The Axis of Evil

Johan Galtung, TRANSCEND Media Service, September 21, 2015

Do you remember the Axis of Evil–Iraq-Iran-North Korea?

George W. Bush, or his speechwriter rather, concocted that axis in 2002 as focus for a global war on terror. The key term is “evil”–not “enemy”, “hostile”–the connotation being “possessed by Satan”. The proof is opposition to a USA chosen by God, as God’s Own People, as “In God we trust”. To exorcise Satan only violence works.

In 1953 North Korea under Kim Il Sung did not capitulate to the USA, only cease-fire, the first US non-victory since 1812. Very evil.

In 1978-79, Iran, by the Khomeini Islamic revolution, decolonized Iran from US dominance and evicted the shah, who had been installed by a US-UK (CIA-MI6) coup in 1953; in fact undoing 1953. Very, very evil.

On 17 May 1987 Saddam Hussein, used by the USA to fight Iran with no gains for Iraq, fired on a US vessel (USS Stark incident). Very, very, very evil.

However, for a USA, never questioning bringing US style democracy and US free market to all countries in the world, this was not seen as others having their own goals. It was seen as exactly that, evil.

Satan even carried three names; one was killed. Iran, also religiously fundamentalist, threw Great Satan back at the USA.

The nature of their evil acts being so different, there was never any axis in the usual sense of alliance. The quality of foreign media can be measured by the extent to which they swallowed this “axis” raw.

Moreover, US democracy and US free market are not unproblematic.

Rule by consent of the ruled is fine, but how? For some, in I-cultures, by debate-vote-majority rule; individualistic with lonely individuals in closed booths. For others, in we-cultures, by dialogue- to-consensus; no winners, no losers. If not by the whole population at least by the parliament; if not, by a multi-party government.

The problems with the free market are more structural: unfree, ridden by inequality, and often with massive suffering at the bottom.

Right now the focus is on Iran and on who steers US foreign policy: Obama and the Democrats, or Netanyahu and the Republicans, including their presidential candidates (William Greider, “The Neocon Game”, The Nation, 14/21 Sep 2015; like Paul Krugman, INYT, 18 Sep 2015 pointing to Donald Trump and Rand Paul as the only not neo-cons).

The focus is by far too nuclear. The real issues are less U-235, more 1953; less U-238, more 1978. An apology for 1953–1978-79 was more nationalist than Islamic–would make nuclear issues wither away. But to exceptionalist USA any apology to Iran is a deal with the evil; so they also rejected accommodating moderate Rafsanjani and Khatami.

So would a deal with Saddam Hussein after the war over Kuwait. We got “Iraq: the unfinished war” as a never finishing CNN headline.

So would a deal with North Korea with peace treaty, normalization and denuclearization of a Korean peninsula with nuclear bombs all over.

To true believers whoever makes deals with evil is himself evil: a perfect recipe for making the USA increasingly irrelevant. Obama understands that and now makes some repair work–for others to undo?

Long-term US foreign policy is along an axis with the European Union and another axis with Japan, for democracy and free market. However, imagine this is done better by Berlin-Moscow cooperation in Europe, and Tokyo-Beijing cooperation in East Asia? These are the Washington nightmares because they would make USA irrelevant. The law preventing Japan from that path was just passed in Tokyo. Yet, the issue is by no means closed, nor is it in Europe; so let us have a closer look.

István Deák, in Europe on Trial: The Story of Collaboration, Resistance and Retribution During World War II (Westview): Europe did not pass that test. The occupied states hardly resisted–only some nationalists and communists after the attack on USSR–but cooperated, like France’s Vichy; the neutrals economically like Sweden with iron ore; and Germany’s allies played their own ethnic cleansing games. How come?

Because Nazism was anti-Communist and anti-Semitic as was Europe.

Nazism was nationalist–all Germans in one state–as was Europe.

Nazism was “socialist” treating workers well to be good producers and killers; even conservative bourgeois Europe could live with that.

As a result, European states exited from WWII with much ethnic cleansing done, including of Jews; ready for welfare states; and got rid of the only remaining minority, Germans, as post WWII retribution.

Had Hitler limited himself to attacking USSR (as he did, with many, like Norway’s 15,000 volunteering for the Eastern front) and to following the UK and the Anglican Church in sending Jews to Palestine (as he did with the famous transfer of 60,000 German Zionists), he might have gotten away with it. Beating USSR and Napoleon? Or, more likely, not.

A basic reason for Hitler’s attack (see Timothy Snyder, “The next genocide”, INYT, 14 Sep 2015) was exactly Lebensraum. He did not believe a growing Germany would be able to feed itself. Germany needed the soil of Ukraine; starving half to death, making the rest serfs. Their survival mattered as little to Hitler as survival of locals to past and present Europeans when using their lands to grow food for Europe.

Ukraine is again the battlefield. NATO is split, Germany-France opposing the USA. But over exactly what? Germany once again wanting access to fertile soil for food growth for Germans? France, with huge agricultural sector, and Germany, wanting access to women’s wombs for population growth, both populations aging and shrinking?

For USA–agricultural surplus and young immigrants–none of the above. They want Ukraine, neo-Nazi or not, to contain Russia and China. German-French opposition, however, may spell EU liberation from USA.

A Brexit in 2017 would help greatly, given UK domination of EU foreign and military policy. Reading the signs on the wall, big EU states may not want to go down with the USA. Reading the sign-readers, the USA may prepare for exactly that. How? Next week’s editorial.