The PNAC Letter to Bush, Sept. 20, 2001

The PNAC Letter of 9/20/2001 reflects the dominant (neocon) conclusions from Rumsfeld’s 2-day Defense Policy Board meeting.

Because this letter, basically announcing that Cheney’s Iraq-War clique was going to war, was more concerned with Israel’s security than with US security, it gives twice as much space to Hezbolla as to Osama bin Laden. This is just nine days after 9/11, and it we knew Osama was mainly responsible.

Quotes from the Neocon Letter of 9/20/2001
“Even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, … remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”
“… any war against terrorism must target Hezbollah.”
“We should insist that the Palestinian Authority … imprison those planning terrorist attacks against Israel.”

Context and Summary: The authors appear to have little interest in bin Laden but are afraid of appearing to have an agenda unrelated to the present crisis. So bin Laden is mentioned first, but given only two sentences—65 words, compared with 154 for Iraq and 127 for Hezbollah, Israel’s nemesis.

Aside from the two sentences on Osama, the letter is unified by its focus on enemies of Israel: Iraq, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and the Palestinian Authority, while it ignores entirely the two states most likely to supply bin Laden with nuclear weapons, North Korea and Pakistan. See discussion of Defense-Policy-Board meeting.
Page with this popNote and full text of letter.


The Honorable George W. Bush                                 September 20, 2001
President of the United States

Dear Mr. President,

We write to endorse your admirable commitment to “lead the world to victory” in the war against terrorism. We fully support your call for “a broad and sustained campaign” against the “terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.” We agree with Secretary of State Powell that the United States must find and punish the perpetrators of the horrific attack of September 11, and we must, as he said, “go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world” and “get it by its branch and root.” We agree with the Secretary of State that U.S. policy must aim not only at finding the people responsible for this incident, but must also target those “other groups out there that mean us no good” and “that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.”

In order to carry out this “first war of the 21st century” successfully, and in order, as you have said, to do future “generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism,” we believe the following steps are necessary parts of a comprehensive strategy.

Osama bin Laden

We agree that a key goal, but by no means the only goal, of the current war on terrorism should be to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and to destroy his network of associates. To this end, we support the necessary military action in Afghanistan and the provision of substantial financial and military assistance to the anti-Taliban forces in that country.

Iraq

We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….” It may be that the Iraqi government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism. The United States must therefore provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition. American military force should be used to provide a “safe zone” in Iraq from which the opposition can operate. And American forces must be prepared to back up our commitment to the Iraqi opposition by all necessary means.

Hezbollah

Hezbollah is one of the leading terrorist organizations in the world. It is suspected of having been involved in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Africa, and implicated in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Hezbollah clearly falls in the category cited by Secretary Powell of groups “that mean us no good” and “that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.” Therefore, any war against terrorism must target Hezbollah. We believe the administration should demand that Iran and Syria immediately cease all military, financial, and political support for Hezbollah and its operations. Should Iran and Syria refuse to comply, the administration should consider appropriate measures of retaliation against these known state sponsors of terrorism.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Israel has been and remains America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism, especially in the Middle East. The United States should fully support our fellow democracy in its fight against terrorism. We should insist that the Palestinian Authority put a stop to terrorism emanating from territories under its control and imprison those planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Until the Palestinian Authority moves against terror, the United States should provide it no further assistance.

U.S. Defense Budget

A serious and victorious war on terrorism will require a large increase in defense spending. Fighting this war may well require the United States to engage a well-armed foe, and will also require that we remain capable of defending our interests elsewhere in the world. We urge that there be no hesitation in requesting whatever funds for defense are needed to allow us to win this war.

There is, of course, much more that will have to be done. Diplomatic efforts will be required to enlist other nations’ aid in this war on terrorism. Economic and financial tools at our disposal will have to be used. There are other actions of a military nature that may well be needed. However, in our judgement the steps outlined above constitute the minimum necessary if this war is to be fought effectively and brought to a successful conclusion. Our purpose in writing is to assure you of our support as you do what must be done to lead the nation to victory in this fight.

Sincerely, William Kristol
Richard V. Allen / Gary Bauer / Jeffrey Bell / William J. Bennett     
Rudy Boshwitz / Jeffrey Bergner / Eliot Cohen / Seth Cropsey  
Midge Decter / Thomas Donnelly / Nicholas Eberstadt / Hillel Fradkin
Aaron Friedberg / Francis Fukuyama / Frank Gaffney / Jeffrey Gedmin  
Reuel Marc Gerecht / Charles Hill / Bruce P. Jackson / Eli S. Jacobs  
Michael Joyce / Donald Kagan / Robert Kagan / Jeane Kirkpatrick
Charles Krauthammer / John Lehman / Clifford May / Martin Peretz
Richard Perle / Norman Podhoretz / Stephen P. Rosen / Randy Scheunemann
Gary Schmitt / William Schneider, Jr. / Richard H. Shultz / Henry Sokolski
Stephen J. Solarz / Vin Weber / Leon Wieseltier / Marshall Wittmann

Also available at: www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm