The birth of the American Neo-Conservative Movement
begins on June 3, 1997 with the following
Statement of Principles by the

Project for the New American Century.

Read critically and intelligently it is a
clarion call for global domination.

American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.

We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.

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?

We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital -- both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements -- built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation's ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead.

We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.

Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.

Signatories of Note, 1997 Statement of Principles
Project for the New American Century.

The Origins of US Invasion of Iraq

Letter to President Clinton
from the Project for the New American Century
DATE: January 26, 1998

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor. ...

... Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons. ...

... The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy. ...

... We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the US or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.

DATE: September 18, 1998
(At this point — more than two years before the election of George W. Bush — Neo-conservative opinion-makers were proposing that the CIA and DOD could provide sufficient “political and economic as well as military components” to foment the overthrow of Saddam Hussein from within. Of course, when that failed and the U.N. refused to support the invasion, Bush and British P.M. Tony Blair used the phony pretense of "weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda" to pre-emptively invade and occupy the oil-rich nation.)
— Michael Benner


MEMORANDUM TO: Opinion Leaders
FROM: Gary Schmitt, Project for the New American Century
SUBJECT: Statement by Paul Wolfowitz on US Policy Toward Iraq to the House National Security Committee on Iraq. An abbreviated version of his statement before the committee follows.

"Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the invitation to testify before this distinguished committee on the important subject of US policy toward Iraq. ...

" ... The problem with US policy toward Iraq is that the administration is engaged in a game of pretending that everything is fine, that Saddam Hussein remains within a “strategic box” and if he tries to break out “our response will be swift and strong.” The fact is that it has now been 42 days since there have been any weapons inspections in Iraq and the swift and strong response that the Administration threatened at the time of the Kofi Annan agreement earlier this year is nowhere to be seen....

"... (Clinton) Administration officials continue to claim that the only alternative to maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council is to send US forces to Baghdad. That is wrong. As has been said repeatedly in letters and testimony to the President and the Congress by myself and other former defense officials, including two former secretaries of defense, and a former director of central intelligence, the key lies not in marching US soldiers to Baghdad, but in helping the Iraqi people to liberate themselves from Saddam.

"Saddam’s main strength -- his ability to control his people though extreme terror -- is also his greatest vulnerability. The overwhelming majority of people, including some of his closest associates, would like to be free of his grasp if only they could safely do so.

"A strategy for supporting this enormous latent opposition to Saddam requires political and economic as well as military components. It is eminently possible for a country that possesses the overwhelming power that the United States has in the Gulf. The heart of such action would be to create a liberated zone in Southern Iraq comparable to what the United States and its partners did so successfully in the North in 1991. Establishing a safe protected zone in the South, where opposition to Saddam could rally and organize, would make it possible:

• For a provisional government of free Iraq to organize, begin to gain international recognition and begin to publicize a political program for the future of Iraq;

For that provisional government to control the largest oil field in Iraq and make available to it, under some kind of appropriate international supervision, enormous financial resources for political, humanitarian and eventually military purposes;

• Provide a safe area to which Iraqi army units could rally in opposition to Saddam, leading to the liberation of more and more of the country and the unraveling of the regime.

"This would be a formidable undertaking, and certainly not one which will work if we insist on maintaining the unity of the UN Security Council. But once it began it would begin to change the calculations of Saddam’s opponents and supporters -- both inside and outside the country -- in decisive ways. One Arab official in the Gulf told me that the effect inside Iraq of such a strategy would be “devastating” to Saddam. But the effect outside would be powerful as well. Our friends in the Gulf, who fear Saddam but who also fear ineffective American action against him, would see that this is a very different US policy. And Saddam’s supporters in the Security Council -- in particular France and Russia -- would suddenly see a different prospect before them. Instead of lucrative oil production contracts with the Saddam Hussein regime, they would now have to calculate the economic and commercial opportunities that would come from ingratiating themselves with the future government of Iraq. ..."

The Project for the New American Century
Signatories of Note, 1997 Statement of Principles

Elliott Abrams

  • National Security Council Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations
  • Former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and for Inter-American Affairs in Reagan administration

William J. Bennett

  • Codirector, Empower America; Chairman, Americans for Victory Over Terrorism
  • Distinguished Fellow, Heritage Foundation
  • Director, White House Office of Drug Control Policy in Bush Sr. administration
  • Secretary of Education in Reagan administration

Jeb Bush

  • Governor, State of Florida

Richard B. Cheney

  • Vice President to George W. Bush
  • 1989-Jan. 1993: Secretary of Defense
  • 1975-77: White House Chief of Staff

Steve Forbes

  • President and CEO of Forbes magazine
  • 1996 and 2000: Campaigned for Republican presidential nomination

Fred C. Ikle

  • Senior scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in Reagan administration
  • 1973-77: Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Nixon and Ford administrations

I. Lewis Libby

  • Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs
  • 1998: Legal Adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives' Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the Peoples' Republic of China, commonly known as the "Cox Committee"
  • 1989-93: Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Norman Podhoretz

  • Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
  • 1960-95: Editor in Chief, Commentary magazine

Dan Quayle

  • 1989-93: U.S. Vice President
  • 1980-89: U.S. Senator from Indiana

Donald Rumsfeld

  • Secretary of Defense
  • 1998-99: Chairman of the U.S. Government Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States

Paul Dundes Wolfowitz

  • Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • 1994-2001: Dean of The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University
  • Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in Bush Sr. administration
  • U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State, and Director of Policy Planning for the Department of State in Reagan administration

Other PNAC Principals:

Robert Kagan

  • Cofounder and Project Director, Project for the New American Century
  • Contributing editor at The Weekly Standard
  • Department of State: Deputy for Policy, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs and principal speechwriter for Secretary of State in Reagan administration

Jeane Kirkpatrick

  • Senior Fellow, Scholar, and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Codirector of Empower America
  • 1981-85: U.S. Representative to the United Nations

William Kristol

  • Cofounder and Chairman of the Project for the New American Century
  • Editor and publisher of The Weekly Standard
  • Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle
  • Chief of Staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett in Reagan administration

Richard Perle

  • Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Chairman, Defense Policy Board, Department of Defense
  • Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy in Reagan administration

R. James Woolsey

  • Partner at the law firm of Shea & Gardner in Washington, DC
  • 1999-2000: member of National Commission on Terrorism
  • 1998: Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S. (Rumsfeld Commission)
  • 1993-95: Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Undersecretary of the Navy in Carter administration

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This page was updated on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 10:56 PM