If President Bush triumphs in November, his supporters will argue that he has earned the moral mandate to wage his undefined war on terror -- something he currently lacks. Some fear such a victory would unleash a permanent and apocalyptic crusade against the Arab-Muslim world. Others fear it would further unleash an open-ended "long, long war on terror."
To counter the perception that he is waging a holy war -- or to ensure that the president is not constrained to one part of the world in future invasions -- no doubt, his handlers have already drawn up contingency plans to strike or invade a non-Arab-Muslim country. Probably in the Americas. The smaller the country the better. Grenada's inviting, though it was already invaded in the 1980s. Tobago's the right size, though there would be no political dividends. The political winds spell "Cuba."
With the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, an attack on the remaining duo from the president's axis of evil (Iran and North Korea) is unlikely. An October surprise against Syria is possible, though also unlikely as it might further inflame the Arab-Muslim world right before the elections.
Haiti would be a prime candidate because it would offer little resistance, though U.S.-supported henchmen have already forced Haiti's duly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from office. Besides, such an invasion would be expensive (hurricane costs) and would also not reel in much political capital.
Venezuela is a possibility. It's been on the U.S. target list of hostile nations ever since Hugo Chavez assumed office (he also recently repelled the U.S.-backed referendum to oust him). Because he has a huge following, an outright invasion would be plenty bloody.
Normally, that would not be a deterrent, though the United States cannot afford to wage three simultaneous wars. An invasion in the Americas, however, would give the administration an excuse to get out of either a "democratic" Afghanistan or Iraq. It would also assuage that perception that the war on terror is strictly a holy war against the Arab-Muslim world.
Thus, a Bush victory would signal a go-ahead for further U.S. invasions.
Colombia, already the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, would be another option. The military aid being sent there is for the war on drugs; nowadays, it is being peddled as part of the war on terror (all U.S. military aid is now being recalibrated as such). Despite having the worst human rights record on the continent, Colombia's military has been unable to quash the three-decades-old insurgency. To be able do so would reap many rewards for President Bush.
Prior to Bush II, full-scale invasions in the Americas had become unnecessary (Panama was the exception). The experiences in the 1980s showed us that the U.S. military simply needed to arm, train and finance ruthless thugs so as to be able to do the United States' bidding. That's why this time around, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are not likely to be invaded and why some of them sent troops to Iraq. (Many nations have been forced to support the U.S. effort in Iraq and to exempt it from the International Criminal Court, or risk losing their funding.)
There are two other countries that could wind up on the U.S. hit list. The president of Brazil might be taken out because he's a U.S. nuisance (much of the Third World sides with him against the world's richest nations). And last, Mexico is always "ready" to be invaded (again). In fact, given a continental or worldwide conflagration triggered by another U.S. invasion anywhere on the planet, look for Mexico's vast oil fields to be seized ... and possibly annexed.
The next U.S. invasion or military strike will likely target Cuba, with three likely scenarios. An October surprise is always possible, as it would assure the right-wing Cuban vote in the critical swing state of Florida. In case of a Bush defeat, look for an unrestrained president to go out with a bang. Finally, in the event of a Bush victory, a strike against Cuba would prove that he is an equal-opportunity fanaticist.
Truthfully, U.S. presidents have never hesitated to invade a country anywhere in the Americas. The "war on terror" simply gives this president a new prism and a new vocabulary by which to do so. That prism or doctrine could perhaps aptly be called: From a nation of suspects to suspect nations.