PNAC Revisited

Look at the following press release on Obama’s forthcoming summit meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and judge for yourself whether Bill Kristol’s and Bob Kagan’s new ‘Foreign Policy Initiative’ (FPI) is not indeed the latest incarnation of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The modus operandi is exactly the same: an open letter to the president signed by most of the same neo-conservatives who signed onto PNAC letters from 1998 to 2005 and whose commitment to human rights and democratic values — as opposed to enhancing global U.S. military dominance and Israeli military hegemony in the Middle East — has always been somewhat suspect, to say the least.

That several genuine human rights activists — such as Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Larry Cox — should have chosen to associate themselves with such a group is remarkable and offers additional evidence that Kagan and Kristol are trying to reconstruct the neo-con/liberal coalition that pressed the Clinton administration to intervene in the Balkans during the late 1990’s.

Mind you, I have no great disagreement with the sentiments expressed in the letter, but, to the extent that prominent liberals publicly endorse it, neo-conservatives, who have always been more excited about American power than the spread of human rights around the world (or who believe that the two are somehow synonymous), regain respectability. You would think there would be a sufficient number of serious human-rights activists to write their own letter.

Here’s the FPI release, followed by the letter:


11 Dupont Circle, NW
Suite 325
Washington, DC 20036
Ph: (202) 296-3322


July 1, 2009


Jamie Fly – (202) 296-3322
Executive Director
[email protected]

Ellen Bork – (202) 296-3322
Director, Democracy and Human Rights
[email protected]

Experts Urge President Obama to Make Democracy and Human Rights a Priority on Russia Trip

WASHINGTON – A distinguished group of American foreign policy experts and rights advocates today urged President Barack Obama to make democracy and human rights a priority in his upcoming summit meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. In a letter, the group asked President Obama to act on his previous statements that assert the universality of human rights and the link between democracy and security by meeting with human rights, civil society, labor and opposition political party leaders while in Moscow.

A positive U.S.-Russia relationship “requires a commitment by both countries to democracy and human rights,” the letter’s signatories wrote, urging President Obama to “reiterate that these values, which you have called universal, are inextricably linked to humane behavior at home and responsible behavior abroad. Furthermore, we urge you to meet with human rights, civil society, labor and opposition political party leaders while you are in Moscow.”

The letter’s signers are: Max Boot, Ellen Bork, William Courtney, Larry Cox, Lorne Craner, Larry Diamond, Jamie M. Fly, Jeffrey Gedmin, Carl Gershman, Morton H. Halperin, Bruce Pitcairn Jackson, Max M. Kampelman, Robert Kagan, David Kramer, Irina Krasovskaya, William Kristol, Tod Lindberg, Clifford D. May, Thomas O. Melia, A. Wess Mitchell, Joshua Muravchik, Danielle Pletka, Stephen Rickard, David Satter, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Dan Senor, Steven Sestanovich, Gare A. Smith, John Sullivan, William H. Taft IV, Peter Wehner, Kenneth R. Weinstein, Christian Whiton, Leon Wieseltier, Damon Wilson, Jennifer Windsor, Kenneth D. Wollack, and R. James Woolsey.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and global economic competitiveness. For more information, please visit

July 1, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

You have stated your intention to forge a positive relationship between the United States and Russia. We write on the eve of your summit meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev to express our belief that such a relationship requires a commitment by both countries to democracy and human rights and to urge you to reiterate that these values, which you have called universal, are inextricably linked to humane behavior at home and responsible behavior abroad. Furthermore, we ask you to meet with human rights, civil society, labor and opposition political party leaders while you are in Moscow.

Since Vladimir Putin became President in 2000, Russia has been on a downward spiral away from the democratic and economic reforms made in the 1990’s after the collapse of communism. Human rights activists, opposition political party leaders, lawyers and journalists are targets of brutal, even deadly attacks. Freedoms of speech and the media are increasingly limited by the state and the Kremlin has asserted growing authority over the economy, especially the energy sector.

We urge you to challenge Russian leaders about the lack of political and economic freedom in Russia. In your Cairo speech you stated that the freedom of speech, the ability to choose one’s own government and way of life, the rule of law and transparency “are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.” Moreover you noted the connection between democracy and security, asserting that “governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure.” This principle gained even more salience as Russia’s invasion of Georgia last year revealed the lengths to which it will go to assert a sphere of influence in the region.

For decades, the United States was a beacon of hope to those behind the Iron Curtain who longed for their freedom. As you stated in Prague, after the Iron Curtain was lifted “freedom spread like flowing water. Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st.”

As you go forward, we hope that you will maintain a clear-eyed assessment of Russia’s intentions and keep the above principles in mind in order to ensure that the effort to “reset” U.S.-Russian relations does not come at the expense of the Russian people or Russia’s neighbors.


Max Boot
Ellen Bork
William Courtney
Larry Cox
Lorne Craner
Larry Diamond
Jamie M. Fly
Jeffrey Gedmin
Carl Gershman
Morton H. Halperin
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson
Max M. Kampelman
Robert Kagan
David Kramer
Irina Krasovskaya
William Kristol
Tod Lindberg
Clifford D. May
Thomas O. Melia
A. Wess Mitchell
Joshua Muravchik
Danielle Pletka
Stephen Rickard
David Satter
Randy Scheunemann
Gary Schmitt
Dan Senor
Steven Sestanovich
Gare A. Smith
John Sullivan
William H. Taft IV
Peter Wehner
Kenneth R. Weinstein
Christian Whiton
Leon Wieseltier
Damon Wilson
Jennifer Windsor
Kenneth D. Wollack
R. James Woolsey

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Russia has to many memories of the Great Game and adventures in Afghanistan to cozy up to a corporate snake, no matter how glamorous his camouflage. I nearly got a coffee nose-snort at this quip. “Exchanging a black tyrant with white stripes for a white tyrant with black stripes is not progress.”…more or less.

  2. They’d find another button to press fdoleza. He’d probably have to totally disarm and reinstate the oligarchs.

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