The Master Plan
In September 2000, prior to the presidential election that year, PNAC (Project for the New American Century)carefully formulated its chief tenets in a document called Rebuilding America’s Defenses (RAD). This document, which was intended to guide the incoming administration, had a substantial influence on the policies set by the Bush administration and is likely to do the same for a McCain administration if McCain becomes president. Here are some of the recommendations of the RAD report:
Fighting and winning multiple, simultaneous major wars
Among its core missions was the rebuilding of America’s defenses sufficient to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.” And it explicitly advocated sending troops into Iraq regardless of whether Saddam Hussein was in power. According to RAD, “While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
The RAD report also admonished, “Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.” Therefore, it had both Iraq and Iran in its sight as zones of multiple, simultaneous major wars for purposes of advancing “longstanding American interests in the region”—in particular, its oil.
McCain’s recent chanting of “bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran” to the beat of an old Beach Boys tune, his suggestion that the war with Iraq might last 100 years and his recent statement that the war in Afghanistan might also last 100 years—all of these pronouncements are clearly in concert with the PNAC mission to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.”
RAD also stressed the need to have additional forces equipped to handle ongoing “constabulary” duties such as enforcement of no-fly zones and other operations that fell short of full theater wars. It claimed that unless the military was so equipped, its ability to fight and win multiple, simultaneous wars would be impaired. Along these same lines, McCain has recently stated, ‘’It’s time to end the disingenuous practice of stating that we have a two-war strategy when we are paying for only a one-war military. Either we must change our strategy—and accept the risks—or we must properly fund and structure our military.’’
Designing and deploying global missile defense systems
RAD also emphasized, as an additional core value, the need to “transform U.S. forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs.’ ” This included the design and deployment of a global ballistic missile defense system consisting of land-, sea-, air- and space-based components said to be capable of shielding the U.S. and its allies from “limited strikes” in the future by “rogue” nations such as Iraq, North Korea and Iran.
Along these lines, McCain has maintained that a ballistic missile defense system was “indispensable”—even if this meant reneging on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 at the expense of angering the Russians. Unfortunately, while RAD acknowledged the “limited” efficacy of such a weapons system (presumably because it cannot realistically provide a bulletproof shield, especially against large-scale missile attacks), neither it nor McCain addressed the problem that deployment of such a system could be destabilizing: It could encourage escalation, instead of de-escalation, of ballistic missile arsenals by nations that fear becoming sitting ducks, and might even provoke a pre-emptive strike. Further, there is still the question of whether the creation of such costly, national defense shields is even technologically feasible.
The use of genocidal biological warfare for political expediency
Not only did RAD advocate the design and deployment of defensive weaponry, it also stressed the updating of conventional offensive weapons including cruise missiles along with stealthy strike aircraft and longer-range Air Force strike aircraft. But it went further in its offensive posture by envisioning and supporting the use of genotype-specific biological warfare. According to RAD, “… advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” In this chilling statement, a double standard is evident. In the hands of al-Qaida, such genocidal weapons would belong to “the realm of terror,” but in those of the U.S., they would be “politically useful tools.”
Rejection of the United Nations
PNAC’s double standard is also inherent in its rejection of the idea of a cooperative, neutral effort among the nations of the world to address world problems, including the problem of Iraq. “Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality,” states the RAD report. “The preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa. Finally, these missions demand forces basically configured for combat.” Accordingly, a McCain administration founded on a PNAC platform of self-interested exercise of force would oppose giving the United Nations any central role in setting and implementing foreign affairs policy.
Control of space and cyberspace
PNAC’s quest for global domination transcends any literal meaning of the geopolitical, and extends also to the control, rather than the sharing, of outer space. It also has serious implications for cyber freedom. Thus the RAD report states, “Much as control of the high seas—and the protection of international commerce—defined global powers in the past, so will control of the new ‘international commons’ be a key to world power in the future. An America incapable of protecting its interests or that of its allies in space or the ‘infosphere’ will find it difficult to exert global political leadership. … Access to and use of cyberspace and the Internet are emerging elements in global commerce, politics and power. Any nation wishing to assert itself globally must take account of this other new ‘global commons.’ ”
There is a difference between protecting the Internet from a cyber attack and controlling it. The former is defensive while the latter is offensive. But RAD also advocated going on the offensive. It stated that “an offensive capability could offer America’s military and political leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive manner.”
However, state control of cyberspace for political purposes can have serious implications for the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The Bush administration has already engaged in mass illegal spying on the phone and e-mail messages of millions of Americans through its National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program. As a result of copying these messages and depositing them into an NSA computer database, it began to assemble a massive “Total Information Awareness” computer network. The FBI has also begun to develop and integrate such personal data with a biometric database that includes digital iris prints and facial images. Combine this with other computerized databases including credit card information, banking records and health files, and the result is an incredible ability to exercise power and control over anyone deemed by a political leader to be an “adversary”—including journalists, political opponents and others who might not see eye to eye with the administration.
In concert with the PNAC mission of control over cyberspace, McCain has supported making warrantless spying on American citizens legal. When asked if he believed that Bush’s warrantless surveillance program was legal, McCain responded, “You know, I don’t think so, but why not come to Congress? We can sort this out. … I think they will get that authority, whatever is reasonable and needed, and increased abilities to monitor communications are clearly in order.”
Consistent with his conviction that such extended powers should be granted to the president, McCain has also recently voted for Senate Bill S.2248, which vacates substantial civil liberties protections included in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In contrast to the 1978 FISA, S.2248 would allow the president, acting through the attorney general, to spy on the phone and e-mail communications of Americans without individual court warrants or the need to judicially show probable cause.
Despite the fact that McCain has said that Bush’s NSA spying program was not legal, he has also supported granting retroactive legal immunity to the telecommunication companies (such as AT&T and Verizon) that helped Bush illegally spy on millions of Americans. This means that he has openly admitted that the Bush administration acted unlawfully in eavesdropping on Americans’ phone and e-mail messages, while at the same time opted for taking away their legal right to redress this violation. And this unequivocally means that McCain is prepared to allow executive authority to trump the rule of law.
Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is “The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government Are Turning America Into a Dictatorship.” He was first-prize winner of the 2007 Project Censored Award.