The road to Damascus

Two of my more strongly-held beliefs in the current war on terrorism is that 1) the Bush strategy is based on pragmatism, with the idea of each stage being aimed at an achievable goal that advances our position closer to victory, and 2) there actually IS a Bush strategy. And lately in the news, I think I might see the next step.

The first step was obvious — Afghanistan. We had to demonstrate to the world that we would respond to terrorist attacks in a military fashion, and woe unto any government that openly gave aid and comfort to our enemies. We had to establish as legitimate precedent the idea that fighting terrorism was a job for the military, not the police.

The next step was the invasion of Iraq. Now, alongside the many stated reasons were the unstated ones — and they are, to my thinking, just as important, if not more. (I’ve gone into the stated reasons numerous times, so I’m not going to repeat them here.) Support for terrorism, on many levels both overt and covert, exists in nearly every Mideast nation. By invading Iraq and toppling Saddam, we instantly established several things:

1) We are willing and able to topple governments that repeatedly threaten us, violate agreements with us, attack us, and in general piss us off.

2) A sizable, battle-proven military presence right smack dab in the geographic center of the problem.

3) A reminder of just how superior the American military machine is to any other force in the region — and perhaps superior to every other force in the region, COMBINED.

4) A training ground where our forces can learn just what sorts of tactics terrorists will develop — and how to defeat them.

So, what’s next on the agenda? A few items in the news over the last week or two draw me towards one conclusion:

1) Unconfirmed reports that US Marines, pursuing terrorists in crossed in to Syria and clashed with Syrian forces. (Accounts here and here.)

2) The United Nations, under pressure from the US and others, is pushing harder and harder on Syria to “cooperate in the investigation” of the assassination of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.

3) Noted asshat, scumbag, and former Klan leader (but I repeat myself) David Duke has traveled to Damascus, giving his ringing endorsement to the Syrian government and loudly condemned the war in Iraq, as well as the “Zionist-controlled US” and other similar charges (sounding a great deal like Cindy Sheehan, whom Duke has publicly supported). (Full transcript here)

There is a great deal of pressure on Syria right now, from within and without. I strongly suspect that they are next on Bush’s hit parade.

This is not to say that we will be invading Syria any time soon. We swung Libya around without firing a single shot; just some very delicate and quiet diplomacy persuaded them to give up their WMD programs. But right now the Dorktator (thanks to Meryl Yourish for coming up with that particularly memorable and well-suited nickname for Bashar Assad) has to be sweating bullets. He’s got that peculiar itch right in the center of his back that he can’t quite reach, and just knows it’s a bullseye.

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