Sunday, October 16, 2005

Memo Hints at More Targets Beyond Iraq

An anti-Bush book by British author Philippe Sands is due to be published next week. An excerpt from that book alleges a conversation between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on January 30, 2003 in which the President listed other nations the coalition would target after Iraq. (The Hindu: Bush had told Blair of going beyond Iraq: report). According to Sands, the President stated he, "wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan."

Of course there's no tangible evidence that the conversation ever took place, and Mr. Sands is just one more in a long list of authors looking to make a name for themselves by publishing anti-American propaganda. I don't hold much hope for the credibility of either his book or the alleged conversation. The sentiment attributed to the President, however, is one I most certainly embrace and support.

By no means is Iraq the end-game in our War on Terror. Hussein's regime was just one of many problems in the Middle East that must be dealt with before this effort concludes. The nations Mr. Sands lists as targets on President Bush's agenda are certainly valid in that regard. Nobody doubts the Iran and North Korea are problem children when it comes to nuclear weapons propagation. Iran is the current focus of both the US and the EU and has already been discussed at length in other posts. There's no need to repeat that here. North Korea not only claims to have nuclear weapons capabilities, but they are also notorious for selling anything they have to anyone with enough coin - which, given the state of North Korea's economy is not a lot of coin. Yes, North Korea will have to be contained and efforts are already underway to doing that.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan may seem like surprise entries on that list, since they are both perceived to be US allies. Truth is, however, they are major contributors to terrorist training, terrorist funding, and terrorist personnel. Pakistan is home to many of the terrorist training camps. While the Pakistani government may be a loose US ally, the people of Pakistan most certainly are not. That Pakistan already has nuclear capability is a major problem and one that we will ultimately have to address.

It is not coincidental that 15 of 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia is one of the most extreme fundamentalist nations in the world. The Saudi government openly supports the US, however that pro-west sentiment does not extend to the general population. Much of the funding for al Qaeda comes either directly from the people of Saudi Arabia or through charities headquartered in Saudi Arabia. There is little doubt that we will ultimately have to address the Saudi problem before this war is over.

No, it's not the nations on that list that is of interest. Rather, it's the nations that are not on the list. For that list to be complete, it must include Syria. Open supporters of Hezbollah, Syria is an open pipeline of insurgents into Iraq. Syria has long been a haven for terrorists, whether they are part of organisations opposing the US or part of organisations that target Israel.

Philippe Sands may or may not have credible information regarding conversations between Bush and Blair. I have no way of knowing either way. However, the conversation he is releasing, while intended to be a very anti-Bush depiction of US aggression, is one that I do hope took place and do hope is accurate. I would hate to think we are expending this effort in Iraq only to leave the job unfinished.


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