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"Axis of Evil" to expand: Cuba, Libya, Syria

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US eyes second-tier threats in terror war

It signals hardening stance by focusing on Syria, Libya, and Cuba.

By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – The "axis of evil" is back - and in expanded form. Anticipated congressional action against Syria this week is just one sign that the US plans to keep up the pressure on countries it places on the wrong side in the war on terror.

The triad of WMD-seeking states that President Bush first targeted in his January 2002 State of the Union address no longer includes Iraq. But the club otherwise made up of North Korea and Iran has grown to include Syria, Libya, and Cuba, in the administration's eyes, as it seeks to keep the nation and the world focused on the dual threats of weapons proliferation and state-sponsored terrorism.

Some experts see the new club members as minor threats compared to the original three - one former US official calls them "the ladies' auxiliary of the axis of evil." But the Bush administration is showing lack of patience with any state tolerance of terrorism, while making clear its determination to see development of and trading in weapons of mass destruction stopped. Some recent examples:

• With the administration dropping its opposition, stiff new sanctions against Iraq's neighbor Syria are likely to win House approval this week and a Senate nod after that. Called the Syria Accountability Act, the legislation would impose new sanctions against a country that has long been on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism - but which has also aided the US in efforts against Al Qaeda.

• John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, has linked several states - including Syria - with the charter members of the axis of evil. In remarks last week at the American Embassy in London, Mr. Bolton said, "We're now turning our attention to Iran, Syria, Libya, and Cuba."

• The White House on Friday announced new travel restrictions and other measures against Cuba, which it accuses of pursuing biological and chemical weapons programs.

The stepped-up action against states like Syria and Cuba represents both new terror concerns and White House electoral interests, some analysts say.

Syria, for example, is getting new attention because of growing indications that it has allowed Arabs set on fighting a jihad against the US to filter into next-door neighbor Iraq. The longer-standing issue the US has with Syria is the haven it provides to Palestinian groups that continue to carry out violence and terrorist acts against Israel.

But at the same time the legislation targeting Syria has the strong support of pro-Israel lobbying groups that are very influential with Jewish voters. Similarly, measures aimed at Fidel Castro's Cuba play well with Cuban-American voters in key states like Florida.

Yet these latest targets in the war on terror aren't likely to raise the alarms - or level of action - that the original three "axis" members did, experts say, primarily because they are not growing nuclear threats.

"In terms of capability, population, economic weight, but principally because it differs from the 'axis of evil' with their active nuclear programs, Syria won't be going from the triple-A league to the majors," says Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It's a different order of magnitude."

Even so, Undersecretary Bolton's comments draw new attention to the Bush administration's perspective that its list of violating states is not limited to seekers of nuclear arms, but includes developers of chemical and biological weapons.

At the same time, the administration appears to want to reassure the American public and the world that getting tough doesn't mean a rush to military action. Any new measures against Syria will be limited to economic and diplomatic measures - for now.

But taking on Syria at this point has its risks. Stanley Bedlington, a former senior analyst in the CIA's counterterrorism center, says Syria has long cooperated with the US in terms of intelligence-sharing. He and other intelligence experts say the cooperation only increased after 9/11.

Yet since the US went to war with Iraq, they add, the US and Israel are increasingly making the case that Syria sponsors terrorists and must stop.

Right after the war with Iraq began, for example, the US issued several warnings to Syria to close its borders. Over the months since, several officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, have accused Syria of allowing Arab foot soldiers to cross into Iraq and of harboring political and military refugees.

Robert Baer, a retired CIA operative with years of experience in the region, says Syria doesn't understand the new US position saying it's done everything Washington has asked.

Syria's case with the US was complicated earlier this month when Israel bombed a Palestinian terrorist training camp deep inside Syria. With congressional action on Syria imminent, the Israeli raid may have cemented the legislation's prospects.

US action against Syria won't have much economic impact, experts say, since the US already has some sanctions on the books against Syria. But it will send a message to the region that could complicate the US position there.

Richard Murphy, a former assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs and now at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, says it is not just the Syria Accountability Act, but Mr. Bush's strong words of support to Israel after its raid on Syrian territory, that are taken by both sides in the Middle East conflict as a green light to Israel for such actions.

But even in these circumstances, not everyone sees Syria responding to US action by closing its diplomatic doors. "The response may be to grill the US publicly but to work behind the scenes to find what more the US wants," says CSIS's Mr. Alterman.

• Staff writer Faye Bowers contributed to this report.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1014/p02s01-usfp.html

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Iran needs a greater focus, not expanding the "axis".....they are the epicenter of terrorism, always have been, and with their continued harboring of Al Qaeda, their nuclear ambitions and desire to use them once they get them, coupled with their theocracy, Iran needs a greater focus...

And by greater focus, I do not mean just the U.S. or the IAEA...the international community, the so-called U.S. allies, and the U.N. needs to confront this problem once and for all, and not watch this nightmare continue to grow until it is too late, which is what the international community usually does, or wait for the U.S. to deal with it....

I believe the U.S. is doing the right thing using the IAEA to confirm Irans' nuke issue, and it seems effective diplomacy with Russia on Iran is making progress.....but the U.N., if truly relevant, needs to come together and be pro-active

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Originally posted by xpyrate

Can someone please explain to me why we want to fight other countries battles? Was the 90s peace and prosperity too boring?

What "other" countries are you talking about?.....And I was wondering what "peace" you are talking about in the 90's?....You seem to have a bad memory and a weak understanding and analysis of that period

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First off, when I said "other countries" I meant Israel. Syria and Libya pose no threat to us. In fact all this war mongering will make them want to strike us more than if we didn't. This is a war over Israel and has nothing to do with us. Let's concentrate on getting Bin Laden there is no need to romp around the globe droppin' bombs on anyone that so much gives us a dirty look. Putting us square on Israels side does nothing but increase our risk of terrorism.

And what wars were we in during the 90s? I suppose the 91 Gulf war OK and the whole slobadon thing but there was always a sense that they would come to an end, not only that our country was never hit, that is we never incurred casualties here on the mainland. The fact remains during the Clinton administration we had a peace that this country hadn't seen since before WW1.

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Originally posted by xpyrate

First off, when I said "other countries" I meant Israel. Syria and Libya pose no threat to us. In fact all this war mongering will make them want to strike us more than if we didn't. This is a war over Israel and has nothing to do with us. Let's concentrate on getting Bin Laden there is no need to romp around the globe droppin' bombs on anyone that so much gives us a dirty look. Putting us square on Israels side does nothing but increase our risk of terrorism.

And what wars were we in during the 90s? I suppose the 91 Gulf war OK and the whole slobadon thing but there was always a sense that they would come to an end, not only that our country was never hit, that is we never incurred casualties here on the mainland. The fact remains during the Clinton administration we had a peace that this country hadn't seen since before WW1.

libya, no threat to us,?? do you want to talk to some family members of the pan am flight?

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Originally posted by xpyrate

First off, when I said "other countries" I meant Israel. Syria and Libya pose no threat to us. In fact all this war mongering will make them want to strike us more than if we didn't. This is a war over Israel and has nothing to do with us. Let's concentrate on getting Bin Laden there is no need to romp around the globe droppin' bombs on anyone that so much gives us a dirty look. Putting us square on Israels side does nothing but increase our risk of terrorism.

And what wars were we in during the 90s? I suppose the 91 Gulf war OK and the whole slobadon thing but there was always a sense that they would come to an end, not only that our country was never hit, that is we never incurred casualties here on the mainland. The fact remains during the Clinton administration we had a peace that this country hadn't seen since before WW1.

I know I have called you a moron and an imbecile, but those words provide weak justifcation for your standing as resident idiot when compared to your above post.

Your definition of "peace' during the Clinton years is interesting.......I can only assume you lived up someone's asshole during that decade, since you seem to exclude the first WTC bombing, Somalia, the Khobar Towers bombings, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, not to mention the foiled plots......need I go on?

Tell the families of the victims if they thought this was a period of "peace"........

War was waged on the U.S.....just because we did not adequately respond should not constitute "peace" in your mind....nor should a decade of watching an enemy grow in front of our eyes.....

I think there is something seriously wrong with you

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Originally posted by igloo

I know I have called you a moron and an imbecile, but those words provide weak justifcation for your standing as resident idiot when compared to your above post.

Your definition of "peace' during the Clinton years is interesting.......I can only assume you lived up someone's asshole during that decade, since you seem to exclude the first WTC bombing, Somalia, the Khobar Towers bombings, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, not to mention the foiled plots......need I go on?

Tell the families of the victims if they thought this was a period of "peace"........

War was waged on the U.S.....just because we did not adequately respond should not constitute "peace" in your mind....nor should a decade of watching an enemy grow in front of our eyes.....

I think there is something seriously wrong with you

Well, ok maybe it wasn't complete peace ... but remeber the 80s? We lived in constant fear of being nuked by the USSR. In comparison we did have peace in the 90s.

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Originally posted by xpyrate

Well, ok maybe it wasn't complete peace ... but remeber the 80s? We lived in constant fear of being nuked by the USSR. In comparison we did have peace in the 90s.

Just shut up already....

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Originally posted by xpyrate

Do you know why they blew up that plane? Because of our support of Israel. *sighs* And yes, I have heard from family members of that plane (in magazine articles) and they say the same thing as I do.

theyre right, you are an idiot. and a possible biggot

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Originally posted by igloo

I know I have called you a moron and an imbecile, but those words provide weak justifcation for your standing as resident idiot when compared to your above post.

Your definition of "peace' during the Clinton years is interesting.......I can only assume you lived up someone's asshole during that decade, since you seem to exclude the first WTC bombing, Somalia, the Khobar Towers bombings, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, not to mention the foiled plots......need I go on?

Tell the families of the victims if they thought this was a period of "peace"........

War was waged on the U.S.....just because we did not adequately respond should not constitute "peace" in your mind....nor should a decade of watching an enemy grow in front of our eyes.....

I think there is something seriously wrong with you

you are correct, this moron, is just that a fraking moron. now watch yr back, some of this ones friends will come out, and launch a personal attack on you. don't use the word "naive"- it freaks some people out- lmao- and if you dont respond in italian, be very careful lmfao

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why do we want to start a fight. this preemptive stuff is bullshit reasons for empirialism. we have a king george in office. wtf. im not afraid that tommorrow ill wake up and cuba syria or any other country will be soveriegn over the u.s.a.

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Originally posted by t0nythelover

why do we want to start a fight. this preemptive stuff is bullshit reasons for empirialism. we have a king george in office. wtf. im not afraid that tommorrow ill wake up and cuba syria or any other country will be soveriegn over the u.s.a.

Just wondering, did you finish your 5th grade science project yet?....You know, the one where you paint round little balls different colors to represent the planets of the solar system, and then hang them from the inside of a box .......

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Originally posted by t0nythelover

im not afraid that tommorrow ill wake up and cuba syria or any other country will be soveriegn over the u.s.a.

What a terrible point that is. That is obviously not the threat these countries pose to us. Open your eyes and ears just a little bit before you think outloud next time.

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Originally posted by raver_mania

"expanding" this axis is bullshit and stupidity. Lets finish the wars we've started, and not be *too* eager to spread "democracy" around the world, lest we become that what we hate most - a dictator.

i think Cubans wouldnt mind being a "dictatorship" from America...it def. beats Castro's rule...

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Originally posted by skince55

What a terrible point that is. That is obviously not the threat these countries pose to us. Open your eyes and ears just a little bit before you think outloud next time.

What threat are they to us then? Neither of their armys with stand a chance against us. Cuba certainly isn't going to attack us. Why would they?

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Originally posted by xpyrate

Cuba certainly isn't going to attack us. Why would they?

Cuba is one of the most ANTI-AMERICAN country on the Western Hemisphere...i wouldnt be surprised if we do have intel on them giving aid to such terrorists groups....:idea:

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