The PNAC Calls for a Stronger U.S. Military and why it will be Beneficial for the Stability of the International Political Arena
The Project for the New American Century (“PNAC”)is a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership and an initiative of the New Citizenship Project. As the 20th century came to a close – in 2000 – the group released a report describing their concern with regards to the decline of U.S. military capability around the globe. The PNAC believes in the idea that a strong U.S. military power is the only means to maintain peace and order in the whole world. Furthermore the PNAC is a firm believer in the idea that it is the responsibility of the sole superpower to be always on the alert and to be always proactive in making sure that the world will continually remain stable without having a rogue state or a despotic leader sowing fear in any of the major problematic regions such as in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. In this regard the PNAC is correct in prescribing an active role for the United States in “shaping circumstances” while at the same time careful in their use of power because a coercive foreign policy will surely backfire and negate any positive results made beforehand.
This paper will analyze a document submitted by the PNAC a non-profit group passionate about the role of America in shaping world where people of different cultures and nationalities can live in peace and harmony. This can be achieved by studying the document using historical sources to determine the development of U.S. foreign policy as well as changes made through the Office of the President and the U.S. Department of Defense. Furthermore, a theoretical framework must be developed in order to form an opinion whether the PNAC was right in calling for a strengthening of U.S. defenses or not.
The United States entry into the superpower club was made possible when America entered World War II. And when the U.S. emerged triumphant, it gained more clout and vastly improved its technical capability to manufacture weapons. As a result, when the war ended America was the only nation that is in possession of nuclear weapons (Catchpole, 2001). Afterwards, the only nation that could seriously challenge American hegemony is the former Union Soviet Socialist Republic otherwise known as the USSR. For many decades there existed a Cold War between the two superpowers. But it turned out that the Soviet Union does not have what it takes to sustain its global reach.
The USSR did not have the resources and political will to continually hoist up the Iron Curtain way past the 20th century. So when the Soviets decided to throw in the towel and left the superpower game, it created a vacuum that was immediately filled by the United States. And the whole world instantly was made aware of the major change in the international arena. The new role of the United States was reiterated by D’ Sousa who remarked that, “The collapse of Soviet Union left America as the world’s sole superpower, with unrivaled military superiority” (2002). Yet human nature dictates the state of vigilance is in proportion to perceived threat. With the dismantling of America’s much vaunted foe the USSR the same also goes for its massive military build-up; in other words there is no point in becoming a behemoth when there is no enemy to constantly test that power, that massive military strength is useless in the face of weaker opponents.
Sole Superpower Responsibilities
The proponent of this paper agrees with the position of the PNAC to strengthen U.S. Armed forces so that it can be a positive force to change the world. This position is strengthened considerably if it can be proven that the United States is indeed the only remaining superpower in the world and by the establishment of this fact will also support PNAC’s argument that the U.S. cannot shirk from its responsibilities.
Thus, for the sake of argument it must be made clear that there are no other governments out there that are pretenders to the crown so to speak. For there may be other rich nations out there who can also claim superpower status. Germany for instance could be in serious contention after East and West Germany decided to settle their differences and joined forces bringing together a bigger and wealthier united Germany. But based on the research done by Gerlinde Sinn the best that Germany could hope for is to be labeled as an economic behemoth but it could nowhere go near the superpower status of the United States (see Sinn, 1992).
It can also be argued that China can join the superpower club, but seriously speaking the sleeping giant may have awakened but there is so much work that needs to be done first before the world can consider it in the same footing as the United States. The best that China could hope for – it has achieved it already – is to be called a powerhouse in Asia. Now, others may be wondering if the European Union can be considered as a world superpower considering its size, wealth, influence etc. Larry Neal rejects this idea, saying first that the EU may be a dominant economic force but it must be viewed first as an organization and not one independent nation that can move swiftly and impose its will during an international crisis (2007). This settles the argument then, that the U.S. is the sole superpower and therefore it carries a heavy burden, the free world depends on her every move and it cannot afford to be complacent.
The PNAC was right on target when it delivered it report. It was in the year 2000 when they completed the final draft, a few months before 9/11 and America was forced to reconsider its lackadaisical approach to security. The daring attack confirms the nightmarish scenario envisioned by the PNAC. For several years after the collapse of the USSR, the U.S. is also slipping in terms of creating a deterrence, to discourage external groups from planning and executing an attack in the U.S.
Richard Rangoon agrees with the findings of the PNAC especially when it comes to government spending on defense. Rangoon pointed out that in Connecticut – a major hub in the manufacturing of military hardware – defense spending peaked in 1989 and then from then on began to decline. Rangoon adds, “After the Cold War, U.S. defense spending declined to the point where Connecticut’s arms sales to the U.S. government were surpassed by the state’s exports of goods and services abroad” (2003).
Fred Downey, senior defense and foreign policy advisor to U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, was quoted saying, “We have to remain dominant today and tomorrow … Our current weapons must remain capable and modernized” (Rangoon, 2003).
After the 9/11 attack researchers began to work at an accelerated pace to find the answer as to why there are many who are angry at the United States of America. The Wall Street Journal focused their research on the group of people in the Middle East where their interest and research intersects and these people are the moneyed Muslims that are neither terrorists nor religious zealots. They are bankers, lawyers, and manager of branches of U.S. transnational companies. The result of the study was indeed revealing and help erase the idea that 9/11 is just some kind of a religious war.
Chomsky, Junkerman, and Masakazu lifted a part of the research data collated by the Wall Street Journal. They found out that these kinds of people are right inside the U.S. system and that they despise America, providing the following reasons:
1. The U.S. loves democracy but will not hesitate to use undemocratic practices to protect her interests.
2. The U.S. hates dictators but will not hesitate to support a dictator sympathetic to its interests. If asked to choose between to tyrants, foreign policy dictates choosing the lesser of two evil despots.
3. The U.S. loves the idea of freedom and independent development but will not hesitate to curtail that freedom if her interests are harm in any way (Chomsky, Junkerman, ; Masakazu, 2003).
All the above-mentioned arguments should be considered in formulating U.S. foreign policy. On the other hand, Arab leaders and businessmen can complain all they want and focus their frustration on Americans, but they must realize that wiping out the whole United States will not ever solve their problem. Once the U.S. is gone – which by the way is the lifelong commitment of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts – another regime or government will take its place and no one could predict how that nation would behave. The world is better off with the United States standing guard.
Isolationism is an idea being revived in the post 9/11 era. A better understanding of this concept can be had after reading Felix Gilbert’s To the Farewell Address. In that book the author traced back the early development of U.S. foreign policy. At the center of that process is George Washington, the first Commander-in-Chief of the new nation.
In just a month following Washington’s second inauguration – on April 22, 1793 – Washington issued a “Proclamation of Neutrality” that in so many words framed the earliest foreign policy and according to Gilbert, in essence it was understood as:
…announcing the decision to adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial towards the Belligerent Powers. The President advised the citizens of the United States to avoid all acts which might be in contradiction to this attitude and threatened them with loss of protection and, if possible, prosecution in case they should violate the laws of neutrality (Gilbert, 1961).
More than two hundred years later there are those who wanted to adopt the same stance. This mindset is perhaps due to fear over another attack from terrorist groups. But fear should not be used as a basis for formulating foreign policy. It is obvious that those who are uneasy in the idea of making the U.S. an international police will be alluding to the idea of neutrality.
Patrick Buchanan arguing against such line of thinking, minces no words in trying to put things in perspective and he wrote, “The idea that America was ever an isolationist nation is a myth, a useful myth to be sure, but nonetheless a malevolent myth that approaches the status of a big lie” (Buchanan, 1999). Buchanan strengthens his argument by using the words of Wayne Cole, a historian who studied isolationism for fifty year and then concludes:
The very term is an obstacle to clear thinking […] No president or national political party in the entire history of the United States […] ever advocated isolating the United States from the rest of the world. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the term isolationism was never used to describe the foreign policies of any presidential administration (as cited in Buchanan, 1999).
In order to strengthen the position of the United States, American leaders should adopt a foreign policy that does not only rely on sheer military power. There are many ways to victory in the international political arena but just like what the PNAC advocated there must be a judicious application of such power.
This view was demonstrated in the recent 2007 “Inspector General Outreach to Eastern Europe, The Balkan, and Eurasia”, the title of the report made by the Journal of Inquiry. In the said report the whole world is being informed that there are other means of “shaping circumstances” to promote peace and order. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Inspector General system under the tutelage of the U.S. Army is slowly helping a nation torn by civil war get back on its feet and “…better postured to champion the right of its soldiers, address corruption, and assess unit readiness…” (Anderson, 2007).
The PNAC did not make any mistakes when it argued for the rebuilding of America’s defenses. All arguments were put to rest because a few months later a radical Islamic group destroyed the Twin Towers. The PNAC was also correct in pointing out the root cause for such a decline in commitment and it is due to the absence of a strong opponent that can force the U.S. on its toes and on the alert always. There is no need for another crisis or another debacle such as September 11 or the coming of another rogue state that will make life worse for many people in some corner of the globe it is the responsibility of the sole superpower to ensure peace and order will last for as long as possible.
Still there is a need to consider other means of promoting peace without the use of force. The example of the Inspector General system applied to Bosnia-Herzegovina is a good model that can be used in many parts of the world. A nation that was torn by civil was able to rise from the ashes and instead of becoming a perpetual burden, Bosnia-Herzegovina is now becoming a partner in promoting peace in the world.
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Neal, L. (2007). The Economics of Europe and the European Union. New York: Cambridge
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Rangoon, R. (May, 2003). No Farewell to Arms. Connecticut Business News Journal [online].
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