First, what is PNAC? It stands for the Project for the New American Century. It was founded in 1997 by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The organization had 25 original signatories to its statement of principles, a who’s who of neocon thought. Signatories included the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby. Others, including Richard Perle, R. James Woolsey and John Bolton were not original signatories, but would later participate in the organization. But, here’s an irony. From the Bush family only one was a signatory, and it wasn’t George W. Bush. It was John Ellis (better known as Jeb) Bush.
Ten of the original 25 went on to serve in the administration of George W. Bush. Several now serve as foreign policy and national security advisors to Jeb Bush. Of note, Jeb Bush never left the organization and, to the best of my knowledge, never disavowed any of its actions, including those involving Iraq which I present in shorthand below.
Wikipedia describes the intent of the signers of the Statement of Principles,
“[T]he statement’s signers called for significant increases in defense spending, and for the promotion of ‘political and economic freedom abroad.’ It said the United States should strengthen ties with its democratic allies, ‘challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values,’ and preserve and extend ‘an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.’” (emphasis added)
One of the early actions of PNAC occurred in February of 1998 when the organization sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton calling for armed regime change in Iraq. This open letter portrayed Saddam as a threat to America and our friends in the gulf, referred to possible WMD, and called for the U. S. to take all steps, including military steps, to force Saddam’s removal. Among others, the letter was signed by Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton. For the mathematicians among us, this call for military action against Iraq was three and a half years before 9/11. Jeb Bush took no action to disassociate himself from the organization or its position in light of this letter.
Later, in January, 1999, the organization openly criticized the Clinton administration’s use of targeted bombing as ineffective. It also called the attempts at containment of Saddam through vehicles like “no-fly zones”, an illusion. Jeb Bush, again, took no action to disassociate himself from the organization or its pronouncements.
Immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center towers, PNAC was back to its riff on regime change in Iraq. This time they insisted that no war on terrorism could be effective without overthrowing the Iraqi regime, even if evidence showed no connection between Baghdad and 9/11.
As PNAC Senior Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht once put it:
“We have no choice but to re-instill in our foes and friends the fear that attaches to any great power…. Only a war against Saddam Hussein will decisively restore the awe that protects American interests abroad and citizens at home”.
Jeb stayed on board. The organization wound itself down and disbanded in 2006 with Jeb Bush never having renounced the organization or any of its efforts related to Iraq. As far as I can tell, Jeb Bush, to this day, has never disavowed his involvement with PNAC or any of its policy positions and continues to use PNAC participants as principle advisors to his campaign.
Sources include: Wikipedia, OpEdNews, SourceWatch and Politico.
Contributor, aka tidbits. Retired attorney in complex litigation, death penalty defense and constitutional law. Former Nat’l Board Chair: Alzheimer’s Association. Served on multiple political campaigns, including two for U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R-OR). Contributing author to three legal books and multiple legal publications.