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     Jun 23, 2006
US: Danger, danger everywhere
By Tom Barry

On three occasions since the end of World War II - in 1950, 1976 and 2004 - elite citizen committees have organized to warn the United States of what they viewed as looming threats to national security.

These three Committees on the Present Danger (CPD) aimed to ratchet up the level of fear among the US public and policy community. In each case, the committees leveraged fear in attempts to increase military budgets, to mobilize the country for war, and to beat back isolationist, anti-interventionist and realist forces in US politics.

In the early 1950s and in the late 1970s, the Committees on the Present Danger succeeded in shifting the US to a war footing - first to launch the Cold War, and two decades later to end the

move in the policy community toward detente and arms-control agreements with the Soviet Union.

The success of the first danger committees has inspired the country's hawks and neo-conservatives to imitate the CPD model. Both the Center for Security Policy, founded by Frank Gaffney in 1988, and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), founded in 1997 by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, cite the CPD model.

It was not, however, until the backlash against the war in Iraq started spreading that the Committee on the Present Danger name was resurrected. This time the CPD points to Islamic terrorism as the present danger the US faces abroad and anti-war sentiment as the clear and present danger at home.

To a large degree, the evolution of the CPD reflects the post-World War II course of US foreign and military policy. Whenever the country has started to move from a wartime footing to a period of decreased support for the military and increased isolationist sentiment, the foreign-policy hawks in both parties have organized fear-mongering campaigns to expand the global reach of US troops and weapons.

President George W Bush's foreign-policy team, dominated by the men from the neo-conservative PNAC, took advantage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US to justify a new military doctrine of preventive war, regime change and US military supremacy. Less than three years after the administration launched its "global war on terror", the public and bipartisan support that the administration initially enjoyed started to slip.

The new war party - the third CPD - formed to stem the growing rejection of US interventionism and unilateralism. In the CPD's mission statement, the committee's founders summarize the history of the two previous committees and describe the new challenge:
Twice before in American history, the Committee on the Present Danger has risen to this challenge. It emerged in 1950 as a bipartisan education and advocacy organization dedicated to building a national consensus for the Truman administration's policy aimed at "containment" of Soviet expansionism. In 1976, the Committee on the Present Danger re-emerged, with leadership from the labor movement, bipartisan representatives of the foreign-policy community, and academia, all of them concerned about strategic drift in US security policy and determined to support policies intended to bring the Cold War to a successful conclusion.

In both previous periods, the committee's mission was clear: raise awareness of the threat to American safety; communicate the risk inherent in appeasing totalitarianism; and build support for an assertive policy to promote the security of the United States and its allies and friends. Like the Cold War, securing our freedom against organized terrorism is a long-term struggle. The road to victory begins with clear identification of the shifting threat and vigorous pursuit of policies to contain and defeat it.
Will this new war party succeed, as its predecessors did, in winning new public and policymaker support for what this latest CPD describes as "World War IV"? Or will the US reject the politics of fear and hate this time, and move toward a more measured, less militaristic course in international relations - one that ensures national security without burdening the US with new wars and a self-serving military-industrial complex?

Organizing for a Cold War
The original CPD "emerged in 1950 as a bipartisan education and advocacy organization dedicated to building a national consensus for the Truman administration's policy aimed at 'containment' of Soviet expansionism".

Written by the current CPD, this description is accurate but also deceptive. While it was a bipartisan committee of prominent citizens, the first CPD was created at the initiative of the administration of president Harry Truman with the explicit purpose of "scaring the hell out of" Americans, as one Republican senator advised, rather than educating citizens about the postwar realities. Its unstated but clear objective was to build support for a postwar militarization based on an exaggerated threat assessment of the Soviet Union.

At the close of World War II, the government's most influential hawks - including secretary of state Dean Acheson and the department's director of policy planning, Paul Nitze - nested not in the War Department (renamed the Defense Department in 1947) but in the State Department. Although some of these men had served in World War I, like those hawks who would later come to power in the administration of George W Bush, the hardliners of this era were for the most part not military men.

Instead, they moved in and out of government from their bases in investment banking, international law firms, corporate America, major foundations and elite universities.

In 1949, Nitze began formulating a new national-security memorandum known as NSC-68. It envisaged a heavily militarized containment strategy that would guide US foreign and military policy through the Vietnam War. Containing little hard information, NSC-68 was an exercise in hyperbole and alarmism, declaring that "a rapid building up of strength in the free world is necessary to support a firm policy intended to check and roll back the Kremlin's drive for world domination". It cautioned that "the integrity and vitality of our system is in greater jeopardy than ever before in our history".

NSC-68 warned that one of the most serious threats to US national security was internal: "Our fundamental purpose is more likely to be defeated from lack of will to maintain it." Foreseeing the difficulties in generating sufficient congressional and public support for their hawkish foreign policy, Acheson and Nitze recognized that their new national-security strategy document should be both a propaganda tool and a Pentagon "policy guidance" to shape postwar security policy.

In his autobiography, Acheson said, "The purpose of NSC-68" was "to so bludgeon the mass mind" that "not only could the president make a decision but that decision could be carried out."
To mobilize a constituency that would support a massive increase in the US military budget and extensive overseas troop deployment, the government helped organize a committee of "worthy citizens" who, after reviewing the NSC-68 proposals for remilitarization, "could then say to the people: 'We are thoroughly advised, and you can accept what we say.'"

A "Citizens' Conference" was organized by seven university presidents to preview the position supporting NSC-68 and present it to the nation's leading industrialists and financiers. Among those attending were financier Bernard Baruch, Julius Ochs Adler of the New York Times, John D Rockefeller and Alfred Sloan of General Motors. At the committee's first meeting, members decided that there should be no public record of their meetings, given that their purpose was to manipulate public opinion and to win congressional support for NSC-68.

On December 12, 1950, a committee of high-profile business and academic figures - many with close ties to Nitze and Acheson - held its first press conference in the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington. Three well-known Republicans - James Conant, the Harvard University president who helped convince president Franklin D Roosevelt of the need to develop atomic weapons; Tracy Voorhees, former under secretary of the army; and Vannevar Bush, a prominent engineer and early promoter of the Manhattan Project to develop the bomb - became the first directors of the committee, which warned of the "the present danger" facing the United States from "the aggressive designs of the Soviet Union".

The next day, Truman addressed congressional leaders on the pressing need for additional military spending to prepare for a war with the Soviet Union. On the following day, the president submitted to Congress his fourth supplemental to the fiscal 1951 defense budget. Echoing the language and demands of what the New York Times described as a group of "distinguished private citizens", the president declared that to meet the "present danger" the US needed to increase its armed forces to 3.5 million men, greatly augment its production of weapons, and provide the funds needed to integrate allied forces in Europe.

Republican conservatives in Congress were livid. In their view, the liberal internationalists of the Democratic Party, together with their allies among Republican Party members of the much-maligned "Eastern Establishment", were "selling us a bill of goods". One senator rejected the fear-mongering of the group of internationally minded Republicans and some key Democrats. "The Committee on the Present Danger," he said, is the "same old business, the same old salesmanship, the same old determination to put America on the road to disaster."

Congressman John T Wood threw down the gauntlet: "It is time to think and talk and act American and designate internationalists for what they are - potential traitors to the United States."

The CPD's media and educational campaign proved critical to congressional acceptance of NSC-68 - a document that would usher out the isolationist sentiment of a country tired of war and usher in a war to contain the Soviet Union.

Not everyone in the administration was pleased with NSC-68. The most prominent dissident was George Kennan, former director of policy planning at the State Department. Although he was the author of the Cold War's containment doctrine, Kennan's views were far more nuanced and less militaristic than Nitze's.

Nitze rejected Kennan's realpolitik views, and as a result Kennan was shunted off to a foreign-policy post in the backwaters of Latin America. Commenting on his own role in fueling Cold War policies, Kennan wrote in his 1967 memoirs that he saw himself as "one who has inadvertently loosened a large boulder from the top of a cliff and now helplessly witnesses its path of destruction in the valley below, shuddering and wincing at each successive glimpse of disaster".

In the end, the militarists and liberal internationalists won the day. They succeeded in instilling widespread fear among the US public that "the Russians were coming". This proved key to congressional acceptance of NSC-68 and the new policy of military containment of the Soviet Union.

The members of the first CPD - together with their sponsors in government - were clearly concerned about the need to improve US military readiness. So, too, they were convinced that a large dose of Keynesian government spending in weapons procurement at home and military deployment abroad was the best way to prevent a postwar economic downturn. Increased defense expenditures, which rose from less than 4% of gross national product in 1947 to an average 8-10% in the 1950s, kept billions of dollars flowing into the economy.

Having succeeded in its aims, the CPD disbanded in 1953. By vastly exaggerating Soviet military capacity and expansionist ambitions, the committee played a key role in establishing anti-communism as the mobilizing principle for a postwar foreign policy that was at once internationalist, interventionist and militaristic.

Among its other achievements, the first CPD created a vast military-industrial complex, defeated isolationist tendencies on the home front and brought about the permanent deployment of US forces in both East Asia and Western Europe.

But the fear-mongering and exaggerated assessments of the Soviet threat had unintended consequences in the ensuing decades that would drive a divisive wedge into the political and public life of the United States.

Heating up the Cold War
The second Committee on the Present Danger, formed in 1976, was an outgrowth of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM), which was a group of Democratic Party hawks who objected to the increasing influence of progressives and anti-war activists within the party.

Most of the Cold Warriors of the CDM, which was established in 1972, were associates or allies of senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, who led the congressional fights for higher military budgets, increased aid to Israel and against arms control agreements.

In a 1975 letter to Nitze, CDM director Eugene Rostow proposed the formation of a new citizen coalition to alert the public to the "growing Soviet threat". After an initial organizing meeting convened by Rostow in March 1976, the reconstituted CPD had its official unveiling on November 11, 1976, three days after the election of president Jimmy Carter.

The conservative Democrats of the CDM contended that communism was a great evil and that the US had a moral obligation to eradicate it and foster democracy throughout the world. The 193 individual members of the revitalized CPD comprised a who's who of the Democratic Party establishment and a cross-section of Republican leadership.

Eventually, 13 of the 18 members of the foreign0policy task force of the CDM, led by Eugene Rostow, joined CPD II. Notable among them were Jeane Kirkpatrick, Leon Keyserling, Max Kampelman, Richard Shifter and John P Roche.

CPD II broadened its base considerably from the original group by including in its ranks top labor officials, Jewish liberals, and neo-conservative intellectuals. It managed this feat by including in its ideology not only a strong anti-Soviet policy, but also one that promoted growth and expansion. The CPD presented an alternative to the cooperative vision of empire put forth by the trilateralists with an imperial, unilateral philosophy of power retention through military strength. Carter chose to follow the philosophy of the trilateral commissions, but the CPD and its cohorts became dominant with the election of president Ronald Reagan.

Another source of influence and members for the CPD II was the Team B Strategic Objectives Panel, which was an independent panel established to review the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) "threat assessments" of the Soviet Union.

Team B members included Richard Pipes and William van Cleave, as well as General Daniel Graham, whose "High Frontier" missile defense proposal foreshadowed Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), or "Star Wars".

The team's advisory panel included Paul Wolfowitz, Nitze and Seymour Weiss - all close associates of Albert Wohlstetter. Although Richard Perle was not a Team B member, he was instrumental in pulling the team together.

It was Perle who had introduced Pipes, a Polish immigrant who taught Russian history at Harvard, to senator Henry Jackson, catapulting Pipes into a clique of fanatically anti-Soviet hawks. Pipes served as Team B's chairman and chose Wolfowitz as his principal adviser.

Team B leaked its report to the media as an "October surprise", attempting to derail Carter's 1976 presidential bid. Team B argued that "Soviet leaders are first and foremost offensively rather than defensively minded". The team arrived at this conclusion from an assessment of the USSR's capabilities.

In the process, it ignored important evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion. While it was true that the Soviets had been expanding their military capacity in the early 1970s, the USSR's military production - along with the Soviet economy in general - began to stagnate by the mid-1970s.

Dismissing this new trend, Team B accused the CIA of consistently underestimating the "intensity, scope and implicit threat" posed by the Soviet Union. By relying on technical or "hard" data rather than "contemplat[ing] Soviet strategic objectives", charged the panel, the CIA was setting up the United States for defeat in the Cold War.

In her investigative account of the Team B affair, Anne Hessing Cahn notes, "Even at the time of the affair, Team B had at its disposal sufficient information to know that the Soviet Union was in severe decline. As Soviet defectors were telling us in anguished terms that the system was collapsing, Team B looked at the quantity but not the quality of missiles, tanks and planes, at the quantity of Soviet men under arms, but not their morale, leadership, alcoholism or training."

The 1975-76 Team B operation was a classic case of threat escalation by hawks determined to increase military budgets and step up the US offensive in the Cold War. Concocted by right-wing ideologues and militarists, Team B aimed to bury the politics of detente and nuclear arms reduction negotiations, which were supported by the leadership of both political parties.

The Team B report paved the way for CPD II, which formed weeks after Team B had released its findings. The committee's first major policy statement, titled "What is the Soviet Union Up To?", was written by Team B leader Pipes, who along with other participants in the Team B exercise - including Foy Kohler, Nitze and van Cleave - were founding members of the CPD.

Although CPD II included conservative hawks, politicians and corporate leaders, its leadership and the majority of its 141 original members were Democrats who rejected the progressive "New Politics" of the party leadership. Unlike CPD I, membership in the new committee extended beyond the Eastern Establishment to include a wide range of corporate and investment-house executives, labor leaders, right-wing militarists (Frank Barnett of the National Strategy Information Center), right-wing philanthropist Richard Scaife, neo-conservatives from the Jackson camp, neo-con scholars (Nathan Glazer and Seymour Martin Lipset), and leading Jewish members of the Democratic Party who were increasingly concerned that the party was not sufficiently supportive of Israel.

The political realignment advocated by these neo-conservatives, hawks and other frustrated Cold Warriors was supported by leading figures in corporate America. David Packard, a former under secretary of defense, provided the founding grant to establish CPD II. Packard was a major owner in defense contractor Hewlett-Packard and a member of Boeing's board of directors.

In sum, the 141 founding directors of CPD II formed an insidious web with links to 110 major corporations. Leading CPD members included three former treasury secretaries - Henry Fowler, C Douglas Dillon and John Connelly - two former high officials of the Export-Import Bank, numerous private bankers, partners in leading New York investment firms, the former president of Time Inc, the chairman of Prudential Insurance, the director of the Atlantic Council, Citibank's chief international business adviser and many other corporate figures whose interests reached beyond military budget increases.

The CPD's "threat assessment" battles with the CIA and other government agencies, and its public-education campaigns to pitch its "peace through strength" message had bottom-line implications for corporations that had been suffering declining profits since the mid-1960s. CPD II was part of a broader business mobilization in the late 1970s that promoted a conservative agenda to bolster the profits of weapons manufacturers and service providers for the military-industrial complex.

CDM members of CPD II believed that the liberal internationalism of the Democrats had run its course and that a new "conservative internationalism" would better serve the interests of US corporations. First, a new internationalism that stressed US global reach and hegemony would provide more stability for foreign investors concerned about leftist insurgencies, Third World attempts to control commodity markets (especially oil), and the rise of anti-American regimes, such as the one in Iran.

Second, CPD believed its version of internationalism would create expanded investment and export trade opportunities through its advocacy of the neo-liberal restructuring of foreign economies.

US corporate leaders represented in the CPD and in new corporate associations such as the Business Roundtable were calling for less government regulation, an end to the "business-labor accord", and a revamping of progressive tax policies at home. The "center of gravity of American big business" had shifted to the right during the 1970s, as the early enthusiasm for trilateralism waned.

Business now believed that what was needed in these times of economic stagnation and social turmoil was a more assertive US foreign and military policy.

Although Carter met with a delegation from the CPD prior to his inauguration, only one of its members was invited to join the administration. Carter appointed Peter Rosenblatt, who today serves on the advisory board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, as his special representative to Micronesia.

But despite Carter's early attempts to ignore the CPD and stay the course of detente, his administration soon caved under the barrage of op-eds, press releases and reports produced by the committee and its cohorts.

As a candidate, Carter had advocated a trilateralist position: "We must replace balance-of-power with world-order politics. It is likely in the near future that issues of war and peace will be more a function of economic and social problems than of the military-security problems."

By his final State of the Union address in January 1980, Carter had moved to a more militaristic position. In what was later to be called the Carter Doctrine, the president declared that the US military would be used whenever America's main national interest - the free flow of oil from the Middle East - was threatened. "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force," Carter declared.

The relentless pressure and public-education campaigns by the CPD had much to do with Carter's about-face, late in his term, on military budget issues and arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. Carter ended up supporting a 5% increase in defense spending, largely abandoned the arms-control negotiations with the Soviet Union, ordered the creation of a Rapid Deployment Force and backed the production of "stealth" bombers, cruise missiles and the Trident submarine.

CPD joins the Reagan administration
Within four years of the founding of CPD II, 46 of its members had joined president-elect Reagan's foreign-policy advisory task force. Reagan himself was a member of CPD II. By the end of Reagan's first term, 32 CPD members had joined the administration, and by 1988 more than 50 committee members had served in the high reaches of the national-security apparatus. In addition, Reagan invited four members of the infamous Team B into the administration.

These neo-conservatives shaped the ideological foundation and new directions of the Reagan administration's foreign policy, including its rollback strategies, anti-multilateralism, tactical human-rights policies, democratization programs, and the consolidation of the US-Israeli strategic alliance through close ties with Likud Party hardliners.

Among former members of senator Jackson's staff to find positions in the Reagan administration's foreign-policy team were such neo-conservative operatives as Wolfowitz, Perle, Elliott Abrams, Gaffney, Feith, Charles Horner and Ben Wattenberg. Other Jackson Democrats who secured appointments in the Reagan administration included Jean Kirkpatrick, as ambassador to the United Nations, and neo-conservatives on her staff, such as Joshua Muravchik, Steven Munson, Carl Gershman and Kenneth Adelman.

Joining the Reagan administration's national-security and "arms control" team were several neo-conservatives who had been associated in the 1970s with the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, including Eugene Rostow, Max Kampelman and Pipes - all of whom were more inclined toward militarism than arms control.

A year after Reagan's election, CPD's president, Charles Tyroler, formerly director of the Department of Defense's manpower supply division and later a member of the Reagan administration's Intelligence Oversight Board, told the New York Times, "It happened so fast that we're almost amazed ourselves." At the State Department, career diplomats were also stunned at how quickly hawks and neo-conservatives assumed the reins of foreign and military policy. "The administration seems to be espousing their [CPD] views lock, stock and barrel," commented a high official at the State Department.

The success of CPD II was stunning, but for founding committee members it came after four years of frustration with the Carter administration's reluctant evolution toward a more belligerent US foreign policy. In achieving public and policymaker consensus for a "peace through strength" foreign policy, CPD II repeated the success of its precursor in the early 1950s.

The difference was that the first committee emerged as a strategy to build support for a pre-established position by the governing elite. In contrast, the second committee came together as an outside effort to replace the ruling faction of the foreign policy elite with a dissident camp rooted in a diversified constituent base of organized labor, the counter-establishment network of think tanks and policy institutes and a minority tendency in the Democratic Party.

Especially during his first term, Reagan echoed the moral and military rearmament rhetoric of the neo-conservatives, giving the nation what he had promised - higher military budgets, militant anti-communism, an end to arms control, and a crusade against evil.

Relentless pressure by the CPD together with militarist citizen coalitions organized by right-wing groups such as the American Security Council and the National Strategy Information Center succeeded in moving Carter away from his trilateralist positions. Rising leftist insurgency in the Third World, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the populist coup that overthrew the shah of Iran during the second half of Carter's presidency shook the foundations of the post-Vietnam War policies of detente, arms control, Third World developmentalism and economic engagement with the Soviet Union. Between 1981 and 1985, military tax expenditures jumped 32% in real terms - making the Reagan peacetime military buildup the largest in US history.

Present danger time again
The Committee on the Present Danger was resurrected in June 2004 by a largely neo-conservative group of 41 members. The new committee "is dedicated to protecting and expanding democracy by supporting policies aimed at winning the global war against terrorism and the movements and ideologies that drive it".

According to CPD, "Our mission is to educate free people everywhere about the threat posed by global radical Islamist and fascist terrorist movements; to counsel against appeasement of terrorists; to support policies that are part of a strategy of victory against this menace to freedom; and to support policies that encourage the development of civil society and democracy in those regions from which the terrorists emanate." CPD's slogan is "Fighting Terrorism and the Ideologies that Drive It".

In keeping with the tradition of its forerunner committees, the current CPD is neither a policy institute nor a think-tank, but functions as a front group that through occasional statements, conferences and reports attempts to bolster support for increased military spending and a more aggressive global war against Islamic militants, particularly in the Middle East. CPD lists no physical location, and has only one employee.

When CPD was founded, Max Kampelman - a "Scoop" Jackson Democrat who joined the Reagan administration's State Department and was a founding member of the 1976 committee - said: "I think the country is in present danger today ... We've got to come up with a bipartisan program to do something about influencing public opinion in the rest of the world. It's an unfortunate reality today that America does not look good in the eyes of many people ... a total inadequacy on the part of [the Bush] administration."

Although CPD membership has increased since mid-2004, it remains an overwhelmingly Republican group with a handful of hawkish Democrats and with a largely Jewish membership.

Writing about the early membership of CPD, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service observed, "A number of members of the new CPD, including Kampelman, Jack Kemp, Kirkpatrick, Muravchik, Gaffney and James Woolsey himself, overlap with the membership of the advisory boards of the Likud-oriented Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Middle East Forum, or the US Committee for a Free Lebanon. In addition, a husband-and-wife team who played key roles in the evolution of neo-conservatism from the late 1960s to the present and who also were associated with both CDM and CPD II, former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz and his spouse, Midge Decter (who co-chaired the Committee for the Free World with Donald Rumsfeld during the Reagan administration) have also joined the new CPD."
The third and current CPD has a narrower political base than either of its predecessors despite its best efforts to represent itself as non-partisan. Although it has managed to incorporate some major political figures - such as George Shultz - this CPD has few connections to Corporate America, the leadership of either party, or such social sectors as labor, churches or ethnic groups.

Nor can it be said that the current CPD represents the whole of neo-conservatism. It does include many neo-conservatives, but the absence of such neo-con luminaries as William Kristol, Robert Kagan and Richard Perle is a conspicuous sign of the failure of CPD to unify even the neo-conservatives.

Although its stated mission is to fight terrorism, CPD in its publications and forums embraces the more traditional concerns of the hawks, such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion and missile defense.

CPD has published several reports, including "Propaganda & Terrorism: Policy Options for the War of Ideas", "NATO: An Alliance for Freedom, Oil, and Security" (written by CPD co-chairs George Shultz and James Woolsey), and "Missile Defense for the 21st Century" (whose lead author is Henry Cooper).

CPD directors and members
George Shultz and James Woolsey are the co-chairs of the six-member board of directors. Other members are neo-conservatives Kenneth Adelman, Rachel Ehrenfeld (president of the Israel-focused American Center for Democracy), and Clifford May. William van Cleave, one of the few members of the current CPD who was also a member of the second CPD, is a right-wing hawk.
Senators Jon Kyl (a Republican from Arizona) and Joseph Lieberman (a Democrat from Connecticut ) serve as CPD's honorary co-chairmen, giving the CPD the appearance of being a bipartisan initiative.

Like the second CPD, the current committee is largely a grouping of national security militarists and neo-conservatives. Since its founding in mid-2004, CPD has substantially increased its membership and now includes an international wing. [1]

When asked about CPD's membership, Jeane Kirkpatrick said the committee's members were largely "friends of mine" and that "a number of the people involved in it are also members of Freedom House", a neo-con-led human-rights organization on whose board of trustees Kirkpatrick sits and of which James Woolsey is chairman.

Several members of the current CPD were also members of the second incarnation: Max Kampelman, Midge Decter, Norm Podhoretz, Peter Rosenblatt and William Van Cleave.

Nominally non-partisan, CPD III includes several liberal hawks, notably Joseph Lieberman, Stephen Solarz and Dave McCurdy, but is overwhelmingly a committee of neo-conservatives, former Republican officials, wealthy business executives and military-industrial complex figures.

Offshoot of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Although CPD III was officially launched on July 20, 2004, it was listed by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) as the co-sponsor of a June 16, 2004, symposium on "Iraq's Future and the War on Terrorism". In its press release, FDD described CPD as a "venerable Cold Warrior group, now in the process of being recreated".

CPD is closely interlinked with FDD. Clifford May, FDD's president, directs CPD's policy committee. FDD's three board members - Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick - are also CPD members. Three of FDD's four "distinguished advisers" - James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich and Joseph Lieberman - are CPD members. Woolsey is CPD's co-chair, while Lieberman is an honorary co-chair.

The two groups with overlapping directors have cooperated in hosting two other forums, but FDD apparently provides all the financial and logistical support for those meetings.

FDD and CPD cosponsored a "World War IV: Why We Fight, Whom We Fight, How We Fight" symposium on September 29, 2004. According to the FDD news release: "The Cold War is now being called by some 'World War III' because it was global, had an ideological basis, involved both military and non-military actions, required skill and the mobilization of extensive resources, and lasted for years. Today's 'war on terrorism' has the same elements, hence a broader name, 'World War IV'." Speakers included prominent neo-cons Norman Podhoretz, James Woolsey, Eliot Cohen, Rachel Ehrenfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

On January 13, 2005, FDD sponsored a conference on "Propaganda & Terrorism: Policy Options for the War of Ideas". FDD's release makes no mention of CPD, but CPD includes in its list of publications a report whose title is the name of the FDD conference - although CPD says the report is a product of its January 13, 2005, conference.

Shaky start
Accompanying the official launch of the CPD at a Washington, DC, press conference on July 20, 2004, were three full-page ads in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Washington Times, in addition to a Washington Post op-ed jointly authored by CPD's honorary co-chairs, senators Lieberman and Kyl.

In "The present danger" op-ed, Lieberman and Kyl likened the war against terrorism to the Cold War: "The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks awoke all Americans to the capabilities and brutality of our new enemy, but today too many people are insufficiently aware of our enemy's evil worldwide designs, which include waging jihad against all Americans and re-establishing a totalitarian religious empire in the Middle East. The past struggle against communism differed in some ways from the current war against Islamist terrorism. But America's freedom and security, which each has aimed to undermine, are exactly the same."

Like the previous CPDs, the current committee describes the present danger as having both domestic and foreign manifestations. Lieberman and Kyl, apparently concerned about the rising anti-war movement and the criticism of the war by the realists and traditional conservatives, wrote: "The leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties have so far stood firm in their commitment to finish the job in Iraq and to fight to victory the war on terrorism. But that bipartisan consensus is coming under growing public pressure and could fray in the months ahead. Although the tide is turning in the war on terrorism, a political undertow in this country could wash out our recent gains. We must not let this happen."

At the FDD-organized and -financed forum a month earlier, Lieberman had also indicated that the principal "present danger" facing the country was the domestic backlash against the war in Iraq. According to Lieberman, "The terrorists can never defeat us militarily. But they can divide us and defeat us politically if the American people become disappointed and disengaged, because they don't appreciate and support the overriding principles that require us to take military action. The same, of course, is true for our allies in Europe, Asia and throughout the Muslim world. They need to better understand and embrace our purpose and what it means for them."

At the official launch, former CIA director Woolsey said that CPD aimed to combat what he called "a totalitarian movement masquerading as a religion". He said, "We understand very well that this time, the danger that we must address is a danger to the United States but also a danger to democracy and civil society throughout the world, and it is very much our hope to be of support and assistance to those who seek to bring democracy and civil society to the part of the world, the Middle East extended, to which this Islamist terror is now resonant in and generated from."

Also speaking at the press conference, Lieberman said CPD's objective was "to form a bipartisan citizens' army, which is ready to fight a war of ideas against our Islamist terrorist enemies, and to send a clear signal that their strategy to deceive, demoralize, and divide America will not succeed".

Despite the splashy media launch, CPD got off to a shaky official start. On its second day, CPD managing director Peter Hannaford was asked to resign from the board after complaints by the Anti-Defamation League and concerns by CPD members that Hannaford was registered as a lobbyist for the nativist Austrian Freedom Party, headed by the right-wing nationalist Joerg Haider, who has spoken highly of the orderly practices of the Third Reich.

Freelance journalist Laura Rozen, a close observer of the neo-conservatives, published information about Hannaford's international lobbying work in her blog. Hannaford is a communications specialist who runs his own international PR firm and who was Reagan's top communications official during his years as governor of California and for his successful presidential campaign in 1980.

Hannaford stepped down as managing director, but stayed on as CPD's senior counsel. He is well respected by prominent neo-conservatives who are CPD members. Midge Decter told the New York Sun that she had the utmost respect for Hannaford. "I first came to know him because he was a right-hand man of Ronald Reagan," she said. "I cannot imagine Pete Hannaford is anything but a firm and solid lover of democracy." According to the Sun, R Emmett Tyrell, the founding publisher of The American Spectator and a member of CPD II, said that Hannaford was a "great Reaganite" and a "wonderful friend of freedom".

In January 2006, CPD weighed in on Iran policy with a paper that called for "regime change to be part of US policy". According to CPD, "Most Americans would support the United States joining with other countries to initiate a limited military action to destroy Iran's ability to make nuclear weapons." CPD based this conclusion on a poll commissioned by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

At the press conference where the Iran paper was released, CPD co-chair Woolsey said: "The militant Islamists cannot be appeased; they will wage war until they are stopped. We believe that the US and international community should energetically assist the millions of Iranians who want a government that does not repress its own people and threaten others." Also present at the press conference were FDD's Clifford May, Senator Jon Kyl, and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy.

Countering the 'threat' of anti-war sentiment
When CPD announced its formation, Woolsey said: "The committee intends to remain active until the present danger is no longer a threat, however long that takes."

If the present danger is defined as increased criticism at home of the Bush administration's "war on terrorism", then two years after its formation, the present danger has deepened. CPD has expanded its membership list, but the number of policymakers and citizens opposing the way the Bush administration has been fighting the "war on terror" has risen dramatically.

The "present danger" of growing domestic dissent alarms CPD members. All the more alarming to the neo-cons and the pro-Israel hardliners in the CPD has been the rising criticism that US policy in the Middle East, including the escalating tensions with Iran, has been driven by the US-based Israel lobby.

In this political context of mounting criticism, the contemporary CPD faces more adverse conditions in imposing its agenda. The first CPD closed down in 1953 after the country was well on its way to having a bipartisan foreign policy in support of Cold War militarization, and the second CPD defined the policies that would then become the guidelines for the Reagan foreign-policy team. Although apparently enjoying access to deep funding pockets, the prospects of CPD III achieving similar success appear dim.

Like its two predecessors, the current CPD aims to create widespread public and policy community support for higher military budgets and expanded troop deployment to meet the "present danger". By raising fears that the Soviet Union represented an imminent threat to national security, the previous CPDs succeeded in isolating and impugning the credibility of the political leaders and public intellectuals who favored constructive engagement with the Soviet Union rather than a Cold War of global militarization. In both cases, the CPDs discredited the less politicized, more objective "threat assessments" prepared by the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon.

The third CPD also aims to raise the level of fear among Americans by declaring that the United States is immersed in World War IV, but has not yet committed adequate resources to the global battle. But after five years of exaggerated threat assessments from the neo-conservatives and the Bush administration - many of which have already been publicly exposed, such as the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein-Osama bin Laden ties that proved baseless in Iraq - the CPD faces a major challenge in winning acceptance for its call for the US government to expand its misdirected "war on terrorism" and its missionary crusade to spread "freedom and liberty".

The new Committee on the Present Danger may be the first CPD that is unable to sell its alarmist version of the "present danger".

1. Among the most well-known members, besides its board members, are: Morris Amitay, William Brock (former secretary of labor), Elliot Cohen, Henry Cooper, Midge Decter, Steve Forbes, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Newt Gingrich, Bruce Jackson, Max Kampelman, Phyllis Kaminsky, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Charles Kupperman, Clifford May, Robert McFarlane (former national security adviser), Edwin Meese (former US attorney general), Joshua Muravchik, Laurent Murawiec, Michael Novak, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Peter Rosenblatt, Nina Shea, Stephen Solarz, Ben Wattenberg, Elie Wiesel (chairman of US Holocaust Memorial) and Dov Zakheim.

Other members include: Roland Arnall (chairman of Ameriquest Capital Corp), Mark Benson (president of APCO Insight), Walter Berns (American Enterprise Institute scholar), Bradford Belzak (private liaison to Homeland Security Department), Ilan Berman (vice president for policy of American Foreign Policy Council), Barry Blechman (chairman of Henry L Stimson Center), Peter Brookes (Heritage Foundation), Jacquelyn Davis (president of National Security Planning Associates), Candace de Russey (Hudson Institute), Viola Herms Drath (National Committee on American Foreign Policy), Richard Fairbanks (Center for Strategic and International Studies), John Fonte (Center for American Common Culture), Joseph diGenova (former US attorney), Alvin Felsenberg (Institute of Politics at Harvard University), Benjamin Gilman (former chairman of House Committee on International Relations), Lawrence Haas (former vice presidential communications director), Jeffrey Gayner (chairman of Council for America), Farid Ghadry (Reform Party of Syria), Victor Davis Hanson (Hoover Institution) and Jerome Hauer.

The list continues: Amoretta Hoeber (defense consultant), Michael Horowitz (Hudson Institute), Peter Huessy (National Defense University Foundation), Kenneth Jensen (American Committee on Foreign Relations, executive director), John Joyce (International Construction Institute, president), John Kester (former special assistant to defense secretary), Robert Kogod (Hartman Institute, Jerusalem), Anne Korin (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security), Robert Lieber (Georgetown University), Gal Luft (Institute for Analysis of Global Security), Barton Marcois (former principal deputy secretary for policy at Department of Defense), Dana Marshall (former international economic affairs adviser to vice president), Dave McCurdy (former chairman of House Intelligence Committee), Brett McGurk (former attorney for Coalition Provisional Authority), Philip Merrill (chairman of Capital-Gazette Communications), Hedieh Mirahmadi, Khaleel Mohammed (San Diego State University), John Norton Moore (former chairman of US Institute for Peace), Powell Moore (former assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs), Laurie Mylroie (American Enterprise Institute), Chet Nagle (intelligence consultant), Kamal Nawash (Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, president), Mark Palmer (former deputy assistant secretary of state), Robert Pfaltzgraff (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) and James Phillips (Heritage Foundation).

And more ... Bruce Ramer (former president of American Jewish Committee), Samantha Ravich (Long Term Strategy Project), Nina Rosenwald (chairman of Middle East Media Research Institute), Lieutenant-General Edward Rowny (Iran Policy Committee), Sol Sanders (former international editor of Newsweek), George Sawyer (J F Lehman), Pedro Sanjuan (former assistant secretary of the interior for international affairs), Richard Shifter (former assistant secretary of state), Peter Schweizer (Hoover Institution), John Shenefield (former associate US attorney general), Ron Silver (film director, producer), Max Singer (Hudson Institute), Rob Sobhani (international energy specialist), Jeffrey Stein (Peyton Investments), James Strock (Pacific Research Institute), Victoria Toensing (former deputy assistant attorney general), Robert Turner (Center for National Law), Charles Walker (former deputy secretary of the treasury), John Whitehead (chairman emeritus of Brookings), Michael Wildes, George Whitman (former chairman of National Institute for Public Policy) and Francisco Wong-Diaz.

CPD's international members are: Jose Maria Aznar (former prime minister of Spain), Edmond Aphandery (chairman of Caisse Nationale de Prevoyance), Vaclav Havel (former president of the Czech Republic), Akbar Atri (member of the central committee of Takhim Vahdat, described by CPD as "Iran's largest student democratic organization"), Saad al-Din Ibrahim (chairman of Egypt's Center for Development), Enrique Krauze (Mexican historian), Helen Szamuely (British political scientist), and David Pryce-Jones (senior editor of National Review).

Tom Barry is policy director of the International Relations Center and is the author or editor of numerous books on US foreign policy.

(Published with permission of the International Relations Center )

The New American Century: Rest in peace (Jun 14, '06)


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