PNAC: Rebuilding America’s Defenses

When I first began to read the Project for the New American Century article entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century, I had forgotten that we were told in class that this article presented a particularly strong ideological viewpoint. The basic premise underlying the article – the one on which the authors’ argument rests – struck me as an assumption without much support. The premise, as I understood it, was roughly that the United States of America had been thrust into greatness at the top of the global totem pole and therefore it had an obligation to police the world and rid it of threats (“constabulary duties”).

I can understand that some might agree with this statement, but I was bothered by this seemingly unarguable premise. As a freshman in an International Relations class for my Political Science major, almost the first thing we learned is that although the United States is considered by many to be the current hegemon in the world order, it is certainly not free from the threat of usurpation by another global power and we should not assume that the status quo in effect now will never change. It was argued that, at least from an economic perspective, China could alternatively be considered the current hegemon. Should we be concerned that this might be the truth? The answer could be debated, but I feel that the portion we read of the PNAC article didn’t even leave room for the possibility that their assumptions weren’t true. It seemed to say, “Now, since we know that the United States is in charge of the world, what must it do to retain that power and ensure peace?” rather than “What international policy should the United States pursue in consideration of its relatively powerful position?” I felt that blanket black-and-white statements such as “At present the United States faces no global rival” (i) failed to recognize the complexities of states interacting with one another in favor of declaring a statement that the authors might wish or prefer was true.

– Megan S.

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