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Monday, 29 October 2012 10:39

Romney's Return of the Project for the New American Century, Which Brought Us the Iraq War

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On October 6, 2011, Mitt Romney announced his foreign policy and national security team. About this advisory team, Romney glowing stated, "I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts, and statesmen. Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century." The 21st century will be another American Century?

With less subtlety than Batman's Riddler, this language hauntingly mirrors the title of the (allegedly) defunct Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a well connected group of neoconservatives (including such notables as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz), which controlled the George W. Bush administration. PNAC was, in fact, the network of deceivers behind the dummied up intelligence that led us blindly into a bloody war in Iraq. But like the Phoenix, this bellicose old bird has risen from the grave, and has now reincarnated itself as leading foreign policy advisors to Mitt Romney. Wearing the sheep's garb of centricity, it has attempted to reestablish itself in the White House; but what can we really expect from a Romney administration should this resurrected PNAC once again succeed in pulling the proverbial wool over American voters' eyes?

In 2000, shortly before George W. Bush took office, PNAC was quite clear about what it wanted the new administration to do. Its chief goal for another "American Century" was to transform America into a high-tech fighting machine that would routinely fight multiple wars simultaneously, including one in Iran. Its transformation would require increasing the budget for military expenditure to about 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product. It is therefore not surprising that Romney has followed suit in setting his proposed budgetary floor for national defense to no less than 4 percent of the gross domestic product (in contrast to Obama, who wants to reduce the budget to pre-2001, which was close to 3 percent of the GDP).

This would add about $2.1 trillion to the national defense budget; and while PNAC was clear about what the increased budget would include, Romney is just not saying. But we can take an educated guess! PNAC's proposal included selectively modernizing current US forces; developing and deploying global missile defenses "to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world,"--a euphemism for invading other nations without fear of retaliation; controlling the "new international commons of space and cyberspace," which would "pave the way for the creation of a new military service—U.S. Space Forces—with the mission of space control"; and exploiting the "revolution in military affairs" by not only updating conventional forces through advanced technologies, but producing "more profound improvements in military capabilities" by "encouraging joint-service experimentation efforts."

As for PNAC's vision of what these experiments might produce, take a look at what it says in 2000 in its notorious report on Rebuilding America's Defenses (RAD):

Future soldiers may operate in encapsulated, climate-controlled, powered fighting suits, laced with sensors, and boasting chameleon-like "active" camouflage. "Skin-patch" pharmaceuticals help regulate fears, focus concentration and enhance endurance and strength. A display mounted on a soldier's helmet permits a comprehensive view of the battlefield – in effect to look around corners and over hills – and allows the soldier to access the entire combat information and intelligence system while filtering incoming data to prevent overload.

This would effectively turn our service men and women into remotely controlled fighting automata, part human and part machine. This sociopathic vision of humanity does not stop to consider the toll this would take on the mental welfare of America's finest. And if this were not chilling enough, consider the hopes that PNAC had for biological warfare:

And advanced forms of biological warfare that can "target" specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

Here is a Hitlerian nightmare on stilts: using biological agents to "weed out" those with "bad gene" as a "politically useful tool."

So who has underwritten this chilling vision? The answer: a substantial number of PNACers who are now on Romney's foreign policy advisory team. These PNAC neocons include, PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan, Paula J. Dombriansky, John Lehman, Vin Weber, Dov Zackheim, Aaron Friedberg, Elliott Abrams, and John Bolton.

And the plot thickens. For, while PNAC was allegedly laid to rest in 2006, The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) was co- founded in 2009 by the same two co-founders of PNAC, Robert Kagan and Iraq war architect, William Kristol. Other PNAC members who became FPI members include Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmidt, Thomas Donnelly (the principle author of the nightmarish RAD scenarios cited above), Kenneth Weinstein, and Henry Sokolski . So what this means is that we now have a second generation of PNAC, including major players from the old guard, which is poised to reposition itself, in a Romney administration, just as the first generation had done in the Bush administration. So, what could we possibly expect from team Romney, which we have not already suffered in the eight years of the Bush administration?

Indeed, the FPI mission statement mirrors that of PNAC and emphasizes the maintenance and advancement of the United States as the world's preeminent superpower, including "opposition to rogue regimes that threaten American interests"; "rejection of policies that would lead us down the path to isolationism"; and "a strong military with the defense budget needed to ensure that America is ready to confront the threats of the 21st century." In other words, it supports the United States as a world "authority" that uses military force to attack other nations if it deems necessary in order to advance its own interests (domestic and foreign), impose its will, and maintain its status as preeminent superpower.

The Board of FPI consists of Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Dan Senor, and Eric Edelman. All of these individuals are also officially on Romney's Foreign Policy Advisor list with the exception of William Kristol. Eric Edelman was an advisor to Dick Cheney in both Bush administrations. He allegedly masterminded the idea of leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press, in order to get back at former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for exposing the false claim that Saddam Hussein was purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger. Dan Senor was "senior advisor" to the Coalition Provisional Authority, the failed provisional government installed in Iraq by the Bush administration; and he is now "Chief Foreign Policy Advisor" to Romney. In all, there are about 30 foreign policy advisors to Romney and half of them are either former members of PNAC and/or current members of FPI. And many of them occupy key advisory positions in Team Romney.

The Co-Chairs of Romney's "Defense Advisors" are none other than PNAC's John Lehman and FPI's Roger Zackheim, son of PNAC's Dov Zackheim. Ironically, FPI's "Director of Democracy and Human Rights" is PNAC's Ellen Bork, the daughter of Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was not confirmed by the Senate largely on the grounds of his alleged anti-civil rights views. Other FPIers who are on Romney's team include Walid Phares (Special Advisor) , Eliot A. Cohen (Special Advisor), Robert Joseph (Co-chair Counter-Proliferation), Paula J. Dombriansky (Co-Chair, International Organizations), and Richard Williamson (Special Advisor). And, while an aging, ill Dick Cheney seems to have taken a back seat in the PNAC revival, his spirit is still ever present—especially since his daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, is also a signatory to FPI.

Should the pendulum once again swing to the far right, history is doomed to repeat itself, and we can reasonably expect another war-torn, economically down-turned America, this time bogged down in a war in Iran. According to FPI Executive Director Jamie Fly and PNAC/FPI member Gary Schmidt, "Bombing Iran's nuclear program would only be a temporary fix. Instead, the United States should plan a larger military operation that also aims to destabilize the regime and, in turn, resolves the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all." And, while top Romney advisor and FPI Co-founder Dan Senor has been more careful these days about what he says to the media, so as not to blow Romney's centrist cover, he has suggested that war with Iran is the only realistic option. "We are past the point in which sanctions can work," said Senor in a February 2012 interview with CNBC. "The Iranians are racing to get a bomb." And here's what PNAC/FPI Co-founder and FPI Board Director William Kristol has had to say about war with Iran:

It's long since been time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force....So we can stop talking. Instead, we can follow the rat lines in Iraq and Afghanistan back to their sources, and destroy them. We can strike at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and weaken them. And we can hit the regime's nuclear weapons program, and set it back. Lest the administration hesitate to act out of fear of lack of support at home, Congress should consider authorizing the use of force against Iranian entities that facilitate attacks on our troops, against IRGC and other regime elements that sponsor terror, and against the regime's nuclear weapons program.

Clearly, the FPI is looking forward to war in Iran, and it is entertaining an all-out, full-scale war, not simply an attack on its nuclear weapons program,. Indeed, Kristol, who was a chief architect of the Iraq war (and who still blames the Iranians for the 9-11 attacks) would have Congress declare war on Iran even if the current President refused. In fact, one of the PNACers on the Romney/Ryan advisory team, Elliott Abrams, has already called for Congress to vote on authorizing war with Iran.

Keep in mind that these rumblings of war with Iran are coming from the movers and shakers of Team Romney, and from the same war lords that brought us to war in Iraq. This bellicose assembly has already proven that it means business and it is now the foreign policy wind beneath the sails of a potential Romney administration. It would therefore be highly unlikely that a Romney administration would attempt diplomatic solutions or impose further sanctions against Iran. Instead it is poised for war.

It is beyond reasonable doubt that the United States cannot presently afford to be plunged into another war. It is deep in domestic problems not the least of which is unemployment. Spending billions on a war in the Middle East is what landed us in this position in the first place. Yet this is what we can reasonably expect from a Romney administration. Romney's claim to having a viable plan for economic recovery is meaningless if it includes a war in Iran. And it is worse than meaningless if it includes a failed militaristic and dehumanizing ideology that treats us all as pawns in a game of power, control, and world domination. Yet this is just what a Romney administration would portend.

Elliot D. Cohen is the author of many books and articles on media and government, including Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011). His latest article is "The Information War" in Censored 2013 (Seven Stories, 2012).