Extending The Axis Of Evil?

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Some democrats on the Hill claim that they are worried a second Bush Administration may prove more militarily aggressive than the first. One reason: a Democratic official tells TIME that a leading Pentagon hawk recently hinted that the doctrine of pre-emptive war could soon apply to potential new targets. During a private Aug. 19 conference call with Capitol Hill aides from both parties, sources say, senior Pentagon policy official William Luti said there are at least five or six foreign countries with traits that "no responsible leader can allow." An outspoken proponent of the Iraq war, Luti had declared at an October 2002 conference that the U.S. has "the right to ... hold accountable nations that harbor terrorists." In his recent call, Luti did not name the nations he had in mind but said they are led by dictators with weapons-of-mass-destruction programs and close ties to terrorists. His remarks suggest that the Administration is looking well beyond the current "axis of evil," which includes Iran, Iraq and North Korea; this might put countries like Syria in the spotlight. A Pentagon spokesman declined to release a transcript of the call, saying Luti was stating "well-established official policy," not advocating pre-emptive strikes. The U.S., he added, has many other policy options at its disposal. They would presumably include measures like supporting opposition groups in suspect states.