• WANTED: New Player for the 'Axis of Evil' Team

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    In
    the wake of the U.S.’s triumphant romp through Iraq, there
    is a yawning hole in the “axis of evil.” In the past,
    when the stakes were much greater, there have always been three
    nations in such “Darth Vader” coalitions. During World
    War I, the nations wearing the black hats were Germany, the Ottoman
    Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In World War II, we had
    Germany (again), Italy and Japan. So to continue to mimic the giants
    of old and provide a universe of nations to fight in a perpetual
    war for perpetual peace, the Bush administration needs to demonize,
    elevate and enshrine another despotic nation in its dream team of
    malcontents.

    One
    administration official recently characterized Syria, Libya and
    Cuba as the “junior varsity” of evil. So will one of these
    bad boys be elevated to the varsity squad? With the administration’s
    recent white hot rhetoric against Syria – accusing that regime of
    producing chemical weapons, harboring terrorists and the defunct
    autocrats of Iraq, and, in general, being a “rogue” state – that
    country is probably pulling the best odds now in Las Vegas. But
    not so fast – don’t count out Moammar Qaddafi of Libya and Fidel
    Castro of Cuba. If Michael Jordan can make a comeback, so could
    they. Granted, the odds are greater for them, but they had years
    of experience on the varsity team before being sent down to the
    junior varsity.

    Fidel
    Castro, with the support of the Soviet Union (the “Evil Empire”)
    and communist China, was a thorn in the side of the United States
    during the Cold War. With the collapse of Castro’s Soviet benefactor,
    he has been quieter in recent years. If he wants to get back in
    the game, he’ll have to rehabilitate his sagging military and
    revive his now dormant efforts to sponsor terrorism (like North
    Korea, Cuba remains on State Department’s politicized list
    of nations sponsoring terrorism even though its efforts in the last
    decade have been rather pathetic).

    And
    remember Qaddafi of Libya? During the Reagan administration, the
    ruler of that small North African country was not only on the varsity
    squad of thugs – he was the star. The Reagan administration, primarily
    in order to justify pumping up the defense budget, made Qaddafi
    the essence of evil, but then eventually forgot about him. Reagan’s
    successor – Bush I – left him alone because Iraq’s Saddam Hussein,
    Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Panama’s Manual Noreiga
    became the “dangerous” tinpot tyrants of that administration.
    Clinton, of course, continued harassing Hussein and Milosevic and
    substituted Haiti’s Raoul Cedras for the defrocked Noreiga
    in the club of third world goons that were wrongly compared to Hitler
    (a truly dangerous titan of doom who actually had formidable military
    and economic means and was trying to take over an entire region
    of economic and technological power). But Qaddafi is still around
    and could certainly come off the bench to fill the vacant spot.

    In
    the long shot category, we have Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Although
    the two countries are not on America’s list of terrorist nations
    because they are “friends” (many of whom, over the years,
    have gone over to the other team), they have provoked the ire of
    hawks who have the ear of coach Bush II. Although the Saudis have
    buckets of oil and the Pakistanis are (sort of) helping the United
    States hunt for Osama bin Laden, those nations previously either
    directly or indirectly aided al Qaeda – a terrorist group that actually
    attacks the United States (unlike the terrorist groups supported
    by Saddam Hussein that never focused their attacks on the United
    States).

    And
    what about al Qaeda for inclusion in the axis? The group has almost
    no chance of filling the empty spot on the “axis of evil”
    roster because it is actually a threat to the United States. Like
    Iraq, which has been cut from the squad, the other axis teammates – Iran
    and North Korea – are small, relatively poor nations with antiquated
    militaries that reside half way around the world from the United
    States. If left alone, they would pose little threat to the colossal
    American superpower. As the CIA said before Gulf War II, unless
    attacked, Iraq would probably not use its weapons of destruction
    against the United States or give them to terrorists. (In fact,
    Iraq did not even use them even in that extreme circumstance – conclusively
    demonstrating its insignificance as a threat.) The same is likely
    to be true for the other current members of the axis. In the worst
    case, even if Iran, North Korea or members of the junior varsity
    of “rogues” obtain a few nuclear weapons, they could be
    deterred from using them to attack the United States by the crushing
    world dominance of the massive American nuclear arsenal.

    The
    very fact that al Qaeda is a genuine threat to the United States,
    and that the countries of the axis are not, means that the terrorist
    group will never make the team. In fact, the Bush administration
    needed the axis to divert public attention from the embarrassment
    of not finding Osama bin Laden and destroying al Qaeda. Because
    that reality still holds, the administration needs to quickly select
    a new draft pick to fill the big sneakers of Iraq in the hall of
    fame of the wicked.

    April
    22, 2003

    Ivan
    Eland
    [send him
    mail
    ] is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center
    on Peace & Liberty
    at The
    Independent Institute
    in Oakland, Calif., and author of the
    book, Putting
    "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S.
    Security in the Post-Cold War World
    . For further articles
    and studies, see the War
    on Terrorism
    .


         

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