It does not take the mind of a criminal genius to imagine a terrorist strike on Hong Kong. Naval vessels, including those from the United States, are not secured in bases but anchor in the middle of the world's busiest port while their sailors openly enjoy their liberty in local bars. Then there are the thrusting steel-and-glass totems of global capitalism rising from the congested streets. Add extensive air links, easy money movement and known smuggling routes for people and weapons, and fantasy can suddenly seem all too real. Hong Kong may now be part of China, but to the disaffected and ignorant it may still look like an Asian beach-head of British and American imperialism. Accustomed though the region may be to domestic upheaval, it is nonetheless no mere platitude to state that the weekend's bloodshed in Bali sounded a wake-up call to its leaders and citizens alike. As East Asia's biggest financial centre, Hong Kong cannot be anything but alarmed. Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui yesterday promised a security review across the SAR in light of the Bali bombings. Only the most extensive, probing and creative study will suffice. Any residual complacency must be cast aside, any hasty, emotionally driven response spurned. The need to protect Hong Kong's cherished freedoms and rights must obviously underpin any review. Yet Saturday night's tragedy undoubtedly adds another dimension to the debate. Unnecessary risk and cavalier security arrangements can carry their own threats to individual freedom. And there can be few more powerful images of such liberty than a group of young tourists dancing a Saturday night away on what for many was a first trip abroad. It is too early to tell whether the review that Mr Tsang has proposed will go far enough. Certainly, he appeared in no mood to exaggerate the threat yesterday. All that may be needed is a slight shift in emphasis. Previously, consideration of local anti-terrorism efforts in the wake of September 11 appeared to be dominated by Hong Kong's role as a possible conduit for the flow of money and goods by international terrorist networks rather than as a target itself. That thinking was evident in the debate surrounding the passage of laws to implement a United Nations anti-terrorism resolution early this year. Some politicians feared they could be used against local activist groups, while other commentators expressed disgust at the way the laws were hastily prepared. Even the government conceded that they were poorly drafted. There seems plenty of scope for a sweeping review, this time examining how Hong Kong could better prevent an attack or even deal with its consequences. Bali provides a host of lessons, of both a general and specific nature. For instance, ambulances reportedly took two hours to reach the scene, so narrow and congested were the Kuta streets. We hope the wake-up call resounds long and loud. But it is not just the region that needs to be stirred. In Washington, President George W. Bush needs to take a long, hard look at his administration's current obsession with Saddam Hussein. If evidence starts to point towards the involvement of al-Qaeda in the Indonesian strike, serious questions need to be asked about the priorities accorded current threats. A quick scan of last week's headlines is telling. Iraq now dominates the US agenda, even amid suggestions that al-Qaeda could be responsible for recent strikes in the Persian Gulf as part of a renewed offensive. A sober reassessment of current threats might throw up awkward answers, but making tough calls is what real leadership is all about. Any hasty Iraq misadventure would only stoke the resentment that gives terrorism its recruiting ground while detracting attention, and diverting energy and resources, from the fight against a clear and present danger. Unfortunately, to hope that the Bush administration will heed such realities may well be futile. Rather than reassess the menace of Iraq in the light of a renewed threat from al-Qaeda, it is easy to imagine Mr Bush and his officials attempting to use what happened in Bali to bolster their case for urgent action against Baghdad. The fact that lower down the chain, the State Department is already significantly reducing its Indonesian presence is a sign that a great deal of uncertainty - and possibly some alarming intelligence - surrounds the Bali attack. The need for a cold, hard look at the reality of the terrorist threat to Southeast Asia - as well as a shrewd plan to combat it - has never looked more pressing. Politics cannot be allowed to interfere with that task.