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DPG Excerpts

Excerpts from the leaked Defense Planning Guidance that The New York Times published on March 8, 1992, can be compared here with the excised version recently released by the Department of Defense through the National Security Archive’s mandatory review request. Before publishing on the Web, the Archive formally appealed the excisions to the Interagency Security Classification Panel and notified the Defense Department of the impending publication of this version of the February 18, 1992 draft.


Declassification Anomalies

Document 12 in this briefing book includes a near-final draft of the April 16, 1992  Defense Planning Guidance that Secretary Cheney issued in January 1993 in declassified form as the “Regional Defense Strategy” (see Document 15). Much of the language in the two documents is identical or nearly so. Nevertheless, the version of the April 16 draft as released by the Defense Department included excised words and phrases—such as Israel, Japan, India, Pakistan, and North Korean nuclear program—that later appeared in the  unclassified strategy document. To illustrate this, the Archive has produced an edited version of Document 12, with the excised language filled in. Not all of the words and phrases that we have added are exact matches to the excised portions, but they are very close. These examples demonstrate the subjectivity of the declassification review process; that the country names appeared in a classified document made it look like the information was still sensitive, even though it was not.


Other Sources

For background on the creation of the Cheney Defense Planning Guidance, see James Mann, "The True Rationale: It's A Decade Old," The Washington Post, March 7, 2004. (Article used with the permission of the author and The Washington Post.)

The Post article draws on a chapter in Mann's book, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004).













"Prevent the Reemergence of a New Rival"
The Making of the Cheney Regional Defense Strategy, 1991-1992

Declassified Studies from Cheney Pentagon Show Push for U.S. Military Predominance and a Strategy to "Prevent the Reemergence of a New Rival"

For more information contact:
William Burr - 202/994-7032


New York Times headine, March 8, 1992.

Washington, D.C., February 26, 2008 - The United States should use its power to "prevent the reemergence of a new rival" either on former Soviet territory or elsewhere, declared a controversial draft of the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) prepared by then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney's Pentagon and leaked to The New York Times in March 1992. Published in declassified form for the first time on the National Security Archive Web site, this draft, along with related working papers, shows how defense officials during the administration of George H. W. Bush, under the direction of Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Resources I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby tried to develop a strategy for maintaining U.S. preponderance in the new post-Cold War, post-Soviet era.

Remarkably, these new releases censor a half dozen large sections of text that The New York Times printed on March 8, 1992, as well as a number of phrases that were officially published by the Pentagon in January 1993. "On close inspection none of those deleted passages actually meet the standards for classification because embarrassment is not a legal basis for secrecy," remarked Tom Blanton, director of the Archive." The language that the Times publicized can be seen side-by-side with the relevant portions of the February 18, 1992 draft (see document 3 below) that was the subject of the leak.

In its initial response to the Archive's mandatory review request, the Department of Defense exempted from declassification all of the documents in this case on the grounds that they were "pre-decisional" in nature.  When the Archive appealed the denials, we sent copies of The New York Times coverage of the leaked DPG, including the extensive excerpts from the February 18, 1992 draft. The appeal was successful because the Defense Department released considerable material on the Defense Planning Guidance; nevertheless Pentagon officials blacked out information that the Times had already published. (see sidebar).

The documents recently declassified by the Defense Department in response to the Archive's appeal provide an inside view of the making of the Defense Planning Guidance from September 1991 to May 1992, when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz approved it. Writing in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, the group of Republican-oriented officials that produced the Guidance wanted to preserve the unique position of American predominance that was emerging. With the leak of a draft in March 1992 and the resulting public controversy over the language about preventing a "new rival," "Scooter" Libby and his colleagues recast the document so that it would pass public scrutiny while meeting Richard Cheney's requirements for a strategy of military supremacy. Believing that military spending at Cold War levels was no longer possible, Cheney and his advisers wanted to develop lower-cost strategies and plans to prevent future global threats to American power and interests. To protect U.S. territory, citizens, and military forces from attack, to back up security guarantees to allies, and to "preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests," the authors of the Guidance argued that the United States had to:

▪ Pursue the "military-technological revolution" to preserve its superiority in the latest weapons systems (e.g., smart munitions)

▪ Sustain the "forward" presence of U.S. ground, air, and naval forces in strategically important areas, to validate commitments, and to provide a capability to respond to crises affecting significant interests, such as freedom of the seas and access to markets and energy supplies

▪ Preserve a smaller but diverse "mix" of survivable nuclear forces to support a global role, validate security guarantees, and deter Russian nuclear forces

▪ Field a missile defense system as a shield against accidental missile launches or limited missile strikes by "international outlaws"

▪ Maintain a capability to reconstitute military forces in the event a regional hegemon threatens to become a global threat

▪ Find ways to integrate the "new democracies" of the former Soviet bloc into the U.S.-led system

▪ Work with allies in NATO Europe and elsewhere but be ready to act unilaterally or with only a few other nations when multilateral and cooperative action proves too "sluggish" to protect vital interests.

The word "preempt" does not appear in the declassified language, but Document 10 includes wording about "disarming capabilities to destroy" which is followed by several excised words. This suggests that some of the heavily excised pages in the still-classified DPG drafts may include some discussion of preventive action against threatening nuclear and other WMD programs. The excisions are currently under appeal at the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).

The drafts of the Defense Planning Guidance released by the Defense Department show the involvement of a number of senior and mid-level officials in the preparation of the document, some of whom have become well-known as figures in the "neo-conservative" movement. (Note 1) As mentioned earlier, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby played a significant role in the writing process, especially in the final stages. One of the drafters in the early stages was Abram N. Shulsky, a career Pentagon intelligence official, who later became notorious for his association with the Office of Special Plans during the run-up to the Iraq War. Although his name appears rarely in the recent release, a major figure in the writing was Zalmay Khalilzad, director of the Policy Planning Staff in Libby's office. Finally, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz was less involved in preparing the DPG, but had to approve its contents. Nevertheless, the DPG was written for a Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney, who was more nationalist than "neo-con," although his thinking dovetails with elements of the neo-conservative outlook. In particular, the documents show (see Documents 6a and 6b) that he was closely involved in overseeing the process, and that Wolfowitz and Libby were careful to ensure that the language, such as on unilateral options, reflected his preferences.

Those who produced the DPG believed it would eventually become a public document that could be used to develop support for the Bush administration's military policy. Bill Clinton's victory in 1992 prevented that discussion. Despite the heavy excisions of these drafts, enough has been declassified to fuel a broader discussion of their meaning—for example, the relationship between the Guidance and neo-conservative ideology, or the extent to which ideas in the documents show continuity with U.S. national security policy, past and present. With respect to the continuity issue, some may argue that the pursuit of military superiority crystallized in the DPG resonates with the concept of national security which developed during the 1940s and which assumed the need for a "preponderance" of American power. (Note 2) Others may argue that the Clinton administration tacitly followed the thrust of the Cheney strategy, and that the emphasis on precluding rivals presages the preemptive doctrine that George W. Bush has tried to turn into an axiom of U.S. policy. (Note 3) According to James Mann, the Guidance helped provide the "rationale" for the policies that the Bush administration has followed since 2001. As Mann wrote in March 2004, the Iraq war "was carried out in pursuit of a larger vision of using America's overwhelming military power to shape the future." (Note 4) The documents raise other questions worth exploring, such as over the role of independent or unilateral action, the relationship between military and political power, and the extent to which superpower status confers diplomatic influence. If ISCAP releases more information from the documents, even more questions may be raised.



Document 1:  Slides for "USDP [Under Secretary of Defense for Policy] Brief to DPRB [Defense Planning Resources Board] on June 5, 1991," Secret

Briefing slides prepared for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz to be used in a presentation to the Defense Planning Resources Board, chaired by Deputy Secretary Donald J. Atwood, provide an overview of the process for preparing the DPG for fiscal years 1994-1998.  Designed to take into account the lessons of the 1991 Gulf War, developments in the Soviet Union, and other "regional security challenges," and the implications of the "military-technological revolution" (e.g., emergence of "smart munitions"), the DPG would explain policy goals and military spending priorities for the years ahead.  The slides optimistically forecast the completion of the Guidance in December 1991.

Document 2:  Memo from Dale A. Vesser to Scooter, "First Draft of DPG," September 3, 1991, Secret, Excised Copy

Retired Army general Dale A. Vesser, who served as Assistant to Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Strategy and Resources) "Scooter" Libby, played a key role in coordinating the DPG writing.  As Vesser suggested, the first draft was "uneven," somewhat of a cut and paste job. It included contributions from a variety of working level defense officials, including an overview section prepared by Abram N. Shulsky.   Paul Kozemchak, a career official at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was another major contributor.  Andrew R. Hoehn, a staffer at Wolfowitz's office (and more recently a vice-president at the RAND Corporation), prepared the section on "The New Defense Strategy" at the end.

Composed in a world where the Soviet Union still existed, although not for long, the opening pages prepared by Shulsky declared that, with the Soviet Union's "internal economic crisis and political collapse," the United States "may be said to be the world's sole superpower." As such, it could not be the policeman of the world, but it would have "preeminent responsibility for addressing those wrongs which threaten not only its interests, but those of its allies and friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations." To preserve its preponderant position, the United States would have to curb regional challenges that—although not as dangerous as the former Soviet threat—could become "more likely." Above all, the United States would have to maintain technological superiority by staying a "generation ahead" in new weapons technology. According to Shulsky, that could mean reduced reliance on nuclear weapons by "developing new, more effective, conventional weapons systems."

The new policy would support alliances and multilateralism, but unilateral action remained a possibility. While the United States would continue to value alliances and working with allies, crises could "develop in areas outside of existing alliance commitments." Washington would try to work through the United Nations to the extent possible, but would retain "the responsibility to act on its own if the situation warrants."

The prospect that the Soviet Union or some other country could someday emerge as a global threat meant that the United States needed to maintain organizational and material resources to reconstitute military forces to "designated level of … capabilities." It was this requirement that led Andrew Hoehn to name the new strategy: "Crisis Response/Reconstitution Strategy." So that regional threats did not become global problems, Hoehn emphasized the importance of strategic nuclear deterrence based on a "diverse mix of survivable forces," a U.S. "forward" military presence at "reduced levels," and a capability to respond to regional crises "on very short notice."

As in the other draft DPGs included in this release, the sections on regional situations, such as Western Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America, are heavily excised.

Document 3: Dale A. Vesser to Secretaries of the Military Departments, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation, and Comptroller of the Department of Defense, "FY 94-98 Defense Planning Guidance Sections for Comment," February 18, 1992, Secret, Excised Copy

[Excerpts from the leaked Defense Planning Guidance that The New York Times published on March 8, 1992, can be compared here with the excised version recently released by the Department of Defense through the National Security Archive’s mandatory review request.]

Drafting continued, but it was not until mid-February that the DPG had reached the point where Vesser was ready to distribute it to senior civilian and military officials at the Pentagon. Although the draft does not credit anyone for writing it, so far Khazilzad has received the most credit, although plainly his draft drew on the earlier work of Shulsky and Kozemchak, among others. While the draft was tighter and shorter, it was in the same conceptual universe. Now, however, it was called a "regional defense strategy" instead of a "Crisis/Response/Reconstitution Strategy." Like the earlier drafts, the possibility of "regional challenges" and the need for strategic deterrence, forward presence, crisis response, technological superiority, and reconstitution were central concepts. The draft, however, put more emphasis on the danger of WMD proliferation.

With the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a "fundamentally new situation," the drafters were preoccupied with identifying and articulating the mix of policies that would preserve the U.S.'s status as the sole superpower. In this respect, the Guidance posited two major policy goals. The first was "to prevent the reemergence of a new rival" for world power, which meant that Washington had to develop a "new order" that met the security, political, and economic interests of potential competitors, including Japan and Western Europe, so they would not feel the need to challenge U.S. "leadership." Moreover, the United States had to develop "mechanisms," such as a reconstitution capability, to deter potential competitors for military predominance. The second objective was to "address sources of regional conflict and instability" that could "unsettle international relations" by threatening U.S. interests or those of allies. The United States would have "preeminent responsibility" in checking threats that could involve proliferation, terrorism, or energy and raw materials sources. While Washington alliances would remain central to U.S. policy, the "United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated" or when a larger collective response needs jump-starting by an "immediate" U.S. response.

A long section of the document, beginning on page 30, details the "minimum military capabilities" that would be needed to support the regional strategy, including appropriate readiness levels, prepositioned supplies, war reserve inventories, strategic deterrence forces, and high priority areas for critical investments in conventional forces.

It was this draft that one of the recipients leaked to New York Times reporter Patrick Tyler sometime before March 7. The next day the Times ran a front-page story, "U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop." (Note 5) According to Tyler's account, the leaker "believes that this post-Cold War debate should be carried out in the public domain." Because Tyler had the entire document, his story in the Times and an accompanying side-bar included quotations and long passages which the Defense Department has excised in the recent release. Some examples: U.S. nuclear strategy must target "those assets and capabilities that current – and future – Russian leaders or other nuclear adversaries value most." Moreover, "to buttress the vital political and economic relationships we have along the Pacific rim, we must maintain our status as a military power of the first magnitude there." "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."

Document 4: "Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-1999," February 29, 1992, Revised Draft for Scooter Libby, Secret, Excised Copy

This annotated but incomplete draft shows the impact of more editing, but the basic objectives and method, e.g., no "new rival" and the regional strategy, remained the same. This draft, however, introduced language about "strategic depth" that would survive further re-writing. The United States' success in pushing back former global threats, such as the Soviet Union, meant that a new strategic relationship with Eastern Europe and Eurasia was possible. That Washington faced no hostile alliances and that "no region of the world critical to our interests is under hostile non-democratic domination" meant that the United States had "great depth for our strategic position." Through a regional defense strategy, the United States could "take advantage of this position and preserve capabilities needed to keep threats small."

Document 5: Dale A. Vesser to Mr. Libby, "Comments Received on Draft DPG – Potential Issues," March 17, 1992, Secret, Excised Copy

This post-leak draft, with comments from a variety of Pentagon offices, showed the impact of disclosure and controversy, which had unfolded during the previous nine days.  White House and State Department officials had called the DPG  "dumb," Pentagon spokesperson Pete Williams disavowed some of the language, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) criticized its "Pax Americana" thinking, and some foreign policy analysts observed that the report's "chauvinistic tone" might encourage other powers to try to catch up by procuring advanced weapons systems. (Note 6) Under the weight of the criticism, the wording about preventing a "new rival" disappeared, but, as James Mann has noted, the version worked out by Libby and his associates "contained most of the same ideas as the original" by coming up with "euphemisms in order to make the wording sound less confrontational." For example, instead of "preeminent responsibility," the new version used terms like "U.S. leadership," and "hostile power" instead of "rival."

The section on nuclear deterrence continued to focus on the need for a "hedge" against the emergence of a major threat, but it had a new emphasis on the necessity of missile defenses against the threat of global missile proliferation and the danger of an "accidental or unauthorized missile launch."  Broaching the possibility of junking the ABM treaty, Libby's draft raised the prospect of a "day when defenses will protect the community of nations embracing liberal democratic values from international outlaws armed with ballistic missiles."

Document 6a: "Scooter" to Mr. Secretary, circa March 20, 1992, enclosing Libby memorandum to Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, "Draft Defense Planning Guidance," 20 March 1992, enclosing "Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-1999," Secret, Excised copy

Document 6b: Lewis Libby memorandum for the Secretary through the Undersecretary of Defense (Policy), March 26, 1992, enclosing "Defense Planning Guidance, FY 1994-1999," Secret, Excised copy

The draft Guidance that was under discussion during March 1992 was getting closer to the version that would ultimately be released by the Defense Department, with the section on minimum military capabilities shorn off. As Libby explained to Cheney in a detailed cover memorandum on March 20, the draft was as "near to an unclassified text as possible in this stage of drafting." According to the memorandum, "Tab A" was the latest draft of the DPG, while Tabs "B" and "C" were unclassified and classified versions of the secret programming guidance. Neither was attached in the version received by the Archive; instead, Tab "B" was the material sent by Libby to Cheney on March 26 (see "6b" above).

In Libby's personal cover memo to Cheney (see 6a above) he alluded to the criticism that the February 18 draft stood for unilateralism. To counter this, he and Wolfowitz had come up with "more defensible" language found on page 12: "America must plan forces for major contingencies that would enable us to act where prudent and practical even ‘where very few others are with us,' and ‘with only limited additional help.'" Libby argued that there were "no major contingencies" where "we would not have at least political support from some limited number of countries."

The DPG draft that Libby sent Cheney on March 26 responded "more fully" to the Secretary's "guidance," including making the opening pages "sharper and tighter."  Perhaps in response to Cheney's comments, the section on "Continued U.S. Leadership" included new wording about working with allies, but left open in explicit language the possibility of unilateral action (as earlier drafts had): "A future U.S. president will need to have options that will allow him to lead, and where the international reaction proves sluggish, or inadequate, to act to protect our critical interests." Further, "we will not ignore the need to be prepared to protect our critical interests and honor our commitments with only limited additional help, or even alone, if necessary." Such language would survive in later drafts.

Document 7:  Dale A. Vesser to Mr. Libby, "Extracts from 18 Feb 92 DPG Draft," March 26, 1992, Secret, Excised copy

Believing that despite the controversy some of the February 18 draft still had value, Vesser suggested, first, points that should be reconsidered for including in the final draft, and second, points that were "properly deleted" or recast. One subject that Vesser thought was important was the definition of a "critical region": one "whose resources [and population] could, under consolidated control, generate global power." According to Vesser, that wording is "as thorough and concise as any." Vessey also made suggestions about earlier language on arms control, forward basing, crisis response strategy, and NATO. For example, he recommended reinstatement of the section on arms control, which argued that arms control "will take on new forms in this post-Cold War era," such as "regionally focused initiatives," and other "innovations in approach" to address the problem of WMD proliferation.

Document 8:  Dave [David Shilling, Director of Plans] to Mr. Libby, "New Policy Directions in DPG," enclosing paper "New Policy Directions Noted in Draft Defense Planning Guidance," March 24, 1992, Prepared by Andrew Hoehn and Rod Fabrycky, Secret, Excised copy

Possibly used for briefing Cheney or some other senior official, this document provides some of the highlights of recent DPG drafts. Most of the language may be found in the versions cited above, but a few new points appear—for example, that a 7-
8 year "warning time" for the emergence of a major threat would kick in military reconstitution activities.

Document 9: Dale A. Vesser to Mr. Libby, "Abbreviated Scenarios for Inclusion in DPG – Issues?" circa April 11, 1992, Secret, Excised copy

An important element in the DPG process was the development of a scenarios paper that envisioned a number of possible regional crises that posed security threats to the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and the possible U.S. military response to those contingencies.   Prepared for "illustrative" purposes, they depicted "plausible future events illustrating the type of circumstances in which the application of U.S. military power might be required."  While speculative in nature, the group of scenarios would be used as an "analytic tool for the formulation and assessment of defense programs" and the sizing of "appropriate levels of combat power, mobility, readiness, and sustainment [sic]."

This document is massively excised, but an earlier version was the subject of a leak to New York Times reporter Patrick Tyler, even before that of the February 18 DPG draft.  On February 16, 1992, Tyler published a story that showed that there were seven scenarios, including regional wars against Iraq and North Korea and a major campaign in Europe against a "resurgent Russia." In addition, U.S. forces were to be ready to respond to possible coups and instability in countries such as Panama or the Philippines.

According to Tyler's story, the source of the leak "wished to call attention to what he considered vigorous attempts within the military establishment to invent a series of alarming scenarios that can be used by the Pentagon to prevent further reductions in forces or cancellations of new weapons systems." (Note 7)

Document 10: "Issues in the Policy and Strategy Section," April 14, 1992, Secret, Excised copy

Reflecting the contention over the DPG, this paper highlights some of the more controversial points, such as the balance between unilateral and multilateral action and the role of allies, as well as whether to extend alliances to Eastern Europe. An interesting point on the bottom of the first page is excised, but the surviving language on "disarming capabilities" probably relates to the controversial notion of "preemptive" action against weapons of mass destruction held by adversaries.

Document 11: Distribution Memos, Secret

By April 16, the drafting process had reached the point where the DPG could be distributed somewhat more widely inside the Pentagon for comment on an "eyes only" basis. Among the outside recipients were Admiral Donald Pilling of the National Security Council staff and State Department Policy Planning Staff director Dennis Ross. 

Document 12:  Memo from Don Pilling, National Security Council, to Larry [Libby's assistant, Capt. Lawrence Seaquist], April 23, enclosing NSC comments

The April 16 DPG draft was not part of the recent release, but a significant chunk of it appears here with the NSC's editorial suggestions. This version is close to what Cheney ultimately approved for public dissemination in the last weeks of the Bush administration. The language showed continued reworking from the drafts that Libby had sent Cheney in March. For example, the section on "Defense Policy Goals" included language about the importance of a reconstitution capability as a signal "that no potential rival could quickly or easily gain a predominant military position." Perhaps the drafters believed that, despite the controversy, it was permissible and necessary to use language about precluding new rivals, certainly in a classified version. It is worth noting that wording excised from this document—such as Korean peninsula, Taiwan, India and Pakistan—appears in the version that Cheney publicly released in January 1993 (see Document 15).

As Pilling noted in his memo, some of the editorial suggestions were language designed to conform to scheduled speeches by President Bush. Some wording suggestions add to the discussion of the relationship between U.S. leadership and multilateral action, while others touch upon the flow of oil and regional arms control. As indicated on Pilling's memo, copies of the changes went to others on Libby's staff, including Khazilzad and Vesser.

Declassification Anomalies: This document is a near-final draft of the April 16, 1992, Defense Planning Guidance that Secretary Cheney issued in January 1993 in declassified form as the "Regional Defense Strategy" (see Document 15). Much of the language in the two documents is identical or nearly so. Nevertheless, the version of the April 16 draft as released by the Defense Department included excised words and phrases—such as Israel, Japan, India, Pakistan, and North Korean nuclear program—that later appeared in the unclassified strategy document. To illustrate this, the Archive has produced an edited version of Document 12, with the excised language filled in. Not all of the words and phrases that we have added are exact matches to the excised portions, but they are very close. These examples demonstrate the subjectivity of the declassification review process; that the country names appeared in a classified document made it look like the information was still sensitive, even though it was not.

Document 13: Annex A "Illustrative Planning Scenarios," Secret, Excised copy

Drafting and redrafting work on the planning scenarios continued as is evident from the four versions of the preface—with marginal comments excised in their entirety—in which drafters tried to be more and more concise about the role of the scenarios as "yardsticks" for formulating military programs.

Document 14:  Wolfowitz to Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense, "Approval Draft of the Defense Planning Guidance – Action Memorandum," circa May 19, with attached memoranda on "Defense Planning Guidance – Major Comments Received," dated May 5 and May 13, 1992, Secret, Excised copy

By around May 19, 1992, work on the Guidance was finished. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell signed off on it and Paul Wolfowitz sent the document to Cheney and Atwood. Earlier in the month, Wolfowitz had sent them memos transmitting the DPG and the annex on "Illustrative Planning Scenarios," highlighting the problems that remained under discussion. In both versions, Wolfowitz observed that the current draft of the DPG "is still a rather hard-hitting document which retains the substance you liked in the February 18th draft." The drafts that Secretary of Defense Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Atwood received included footnotes indicating the concerns of various offices and individuals at the Pentagon on a number of issues, including missile defense, propositioning of supplies to help counter possible threats in Southwest Asia (SWA), and the extent to which a "major contingency in Europe" was plausible enough to be factored into the military planning. Wolfowitz's memorandum of May 13 mentions that he had received comments from David Addington, who was Cheney's special assistant and would work with him in the years to come (currently as Chief of Staff and Counsel to the Vice President).

Document 15: "Defense Strategy for the 1990s: The Regional Defense Strategy," Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, January 1993

Perhaps in light of George H. W. Bush's drive for re-election in the fall of 1992 and the need to avoid controversy, the thought of declassifying and publishing the Guidance must have become a low priority. Nevertheless, it happened in the administration's last month.  The declassified version was not called the "Defense Planning Guidance," but it is very close to what is available of the April 16 version (see Document 12). As with the earlier drafts of the Guidance, Cheney's statement stressed strategic depth, technological superiority, strategic deterrence, forward presence, and reconstitution, all in the name of maintaining capabilities to check regional crises before they turned into more serious threats to U.S. security interests. While developing a "collective" response to threats had preference, as Libby had written before, "a future U.S. president will need options allowing him to lead and, where the international reaction proves sluggish or inadequate, to act independently to protect our critical interests." Moreover, the statement retained the language about the importance of a reconstitution capability to check a future "rival."  The statement's release coincided with the approaching inauguration of the Clinton administration, which gave it no significant press coverage in January 1993, a stark contrast with the controversy over the DPG draft in March 1992.




1. For the most detailed account of how the DPG  was prepared, see James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 208-215. For studies of neo-conservatism from different perspectives, see Anne Norton, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2004); Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Jacob Heilbrunn, They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neo-Cons (New York: Doubleday, 2008); and John Ehrman The Rise of Neo-Conservatism: Intellectuals and Foreign Affairs, 1945-1995 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).

2. For "preponderance" and the Truman administration, see Melvyn P. Leffer, A Preponderance of Power: The Truman Administration and National Security Policy (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1992).

3. Also worth keeping in mind is the connection between the Defense Planning Guidance and the September 2000 report, "Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century," produced by the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century. Its authors include Libby, Shulsky, and Wolfowitz, and the report explicitly discusses the Planning Guidance.

4. James Mann, "The True Rationale: It's A Decade Old," The Washington Post, March 7, 2004. (Article used with the permission of the author and The Washington Post.) See also David Armstrong, "Dick Cheney's Song of America: Drafting a plan for global dominance," Harper's, January 2003.

5. Barton Gellman, another recipient of the leaked DPG, wrote a story a few days later: "Keeping U.S. First: Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower." The Washington Post, March 11, 1992.

6. "Senior U.S. Officials Assail Lone-Superpower Policy," and "Lone Superpower Plan: Ammunition for Critics," The New York Times, March 11 and 12, 1992.  Patrick E. Tyler wrote both articles.

7. "Pentagon Imagines New Enemies to Fight in Post-Cold-War Era," The New York Times, February 17, 1992.