TEAM Bush keeps making it clear
that "eventually" it will go after Iraq's Saddam Hussein, but
there's growing talk that the president wants his next target in the
terror war to be a non-Arab state.
For starters, that makes it easier for
Bush to push the Mideast peace process forward. It also makes it easier
for him to argue this is a war on terror rather than a war on Arabs or
That's why there's growing speculation
Bush may next target Somalia, Sudan or Islamic terrorists in the
"What the administration is doing
in the Mideast now is a two-track strategy," says military analyst
Dan Goure, noting Secretary of State Colin Powell's bid to re-launch
Mideast peace talks this week.
"The message to the Saudis is that
we are going to push for Mideast peace as they want - but the quid pro
quo is that we are also going to go after the Iraqis," said Goure.
He noted Bush needs to get the
reluctant Saudis to allow use of military bases there to go after Iraq.
Goure figures the clock may already be
ticking toward a spring start of action against Iraq, so the question is
what moves Bush might make in the interim.
While it is clear Bush is already
working out the next move, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said
yesterday America should wait to get Afghanistan stabilized "before
we talk about anything else."
Many analysts say Somalia could be a
Bush target because it has clear ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda
network and is another lawless state of warlords, but not an Arab
nation. And, like Afghanistan, it wouldn't pose real threats to U.S. air
Attacking terror bases in Somalia would
also offer a chance to avenge the humiliating al Qaeda-plotted killing
of 18 American soldiers in 1993 - which prompted then-President Bill
Clinton to yank U.S. troops.
Sudan has long had terror ties to bin
Laden, who used it as his base from 1991-96. Right now, Sudan is seeking
to reach out to the West.
To many analysts, Lebanon is right at
the heart of worldwide terror - the Bekaa Valley has been a training
ground for decades - but it's an Arab state right in the center of any
Mideast peace effort.
Islamic terrorists in the Philippines
clearly are an attractive target because they aren't Arabs, the
Philippines are predominantly Roman Catholic, and the government is a
close U.S. ally.
Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld
this week revealed America is already helping the Philippines - "great
allies," Bush said - battle the al Qaeda-linked terror group, Abu
Still, it was quite intriguing how
quickly Rumsfeld segued from the war on terror in the Philippines right
back to the old nemesis - Iraq.
"There is no question but that
there has been a good deal of interaction between the terrorists in the
Philippines and al Qaeda and people in Iraq," Rumsfeld said.