September, 2003 The Rest of the PNAC Iceberg

Precursors to
'The Project for a New American Century'

The group that commissioned the PNAC left behind a paper trail of position papers on foreign policy that goes back at least as far as the early 1990s


Joseph Cirincione, a specialist in defense and proliferation issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is senior associate and director of the Non-Proliferation Project.

In an interview that took place on NPR's 'Fresh Air' in April of 2003, Cirincione discusses the evolution of the Bush policy on Iraq. 'Its origins,' he argues, 'begin with a small group of influential officials and experts in Washington, D.C., who were calling for regime change in Iraq long before Sept. 11, 2001.' Circione describes this group, which eventually produced the 'Project for a New American Century', as 'a well-organized, tight-knit group of people who have been working together for a long time'. [audio] [website]

In this interview Cirincione mentions a 1992 precursor to the PNAC, a secret pentagon report called 'Defense Planning Guidance'. Lewis Libby (currently Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney) and Paul Wolfowitz (now Deputy Secretary of Defense, but at that time Undersecretary for Policy) produced this report for Dick Cheney, who was, in 1992, Defense Secretary under George Bush, sr. All three men became founding members of the group that came together in 1997 to commission the PNAC.

This 1992 paper is briefly discussed below; subsequent documents of a similar nature are also listed.


In a 1993 book Noam Chomsky wrote about a document that is seen by many today as an important precursor to the PNAC, "... a secret February 1992 Pentagon draft of Defense Planning Guidance, leaked to the press, which describes itself as 'definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense' for budgetary policy to the year 2000." In 1992, President George senior, who had recently proclaimed the advent of 'a new world order', was embroiled in a difficult presidential election that he would ultimately lose to Bill Clinton.

Chomsky says, "The draft develops standard reasoning. The US must hold 'global power' and a monopoly of force. It will then 'protect' the 'new order' while allowing others to pursue 'their legitimate interests,' as Washington defines them. The US 'must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order,' or even 'aspiring to a larger regional or global role.'"

"As in the past," he continues, "the Middle East is a particular concern. Here 'our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil' while deterring aggression (selectively), maintaining strategic control and 'regional stability' (in the technical sense), and protecting 'U.S. nationals and property.'"

'Western European and third world diplomats here were sharply critical of some of the language in the document,' Patrick Tyler reported from Washington. 'Senior White House and State Department officials have harshly criticized' it as well, claiming that it 'in no way or shape represents U.S. policy.' The Pentagon spokesman 'pointedly disavowed some of the central policy statements' of the document, noting, however, that 'its basic thrust mirrors the public statements and testimony of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.' This constitutes a 'tactical withdrawal' by the Pentagon, Tyler suggests, prompted by the 'reaction in Congress and from senior Administration officials.' Quite possibly Administration criticisms also reflect concerns over the alarms that the document set off in many capitals ... Cheney and Undersecretary for Policy Paul Wolfowitz 'endorsed [the] principal views' of the document, senior officials acknowledged. There was also criticism in the press, notably from Times foreign policy specialist Leslie Gelb, who objected to the 'daydreaming about being the world's policeman' and one 'disturbing omission': 'the document seems to be silent about any American role in insuring Israeli security.'

Possible Study Materials:

1) For excerpts from the 1992 draft 'Defense Planning Guidance,' see: [2]

2) For commentary on the 1992 document, see: PBS's Frontline, "The war Behind Closed Doors - Analysis 1992: First Draft of a Grand Strategy

3) For more on the relationship between this document and the PNAC, see: Pax Americana - A Blueprint For U.S. Empire

4) Read about a 1996 report from the 'Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies', in the preparation of which Richard Perle played a significant role. It focuses on the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. [5]

5) Also read the Open Letter to President George W. Bush from members of Project for the New American Century (PNAC), dated twelve days after the 9-11 attacks. It states, in part:

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein 'is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….' It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. [Original located at: http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm ]

6) Listen to a talk by Stanford University professor David Palumbo-Liu - on how the policy of preemptive military action masks the goal of global domination and hegemony, Wolfowitz's (1992) 'Defense Planning Guidance' document, and a 1996 proposal by William Kristol and Robert Kagan[3], co-founders of the PNAC, for 'a neo-reaganite foreign strategy'. (April 29th, 2003 - Democracy Now!) [audio] For more on 'pre-emption' and the PNAC: [4]

7) Hear investigative journalist David Armstrong discuss Dick Cheney's plan for U.S. global dominance. Examining documents that date back more than a decade, when Cheney was Secretary of the Defense, Armstrong charts Cheney's vision for U.S. rule of the world. Topics discussed: global dominance, pre-emptive military action, and Wolfowitz's (1992) report. (September, 2002 - Democracy Now!)[audio]

8) For more about Cheney, Wolfowitze, Perle, and other signators of the PNAC see: [6)