Kick-Starting Employment
Newspapers and Colleges

Neoconservatives Lie, About Everything, All the Time

George Packer:

PNAC and Iraq: A commenter I assume to be Gary Schmitt, the former executive director and current senior fellow at the Project for the New American Century, writes to take me to task for my characterization of the organization, saying that PNAC contributed no staff or board members to the Bush Administration. Schmitt is right. I was thinking of the signatories to its statement of principles and its letters on regime change in Iraq—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Peter Rodman, John Bolton, Richard Perle, and Richard Armitage—none of whom held formal positions in PNAC.... Schmitt also implies that PNAC did not play a role in creating the congressional pressure that ultimately led President Clinton to sign the Iraq Liberation Act when he was badly weakened by the Lewinsky scandal. Read the PNAC letters and the rest of the relevant history and decide for yourself. Finally, Schmitt contends that PNAC was a leading post-invasion critic of the handling of the Iraq War. He should post some of the evidence on the group’s web site, where you can find a lengthy 2005 report called “Iraq: Setting the Record Straight,” an ex-post-facto defense of the WMD justification for the war, as well as links to numerous op-eds by PNAC members fighting rearguard battles against the war’s domestic critics—but no trace of the kind of thoroughgoing criticism that might have come to the attention of PNAC’s signatories, who had become leading Bush Administration officials, and made a difference when it mattered. More than any of its positions, this sort of intellectual slipperiness about the past is what makes me skeptical of the future of the Foreign Policy Initiative, started by two of PNAC’s original founders.