I mentioned the infamous position paper, authored by Paul Wolfowitz in 1992, when he was defense undersecretary for policy in Richard Cheney's Defense Department. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, and the Republican flag pats were thinking that this was an opportune moment for the U.S. to benevolently lead the world -- economically and militarily -- for its own good, of course. Wolfowitz's paper, called "Project for a New American Century," outlined a program for the spread of democracy and corporate organization, but it was prematurely leaked and drew so much criticism that George Bush, Sr. had to repudiate it and abruptly stopped yapping about "the New World Order." However, after September 11, with Wolfowitz as deputy defense secretary under Donald Rumsfeld, PNAC was resurrected as Bush II's permanent foreign policy; plans to topple Iraq were in place before 9/11. Careful students of Bush II's moves will have noted the unspontaneous quality of his reactions: At 10:00 a.m. on September 11, interrupted in a Florida grade school class, he was as humanly unsure as any other dad; but by the 7:00 p.m. prime-time news, he was a Man with a Plan.
"Do Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld believe in the rightness of what they're doing?" Stern asked, rising at last to leave. "Even the oil-grabbing part [after Saudi Arabia, Iraq has the richest oil reserves]?"
"Like they believe the minister at Sunday services," I assured her. "Like Washington and Hamilton believed."