We hear those magic words again:

Weapons of mass destruction..

Secretary of State Colin Powell recently announced that the U.S. is considering taking diplomatic or economic actions against Syria.

Apparently, Syria has chemical weapons. The U.S. claims that Syria carried out chemical weapons tests in last 12 months.

Sound familiar? It should by now.

The Bush administration also finds Syria guilty of providing safe haven for escaping senior officials from Saddam Hussein’s government and aid to anti-Israel terrorist groups.

Except for neocons in the Bush Administration, the only ones psyched about the prospect of a wider war are Arial Sharon and other Israeli hardliners.

For everybody else, trying to tie the liberation of Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hard sell.

Never mind that all the talk about democracy and Baghdad acting as a “shining city on a hill” for the Arab world. Democracy is still a pipe dream in Iraq. It will be a hell of a long time before Jay Garner allows the Iraqi people to hold elections.

And while we supported the liberation of Iraq for its own sake, we’re having a hard time figuring out how the invasion of Syria and Iran will benefit the US’s plan for democracy and freedom in the Middle East.

Now that the US holds Iraqis as a captive audience in Democracy 101, it should concentrate on doing a good job there. If the Bush Administration pulls a rabbit out of their hat and makes good on providing peace, prosperity and democracy for Iraq, that alone will speed up the pace of democratic reforms throughout the region.

Military tactics going back to Sun-Tzu advocate short, decisive wars for two reasons: 1) protracted warfare drains a country’s resources and 2) shorter wars keep future enemies from attempting to strike. Iraq, despite misgivings, has given the US an ideal outcome. No other country is feeling courageous enough to start a fight with the US anytime soon. With the upper hand secured, deterrence is more potent than it has ever been as a tool of US foreign policy.

The hawks in the Bush Administration did their job—they put the US back at the top of the “don’t mess with us” list. Now they need to get out of the way and let the State Department use the newfound momentum to help ‘persuade’ other Arab regimes toward US interests. Attacking Syria would nullify the respect earned from the quick, decisive victory in Iraq.

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