Harvard Square Observer: "The Axis of Evil"

Ernest Cassara

My old Webster defines "axis" in various fields, but, when it comes to the use by George W. Bush, the following is as close as we can get: "A straight line about which a body or geometric figures rotate or may be supposed to rotate."  Of course, the president's adoption of this figure of speech, I believe I am correct in remembering, was due to David Frum, who, at the time, was drafting speeches for him.  At least, Frum took credit for the phrase on television.

In other words, the only thing that connects North Korea, Iraq, and Iran, is a speech writer, and a hapless politician who adopts his language.  Unfortunately, the media are equally culpable, for they have adopted the terminology without examining it.  Those of us who have been around for awhile, remember the use of the term in World War II.  It made sense then, for Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, indeed, did have an alliance, and, across the world, Emperor Hirohito's Japan had the same interests vis-a-vis the United States, Britain, and the non-Axis European powers.  I suppose this is what Frum had in mind, but, one would be hard pressed to see any relation between North Korea and Iraq and Iran, except, perhaps, in their holding Mr. Bush in contempt.  And, of course, Iraq and Iran fought a mighty bloody war against each other not long ago.

The administration of George W. Bush cannot be seen as carrying on serious diplomacy with the nations involved.  It considers it sufficient to promote the idea that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is "crazy."  The only sane trait attributed to President Kim is that he is a great fan of American motion pictures.  Given U.S. attitudes, is it any wonder that his government has been testing missiles?

In the case of Iran, our CIA overthrow of the duly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, and our imposition of the tyrant Shah Mohammad Reza Palavi, is conveniently forgotten, we remembering only the revolution that overthrew the Shah and led to the capture of the staff of the American Embassy.  One can make the argument that that unfortunate incident was the principal reason for the defeat of President Jimmy Carter and the accession of Ronald Reagan.

The latest U.S. gripe against Iran is that it is working to enrich uranium, and, presumably, to develop atomic weapons.  Now, I know that one is not allowed in these matters to use reason and examine inconsistencies in the U.S. position.  We have never questioned, for instance, Israel's  possession of atomic weapons.  Strange, is it not, that the U.S. considers it kosher for one Middle Eastern power to possess such devastating power, but, not its neighbors?  And, of course, anyone with a sense of balance will understand Iran's desire to protect itself from what its refers to as "the Zionist entity."

And, then, of course, near neighbors Pakistan and India, also, possess atomic weapons.  But, only Iran, in the U.S. view, is unreasonable in desiring to acquire them.

When it comes to Iraq, what more can be said?  Just that President George W. Bush's legacy will be the wrecking of an ancient civilization.

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Harvard Square Commentary, August 28, 2006