America's Defenses (RAD)" is a policy document published by a
neoconservative Washington think tank called the Project for the New
American Century (PNAC). Its pages have been compared to Hitler's
Mein Kampf in that they outline an aggressive military plan
for U.S. world domination during the coming century. And just as Hitler's
book was not taken seriously until after his catastrophic rise to
power, so it seems that relatively few Americans are expressing alarm
at this published document that is a blueprint for many of the present
actions of the Bush administration, actions which have begun to destabilize
the balance of power between the nations of the world.
There is, indeed, much reason for alarm because PNAC is not an ordinary
think tank and "RAD" is not an ordinary policy paper. Many
PNAC members now hold key positions in the White House, Defense and
State Departments, among them Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz,
Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Lewis Libby, and John Bolton, along
with others in lesser positions. William Kristol, writer for the conservative
magazine, the Weekly Standard, is chairman of the group.
Some of these men have been advocating for a strong military posture
since the ending of cold war hostilities with the Soviet Union. Wishing
to capitalize on the fact that the US had emerged as the world's preeminent
superpower, they have lobbied for increases in military spending in
order to establish what they call a Pax Americana that will reap the
rewards of complete military and commercial control of land, sea,
air, space, and cyberspace. This, they said, would be accomplished
by the waging of "multiple simultaneous large-scale wars"
and one of their first orders of business was always the removal of
Saddam Hussein, thereby giving the US a toehold in the oil-rich Middle
During the Clinton presidency, when the Republicans were out of power,
this militaristic wing in American politics became highly organized
and efficient. They formed the PNAC in 1997 And published "RAD"
in September 2000. Determined to have their world empire, they offered
an eerie prophecy on page 52 of that document about how it might be
accomplished, "Further, the process of transformation, even if
it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent
some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor."
Their dream of a catalyzing event could not have been better actualized
than in the events of 9/11.
Although there could have been many responses to the tragedy of 9/11,
the Bush administration seized upon that event to mold public opinion
into accepting many ideas embodied in "RAD". The overthrow
of Saddam Hussein, was being proposed by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz one
day after 9/11, even before anyone knew who was responsible for
the attacks. As soon as the war against Afghanistan was completed,
the focus of US policy became regime change in Iraq, with all of the
tragic consequences we are now seeing in that country.
Policies advocated in "RAD" are being enacted with terrifying
speed, such as denigration of the UN, importance of Homeland Security,
abrogation of international agreements, revamping of the US nuclear
program and the spread of American military power into all corners
of the globe by preemptive engagement. In Iraq we have seen the embodiment
of "RAD" directives that call for the subjugation of regimes
considered hostile to US interests and the prevention of military
build-up in countries that may challenge US power. Bush's "Axis
of Evil" nations Iraq, Iran and North Korea are mentioned numerous
times as potential trouble spots and there is repeated insistence
that the US establish military outposts in the Middle East and East
Most frightening is its complete isolation from any ideas of world
unity and cooperative action. The authors appear to be intent on waging
war as an answer to the problems of our planet, tragically imagining
that peace can be won by enforcing American values on every other
nation. A more chilling statement of the PNAC devotion to militaristic
domination cannot be found than in Richard Perle's concept of "total
war". "No stages," he said, "This is total war.
We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there.
All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we
will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If
we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely
and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage
a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from
This article is a summarization of "RAD." I believe it is
of importance to become familiar with this document because it is
determining US policy decisions which will have far reaching repercussions
for decades to come. Subject areas are arranged under three topics:
A. Pax Americana, outlining the rationale for global empire, B. Securing
Global Hegemony, pinpointing regions that are considered trouble spots
for US policy, C. Using the Military to Gain Empire, outlining military
plans for complete world domination. My personal comments are in italics;
page numbers are from the original document. See URLs at the end for
building of Pax Americana has become possible, claims "RAD,"
because the fall of the Soviet Union gave the United States status
as the world's preeminent superpower. Consequently the US must now
work hard, not only to maintain that position, but to spread its military
might into geographic areas that are ideologically opposed to its
influence, waging "multiple simultaneous large-scale wars"
to subdue countries that may stand in the way of US global preeminence.
Rationales offered for going to war with other nations are the preservation
of the "American peace" and the spread of "democracy."
Preserving American Preeminence
"It is not a choice between preeminence today and preeminence
tomorrow. Global leadership is not something exercised at our leisure,
when the mood strikes us or when our core national security interests
are directly threatened; then it is already too late. Rather, it is
a choice whether or not to maintain American military preeminence,
to secure American geopolitical leadership, and to preserve the American
peace" (p. 76).
"The Cold War world was a bipolar world; the 21st
century world is for the moment, at least decidedly unipolar,
with America as the world's 'sole superpower.' America's strategic
goal used to be containment of the Soviet Union; today the task is
to preserve an international security environment conducive to American
interests and ideals. The military's job during the Cold War was to
deter Soviet expansionism. Today its task is to secure and expand
the 'zones of democratic peace;' to deter the rise of a new great-power
competitor; defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle
East; and to preserve American preeminence through the coming transformation
of war made possible by new technologies" (p. 2).
"RAD" lists four vital missions "demanded by US global
"Homeland Defense. . . . the United States . . . must
counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles
and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states
to deter US military action by threatening US allies and the American
homeland itself. Of all the new and current missions for US armed
forces, this must have priority.
"Large Wars. Second, the United States must retain sufficient
forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale
wars and also to be able to respond to unanticipated contingencies
in regions where it does not maintain forward-based forces.
"Constabulary Duties. Third, the Pentagon must retain
forces to preserve the current peace in ways that fall short of conducting
major theater campaigns. . . . These duties are today's most frequent
missions, requiring forces configured for combat but capable of long-term,
independent constabulary operations.
"Transform US Armed Forces. Finally, the Pentagon must
begin now to exploit the so-called 'revolution in military affairs,'
sparked by the introduction of advanced technologies into military
systems; this must be regarded as a separate and critical mission
worthy of a share of force structure and defense budgets" (p.
". . . the failure to provide sufficient forces to execute these
four missions must result in problems for American strategy. And the
failure to prepare for tomorrow's challenges will ensure that the
current Pax Americana comes to an early end" (p. 13).
Usurping the Power of the UN
"Further, these constabulary missions are far more complex and
likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping' missions.
For one, they demand American political leadership rather than that
of the United Nations, as the failure of the UN mission in the Balkans
and the relative success of NATO operations there attests. Nor can
the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality. . . . American
troops, in particular, must be regarded as part of an overwhelmingly
powerful force" (p. 11).
takes the posture that only the US should manipulate international
relations and points out "trouble spots" that may cause
future problems, like all of East Asia, and Iraq, Iran, and North
Korea (now labeled by George Bush as the "Axis of Evil").
There is concern that several nations might come together to challenge
US interests. Consequently any nation that produces nuclear weapons
or engages in significant arms buildup will be viewed as a potential
"America's global leadership, and its role as the guarantor of
the current great-power peace, relies upon the safety of the American
homeland; the preservation of a favorable balance of power in Europe,
the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region, and East
Asia; and the general stability of the international system of nation-states
relative to terrorists, organized crime, and other 'non-state actors.'
"A retreat from any one of these requirements would call America's
status as the world's leading power into question. As we have seen,
even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting and incomplete
triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility.
The failure to define a coherent global security and military strategy
during the postCold War period has invited challenges; states seeking
to establish regional hegemony continue to probe for the limits of
the American security perimeter" (p. 5).
"The current American peace will be short-lived if the United
States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small, inexpensive
arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons
of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar
states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies
or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American
peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not
be so trivially squandered" (p. 75).
and the Persian Gulf
"Although the no-fly-zone air operations over northern and southern
Iraq have continued without pause for almost a decade, they remain
an essential element in US strategy and force posture in the Persian
Gulf region. Ending these operations would hand Saddam Hussein an
important victory, something any American leader would be loath to
do" (p. 11).
"The Air Force presence in the Gulf region is a vital one for
US military strategy, and the United States should consider it a de
facto permanent presence, even as it seeks ways to lessen Saudi,
Kuwaiti and regional concerns about US presence" (p. 35).
"Raising US military strength in East Asia is the key to coping
with the rise of China to great power status.
"The prospect is that East Asia will become an increasingly important
region, marked by the rise of Chinese power
.A similar rationale argues
in favor of retaining substantial forces in Japan. In recent years,
the stationing of large forces in Okinawa has become increasingly
controversial in Japanese domestic politics, and while efforts to
accommodate local sensibilities are warranted, it is essential to
retain the capabilities US forces in Okinawa represent. If the United
States is to remain the guarantor of security in Northeast Asia, and
to hold together a de facto alliance whose other main pillars
are Korea and Japan maintaining forward-based US forces is essential"
"Reflecting the gradual shift in the focus of American strategic
concerns toward East Asia, a majority of the US fleet, including two
thirds of all carrier battle groups, should be concentrated in the
Pacific. A new, permanent forward base should be established in Southeast
Asia" (p. 39).
"Despite the shifting focus of conflict in Europe, a requirement
to station US forces in northern and central Europe remains. The region
is stable, but a continued American presence helps to assure the major
European powers, especially Germany, that the United States retains
its longstanding security interest in the continent. This is especially
important in light of the nascent European moves toward an independent
defense 'identity' and policy; it is important that NATO not be replaced
by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in
European security affairs" (p. 16).
"American military preeminence will continue to rest in significant
part on the ability to maintain sufficient land forces to achieve
political goals such as removing a dangerous and hostile regime when
necessary" (p. 61).
"America's adversaries will continue to resist the building of
the American peace; when they see an opportunity as Saddam Hussein
did in 1990, they will employ their most powerful armed forces to
win on the battlefield what they could not win in peaceful competition;
and American armed forces will remain the core of efforts to deter,
defeat, or remove from power regional aggressors" (p. 10).
the Military to Gain Empire
stated objective of "RAD" is "to outline the large,
'full-spectrum' forces that are necessary to conduct the varied tasks
demanded by a strategy of American preeminence for today and tomorrow"
(p. 5). Much of the document is an elucidation of those missions and
includes specific recommendations about weaponry, deployment patterns,
increased personnel and defense spending. It envisions a future in
which the United States is in complete control of land, sea, air,
space and cyberspace of planet Earth and urges a new rendition of
Reagan's "Star Wars" defense shield program.
"Until the process of transformation is treated as an enduring
military mission worthy of a constant allocation of dollars and
forces it will remain stillborn" (p. 60).
"If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must
have a secure foundation on unquestioned US military preeminence"
"In sum, the 1990s have been a 'decade of defense neglect'. This
leaves the next president of the United States with an enormous challenge:
he must increase military spending to preserve American geopolitical
leadership, or he must pull back from the security commitments that
are the measure of America's position as the world's sole superpower
and the final guarantee of security, democratic freedoms and individual
political rights" (p. 4).
"American landpower remains the essential link in the chain that
translates US military supremacy into American geopolitical preeminence.
. . . Regimes are difficult to change based upon punishment alone.
If land forces are to survive and retain their unique strategic purpose
in a world where it is increasingly easy to deliver firepower precisely
at long ranges, they must change as well, becoming more stealthy,
mobile, deployable and able to operate in a dispersed fashion. The
US Army, and American land forces more generally, must increasingly
complement the strike capabilities of the other services. Conversely,
an American military force that lacks the ability to employ ground
forces that can survive and maneuver rapidly on future battlefields
will deprive US political leaders of a decisive tool of diplomacy"
"Because of its inherent mobility and flexibility, the Air Force
will be the first US military force to arrive in a theater during
times of crisis; as such, the Air Force must retain its ability to
deploy and sustain sufficient numbers of aircraft to deter wars and
shape any conflict in its earliest stages. Indeed, it is the Air Force,
along with the Army, that remains the core of America's ability to
apply decisive military power when it pleases. To dissipate this ability
to deliver a rapid hammer blow is to lose the key component of American
military preeminence" (p. 37).
"The end of the Cold War leaves the US Navy in a position of
unchallenged supremacy on the high seas, a dominance surpassing that
even of the British Navy in the 19th and early parts of
the 20th century. With the remains of the Soviet fleet
now largely rusting in port, the open oceans are America's, and the
lines of communication open from the coasts of the United States to
Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia. Yet this very success calls
the need for the current force structure into question. Further, the
advance of precision-strike technology may mean that naval surface
combatants, and especially the large-deck aircraft carriers that are
the Navy's capital ships, may not survive in the high-technology wars
of the coming decades. Finally, the nature and pattern of Navy presence
missions may be out of synch with emerging strategic realities. In
sum, though it stands without peer today, the Navy faces major challenges
to its traditional and, in the past, highly successful methods of
operation" (p. 39).
Bases to Advance American Geopolitical Interests
"There should be a strong strategic synergy between US forces
overseas and in a reinforcing posture: units operating abroad are
an indication of American geopolitical interests and leadership, provide
significant military power to shape events and, in wartime, create
the conditions for victory when reinforced. Conversely, maintaining
the ability to deliver an unquestioned 'knockout punch' through the
rapid introduction of stateside units will increase the shaping power
of forces operating overseas and the vitality of our alliances. In
sum, we see an enduring need for large-scale American forces"
"As a supplement to forces stationed abroad under long-term basing
arrangements, the United States should seek to establish a network
of 'deployment bases' or 'forward operating bases' to increase the
reach of current and future forces. Not only will such an approach
improve the ability to project force to outlying regions, it will
help circumvent the political, practical and financial constraints
on expanding the network of American bases overseas" (p. 19).
of all the elements of US military force posture, perhaps none
is more in need of reevaluation than America's nuclear weapons. Nuclear
weapons remain a critical component of American military power but
it is unclear whether the current US nuclear arsenal is well-suited
to the emerging postCold War world. . . . there may be a need to
develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets
of military requirements, such as would be required in targeting the
very deep underground, hardened bunkers that are being built by many
of our potential adversaries" (p. 8). If the United States is
to have a nuclear deterrent that is both effective and safe, it will
need to test." (pp. 78).
"But what should finally drive the size and character of our
nuclear forces is not numerical parity with Russian capabilities but
maintaining American strategic superiority and, with that superiority,
a capability to deter possible hostile coalitions of nuclear powers.
US nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will
be an essential element in preserving American leadership in a more
complex and chaotic world" (p. 8).
Command Control of the "International Commons"
". . . control of space defined by Space Command as 'the ability
to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space
medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space' must be
an essential element of our military strategy" (p. 55).
"The ability to have access to, operate in, and dominate the
aerospace environment has become the key to military success in modern,
high-technology warfare. . . . How well the Air Force rises to the
many challenges it faces even should it receive increased budgets
will go far toward determining whether US military forces retain
the combat edge they now enjoy" (pp. 3839).
"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" (p. 51).
"As Space Command also recognizes, the United States must also
have the capability to deny America's adversaries the use of commercial
space platforms for military purposes in times of crises and conflicts.
Indeed, space is likely to become the new 'international commons',
where commercial and security interests are intertwined and related.
"Building an effective, robust, layered, global system of missile
defenses is a prerequisite for maintaining American preeminence"
". . . effective ballistic missile defenses will be the central
element in the exercise of American power and the projection of US
military forces abroad. Without it, weak states operating small arsenals
of crude ballistic missiles, armed with basic nuclear warheads or
other weapons of mass destruction, will be in a strong position to
deter the United States from using conventional force, no matter the
technological or other advantages we may enjoy. Even if such enemies
are merely able to threaten American allies rather than the United
States homeland itself, America's ability to project power will be
deeply compromised" (p. 12).
or 'Net War'
"If outer space represents an emerging medium of warfare, then
'cyberspace', and in particular the Internet hold similar promise
and threat. And as with space, 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'.
"Although many concepts of 'cyber-war' have elements of science
fiction about them, and the role of the Defense Department in establishing
'control', or even what 'security' on the Internet means, requires
a consideration of a host of legal, moral and political issues, there
nonetheless will remain an imperative to be able to deny America and
its allies' enemies the ability to disrupt or paralyze either the
military's or the commercial sector's computer networks. Conversely,
an offensive capability could offer America's military and political
leaders an invaluable tool in disabling an adversary in a decisive
"Taken together, the prospects for space war or 'cyberspace war'
represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion
of military transformation. These future forms of warfare are technologically
immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the US armed
forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise
of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of
warfare favor America just as today's air, land and sea warfare reflect
United States military dominance" (p. 57).
Forms of Warfare, Including Biological
"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. Individual
weapons are more lethal, and a soldier's ability to call for highly
precise and reliable indirect fires not only from Army systems but
those of other services allows each individual to have great influence
over huge spaces. Under the 'Land Warrior' program, some Army experts
envision a 'squad' of seven soldiers able to dominate an area the
size of the Gettysburg battlefield where, in 1863, some 165,000
men fought" (p. 62).
"Although it may take several decades for the process of transformation
to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will
be vastly different than it is today, and 'combat' likely will take
place in new dimensions: in space, 'cyber-space,' and perhaps the
world of microbes. Air warfare may no longer be fought by pilots manning
tactical fighter aircraft sweeping the skies of opposing fighters,
but a regime dominated by long-range, stealthy unmanned craft. On
land, the clash of massive, combined-arms armored forces may be replaced
by the dashes of much lighter, stealthier and information-intensive
forces, augmented by fleets of robots, some small enough to fit in
soldiers' pockets. Control of the sea could be largely determined
not by fleets of surface combatants and aircraft carriers, but from
land and space based systems, forcing navies to maneuver and fight
underwater. Space itself will become a theater of war, as nations
gain access to space capabilities and come to rely on them; further,
the distinction between military and commercial space systems combatants
and noncombatants will become blurred. Information systems will
become an important focus of attack, particularly for US enemies seeking
to short-circuit sophisticated American forces. 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" (p. 60).
For further reading, see "Rebuilding America's Defenses"
on the PNAC website at:
There is a website devoted exclusively to articles and information
about PNAC at:
Truthout and Information Clearing House have many enlightening articles
about the PNAC. See especially "Blood Money" by William
Rivers Pitt at:
See "Global Eye-Dark Passage" by Chris Floyd at:
This article is followed by a long list of links to published articles
about the PNAC.
Also see article by John Pilger at:
A longer summary of "RAD" (including more extensive quotes
than here) can be found at http://gvtc.com/~mpingo/pnac.html.
is a writer, activist and conservationist who lives in central Texas.
She has been working for issues related to peace and justice since
the Vietnam era.