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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

The NATO Expansion Lobby

(Return to the original article, Baghdad and Beyond, available online at rightweb.irc-online.org/rw/764.). Bruce Jackson, of the...

(Return to the original article, Baghdad and Beyond, available online at rightweb.irc-online.org/rw/764.)

Bruce Jackson, of the Project for the New American Century, personifies the new military-industrial complex–“a minister without portfolio” who speaks for the U.S. government, the weapons industry, the Republican Party, and the right’s network of foreign policy think tanks.

“Strengthen America, Secure Europe. Defend Values. Expand NATO” was the motto of the U.S. Committee on NATO, the lobbying group established in 1996 by Bruce Jackson to bring the transitional nations of “New Europe” into the NATO fold. The committee’s slogan concisely summarizes the main arguments of the NATO expansion lobby in the United States. Although NATO was established in 1949 to contain the purported Soviet threat to Western Europe , the NATO expansion lobby argues not only that NATO has a place in the post-cold war world but that it should be consolidated and expanded as an instrument of U.S. hegemonic power despite the expiration of its founding rationale.

Unlike most right-wing foreign policy experts, Bruce Jackson, the committee’s founder and president, is as comfortable with the liberal rhetoric of expansion and enlargement of democracy as he is with the neo-imperial jargon of preemptive defense, U.S. supremacy, and unilateralism. Jackson established the U.S. Committee on NATO at a time when he was finance chairman of Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. Among the first board members were such figures as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Peter Rodman, and Stephen Hadley, who later joined the Bush administration. 1 Aside from Jackson, other PNAC officials included on the committee’s board of directors were PNAC’s executive director Gary Schmitt, PNAC cofounder Robert Kagan, and PNAC board member Randy Scheunemann. Another increasingly prominent neocon on the committee’s board was Julie Finley, who, along with Jackson and Scheunemann, was cofounder of both the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the Project on Transitional Democracies. Finley is also the treasurer of the National Endowment on Democracy, a quasi-governmental organization founded and led by neoconservatives. The U.S. Committee on NATO was not, however, purely a neocon venture. It reached out to and included Democrats such as Will Marshall, founder and president of the Progressive Policy Institute. Marshall was also a founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, another organization of “New Democrats”

Jackson’s day job at the time was planning and strategy vice president at Lockheed Martin, where he served as the advance man for global corporate development projects. Jackson began his career as a military intelligence officer, and during the Reagan and Bush senior administrations worked in the Defense Department in positions related to nuclear weapons and military strategy. In 1993 Jackson joined Martin Marietta, which merged with Lockheed in 1995.

Hadley, who serves in the Bush administration as deputy national security adviser to Condoleezza Rice, was a partner in the Shea & Gardner law firm, whose clients included Boeing and Lockheed Martin. 2 Another link to Lockheed Martin at the U.S. Committee on NATO was Randy Scheunemann, the president of Orion Strategies whose clients included the largest defense contractor in the United States.

Working closely with the Clinton administration, which also supported NATO expansion, Jackson’s committee wined and dined U.S. senators, successfully persuading them to approve the admission of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into NATO. While other neocons easily mix talk of values and U.S. power, Jackson is expert at mingling talk of values and money. During exclusive dinners at Washington’s Metropolitan Club, part of his lobbying pitch to U.S. senators was to argue that NATO expansion would create a “community of values” in Eurasia. Incidentally, as predicted by NATO expansion opponents, it also created a new market for arms merchants such as Lockheed. Integration into NATO requires integrating weapons systems–creating a multibillion-dollar market for jet fighters, electronics, attack helicopters, military communication networks, and all the gadgets needed by a modern fighting force. “Add them together,” smiled Joel Johnson, vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association, “and we’re talking about real money.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of a few nations joining NATO could reach $125 billion over 15 years–with U.S. military assistance covering up to $19 billion of the costs of military integration. 3

Jackson’s U.S. Committee on NATO won the first round for NATO expansion in 1997, when Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic acceded to NATO. During the buildup to the Iraq invasion, seven other countries were invited to join NATO: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. These countries formed part of the ” Vilnius 10″ bloc of Eastern European and Baltic nations that became the post-1997 focus of the U.S. Committee on NATO. In the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Jackson helped draft the declaration by the Vilnius 10 governments supporting the planned U.S. incursion with or without UN approval. Eager for U.S. support for their entry into NATO, these countries–dubbed the “New Europe” by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld–joined the war coalition, at least in name.

When Jackson travels in the nations of “New Europe” such as Romania or Slovenia, government ministers routinely assume that he represents the Bush administration, even though he holds no office. This confusion over Jackson’s role does not occur because he misrepresents himself but instead issues from his own authority as the consummate power player. Before he was ousted by a popular coalition, Georgia’s President Eduard Shevardnadze described Jackson as “an official with clout, someone whose opinion is heeded in Europe and the United States.”

One prominent neocon described Bruce Jackson as “the nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.” 4 Another venue, in addition to the U.S. Committee on NATO and the Project on Transitional Nations, for this interface work is the American Enterprise Institute, where Jackson served on the founding advisory board of AEI’s New Atlantic Initiative. Funded by the Olin and Bradley foundations, the New Atlantic Initiative goal is “the admission of Europe ‘s fledgling democracies into institutions of Atlantic defense.” Like the AEI itself, the New Atlantic Initiative is dominated by neocons such as William Kristol, Samuel Huntington, Norman Podhoretz, Joshua Muravchick, Richard Perle, and Daniel Pipes. AEI’s New Atlantic Initiative also includes on its advisory board military hard-liners such as Donald Rumsfeld, right-wing political figures like Newt Gingrich, and realpolitikers such as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, as well a few Democrats such as Thomas Foley–all of whom share the neocon vision of a “New Europe.” 5

In the estimation of John Laughland, a trustee of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group and a close observer of Jackson’s proconsul operations in Eastern Europe: “Far from promoting democracy in eastern Europe, Washington is promoting a system of political and military control not unlike that once practiced by the Soviet Union. Unlike that empire, which collapsed because the center was weaker than the periphery, the new NATO is both a mechanism for extracting Danegeld [tribute levied to support Danish invaders in medieval England] from new member states for the benefit of the U.S. arms industry and an instrument for getting others to protect U.S. interests around the world, including the supply of primary resources such as oil.” 6

Having won unanimous Senate approval for their accession to NATO, seven of the Vilnius 10 nations are set to join NATO in May 2004. Three other nations of the New Europe bloc–Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania–are next in line to receive an accession invitation from NATO. Although it was Donald Rumsfeld who is credited with first using the term “New Europe,” the term has long been circulating in neocon circles. As the White House began laying the groundwork for the “coalition of the willing” against Iraq, President Bush repeatedly used the term “New Europe” in a July 5, 2002 statement hailing the leaders of the Vilnius 10 group. “Our nations,” said the president, “share a common vision of a new Europe, where free European states are united with each other, and with the United States through cooperation, partnership, and alliance.” Furthermore, the president said, “Our nations face another historic challenge: to defeat the forces of global terror.”


  1. Judis, “Minister Without Portfolio.”
  2. “Stephen Hadley,” Right Web Profile (Interhemispheric Resource Center, November 2003). Hadley was one of the original members of the self-identified “Vulcans” who advised then-candidate George W. Bush.
  3. Jeff Gerth and Tim Weiner, “Arms Makers See Bonanza in Selling NATO Expansion,” New York Times, June 28, 1997.
  4. Judis, “Minister Without Portfolio, American Prospect.
  5. See American Enterprise Institute, New Atlantic Initiative: www.aei.org/research/nai
  6. John Laughland, “The Prague Racket,” The Guardian (London), November 22, 2002. Other journalistic accounts of Jackson’s activities include: Stephen Gowans, “War, NATO expansion, and the other rackets of Bruce P. Jackson,” What’s Left, November 25, 2002, at www.sympatico.ca/sr.gowans/Jackson.html; Brian McGrory, “Battle Lines Forming over NATO Expansion,” Boston Globe, July 5, 1997.

Tom Barry is Policy Director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC), online at: www.irc-online.org.


For More Information Tom Barry, "Neocon Philosophy of Intelligence Led to Iraq War,” Chronicles of the New American Century, No. 1, Right Web, online at: http://rightweb.irc-online.org/analysis/2004/0402pi.php




Tom Barry, "Baghdad and Beyond: The NATO Expansion Lobby," IRC Right Web (Somerville, MA: Interhemispheric Resource Center, March 19, 2004).

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