SYRIA….Speaking of unpleasantness that the administration might be holding off until after the election, I wonder if Syria is on that list? Exhibit A is this excerpt from Wesley Clark’s Winning Modern War:

I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, and one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.

Exhibit B, from the far opposite end of the political spectrum, comes from Stephen Brown at FrontPage:

America’s concern with transforming Syria, part of its effort to affect positive, geo-political change in the region, is the next logical step in the War on Terror, a step that was probably already decided upon before the invasion of Afghanistan. America appears to be following a plan in its fight against terrorism, in which it deals with the problem countries in order of weakest to strongest. Afghanistan, being the weakest, was the first invaded, followed by Iraq. Syria is next with Iran, the strongest in the region, targeted as the last.

Exhibit C comes from Jed Babbin at NRO today:

Regime change must be our goal, because nothing else will work.

….Most importantly, beginning now, and while all this diplomatic kabuki dance goes on, we should act. President Bush should order covert intelligence and military actions against Syria, and Hezbollah terrorists there and in Lebanon. We should not hesitate to operate with the Israelis, whose intelligence apparatus there is better than ours, and whose military can operate with ours secretly. An intense covert campaign should be used to topple Assad’s regime and damage Hezbollah severely.

So one of Wesley Clark’s Pentagon pals told him two years ago that the invasion of Syria was already a part of the Bush administration’s long-range military plan, and Stephen Brown’s sources have apparently told him the same thing. And Jed Babbin just comes right out and says that we ought to team up with Israel and lead a joint operation against Damascus ? not exactly something that’s likely to calm down the conspiracy theories that we’re merely in Iraq doing Ariel Sharon’s Zionist bidding. (And a note to Jed: paying lip service to diplomacy doesn’t work very well if you call it a “kabuki dance” a few sentences later. Just saying….)

So is this really in the cards? Does the Bush administration really believe that the way to fight terror is to invade every unfriendly regime in the Middle East? Or are these guys just spouting eyewash that they have no real basis for believing?

I don’t know. But I wish I did.