Axis of Evil

  In his State of the Union address, President Bush called Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an "axis of evil" that threatens the United States and the entire civilized world. He warned the leaders of these nations that they had "better get their house in order" or else they would answer to American "justice."   The president's critics derided his language as "simplistic" and "naïve," but it is they, not the president, who misunderstand the real nature of the threat.   What these seemingly different nations have in common is their dogged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction -- in particular, nuclear weapons. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice has cited Iraq's "determination" and Iran's "aggressive efforts" to acquire these weapons. And she pointed out that North Korea is the world's biggest supplier of ballistic missiles.   What's more, all three are considered "rogue states," nations that operate outside international law. Thus, once one of them obtains these weapons, there is no effective way to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists and other rogue states.   And this is why the president put these nations "on notice" and said that he expects each of them "to make the right decisions about being a peaceful nation."   All the talk about "evil," however, didn't go over too well with many people. The French foreign minister called the president's remarks "simplistic." Chris Patten of the European Union called them "absolutist," and veteran British journalist Gwynne Dyer added "silly" to the list of epithets.   If this sounds familiar, it's because there was a similar response the last time an American president used the word "evil" in discussing foreign policy. As theologian Michael Novak recently wrote, President Reagan "caused a firestorm . . . when he called the Soviet Union an 'evil empire.'" In the same way that they're criticizing President Bush, diplomats and intellectuals denounced President Reagan's words as "incendiary," and they worried about the fallout.   But by using the language, you see, of good and evil, Reagan forced people to look beyond what the Soviets were saying and look at their actions. He forced people to ask themselves whether they would want to live in a world where such actions became normative.   Similarly, President Bush, by employing the language of good and evil dares his critics to make the case as to why these rogue states, should not be called "evil." And if they are evil, isn't it our moral duty to stop them?   Well, many of President Bush's critics think it's no longer in fashion to speak in moral terms. Thank God for the president's courage and straight talk.   But it's not enough, as Novak points out, to locate evil and call it that. Providing a "moral framework" for our foreign policy also demands that we guard against self-righteousness. It requires that we acknowledge and strive against the evil within ourselves.   Bush's position flows directly from a biblical worldview which clearly identifies good and evil, but guards against self-righteousness.   President Bush has reminded us that in foreign policy -- as well as in domestic -- ideas that spring from a Christian worldview make for a safer, saner, and stronger society. And there's nothing "simplistic" about that.   Thank President Bush for his strong, moral stand in designating North Korea, Iran, and Iraq the Axis of Evil. You can write him at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20500. Or e- mail him at  


Chuck Colson


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