George W. Bush said many, many dumb things. Among the dumbest and most destructive was the concept of an “Axis of Evil” of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
This does no one any good. I think George W. saw things in a Marvel universe sometimes. The concept of the Comics Code where the superheroes always won and the villians always lost.
But, if you want to change things you need to be more nuanced. You need to talk to evildoers, thugs, dictators and despots. Simply calling them “evil” is the kind of logic that keeps someone like Fidel Castro in power. Take away the US Embargo and bring more capital to Cuba, there is no way that Castro survives. Having the United States as a boogeyman and enemy makes it easier to keep control. If you can blame someone else for your problems, the problems seem easier. It’s not my fault, it’s them. It’s something we do as children.
One of my favorite books is “Pyongyang” by Guy Delisle. It’s a graphic novel about a French-Canadian animators time as an animation supervisor in Pyongyang, North Korea. The society is based on Juche and a near worship of all things Kim. Portraits of the great leaders on wall, pins to wear, it’s surreal and Orwellian. And there is the United States as a boogeyman to look to, can always blame the west for your problems.
Another one of my favorite books it the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi “Persepolis” about being a girl during the Iranian Revolution in a liberal family. Iran was once a beautiful place full of rich discussion. It has become a state of fundamentalism, corruption and doctrine. By not engaging with Iran it makes it easier for the government to make the United States the boogeyman, and blame America and the west for it’s issues.
Then we have Iraq. The biggest mess of GW Bush’s speech in January, 2002. A push towards a military conflict with Iraq that ended up as a huge boondoggle. A war that was easy to win, a peace that was impossible. Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, but Iraq did try to kill George HW Bush. I think that is part of it. War is never the answer.
Now Barack Obama is engaging with Iran to make it’s nuclear program more transparent. This is a good thing. He is engaging, this is a good thing. But some on the far right and Israel would rather see us bomb Iran or create war. War always leaves causalites. Hatred allows the “enemy” to consider you their enemy. My making an “axis of evil” you only help the countries that disagree with your politics. This only leads to madness.
Clinton did try to negotiate with North Korea, and it would be wonderful to see if start to reunite with South Korea, become less miltaristic and end the 28,500 US troops still in South Korea, which is just insane for such a prosperous country as South Korea. It’s a huge military expense for America 60 years after the Korean War ended. North Korea is madness. A paranoid society that doesn’t even try to feed many of it’s people. It’s a bad, bad place. But giving it the name “evil” through a US president only makes Kim Jong-Un stronger. It’s time to engage, and it’s time to mend very old wounds.
In my more perfect world we would spend more money on diplomats and the State Department and less on guns and “defense.” The US Navy is not always a global force for good. Calling a country “evil” only helps the dictators and despots in power. I am glad to see the US engaging in the challenging prospects of peace instead of trying to start the madness of war. The Iran agreement is a very good thing. I hope that there will be a time the world sees peace. But declaring wars on terror and having mass, unamerican surveillance is not the way to do it.
(c) 2013 Edmund Davis-Quinn