Project for the New American Century Declares Victory and Withdraws

Thursday, December 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM

As the New Year approaches, most of us get some degree of nostalgia, or mild regret masquerading as nostalgia. And I started thinking, Whatever Happened to....the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)? For a group of well funded heavyweights dedicated to creating something very like an American empire, the Project for the New American Century has been MIA for a few years now. So what's up, PNAC? Why the lack of swagger and propaganda power?

If you go to the PNAC web sitewent inactive for a time earlier this year), you'll find no paper, report, or military marching tune dated any more recently than April of 2006 and that's just an Ellen Bork article reproduced from The Weekly Standard. There's no official report produced by PNAC after 2005's unintentionally humorous "Iraq: Setting the Record Straight," which examines the circumstances surrounding our invasion of Iraq and concludes that it was justified, regardless of the existence of any WMD, because of Bush's justifiable "perception of Saddam’s intentions and capabilities, both existing and potential...grounded in the reality of Saddam’s prior behavior.”

In essence, this report takes a two-pronged approach to justifying Iraq, The first details the many statements and reports during Clinton's administration which indicate that Clinton's people also thought Iraq was dangerous. The second details the potential consequences of allowing Iraq to develop nuclear, biologic, or similar WMD, with no attempt at all to detail the consequences of invading Iraq to ensure that the weapons are not developed, or even to consider means other than invasion to accomplish the same goal. Sort of like deciding whether to move your family 2,000 miles away for a new job by listing all the possible benefits of doing so and reading the list of benefits a hundred times.

That seems to be the final official word from PNAC, though God knows the principals of that group reside deep in the bowels of several other conservative groups, notably the American Enterprise Institute, and William Kristol, the perceptually challenged spokes-hawk for the group, still stands atopThe Weekly Standard. But the group didn't form until 1997, with the announced chief goal of promoting "American global leadership." If they are already defunct, then we can assume either that (a) they were miserable failures at their self-appointed task, or (b) they managed to accomplish that task in the 10 years between the founding and the publication of "Setting the Record Straight."

Sitting here on Christmas day, 2008--in a country sliding down spiral of economic decay, surrounded by homes approaching, in, or just emerging from foreclosure, watching huge numbers of employees receive bye-bye notices as Christmas presents, listening to lectures on economic common sense from countries like China, reading about the growing number of churches going into default on their mortgages, the growing number of states running out of money for unemployment benefits, and the growing number of American families who have no hope of purchasing medical care, college educations for their kids, or Christmas presents, thinking about our multiple, open-ended military commitments--it's kind of tough to imagine that PNAC has decided that they've cemented "American Global Leadership" into place for the foreseeable future.

Unless, of course, they were talking about global leadership in irresponsibility in all things economic, political, and social. But as tempting as it is to go off on a sarcastic rant assuming just that, you know it isn't what this collection of unthinking "thinkers" were after.

So the approach PNAC seems to be taking is the classic tactic for withdrawing from an unwinnable situation: you declare victory, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and you just leave. That's the impression I'm left with upon reading Gary Schmitt's 2006 explanation of PNAC's inactivity:

When the project started, it was not intended to go forever. That is why we are shutting it down. We would have had to spend too much time raising money for it and it has already done its job.

We felt at the time that there were flaws in American foreign policy, that it was neo-isolationist. We tried to resurrect a Reaganite policy.

Our view has been adopted. Even during the Clinton administration we had an effect, with Madeleine Albright [then secretary of state] saying that the United States was 'the indispensable nation'.

There are only two ways you can logically view PNAC as having accomplished its mission. The first is that it's actual mission was the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam, consequences be damned. The second is if we all misunderstood the organization's very name, if the word "new" in Project for a New American Century" modifies "American," rather than "Century." Because we have, in fact, produced a very "new America" for this century, or at least an America which hasn't been seen since somewhere around 1929.

But I rarely accuse PNAC, and certainly not Kristol, of logic as I understand it. So it still looks like declare victory and withdraw to the comforts of the AEI, or the plush offices of The Weekly Standard, or the national platform afforded forked-tongue commentators on Fax News ("we read the fax, you decide").

Just an idle thought: do you think even one person associated with PNAC has gone into mortgage default or received a pink slip with no other job in sight? Anybody? No matter how intellectually, morally, or ethically challenged?

So, from the ideological HQ of PNAC and AEI and Heritage and Hoover and Heartland and Donner and Blitzen, Merry Christmas from Mount Stupid, and a Happy New Year from what's left of the victorious home front.


What can be said? Kristol and his gang fucked up completely. They got their people into power, and golly gosh, not a goddamned thing they wanted....worked.

Put PNAC into the same category as other failed concepts: Looks good on paper, add electricity and stand well the hell back!

Well, there's screwing up, then there's Screwing Up. And then there's SCREWING UP. Then there's SCREWING UP. Then there's PNAC and friends.

Intellectually, these "people" are as one-celled as any ameba. What can they do but declare victory and ooze away with their one-celled "ameboid movement" after unintentionally dispensing with the nation they themselves deemed "indispendable?"