The U.S. Committee on NATO, a rightist advocacy organization committed to increasing U.S. influence through expansion of the transatlantic military alliance, was originally founded in the mid-1990s as the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Its founders, Bruce Jackson and Greg Craig, later renamed the group the U.S. Committee on NATO (USCN). The committee's motto was "Strengthen America. Secure Europe. Defend Values. Expand NATO." It ceased operations in 2003.
Following the group's termination, Jackson and two other principals of the committee—Randy Scheunemann and Julie Finley—used the committee's office space to found a successor group, the Project on Transitional Democracies.
Among USCN's initial board members were two high-profile neoconservative figures, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Other board members included Stephen Hadley, who served in the George W. Bush administration as deputy national security adviser to Condoleezza Rice; Randy Scheunemann, later a key aide to Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin; Julie Finley, a Republican Party operative and founding member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq; and Gary Schmitt, a former director of the Project for the New American Century and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
The committee was well placed to service the needs of a number of factions, including both hawkish ideologues and the defense industry. NATO expansion requires integrating national militaries, a process that opens up lucrative weapons markets, including jet fighters, electronics, attack helicopters, communication networks, among other trappings of modern military forces. "Add them together," Joel Johnson, vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association, told the New York Times, "and we're talking about real money."
Until 2002 Bruce Jackson was planning and strategy vice president at Lockheed Martin, where he served as the advance man for global corporate development projects. One prominent neocon described Jackson as "the nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us."
In the estimation of John Laughland, a trustee of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group and a close observer of Jackson's work in Eastern Europe: "Far from promoting democracy in eastern Europe, Washington is promoting a system of political and military control not unlike the 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."
In the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Jackson helped draft the declaration by the Vilnius Ten governments supporting the planned U.S. invasion with or without UN approval. Eager for U.S. support for their entry into NATO, the countries of what Donald Rumsfeld called the "New Europe" joined the war coalition, at least in name. Slovenia later backed away from the statement after revelations that its foreign minister "had buckled…under Bruce Jackson's threat."
The U.S. Committee on NATO and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, both of which were organized by Jackson, were disbanded in late 2003, apparently because its members believed that they had accomplished their mission.
The U.S. Committee on NATO did not offer any information about funding sources on its now-defunct website. According to Bruce Jackson, "I finance myself, with money I made from investment banking [he was chief strategist on the proprietary trading desk at Lehman Brothers from 1990 to 1993]. It's not as if it's some individual project though. A lot of people volunteer their time for the NGO. Volunteer work is much more normal in Washington than in Europe."