Failed GOP presidential candidate George Pataki endorses Marco Rubio and his “New American Century.”

Failed Republican presidential candidate George Pataki has opted to throw his support behind Marco Rubio:

“‘These are dangerous times and people across America are desperate for strong leadership,’ Pataki said. ‘But name-calling and trading insults is not a substitute for leadership and it will not usher in a new American century.’

This is, I suppose news, though I doubt that Pataki’s endorsement is going to mean all that much for Rubio’s campaign. But there’s a phrase in Pataki’s endorsement that is telling: “a new American Century.” Seems innocuous, doesn’t it? Standard campaign boilerplate, not terribly far removed from Donald Trump’s promise to “make America great again.” It appears prominently on Marco Rubio’s website. It also makes an appearance in the Des Moines Register‘s recent endorsement of Rubio. Meaningless campaign drivel, right? Well, not exactly. Recall a little organization by the name of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think-tank that was notable for calling for regime change in Iraq long before it was the hip and cutting edge thing to do. In a 1998 letter to then President Bill Clinton, they laid out their agenda:

“Iraq’s position is unacceptable. While Iraq is not unique in possessing these weapons, it is the only country which has used them — not just against its enemies, but its own people as well. We must assume that Saddam is prepared to use them again. This poses a danger to our friends, our allies, and to our nation. It is clear that this danger cannot be eliminated as long as our objective is simply ‘containment,’ and the means of achieving it are limited to sanctions and exhortations. As the crisis of recent weeks has demonstrated, these static policies are bound to erode, opening the way to Saddam’s eventual return to a position of power and influence in the region. Only a determined program to change the regime in Baghdad will bring the Iraqi crisis to a satisfactory conclusion.”

The signatories of the letter include many who would go on to serve in the administration of George W. Bush, which would, in 2003, follow the recommendations of the 1998 letter, with fairly disastrous results.

So, OK. “A New American Century” sounds a lot like “The Project for the New American Century.” That alone doesn’t prove much of anything. Could just be a big coincidence. Except there is more of a connection here than simple similarity of names. Marco Rubio’s campaign is associating itself with the same neoconservative ideology that PNAC advocated. Last fall MondoWeiss was reporting that Rubio was actively courting powerful neocons:

“Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio has emerged as the last best hope of the neoconservative restoration. In recent days, Rubio has been courting Sheldon Adelson, who wants to nuke Iran, while Rubio’s outside spending group, which tried to kill the Iran deal by promoting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, has undertaken a big ad buy in Iowa. Rubio appears to be favored by neocon kingmaker Bill Kristol, who has defended the Florida senator from attacks, elevated him as ‘shrewd’–and meantime has trolled Jeb Bush (who made the mistake of naming James Baker as a foreign policy adviser).”

Beyond simply cozying up to prominent neocons, Marco Rubio has been echoing standard neoconservative talking points for months. In a speech last year at the Council for Foreign Relations, he painted a picture of an interventionist foreign policy, one that seemed rather reminiscent of the excesses of the Bush years:

“’America plays a part on the world stage for which there is no understudy,’ the senator and Republican presidential hopeful told a standing-room-only crowd on New York’s Upper East Side. ‘When we fail to lead with strength and principle there is no other country, friend or foe, that is willing or able to take our place. And the result is chaos.’”

And Marco Rubio was one of the the infamous 47 senators who cravenly attempted to undermine last year’s landmark agreement on Iran’s nuclear program:

“Rubio was among 47 Republican senators who signed a letter to Iran’s leadership warning that Congress could upend a deal being worked out with Obama to control Tehran’s nuclear program. Rubio has also said that if elected president, he would be willing to defy European allies if necessary to revoke a deal he might inherit.”

That last action puts him in some interesting company. Also opposing the Iran deal was Bill Kristol, one of the founders of the PNAC, who funneled $1 million to Senator Tom Cotton, in exchange for his leadership on opposing the deal. And, via Tom Cotton, there is a connection to Dan Senor, former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. But the connections run deeper than that. As mentioned earlier, PNAC co-founder Bill Kristol has been talking up Rubio’s candidacy for months. One of Marco Rubio’s biggest backers, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, includes Dan Senor in his network of advisors. Rubio regularly consulted with Robert Kagan, one of the signers of PNAC’s 1998 letter, in his years as a freshman senator. And Elliot Abrams, former deputy national security advisor, and another signer of the 1998 letter, is part of Marco Rubio’s “loose circle of advisors.”

There are far too many connections between Rubio and the neocons of PNAC to claim that the similarities between Marco Rubio’s “New American Century” and the Project for the New American Century are simple coincidence. And that should be a deeply troubling thing.

Consider the current Republican field. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are dominating in the polls with insurgent campaigns that pander to the lowest common denominator. Both of these candidates are loathed by the GOP establishment and it is quite likely that, should either win the nomination, it will spell doom for the Republican Party in November. While the GOP establishment has yet to get its shit together and do something to combat the Trump and Cruz insurgencies, if it ever does, Marco Rubio is their logical choice. The other “establishment” candidates are either buried in single digits or, like George Pataki and Lindsey Graham, have dropped out of the race entirely. Marco Rubio is the only one within striking distance.

And that is terrifying. The last, brightest hope of the GOP is a man who is aligned with the same neocons who brought about America’s greatest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam. He is aligned with the same people who caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, who threw the entire Middle East in chaos, who precipitated the rise of DAESH. He is aligned with the same gang of idiots who made US foreign policy, between 2000 and 2008, an unmitigated disaster. Marco Rubio’s connections to the Project for the New American Century can, and must, disqualify him for the presidency. We’ve done this one before. It didn’t work.

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