President Bush gave a chilling hint in his State of the Union speech of what's next in the war on terrorism. "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather," he stated. And then he singled out Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as likely targets for some sort of US action.
This war now goes beyond just destroying Al Qaeda terrorists to aggressively destroying threats from hostile nations that have either chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that could be used for terrorism.
That's a leap into a possible war without end. Mr. Bush now defines terrorism in much broader terms, and suggests the US will make preemptive attacks on any nation, such as Iraq, that "flaunts its hostility."
His success in Afghanistan, along with a sustained popularity as high as Franklin Roosevelt's during World War II, will help Bush pursue a possible "strike first" security doctrine. And in seeking a large increase in military spending, he may improve the means to carry it out.
He thus could adopt Israel's tactics of hitting enemies before they strike. For Israel, that's meant assassinating Palestinian leaders or, as it did in 1981, knocking out Iraq's nuclear plants. Such tactics keep Israel secure, but not at peace.
Almost every US president over the past century has redefined national security in some way. Bush, after nearly five months of successfully waging a new kind of war, is asking Americans to trust him as he expands the scope of what will be a long war.
He's earned their trust so far. With care and caution, he may keep it.