exerciseof American power and the projection ofUS military forces abroad. Without it,weak states operating small arsenals ofcrude ballistic missiles, armed with basicnuclear warheads or other weapons ofmass destruction, will be in a strongposition to deter the United States fromusing conventional force, no matter thetechnological or other advantages we mayenjoy. Even if such enemies are merelyable to threaten American allies rather thanthe United States homeland itself,America's ability to project power will be
deeply compromised" (p. 12).
Cyberspace or 'Net War'
"If outer space represents an emerging medium of warfare, then 'cyberspace', and in particularthe Internet hold similar promise and threat. And as with space, access to and use of cyberspaceand the Internet are emerging elements in global commerce, politics and power. Any nationwishing to assert itself globally must take account of this other new 'global commons'.
"Although many concepts of 'cyber-war' have elements of science fiction about them, and therole of the Defense Department in establishing 'control', or even what 'security' on the Internetmeans, requires a consideration of a host of legal, moral and political issues, there nonethelesswill remain an imperative to be able to deny America and its allies' enemies the ability to disruptor paralyze either the military's or the commercial sector's computer networks. Conversely, anoffensive capability could offer America's military and political leaders an invaluable tool indisabling an adversary in a decisive manner.
"Taken together, the prospects for space war or 'cyberspace war' represent the truly revolutionarypotential inherent in the notion of military transformation. These future forms of warfare aretechnologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the US armed forces to remainpreeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that thesepotential future forms of warfare favor America just as today's air, land and sea warfare reflectUnited States military dominance" (p. 57).
Future Forms of Warfare, Including Biological
"Future soldiers may operate in encapsulated,climate-controlled, powered fighting suits, lacedwith sensors, and boasting chameleon-like 'active'camouflage. 'Skin-patch' pharmaceuticals helpregulate fears, focus concentration and enhanceendurance and strength. A display mounted on asoldier's helmet permits a comprehensive view ofthe battlefield in effect to look around cornersand over hills and allows the soldier to access theentire combat information and intelligence systemwhile filtering incoming data to prevent overload.Individual weapons are more lethal, and a soldier'sability to call for highly precise and reliableindirect fires not only from Army systems butthose of other services allows each individual tohave great influence over huge spaces. Under the
'Land Warrior' program, some Army experts envision a 'squad' of seven soldiers able todominate an area the size of the Gettysburg battlefield where, in 1863, some 165,000 menfought" (p. 62).
"Although it may take several decades for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, theart of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and 'combat' likelywill take place in new dimensions: in space, 'cyber-space,' and perhaps the world of microbes.Air warfare may no longer be fought by pilots manning tactical fighter aircraft sweeping theskies of opposing fighters, but a regime dominated by long-range, stealthy unmanned craft. Onland, the clash of massive, combined-arms armored forces may be replaced by the dashes ofmuch lighter, stealthier and information-intensive forces, augmented by fleets of robots, somesmall enough to fit in soldiers' pockets. Control of the sea could be largely determined not byfleets of surface combatants and aircraft carriers, but from land and space based systems, forcingnavies to maneuver and fight underwater. Space itself will become a theater of war, as nationsgain access to space capabilities and come to rely on them; further, the distinction betweenmilitary and commercial space systems combatants and noncombatants will become blurred.Information systems will become an important focus of attack, particularly for US enemiesseeking to short-circuit sophisticated American forces. And advanced forms of biologicalwarfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm ofterror to a politically useful tool" (p. 60).
For further reading, see "Rebuilding America's Defenses" on the PNAC website at:
There is a website devoted exclusively to articles and information about PNAC at:
Truthout and Information Clearing House have many enlighteningarticles about the PNAC. See especially "Blood Money" byWilliam Rivers Pitt at:http://truthout.org/docs_03/022803A.shtml.
See "Global Eye-Dark Passage" by Chris Floyd at:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2326.htm.This article is followed by a long list of links to published articlesabout the PNAC.
Also see article by John Pilger at:
A longer summary of "RAD"(including more extensive quotes thanhere) can be found athttp://gvtc.com/~mpingo/pnac.html.comments on this article?send them to backtalk![visit backtalk!]
Bette Stockbauer is a writer, activistand conservationist who lives in centralTexas. She has been working for issues
related to peace and justice since the Vietnam era.