Neo-cons and aggressive nationalists — two of the three components (along with Christian Zionists) that brought us the Iraq War — are once again organizing themselves in the face of what they see as an abandonment of the “Peace Through Strength” policies of their heroes, Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Ronald Reagan. No doubt generously financed by defense contractors that are feeling particularly threatened about Robert Gates’ recent warnings that the Pentagon faces some serious cuts in the coming years, the new coalition of hawks published a 10-point manifesto in the seemingly terminal Washington Times Tuesday that covered everything from “restoring the time-tested practice of promoting international peace through American strength” to ensuring “a nation free of Shariah, the brutally repressive and anti-constitutional, totalitarian program that governs in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic states and that terrorists are fighting to impose worldwide.” It also advises public officials to “convey to future generations accurate portrayals of American history, including the necessity of defending freedom,” calls for the “preservation of U.S. sovereignty against international treaties, judicial rulings and other measures…,” and echoes what has become the favorite neo-con and right-wing critique against the Obama administration’s foreign policy: “(W)e espouse and will work to achieve ….9. A foreign policy that supports our allies and opposes our adversaries. It should be clearly preferable to a be a friend of the United States, not its enemy.”
The coalition doesn’t yet seem to have a name, unless it’s the title of the manifesto, “Restoring ‘Peace Through Strength.'” but its seven signers represent are all heads of “think tanks” and other organizations that routinely claim space on newspaper op-ed pages and on 24-cable news shows, particularly Fox News. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the names, if not of the individuals, than of their organizations, beginning with Edwin Meese, chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness; Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy (and no doubt the person who insisted on the inclusion of the manifesto’s Shariah plank); Brian Kennedy, president of the (ultra-Straussian) Claremont Institute; Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute; Cliff May, president of the (Likudist) Foundation for the Defense Democracy (FDD); and Herman Pirchner of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) of which the prolific neo-conservative and Iran hawk, Ilan Berman, is vice president.
Of course, there’s some notable absences in the list, including, of course, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Committee on the Present Danger, Gaffney’s Family Security Initiative, Foreign Policy Research Center (which has close ties to AFPC), Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and, perhaps most interestingly, Bill Kristol’s latest outfits, the Foreign Policy Initiative and Keep America Safe which he co-chairs with Liz Cheney. One wonders if the leaders of these organizations were solicited, and, if so, why they didn’t sign. (I suspect they didn’t because some of the planks, like the paragraph on Shariah law, are clearly rather idiosyncratic hobby-horses of individual signers. (I have no doubt that Meese, as well as Gaffney and London, insisted on Plank 3 about U.S. sovereignty, while the anti-immigration plank (nuimber 7) might create problems for some neo-cons who are still relatively liberal on the issue. But it’s still an interesting list and an interesting platform.
Here is the manifesto:
Restoring ‘peace through strength’
Edwin Meese, Elaine Donnelly, Frank Gaffney, Brian Kennedy, Herbert London, Cliff May and Herman Pirchner
In a world characterized by growing threats to freedom and the U.S. Constitution, America’s exceptional role, and indeed our country’s very existence, is at risk. We believe such times demanda robust, comprehensive national security posture appropriate to today’s threats and tomorrow’s. Toward that end, we espouse and will work to achieve the following:
1. Renewed adherence to the national security philosophy of President Ronald Reagan: “Peace through strength.” American security is most reliably assured by having military forces that are fully trained, equipped and ready to deter or defeat the nation’s adversaries.
2. A robust defense posture including a safe, reliable, effective nuclear deterrent, which requires its modernization and testing; the deployment of comprehensive defenses against missile attack; and national protection against unconventional forms of warfare, including biological, electromagnetic pulse and cyber-attacks.
3. Preservation of U.S. sovereignty against international treaties, judicial rulings and other measures that would have the effect of supplanting or otherwise diminishing the U.S. Constitution and the representative, accountable form of government it guarantees.
4. A nation free of Shariah, the brutally repressive and anti-constitutional, totalitarian program that governs in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic states and that terrorists are fighting to impose worldwide.
5. Protection from unlawful enemy combatants. Enemies who refuse to wear uniforms, use civilians as shields and employ terrorism as weapons are not entitled to U.S. constitutional rights or trials in our civilian courts. Those captured overseas should be incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which should remain open, or in other prisons outside the United States.
6. Energy security, realized by exploiting to the fullest the natural resources and technologies available in this country. We Americans must reduce our dependence for energy upon – and transfers of national wealth to – enemies of this country.
7. Borders secure against penetration by terrorists, narco-traffickers or others seeking to enter the United States illegally. Aliens who have violated immigration laws should not be rewarded with the privileges of citizenship.
8. High standards that protect the military culture essential to the all-volunteer force. The Pentagon should implement sound priorities, policies and laws that strengthen recruiting, retention and readiness.
9. A foreign policy that supports our allies and opposes our adversaries. It should be clearly preferable to be a friend of the United States, not its enemy.
10. Judicial and educational institutions that uphold the constitutional responsibility of elected officials to make policy for our military and convey to future generations accurate portrayals of American history, including the necessity of defending freedom.
We call on elected officials, candidates for office and others who share these principles to join us in advancing them and, thereby, in restoring the time-tested practice of promoting international peace through American strength.