Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2003 / 24 Shevat, 5763

Michael Ledeen

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later | President Bush will have a global audience for his State of the Union address, and he should again focus on the Axis of Evil. Not since Ronald Reagan has an American president been subjected to so much vilification and contempt for speaking the truth, and it is important for Mr. Bush to remind the world that the Axis of Evil is real.

Most commentators ridiculed the very idea of the Axis of Evil, just as they laughed at Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire. The deep thinkers laughed at Reagan, and then somberly warned that such language was not only misguided, but provocative, as if the Kremlin would be more aggressive as a result of the president's speech. In fact, Reagan's words had the opposite effect. We subsequently learned that the Evil Empire speech galvanized the internal opposition to Soviet Communism by giving heart to the dissidents. The greatest of the Soviet freedom fighters, from Bukovsky to Sharansky, have since written about the surge of hope they felt when they saw that the American president understood why they were fighting.

The same critique was leveled against President Bush when he spoke of the Axis of Evil, and his attackers both ridicule him and say that the world would be a safer place if only he would stop making outrageous statements. Yet, if we prevail in the war against terrorism, we will eventually discover that the president's words gave hope to those fighting against tyranny from Baghdad to Pyongyang.

The only legitimate criticism of the Axis of Evil speech is that it was too limited, not that it was fanciful. There is indeed a working alliance involving Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, and it embraces other countries as well, including Syria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. It is a political and strategic alliance that unites this generation's tyrants in common cause against the democratic West whose very existence threatens their grip on power by inspiring their peoples to fight for freedom. The Axis countries share military technology and help one another to develop the most lethal weapons available to them. North Korea promised to stop testing missiles, so, for several years, Iran has done it for them. Once proven, the technology moves from Pyongyang to the other terror sponsors, including Saudi Arabia. Iranian ships transport weapons to Palestinian terrorists, as in the celebrated case of the Karine A last winter, and in the more recent Italian seizure of an Iranian ship loaded with chemical precursors headed for Libya. Hardly a week goes by without another story documenting the flow of chemicals and finished weapons between Iraq, Iran and Syria, often ending in the murderous hands of the terror network, from al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad to Hezbollah and Hamas. Like the countries that compose the Axis, the terror groups are now working intimately with one another, to the point where it hardly makes sense to separate them, either in our analysis of the threat they pose, or in our strategic planning.

As he was right to call the world's attention to the true nature of the terror threat, so President Bush was right to insist that we are not engaged in a war with Islam as such. To be sure, even such secular socialists as Saddam Hussein and the Assad family in Syria are now quoting Mohammed to justify their murderous activities, but their words are the ones the critics should be ridiculing. If anyone insists on believing that all of Islam is mobilized against us, they should read the recent articles in The Economist and the New York Times that detailed the increasingly open revolt of Iran's ayatollahs in the holy city of Qom against the fusion of mosque and state in the Islamic Republic. They know that President Bush is right, and that the best hope for Islam lies in the defeat of the jihadists and a return of religion to a separate domain.

The Evil Empire was just that, and President Reagan's insistence that it be so recognized was crucial to our ability to vanquish it. President Bush should insist on the truth of his own words. The Axis of Evil is not a rhetorical device. It is in fact the enemy we face, and must defeat, if we are to avoid attacks far more deadly than those we endured on September 11.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, The War Against the Terror Masters. Comment by clicking here.


01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen