The War Behind Closed Doors
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Mark Danner

As a staff writer at The New Yorker and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, Danner writes about foreign affairs and American politics. In this interview he describes terrorism as "the new communism," because "it is being used as an ideological justification for use of U.S. power in the world." Danner says that Sept. 11 provided the Bush administration with a justification to pursue a doctrine of overwhelming power, but notes that this ideology existed prior to the attacks. He also criticizes the administration for being "coy" about its decision to go to war against Iraq, because it has not fully explained to the American public the broader intentions of some officials to remake the Middle East, nor explained the potential costs of such a plan. This interview was conducted on Jan. 16, 2003.

John Lewis Gaddis

Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett professor of military and naval history at Yale University and the author, most recently, of The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (Oxford, 2002). In this interview, he discusses how the Bush administration's National Security Strategy [released September 2002] represents a sweeping transformation in U.S. foreign policy. Gaddis also places some of NSS's key elements -- preemption, American hegemony, a willingness to act alone, if necessary -- in historical context and assesses the current U.S. drive toward regime change in Iraq and how this fits into a larger grand strategy. This interview was conducted on Jan. 16, 2003.

Barton Gellman

Gellman is a reporter for The Washington Post. In this interview he describes how he was leaked a copy of the Defense Department's 1992 Defense Planning Guidance -- a strategy document that advocated that the U.S. maintain its position as the sole superpower after the Cold War and included the first mention of preemptive intervention to prevent countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction -- and how published reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times led to an international and domestic outcry. Although the language in the 1992 document was eventually softened and a stronger emphasis was placed on multilateral action, Gellman tells FRONTLINE that he sees a strong continuity between that document and the current national security strategy. "You simply have to lay the documents side by side and you will see huge areas in which they're the same," he says, "and frankly, very few in which there are striking differences." This interview was conducted on Jan. 29, 2003.

William Kristol

William Kristol, one of the most influential neo-conservative thinkers in Washington and a proponent of what has become known as the Bush Doctrine, is the editor of The Weekly Standard and chairman of The Project for the New American Century. From 1989 to 1993 he served as chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. He tells FRONTLINE that the significance of President George W. Bush's State of the Union address in 2002 (the "axis of evil" speech) is too easily forgotten -- that it was a rare moment, "the creation of a new American foreign policy" -- and that Bush deserves credit for realizing very quickly after Sept. 11 that his presidency would be judged by how he handled the post-9/11 threat of weapons of mass destruction. This interview was conducted on Jan. 14, 2003.

Richard Perle

Richard Perle served in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1987 as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy and is now chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential group of advisers to the Pentagon. In this interview with FRONTLINE, he makes the case for using a war with Iraq to remake the Middle East, and he stresses the significance of Sept. 11 in shaping the Bush administration's thinking about the links between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. On the question of multilateralism versus unilateralism in America's foreign policy, Perle argues, "We cannot abdicate responsibility for our own security. Multilateralism is preferable ... but if the only way you can get a consensus is by abandoning your most fundamental interests, then it is not helpful." This interview was conducted on Jan. 25, 2003.

Kenneth Pollack

Pollack served as director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council from 1995-1996 and from 1999-2001. Before that, he spent seven years in the CIA as a Persian Gulf military analyst. He is the author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, 2002). In this interview, he argues that Iraq is "a unique threat that does require an extraordinary response, a preemptive response by the United States and its allies to prevent Saddam Hussein from ever acquiring the weapons of mass destruction, in particular the nuclear weapons that would make him perhaps an insurmountable threat." However, he warns that military action in Iraq should not be a blueprint for American foreign policy in other countries. This interview was conducted on Jan. 4, 2003.
Dennis Ross

Ross served as special Middle East coordinator in the Clinton administration and director of the State Department's policy planning office during the George H. W. Bush administration. In this interview he argues that if the Bush administration wants to use the invasion of Iraq to transform the Middle East, it has to link the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime to a true reform process within Iraqi society. He also describes how the evolution of the post-Cold War international system led the U.S. to re-imagine its role as the world's predominant power and the debate in the Bush administration over how to use this power. This interview was conducted on Jan. 27, 2003.

 

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