The real ‘axis of evil’

When George W. Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address, protests began flooding in from around the world. Governments, peace and democracy movements and media commentators have protested Bush’s “axis of evil” as the new front in his global war.

The world’s reaction to the “axis of evil” has further isolated the administration, forcing it to play its real hand: they don’t really care what the world thinks. It’s going to pursue a policy of U.S. hegemony, full speed ahead.

Some of the most resolute protest has come from South Korea. A country divided for years by U.S. troops and nuclear weapons, the governments of both North and South Korea have made tremendous strides in normalizing relations, beginning a process that could lead to eventual reunification. Bush’s refusal to back down from his war-mongering has endangered that process.

Many countries, most notably Russia, have warned the U.S. to lay off its belligerent rhetoric towards Iraq and Iran. In an obvious public relations ploy, both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell have been on TV defending the “axis of evil” charge and calling these governments “opaque.”

If “opaque” is the standard for evil, we shall have to call our own government into question. Aren’t military tribunals opaque? Isn’t Vice President Cheney’s claim of executive privilege in his dealings with Enron opaque?

The Bush administration’s claim that these countries are developing weapons of mass destruction – the main justification for targeting them – is not substantiated. What is substantiated is that U.S. military contractors – all well represented in the Bush administration – and the Pentagon have developed weapons of mass destruction and have used them.

There is an axis of evil in this world: corporate greed, military domination and ultraright ideology. The Bush administration operates on that axis, thrusting our world deeper into chaos and crisis.

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First casuality of war

It has long been said that truth is the first casualty of war. So it is with President Bush and his “war on terrorism.” This is one of the most censored wars in U.S. history.

But the Bush administration has gone one better by establishing the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) at the Pentagon. Leaks to the press revealed that its mission was being debated and that the head of OSI, Brig. Gen. Simon Worden, sees it carrying out psychological operations, a campaign of misinformation distributed to foreign press in order to influence public sentiment and policymakers. In short, the mission is to promote the U.S. imperialist war drive.

Things were bad enough when all that existed was the Voice of America, the U.S. Information Agency and the machinations of the CIA and FBI. But now the OSI?

Getting the truth about this war has been difficult – witness the stonewalling of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld when asked about civilian casualties in Afghanistan or the treatment of prisoners of war at Camp X-Ray in Cuba, or Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft’s refusal to release the names of those who have been rounded up by the INS.

One thing is clear. The Bush administration plays fast and loose with the truth domestically, and now wants to do the same thing internationally.

Negative reaction to the OSI has been strong and vehement from a wide political spectrum. If the leaks were to test the democratic sentiments, then the answer is clear. Democracy and truth – yes!

With the OSI, the fight for a free press will be more difficult here and abroad. But its need will be even greater and imposes new responsibilities on the mass media – responsibilities that, with but a few honorable exceptions, have not been met.

We count ourselves, and what is often called the independent media movement, among those honorable exceptions and promise to, as a French philosopher once said, “pursue the truth no matter where that search may lead.”

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