NEO-CONSERVATIVE BLUSTER OR FAR-SIGHTED ANALYSIS? A LOOK AT THE CHENEY DOD PLANNING DOCTRINE OF 1992
"It is improbable that a global conventional challenge to U.S. and Western security will reemerge from the Eurasian heartland for many years to come. Even in the highly unlikely event that some future leadership in the former Soviet Union adopted strategic aims of recovering the lost empire or otherwise threatened global interests, the loss of Warsaw Pact allies and the subsequent and continuing dissolution of military capability would make any hope of success require several years or more of strategic and doctrinal re-orientation and force regeneration and redeployment, which in turn could only happen after a lengthy political realignment and re-orientation to authoritarian and aggressive political and economic control. Furthermore, any such political upheaval in or among the states of the former U.S.S.R. would be much more likely to issue in internal or localized hostilities, rather than a concerted strategic effort to marshal capabilities for external expansionism -- the ability to project power beyond their borders.
There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor. But because we no longer face either a global threat or a hostile, non-democratic power dominating a region critical to our interests, we have the opportunity to meet threats at lower levels and lower costs -- as long as we are prepared to reconstitute additional forces should the need to counter a global threat re-emerge. . . .
With the demise of a global military threat to U.S. interests, regional military threats, including possible conflicts arising in and from the territory of the former Soviet Union, will be of primary concern to the U.S. in the future. These threats are likely to arise in regions critical to the security of the U.S. and its allies, including Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and the territory of the former Soviet Union. We also have important interests at stake in Latin America, Oceania, and Sub-Saharan Africa. In both cases, the U. S. will be concerned with preventing the domination of key regions by a hostile power. . . .
The former Soviet state achieved global reach and power by consolidating control over the resources in the territory of the former U.S.S.R. The best means of assuring that no hostile power is able to consolidate control over the resources within the former Soviet Union is to support its successor states (especially Russia and Ukraine) in their efforts to become peaceful democracies with market-based economies. A democratic partnership with Russia and the other republics would be the best possible outcome for the United States. At the same time, we must also hedge against the possibility that democracy will fail, with the potential that an authoritarian regime bent on regenerating aggressive military power could emerge in Russia, or that similar regimes in other successor republics could lead to spreading conflict within the former U.S.S.R. or Eastern Europe.
For the immediate future, key U.S. concerns will be the ability of Russia and the other republics to demilitarize their societies, convert their military industries to civilian production, eliminate or, in the case of Russia, radically reduce their nuclear weapons inventory, maintain firm command and control over nuclear weapons, and prevent leakage of advanced military technology and expertise to other countries.
NATO continues to provide the indispensable foundation for a stable security environment in Europe. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of Western defense and security, as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs. While the United States supports the goal of European integration, we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance's integrated command structure.
However, the U.S. must keep in mind the long history of conflict between the states of Eastern Europe, as well as the potential for conflict between the states of Eastern Europe and those of the former Soviet Union. . . ."
Department of Defence document titled: "F[iscal] Y[ear] 94-99 Defence Planning Guidance", dated 18 February 1992 in www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv
Much ink has been spilled by those who claim that the cabal of neo-conservatives who came to power back in 2001, on Bush the Younger's coatails, were adherents to a radically new school of American diplomacy and policy. We are told that Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby, et. al., were a group whose vision of American diplomacy was out of keeping with the historic traditions of American diplomacy of the 20th century. As per Messieurs Holbrooke, Talbott and Nye, the neo-conservative emphasis on unilateralism and American strategic supremacy emerged like Athena, ex nihilo out of Zeus's head. The Clinton Administration, we are told did not have any such ambitions nor did it indulge in any such behavior. Is this in fact true? And, if it is not, what can we imagine will be the elements of continuity, rather than discontinuity for the future of American diplomacy as the Bush regime, rides off into the Texas sunset (good riddance to bad rubbish!)?
First, as the above quotes from then Secretary of Defence, Cheney's own officials show, there was a measured sense of triumph as the twin victories in the Cold War and the First Persian Gulf war began to sink in. In essence, as the some of the memorandums, recently declassified by the National Security Archive make quite clear, American hegemony in the military and the diplomatic fields as far as the eye can see, was accurately predicted. The disintegration of the former Sovietskaya Vlast, meant that there was no, other Great Power worthy of the name, who was in the position to threaten the physical survival of the United States. Nor that of any of its major allies in Western Europe and Japan. The threat however illusory that Western Europe would be overrun by Soviet tank armies, was over, finis.
Second, the 'threat perception', had by the time that this memorandum was written, changed from threats to American allies in Western Europe, to threats by regional powers, in the Third World. With the recent attempt by Iraq's Saddam Hussein to achieve a mini-hegemony in the Persian Gulf being a sort of template for what might be in the offing. With perhaps the key sentence in the entire memorandum, and, one which received a great deal of negative publicity when it was leaked to the New York Times a short time after this memorandum was sent round for comments throughout the DOD bureaucracy being:
"Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential global competitor".
Id est, it was seen and it became, de facto American policy in the Clinton years, and, is now de jure policy in the Bush the Younger years, for the USA to actively prevent its global hegemony from being challenged by any power, or coalition of powers. Once, one takes away the smog of political invective, it becomes quite clear that per se, there is nothing extraordinary about the above sentence. Any hegemon, if it had both the means and the will, would behave in absolutely the same fashion. Does anyone doubt for a second, that Sovietskaya Vlast, if it had won the Cold War, would not have smothered in blood, any challengers to its recently won hegemony? The question answers itself...
What this means, for American policy going forward is that notwithstanding the noises being made by partisans of all three American Presidential candidates: the senior Senator from Arizona, the junior Senators from Illinois and New York, whichever one climbs the greasy pole to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, will in fact, behave in exactly the same fashion, as foreseen by Cheney et. al., back in 1992. The only difference, yes, the only difference, but a key one, is that one hopes (perhaps or should one say most likely hope of a forlorn variety) that under the new dispensation, American hegemony, will be: a) exercised infinitely more intelligently; b) exercised in a less heavy-handed and overly militarized fashion. In short American diplomacy will return to the 'traditions', if one may characterize it as such, of Bush the Elder, and his Secretary of State, James A. Baker III. Let us be clear: these gentlemen, were not saints. Nor were for that matter, such paragons of mid-20th century American diplomacy, such as Dean Acheson, George Marshall, Robert Lovett, and George Kennna. All of these men, were cold eyed, practitioners of grossmachtpolitik. They all of course were for the most part, when it suited them, and, the USA, adherents of multi-lateralism, not because per se, they had some ideological belief in the same, but, by virtue of the fact, that the USA was not then in the position to exercise a unilateral hegemony, which did become practical, circa 1991. What these august gentleman, would have done if they have had the opportunity to so exercise such power, we can make a stab at, but, will never know for certain. Although, historians such as the American academic Melvin Leffler, would argue and did argue back 1991 that this first generation of American policymakers in the era of the Cold War, in fact sought what Leffler called: 'a preponderance of power'. In short hegemony of a sort, as far back as 1950. So to expect anything less, from the current and future cadres of American policymakers is a completely illusory. And, however much one may have hoped `a la former French President Charles De Gaulle, for the European Union, to have become a competitor to the United States, the evolution of that body and of the states that form it, make that a forlorn hope indeed. And, as for the PRC and India, well the less said the better. Both in terms of the quality of any such rise to power, and, of the likelihood. So amici, even if you do not like American hegemony, and, wish for its demise, please forget it and get used to it. Calls or predictions of its demise are greatly exaggerated indeed. At least for the next twenty years if not longer.