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Alas, It's Not Over Yet

A report by the U.S. Institute for Peace, which has close ties with Congress, says the U.S. may attack Iran and Syria next, in what they call "Phase 3 on the War on Terror." They think this will be even harder than going into Afghanistan and Iraq, because both populations are more committed to their governments. Israeli intelligence insists that Iran has nuclear weapons?but no one in Europe believes them.

We'd have to invade those countries, because, the report states, "Limited bombing would almost certainly fail to disrupt the terrorist infrastructure significantly. There is simply too little to bomb. As the U.S. cruise missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 demonstrated, limited attacks usually have a negligible effect on terrorists and can even lead to their lionization. Putting boots on the ground is necessary to root out terrorists, and even then they are more likely to be displaced than destroyed.

"For Iran, the number of forces needed to occupy Iranian territory would dwarf those required for the Iraq campaign, given the country's large size and the probable hostility of the population," writes analyst Daniel Byman in the report. "The military effort in Syria could be far less massive, but here too occupation would be difficult given the nationalism of the Syrian people.

"Although the clerical regime in Teheran is unpopular, and the Baath regime in Damascus is widely scorned, they are not universally loathed as was Hussein's regime. Moreover, both countries' populations are highly nationalistic and are likely to unite behind their government in the event of a crisis. U.S. pressure might strengthen the hands of the regimes we oppose."

Iran and Syria would might use Hizbullah against U.S. interests in the Middle East, and these terrorists are considered to be even more dangerous than al-Qaeda. They would probably also try to stage an attack on U.S. soil. This would mean we would have to invade Lebanon as well, since that's where they?re deployed.

"To have any chance of success, a military effort would require a sustained counter-insurgency effort in Lebanon," according to the report. "Israel has tried a military solution to the Hizbullah problem for 20 years, but its efforts only made the group stronger, strengthening its resolve and increasing its political appeal to many Lebanese. Meanwhile, Hizbullah would activate its cells in Asia, Europe, and Latin America?and probably unknown cells in the United States?to strike at Americans worldwide."

Because of this, the report does not advise more military action and points out that we have changed the policies of both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia toward al-Qaeda without using military weapons.

The report says, "The right combination of carrots and sticks would lead [Syria] to crack down on Hizbullah, pushing it to become a relatively tame Lebanese political organization. Pressure on Iran, while less effective, would also help cut Hizbullah's global network and might make it more prone to focus its efforts on Lebanese politics, not anti-American jihad. For both countries, pressure should also include demands that Hizbullah halt its efforts to arm and train Palestinian groups."

Now that we've captured Saddam, we may be able to coerce him into telling us where he?s hidden his weapons of mass destruction?if he has any. Israeli intelligence is being blamed for inaccurately assessing Iraq?s WMDs, which is one reason we invaded Iraq in the first place. This has damaged their credibility and is causing Western nations to ignore their latest warnings about atomic weapons in Iran.

Over the years, Israel has developed extensive intelligence sources in the Middle East, which Western countries, with few Middle Eastern resources of their own, have had to rely on. Before the war, Israel claimed that Iraq was capable of attacking them with medium-range missiles carrying biological or chemical warheads. A new report by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies says, "Foreign intelligence services might stop trusting intelligence received from Israel, and foreign countries might suspect that Israel is giving them false intelligence in order to influence their political positions?Such suspicions, for example, could harm Israel's efforts to convince others that the intelligence on Iran's nuclear project is solid, despite the fact that the case of Iran is different from that of Iraq in that Israel's assessments in this regard are based on good, solid information."

Will we ever know who's really running things?

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