Axis of Evil

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With an alarming message to every enemy of the United States: Even 7,000 miles away, across oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in caves — you will not escape the justice of this nation. What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning. George Bush who is so adamant to embark on perhaps the most reckless foreign military campaign in U.S. history asserted in one of the most dramatic moments of his State of the Union address that Iran, Iraq and North Korea jointly constitute “an axis of evil” that threatens world peace. He said:
North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens — leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections — then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

The U.S. Presidents belligerent remarks about North Korea, Iran and Iraq and introducing them before the world as axis of evil are nothing short of a declaration of war. They have raised serious concerns throughout the world as the American war on terrorism is likely to spread in terms of geography and nature. His aggressive designs are quite clear in the words: America is no longer protected by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home.

Overlooking international implications, and political, legal and moral justifications, the United States is swiftly moving forward for a large-scale military operation against Iraq to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein albeit United Nations inspectors have been able to trace none of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), chemical and biological munitions and ballistic missile delivery systems. Invading Iraq is prone to repudiate the international legal conventions and make a precedent to invade any sovereign country and overthrow its government which is found to be hostile to U.S. interests. This has certainly raised a number of concerns and challenged many a rationale behind such a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy.

The crux of the matter is if the United States today possesses the right to invade Iraq due to that country’s violation of UN Security Council resolutions, other Security Council members can also claim to invade other member states that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. For example, Russia would be obliged to invade Israel, France would have the right to invade Turkey, and Great Britain will not vacillate to invade Morocco. This kind of willful right to attack unilaterally any country could seriously eliminate the authority of the United Nations, undermine the principle of collective security and open the door to international anarchy. Michael T. Clare has rightly observed that ‘Axis of Evil crumbles under scrutiny. For his foes, the term is cheap and illogical nonsense; there is no “axis,” simply because the three nations pose quite different and discrete threats. As for branding them evil, that just proves once again that Bush is an ignorant cowboy who yearns to see a multihued world in monochrome. Senator Kerry is highly critical of what he calls President Bush blustering unilateralis in the war on terrorism. From the North Korean foreign ministry, Pyongyang states that it is entirely a self-opinionated foreign policy, political immaturity and moral leprosy of the Bush administration”. With reference to his novel phrase, Bush may be asked if any axis of evil really exists in the world. How real is the threat from what he presumes as an axis of evil? Let us first consider the concept of an “axis.” The term suggests an alliance or confederation of states that pose a significant danger precisely because of their common alignment – a menace greater than the sum of the parts.

Obviously, the most immediate image that comes to mind by characterizing North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as an axis of evil is the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan during World War II though according to White House spokesperson, Ari Fleischer, the expression may be “more rhetorical than historical.” Nonetheless, the term “axis” means partnership or alliance. Despite the fact that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq do not constitute an axis as they have no alliance or conspiracy with one another, the United States is gearing up for a possible military engagement with these countries and first of all is on the verge of invading Iraq.

Although the leaders of Iran, Iraq and North Korea share a certain fear of and hostility toward the United States, there is no indication among the three states of either any sort of unity or any proof of conspiracy. It would be extremely difficult to make a case that Iran and Iraq have worked together to advance mutual interests and policies. They have long-standing hatred and mutual hostility toward each other and between 1980 and 1988 fought a prolonged war attacking each other’s cities with ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. The protracted war of attrition led to an estimated 375,000 Iraqi casualties and at least 300,000 Iranian lives. Iraq was deemed to have won the war which ended when Iran accepted a cease-fire but the two countries have remained perpetually at odds with each other. Despite several attempts to improve and normalize relations, both governments support opposition groups in the other country. Without any evidence the U.S. State Department says that Iran ranks as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorist organizations.

North Korea has no alliance with Iran or Iraq except purveying them ballistic missile components that has nothing to do with political stability. This is, however, troublesome for most American experts who believe that by selling missile technology to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Middle East and other areas of tension, the North Koreans are trading to raise funds for its nuclear weapons program.

Iraq was once known for pursuing to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and atomic bombs, but the 1991 Persian Gulf War eradicated all major Iraqi facilities for the production of these systems. Any effort by Iraq to re-build its capability of producing WMD on a large scale would have been easily detected by U.S. satellites and surveillance aircraft and then destroyed by bombs and missiles. So the possibility of any threat posed by Iraqi WMD seems to be remote. It is also hard to imagine that an Iraqi aircraft carrying biological weapons, presumably some kind of drone could somehow penetrate the air space of neighboring countries, much less far-off Israel, without being shot down. Most of Iraq’s neighbors have sophisticated antiaircraft capability, and Israel has the best regional missile defense system in the world. Likewise, no one has found so far an Iraqi biological warhead. The chances of Iraq having succeeded in developing operative warheads without tests are, therefore, zero. Thus, the threat posed by Iraq is less ominous than the rhetoric might suggest. According to Admiral Wilson, “years of U.N. sanctions, embargoes, and inspections, combined with U.S. and Coalition military actions, have significantly degraded Iraq’s military capabilities” and the “the threat to Coalition Forces is limited.”

It is interesting to note that to check the very regime, the U. S. now calls part of Axis of Evil, Saddam Hussain was the United States faithful friend and their man who fought a long war against Iran. For this purpose he was amply provided satellite intelligence and weapons, including precursors for development of biological weapons and the basic ingredients for the chemical agents. Iraq’s current armed forces are barely one-third their pre-war strength. Even though Iraq has not been required to reduce its conventional forces, the destruction of its weapons and the country’s economic difficulties have led to a substantial reduction in men under arms. Iraq’s Navy is virtually nonexistent and its Air Force is just a fraction of what it was before the war. Military spending by Iraq has been estimated at barely one-tenth of its levels in the 1980s. The Bush administration has been unable to explain why today, when Saddam has only a tiny percentage of his once-formidable military capability, Iraq is considered such a threat that it is necessary to invade the country and replace its leader – the same leader Washington quietly supported during the peak of Iraq’s military capability.

Iran has the least-developed WMD program. Economic hardship has not stopped Teheran from pursuing nuclear weapons on a limited, clandestine basis, but most experts believe that it will take many years for Iran to acquire the wherewithal to mass-produce nuclear arms. Few constraints also stand in the way of Iran’s ballistic missile program, but again lack of funds slows its efforts. Iran is also deeply divided between pro- and anti-reform forces. Many European observers believe that the best way to diminish the Iranian threat is to support President Mohammed Khatami and other reformers in their drive to liberalize the country. North Korea has the next largest WMD capability. It, too, had sought nuclear weapons in the past, but its nuclear program was dismantled in 1994 under an agreement with the United States – an agreement that has been faithfully observed by the North Koreans, according to all U.S. reports. Americans may bed justified to worry about North Korea’s ballistic missile program, which has been slow and steady since 1990s. Thus, North Korea is not a natural enemy to the United States and does not pose a direct threat unless the United States continues to interfere in regional politics and disputes.

Unlike the Axis powers of World War II, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea do not have expansionist designs to dominate the world or represent a direct threat to the United States. None of the three countries has the long-range delivery capability to attack the United States and such capability is not likely to materialize within the next 10 to 12 years. And if WMD capability is the basis for membership in the axis of evil, then why is it limited to only these three countries when — according to the Department of Defense — the extant and emerging threats to the United States, friends, and allies encompasses 12 nations with nuclear weapons programs, 13 nations with biological weapons, 16 nations with chemical weapons, and 28 nations with ballistic missiles? In the final analysis, how can the three countries with significant problems and many constraints and geographically isolated can be an “axis of evil” for the Americans or President Bush in particular? To begin with, any attack on Iraq would be illegal, unprovoked invasion and an act of aggression as viewed by most members of the international community. In contrast to the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, the world community would certainly view the United States – not Iraq – as the international outlaw. It is noteworthy that the United States challenged three of its closest allies, Great Britain, France, and Israel, before the United Nations in 1956 when they had invaded Egypt in an attempt to overthrow the radical anti-Western regime of Jamal Abdul-Nasser. The Eisenhower administration then insisted that international law and the UN Charter must be upheld by all nations regardless of their relations with the United States. It is now astonishing that the U.S. administration is now going out of principles and following the law of the jungle. The United States has added Cuba, Libya and Syria to the nations it claims are deliberately seeking to obtain chemical or biological weapons. If they embark on a policy of rubbing out dictators they think are evil, where does the list end? Most probably Pakistan will also be soon their target as their strategic ally is considered to be India among the American policy-makers.

Without any legal and moral justification, and unavailability of any solid evidence against Iraq, the repercussions of a U.S. invasion of Iraq can be so damaging and disastrous and create various problems and complications for the United States enumerated as below:

  • There could be an outbreak of widespread anti-American protests and violent attacks against American interests. Ever-growing anger and disappointment among the people of the world over U.S. double standards regarding Israeli and Palestine will put the U.S. in a very awkward and difficult position to defend itself.
  • The battle against terrorism is prone to weaken when the world will view in the daylight the naked aggression and stubbornness of the American administration; It would not only distract from the more immediate threat posed by Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, but also result in an anti-American backlash likely to lessen the level of cooperation from Islamic countries in tracking down and neutralizing the remaining Al Qaeda cells.
  • Merely speculations and lames excuse to invade Iraq cannot convince any sensible people. Americans will definitely lose the moral support of the worldly nations who are already well aware of the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent inspections regimen when in late 1998, Inspectors of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) reportedly oversaw the destruction of 38,000 chemical weapons, 480,000 liters of live chemical weapons agents, 48 missiles, and 6 missile launchers, 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents, and hundreds of pieces of related equipment with the capability to produce chemical weapons and in its most recent report, IAEA categorically declared that Iraq no longer has a nuclear program. There is no more scope of doubt when UNSCOM was unable to detect any evidence that Iraq had been further concealing prohibited weapons and U.S. officials themselves admitted that there is no evidence that Iraq has resumed its nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs. Regarding mass fatalities from a small amount of anthrax, there are serious questions as to whether the alleged biological agents could harm troops or a civilian population, and the required complicated technology is available in Iraq.
  • United States will be eventually victorious in a war against Iraq, but it would entail at an enormous cost. Bush himself is cognizant of the fact when he declares: Our first priority must always be the security of our nation, and that will be reflected in the budget I send to Congress. It costs a lot to fight the war (in Afghanistan). We have spent more than a billion dollars a month — over $30 million a day — and we must be prepared for future operations. Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them. We need to replace aging aircraft and make our military more agile, to put our troops anywhere in the world quickly and safely. Our men and women in uniform deserve the best weapons, the best equipment, the best training — and they also deserve another pay raise. Hence waging an unnecessary war against Iraq will put a great pressure on U.S. economy.
  • It would be erroneous to conjecture that defeating Iraq would result in as few Americans casualties as occurred in driving the Taliban militia from Kabul. Though Iraq’s offensive capabilities have been severely weakened by the bombings, sanctions, and UNSCOM-sponsored decommissioning, its defensive military capabilities are still strong.
  • So a military victory today wouldn’t be as easy as it was during the first Gulf War when the majority of Iraq’s strongest forces were withdrawn to areas around Baghdad to fight for the survival of the regime itself, and they remain there to this day. In the event of war, defections from these units are not likely.
  • U.S. will not be able to cope with a very complicated position in Iraq. There are close to one million members of the Iraqi elite who have a vested interest in the regime’s survival. These include the Baath Party leadership and its supporters, security and intelligence personnel, and core elements of the armed forces and their extended families. Furthermore, Iraq being a largely urban society has a far more sophisticated infrastructure than does the largely rural and tribal Afghanistan that could be mobilized in the event of a foreign invasion. Neither there is an equivalent to Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, which did the bulk of the ground fighting against the Taliban nor a front-line state like Pakistan to extend for them assistance and cooperation at every step. The Kurds, after being abandoned twice in recent history by the United States, are unlikely to fight beyond securing autonomy for Kurdish areas. The armed Shiite opposition which has largely been eliminated also would be unlikely to fight beyond liberating the majority Shiite sections of southern Iraq. Furthermore, U.S. forces will have to march on Baghdad, a city of over five million people, virtually alone. Unlike the Gulf War, U.S. forces will not be able to take full advantage of their firepower and technological superiority but would have to fight their way through heavily populated agricultural and urban lands.
  • Thus Invading forces would be faced with bitter, house-to-house fighting in a country larger than South Vietnam. Iraqis, who were not so eager to maintain their country’s conquest of Kuwait, would be determined to sacrifice themselves to resist a foreign, Western invader. Perhaps Bush has not pondered over the question: how many Americans can he expect to lose in case he invades Iraq? To minimize American casualties in the face of such stiff resistance, the United States would likely engage in heavy bombing of Iraqi residential neighborhoods, resulting in very high civilian casualties and strong protests and demonstrations from all over the world.
  • Lack of support from regional allies could result in an absence of a land base whence U.S. will have to launch aerial attacks. With no permission to launch aerial refueling craft, even long-range bombers from U.S. air bases might not be able to be deployed. In the course of the fighting, U.S. forces may conceivably capture an air base inside Iraq but without the pre-positioning of supplies, its usefulness as a major center of operations would be marginal. Besides, though Americans are smart bombs, they should not forget that wars always prove to be bloody, messy and horrible. They can also commit blunders. Two of U.S. Air Force pilots are on trial right now for accidentally bombing Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
  • What happens if the United States succeeds in overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime? To throw a government out is easier than to install a new one as we have observed in the case of Afghanistan. People may like to be relieved of Saddam Hussein’s rule but they would not welcome a regime introduced by an invading Western army. And for how long will the U.S. troops stay to ensure the stability of the new government?
  • In addition to possible ongoing guerrilla action by Saddam Hussein’s supporters, U.S. occupation forces would likely be faced with competing armed factions among the Sunni Arab population. This could lead the United States into a bloody counterinsurgency war. Without the support of other countries or the United Nations, a U.S. invasion could leave American forces effectively alone enforcing a peace amidst the chaos of a post-Saddam Iraq.
  • The serious moral, legal, political, and strategic problems consequent upon a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq will bring at stake not only the lives of thousands of Iraqi and American soldiers and thousands more Iraqi civilians but also the international legal framework established in the aftermath of World War II. Despite its failings, this multilateral framework of collective security has resulted in far greater international stability and far less intergovernmental conflict than would otherwise have been the case.
  • If the U. S. wants to go to war again over Iraq, everybody knows that its not because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and may want to use them but the actual reasons are oil, Israel and imperialism. The people of the United States and the people of Iraq have no apparent conflicts. In contrast, the governments of Iraq and Israel have shot each other up from time to time and spoken ill of each other. Iraq is no real threat to the U. S. but it can hit Israel with its antique missiles. To be more precise, this is a war for the oil president, with his oil buddies Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice in order to make money from oil. The war in Afghanistan was about oil, and Bush’s friends are now busy laying a pipeline across Afghanistan, to bring out Caspian Sea oil. As an oil man, Bush understands that the USA is never going to attain energy independence, unless the Persian Gulf states become American colonies. That’s why there’s talk of holding Iraq’s oil revenues in trust for the Iraqi people. Once they are in charge, they will “liberate” Iraq’s oil and buy it all. For Bush and his friends a gallon of gas is more precious than a pint of blood. That is why billions of dollars are at stake for the big oil companies. America with 4.5% of humanity consumes 25% of world oil production. So oil is to America what soul is to body. In an average two-week period 280 million Americans burn $10 billion worth of oil which is equivalent to Pakistan’s entire annual national budget. For 11% of planet’s proven oil reserves in Iraq, America has two choices: First, to buy oil from the world oil market like every oil deficient country does and second, to bring known oil reserves under the direct control of American proxies. Post September-11 American foreign policy has a pair of drivers and an equal number of facades. The two drivers are, first, sending a strong message that any attack on America shall be avenged and, second, the control of oil through proxies. The first facade is disarmament and the second is establishment of democracy.
  • A world without Saddam would be neither less or more democratic nor more or less WMDs. However, a world without Saddam is likely to be more US proxies with more political control over the pricing and supply of more of the planet’s economic resources with more of oil profits ending up with US financial institutions. But in case the war against Iraq is lost, U.S. economy will certainly collapse and lead eventually to the downfall of the super power. Another thing the USA ought to fear is if their invasion of Iraq is prolonged, tensions between the West and the Arabs would escalate causing turmoil and disorder in the whole world. With war clouds looming over Iraq, anti-war rallies and demonstrations with millions of people have already started across the globe. On February 15 in 400 cities were the biggest rallies ever seen since World War II. Some of the banners read: “Bush, hands off Iraq”; “Bush go away – you are Hitler today”; “Bush, Blair: butchers”; “Bombs kill babies”; “There’s a terrorist behind every Bush”. After having come to know that the President with murky cause has totally failed to make his case, his phrase, “Axis of Evil does not stand to reason and has certainly missed the mark. Now we come to the question: What is the so-called New World Order or neo-liberal globalization for? What kind of service is it supposed to render in the present scenario? Is it not assailing humanity on three fronts?

On the economic front the loathsome triumvirate of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization creates massive havoc and seeks to gain predominance of the private sector and the markets, and massive profits for the super-power. Consider the fraud surrounding Enron, monetary crisis of Turkey, the collapse of Saudi Arabia, Argentina and environmental devastation. On the ideological front by the active collaboration of universities and research institutions (such as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute) and the media manipulation (of such as CNN, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist) which virtually disseminate disinformation and propaganda in order to strengthen the world’s more grotesque dictatorships.

And the third front is national sovereignty, being crushed in the name of terrorism with all offensive and aggressive measures opened after 11 September in order to achieve a modern version of universal empire under their complete control and command.

In the light of the above, it is not impertinent even for a common man in the street to believe that as a matter of fact the axis of evil runs through the Pentagon or say the United States, Israel and England constitute an axis of evil. What is needed to fight terrorism and eradicate evil in whatever form it may exist in the world is a leader with the courage to remove the U.S. military from foreign soil, and replace the foreign policy of intervention, manipulation, exploitation, finagling and bullying with peaceful coexistence, mutual goodwill, cooperation and bold, progressive internationalism, and international economic competition and free trade.

Sources

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