The nearly immediate retraction of Hamas's threats against the United States is, I think, not at all a sign of the success of this policy of "preemption." Quite the opposite. It shows that America, in this new global game of us-vs.-them, is very easily played.
The North Koreans know how to do it. They saw Iraq accused of weapons it didn't have and then invaded on that pretext. So, they got weapons.
Hamas is much more visible than al Qaeda has ever been, and they cannot afford overt aggression towards the US. And they are gaming the system that the Bushies have put into play. What does the following mean, if not, "We aren't going attack you, but you will be attacked, and that's okay"?:
"I say with absolute certainty that the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin will cause an earthquake to the Zionists," Khaled Mashaal told Dubai-based TV station Al-Arabiya. He said the revenge "will spare no targets."
Mashaal, who heads Hamas' political bureau, also criticized the United States for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution Friday condemning Israel for killing Yassin, but said his group will not attack U.S. targets in the Middle East.
He warned, however, that "America's bias" toward Israel and its occupation of Iraq (news - web sites) were creating enemies for it throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds.
"Hamas' ... battle is inside Palestine and against the Zionist occupation ... but I cannot predict what the reaction of Arab and Islamic masses might be," he said.