Search This Blog

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Next? Maybe Syria?

Some members of the Bush administration, especially neoconservatives like John Bolton (he's the one embedded in the State Department), dream of taking the war on terrorism to additional states, like Syria or Lebanon.

And by "war on terror," I mean war.

This past spring, in the immediate euphoria of military success in Iraq, a number of people in the administration speculated openly about who might be next.

What's more impressive is that guys like Bolton are still saying these things in the face of the "long, hard slog" in Iraq. Consider this excerpt from a recent Financial Times story, which is archived at Cuba-Solidarity. Originally, I found the reference to the story from Digby at Hullabaloo. However, FT stories require subscription.
The Bush administration on Tuesday defended its strategy of pre-emptive action against Iraq - even while admitting that US intelligence had been imperfect - and warned that the US was ready to use all options against five other "rogue states".

John Bolton, under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, singled out Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba as being "hostile to US interests" during a speech in Washington. Mr Bolton, known as a hardliner, also cautioned negotiating partners in Asia and Europe that the US remained sceptical over efforts to induce North Korea and Iran to abide by nuclear safeguard commitments, amid reluctance to take firmer action.
Obviously, the US is bogged down in Iraq and I do not think the US is about to start any wars before the 2004 election. However, US foreign policy is still moving toward head on collision with Syria.

This week, Congress passed legislation authorizing new sanctions against Syria, though President Bush has the authority to waive them. Here are key paragraphs from the Reuters report:
The bill bars trade in items that could be used in weapons programs until the administration certifies that Syria is not supporting terrorist groups, has withdrawn personnel from Lebanon, is not developing unconventional weapons and has secured its border with Iraq.

It would also oblige Bush to impose at least two other sanctions from a menu that includes barring U.S. businesses from investing in Syria, restricting travel in the United States by Syrian diplomats, and banning exports of U.S. products other than food and medicine to Syria.

With trade between the two countries a modest $300 million or less annually, the sanctions would have more political than economic effects.
Bolton has accused Syria of pursuing WMD, though the CIA says his evidence is exaggerated. In fact, Bolton was slated to testify to Congress about this back in July, but it was delayed until September at least partly because the CIA wrote a 35+ page critique of his evidence.

At least it is good to know the intell people are going to have (and apply) more careful standards before another war is launched on shaky evidence.

No comments:

Post a Comment