Where Is This Evil Axis Bush Speaks Of?
March 11, 2002 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Where Is This Evil Axis Bush Speaks Of? By any common usage, it denotes an alliance. The relationship between Iran, Iraq and North Korea meets neither qualification.
posted by Ty Webb (66 comments total)

 
And one wonders why Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were left off the "axis" list as well. After all, they armed, financed and encouraged the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and have helped so many of the wanted members of both outfits escape justice.

But the Bush administration, for diplomatic reasons, doesn't want to offend either nation. Such obviously cynical realpolitik should make the President much more modest about talking in moral absolutes, and on suggesting that those who harbour doubts are soft on crime.

posted by Ty Webb at 7:52 AM on March 11, 2002


It's a question of degree, really a quantum, distinguished by arms manufacture; and ve support of terrorists (as opposed to looking the other way, which isn't good, but different). Also, while Pakistan is a disaster, at least it's ruling government is actively hunting terrorists.

Which doesn't mean that Saudi Arabia sn't a disgusting, corrupt, disaster, too.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2002


axis

n 1: a straight line through a body or figure that satisfies certain conditions 2: the main stem or central part about which plant organs or plant parts such as branches are arranged 3: a group of countries in special alliance [syn: bloc] 4: the 2nd cervical vertebra; serves as a pivot for turning the head [syn: axis vertebra] 5: the center around which something rotates [syn: axis of rotation]

(Taken from dictionary.com)

If you want to be literal, sure there's no alliance. The three countries do however stand in solidarity with each other in their hatred of the United Staes, perhaps the west as a whole.
And this hatred is anything but benign. So if anyone is stretching reality, I'd have to say its you if you're saying their's no shred of truth in what Bush has so undeftly stated. If on the other hand you're just pointing out his poor language skills, well that was funny [last year].
(Never did I ever think I'd live to defend a statement made or at least read by shrub !)
posted by BentPenguin at 8:17 AM on March 11, 2002


Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?
posted by Postroad at 8:17 AM on March 11, 2002


Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?
posted by Postroad at 8:17 AM on March 11, 2002


I'll take Hitchins.
posted by kahboom at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2002


Thanks for the article. I worry deeply about these moral absolutes. I am a Democrat, non-religious, and oppose many of Bush's domestic and international initiatives. I have to wonder.. since I do not submit to Bush my unmitigated support for his policies, and I dare to express these views in a public forum, what does that make me? A terrorist? Unamerican? Or accepted but considered unenlightened?

When I vote in 2004 for Bush's opponent, will I be considered unpatriotic?

I see where this all is heading and it looks very ugly.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2002


Hitchens=3 Prez=0
posted by bittennails at 8:22 AM on March 11, 2002


When I vote in 2004 for Bush's opponent, will I be considered unpatriotic?

Only the most partisan of Republicans would think so.
posted by brucec at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2002


You can also bet that by 2004, if we still have troops out there, there will be more to criticize than just Bush's use of language.
posted by brucec at 8:31 AM on March 11, 2002


since I do not submit to Bush my unmitigated support for his policies, and I dare to express these views in a public forum, what does that make me? A terrorist? Unamerican? Or accepted but considered unenlightened?

Good grief. Metafilter alone has been full of continual whining and sniping at Bush since a day or two after the disaster. Full of people "daring" to express their views in a very public forum. Anyone believing they are at some sort of risk has a massively elevated view of their own importance. Anyone here been arrested yet for anything they've said?

Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?

I'll take Hitchins.


Yep, Hitchens certainly has contributed greatly to putting an end to the regime that plotted and executed the terrorism, and had many more plans in the works. And he's so good at looking up words in a dictionary.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:40 AM on March 11, 2002


Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?

It's not a question of believing anything. Hitchens isn't making any controversial factual claims. Even if you accept your government's account of the facts (and of course the US government would never lie to its own citizens), it's up to you to decide what you think should be done. Or is it 'Un-American' not to agree with the President about everything?
And by the way, Hitchens is actually pro-war.
Oh yeah, is there something especially untrustworthy about Brits? ;)
posted by Gaz at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2002


You can also bet that by 2004, if we still have troops out there, there will be more to criticize than just Bush's use of language.

Higher possibility that this criticism will be stifled by government authorities.

We have Al Qaeda members still living and working in the U.S., and John Aschroft is hell bent on prosecuting porn webmasters. It's no secret that the administration is bundling the patriotic fervor of post-9/11 with their ultra-right social agenda. It's like a pork rider on a House bill; the public buys more than it asked for.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:48 AM on March 11, 2002


Anyone believing they are at some sort of risk has a massively elevated view of their own importance. Anyone here been arrested yet for anything they've said?

A few have been arrested. Millions have been politically marginalized.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:51 AM on March 11, 2002


Anyone thinking that Iran and Iraq are in any kind of alliance needs to check their history textbooks....these countries HATE each other. They fought a horribly bloody ten-year border war that looked a lot like WWI (due to the relatively static nature of the front lines during the whole war).

Its been said before, but it bears repeating: The only thing these three countries share in common is the amount of isolation between them and the rest of the world. Other than that, these countries are completely different, and need to be treated as such on the international diplomatic stage. Grouping them together into some sort of alliance is not only intellectually dishonest, but a big step backwards.

North Korea and Iran have shown signs of trying to ease their isolation from the rest of the world. Iraq, of course, is more incorrigable. But again, grouping them together is to easy. Its almost as if the Bush White House decided that they needed an Evil Empire II, upon which they realized:

1) It can't be Russia (too powerful in the war against terrorism to piss off)
2) It can't be China (too much of an emergent market space to piss off)
3) It can't be Afghanistan anymore (because we won)

So lacking a single entity upon which to pin the hopes and dreams of the military-industrial complex, they created one...

It's pathetic really. Seeing all the Clinton and others had worked so hard for on the international scene be destroyed by a single line in a single speech.

The conclusion: There is no axis of evil, as desperately as G.W. Bush and others would like us to believe that there is.
posted by thewittyname at 8:52 AM on March 11, 2002


Gaz: they don't call you "perfidious Albion" for nowt, that's for sure.

Anyway, as a cool continental I'm quite happy with Bush and Hitchens. Why choose? In any case, what some people here are endearingly calling "Bush" is in fact the mouthpiece for a whole bunch of advisers, each one of which is just as smart as Hitchens.

Oh - and all the regimes in the so-called "Evil Axis" are indeed evil in my opinion. It's a pity they left out Saudi Arabia, Zaire and Angola, to mention only three.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:57 AM on March 11, 2002


put me down for hitchens, please. the longer bush is in office, the more increasingly nihilistic my view of america's future becomes. it's a little disheartening to think that he will probably win re-election in 2004 simply for the irrational patriotism of whatever-percent-of-americans approve of him that week (I guess thats another dilemma, should a president act on the wishes of the general public, being the brilliant political analysts they are, or whats best for the country?).

this is a little off-topic, but I think his approval ratings are a result of people desperate to help. something really rotten happens and everyone wants to lend a hand to the war effort so people who don't keep up with politics that much give a blind thumbs up and those that do suddenly develop a heightened capacity for suspension of disbelief, and equally heightened nationalism. the intense polarization of america is pretty scary. it's almost like there's two different governments taking turns in one country, and this is the first time that I can recall in recent years that there has been open vilification of the sides (although it seems to me that conservative leaders are the worst at it. people who don't support the president are treasonous terrorists themselves? huh?). anyways, totally off-topic!
posted by mcsweetie at 9:01 AM on March 11, 2002


Yep, Hitchens certainly has contributed greatly to putting an end to the regime that plotted and executed the terrorism, and had many more plans in the works. And he's so good at looking up words in a dictionary.

he's not dropping bombs, so he's useless to us, right?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:10 AM on March 11, 2002


Well granted I find myself reluctant to defend an incumbent scumbag with an interesting habit of re-appointing terrorist supporters who managed to plea-bargan their way down to purgery in the 1980s, but it looks like the "Axis of Evil" phrase was just a memorable metaphor thrown into the speech at the last minute that was never meant to be that important.

A far more interesting and productive attack on Bush is why the "War on Terrorism" requires re-appointing the people who may have supervised death squads in the Americas.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:17 AM on March 11, 2002


Semantics Kill.
posted by HTuttle at 9:18 AM on March 11, 2002


i have a secret to share... the real axis of evil are the two senior software engineers in my office, who are hell bent on making me a unix developer ... *i see... bash prompts*
posted by adnanbwp at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2002


Yep, Hitchens certainly has contributed greatly to putting an end to the regime that plotted and executed the terrorism, and had many more plans in the works.

Well, what do you expect Hitchens to contribute? And what have you contributed, Midas? Criticizing a writer for "not contributing", as if he was supposed to grab a gun and take the first plane over there, is disingenuous and silly. Writers write, get it? And Hitchens was ringing the bell against the Taliban from the moment they came to power, while most of the right wing press couldn't look the other way fast enough.

And if you were actually paying attention you'd know that Hitchens supported the bombing in Afghanistan.

Maybe you'd care to take another stab at actually addressing some of the points in the essay, instead of just attacking the writer?

If you want to be literal, sure there's no alliance. The three countries do however stand in solidarity with each other in their hatred of the United Staes, perhaps the west as a whole.

No, in fact Iran and Iraq do not stand in solidarity with each other. News Flash: they hate each other. Greeks and the Turks, while generally disliking each other, might both like the same kind of cheese, but that doesn't make Greece and Turkey an Axis of Feta. And I suspect No. Korea got thrown in there because 3 is the magic number.

So if anyone is stretching reality, I'd have to say its you if you're saying their's no shred of truth in what Bush has so undeftly stated. If on the other hand you're just pointing out his poor language skills, well that was funny [last year].

Well, considering that the President is the voice of the nation, Bush's poor comprehension of the English language will always be relevant. And in a case such as this, it has international implications.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:55 AM on March 11, 2002


umm, axis of feta, ummmm
posted by ajayb at 10:03 AM on March 11, 2002


I said this before Gore won the popular vote by a slight margin and Shrub won the electoral college: Bush Jr. wants a war. Now he's got one. Although I don't think he intended things to do down quite like this.

He uses the phrase "axis of evil" specifically to add fuel to the fires of affirmation for war among the majority of America. It's not whether or not there's really an axis of evil. What's important to the Bush Administration right now is whether or not there is a majority public impression that there's an Axis of Evil. We can type into Mefi threads until our hands fall off - the truth is there's a vast majority of voters out there who take Shrub at his words, and don't think to investigate it to find out whether or not it's true.

Realistically it is more probable that is an Axis of Evil but it is not specific to country governments. The terrorist organization that Osama claims to have started has loyal followers in many parts of the world, including of course America. That's the evil that Shrub is supposed to be attacking: not the Saudi Arabian government. We could give him the benefit of a doubt and assume that's what he's referring to: the organized terrorist cells under al Quaeda control.

Make no mistake though, Shrub wanted this war. Or rather he wanted A war, and this is what fell in his lap. A war helps republicans stay in office - or so that's the hypothesis that Bush Sr. tried with the Persian Gulf War. I saw no reason to believe Shrub would ignore that policy. War creates jobs, increases patriotism and allows the president to say international politics are more important at the moment than domestic issues, without a risk of losing re-election.

Someone needs to tell Shrub to stop taking a page from his daddy's book - his daddy didn't win re-election. I hope to God neither will he. Because I love this country, but I hate war more.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2002


but it looks like the "Axis of Evil" phrase was just a memorable metaphor thrown into the speech at the last minute that was never meant to be that important.

The expectation that anyone is supposed to spend their energy searching for the intention behind the speech is dangerous and emblematic of the American tendency towards gross, ignorant arrogance.
And if it wasn't 'meant to be that important', then we should have seen -- immediately, upon the realization that it BECAME that important -- a total retraction and apology.

Making that kind of gaffe and then buckling down to defend it even in the face of its negative repurcussions suggests the kind of stubborn rightousness that will lead us into wars and wars and wars. It's one thing to be tough and stand up for what you believe. It's quite another to be tough for the sake of toughness, never admit an error, and threaten to pound anyone who points one out.

Words MEAN things, denotatively and connotatively. 'Evil' is a term with serious religious implications. For those of us who are secular, it is easy to think of 'evil' as Darth Vader, or Gary Oldman, or i don't know Charles Manson. But to the majority of the US population who are religious Christians, 'evil' means something else. It means in opposition to Objective Good, as handed down by God. It means Satan is involved. And that is dangerous. That sort of rhetoric coming from a President who is only too eager to talk about politics in religious terms -- who are we kidding? No matter how hard it is for a nonreligious person to wrap her brain around it, this means something very specific to religious Christians. And it is exactly the same kind of scary merging of complicated international politics with reductionist religious morality that is so dangerous among Muslim fundamentalists.

And 'Axis' is clearly designed to evoke the Axis of WWII, which history has made it pretty easy to hate unconditionally. If people are going to evoke Godwin about discussions on blogs in order to protect the integrity of the argument from the useless rhetoric of making hitler/nazi comparisons, then why are we so eager to accept it as valid argument when it is made in a forum which actually has implications about what will happen in the real world?

Words are dangerous, Bush is a moron, and i'm afraid.
posted by milkman at 10:25 AM on March 11, 2002


this is a little off-topic, but I think his approval ratings are a result of people desperate to help.

I think you're right. I wish the polls would go into more detial on specific policy points to help determine to what extent this is the case.
posted by homunculus at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2002


You can also bet that by 2004, if we still have troops out there, there will be more to criticize than just Bush's use of language.


HAHAHAHAHHA

That is a mere 2 years away. We still haven't left the Bosnia/Kosovo/Iraq regions of conflict yet. Our involvement seems to be infinite in these things.

Can we get another terror warning please? It seems to have been a month or 2 from the last one.
posted by a3matrix at 11:13 AM on March 11, 2002


This kind of criticism is really childish (sorry, Hitch). There is obviously a passel of diplomatic and strategic considerations that goes into any decision to label a group of countries, and "rogue states" had gotten old. Why aren't the Saudis and Paks on the naughty list? F***in' Duh. We want to retain them inside the coalition, because they are more useful to us inside it than out. This is not some kind of kindergarten "that is a bad man and that is a good man" game. It's deadly serious. The connotation of "axis" is an exaggeration but deliberate. The people at whom it is aimed, however, are not whom you think: the point is to isolate these nations and warn others to stay away from them. (Nations like Saudi Arabia, for instance, which had been getting chummier with Tehran and Baghdad of late.) I don't think anyone in the administration is so dumb as to think they constitute an alliance even as tenuous as there was between Germany and Japan (there were diplomatic contacts, but they coordinated nowhere near as much as the Allies -- just too far apart for it to be meaningful). The point is that each of them is involved in promoting behavior and friendships with dicey states that we would prefer not get any dicier.

milkman, which is more dangerous -- a terrorist with a plane loaded with jet fuel, or a word? Don't be a moron.

And Ty: do you think Bush is the first freakin' world leader with a tendency toward malapropisms? Get a grip.
posted by dhartung at 12:02 PM on March 11, 2002


You know, it used to be policy that in the event of a first strike by the Soviet Union a full retaliatory strike would be made against the USSR and the People's Republic of China. China's guilt in things it couldn't control were deemed implicit by virtue of their being sufficiently 'not us' to be classified as 'them'.

I guess it's easier to do budgets when you lump 'em altogether. There's only one column to put figures in then.
posted by vbfg at 12:06 PM on March 11, 2002


milkman, which is more dangerous -- a terrorist with a plane loaded with jet fuel, or a word? Don't be a moron.

Hmmm. I don't think this is a relevant comparison.

In fact, it seems to be the same sort of rediculous rhetorical argument -- which completely ignores logic and fails to respect that words mean things -- about which i am talking.
posted by milkman at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2002


Well, what do you expect Hitchens to contribute? And what have you contributed, Midas? Criticizing a writer for "not contributing", as if he was supposed to grab a gun and take the first plane over there, is disingenuous and silly. Writers write, get it?

And if you were actually paying attention you'd know that Hitchens supported the bombing in Afghanistan.

Maybe you'd care to take another stab at actually addressing some of the points in the essay, instead of just attacking the writer?


My comment was in response to someone else's:

Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?

I'll take Hitchins.


I was "addressing the points". Bush has had to run the response to the events of 9/11. He needs to try to get large numbers of people to support what he is doing, both here and abroad. Hitchens can sit back and pontificate without any need to accomplish anything other than delivering x number of words to his editor per day. Bush has - by the way - access to large amounts of covert intelligence that Hitchens simply does not. Hitchens is looking up "axis" in the dictionary. So yes, of the two, I'll believe Bush.

Even further, if you want to argue the "point" - the "Axis of Evil" phrase was clearly meant to draw upon the term "Axis powers" from WW2. Problem is, according to the definitions Hitchens so cleverly looked up, Germany, Japan, and Italy were no more on an "Axis" than Iraq, Iran and North Korea are. So what?
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:44 PM on March 11, 2002


Ya gonna believe Hitchins, a Brit writing for leftie papes or Our Elected President?

That's a joke, using the word elected and even capitalizing it? It's a good one. Not a belly laugh, more of a sighing chuckle.
posted by holycola at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2002


dhartung: Children care that much about semantics? And words don't have very much power? Didn't the Bush administration do a lot of warning about code words in bin Laden's speeches? Wasn't much of this sparked in large part by language in Saudi schools and bin Laden speeches and whatnot in the first place? Or were the words just sparks of something that was already there? Whatever your answer, it's clear that language has had a giant impact ont he current situation. Damn it.

And no it's not a children's game, but most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and not any of the so-called "axis" nations. Why do we want to keep the status quo going there, with that relationship? Meantime, our nation has spent plenty of time and effort promoting democracy and human rights around the world. And we don't try to push the relationship with Saudi Arabia in any new, easily noticable direction? Are we not then building up expectations that can never be fulfilled in most of the world? Boy, that would be a mistake. Then again, in not changing the relationship much in all these years we already made a mistake.
posted by raysmj at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2002


Midas: "Axis" referred, during World War II, to the three countries signing the Tripartite Pact of 1940: Germany and Italy, joined later by Japan. This meets the "alliance" definition used by Hitchens in his column.
posted by raysmj at 12:58 PM on March 11, 2002


dhartung: milkman, which is more dangerous -- a terrorist with a plane loaded with jet fuel, or a word? Don't be a moron.

Wuz words wot got de terrorists on de plane in de first place.

MidasMulligan: Problem is, according to the definitions Hitchens so cleverly looked up, Germany, Japan, and Italy were no more on an "Axis" than Iraq, Iran and North Korea are. So what?

Wait, that's completely freakin' untrue!! Germany, Italy, and Japan most definitely DID have an alliance including formal diplomatic ties and treaties, among them the Tripartite Pact signed on September 27th, 1940. Jeezus fawk, man, what kind of crap are you trying to pull?! Either you don't know your basic WWII history- in which case, pipe down with your condemnations of the vastly better educated but sadly very drunk Chris Hitchens- or are deliberately trying to obfuscate the "Axis" issue by throwing around falsehoods and hoping no one calls you on them.
posted by hincandenza at 1:16 PM on March 11, 2002


Ah, crap. What raysmj just said...

Damn you, Mavis Beacon*! Damn you to hell!!!

* Card member of Axis of Evil since 2002
posted by hincandenza at 1:19 PM on March 11, 2002


While Hitchens is without question a left-wing sort of guy in his general political outlook, he's more a contrarian than anything else. (Which would explain why he's just released a book called Letters To a Young Contrarian.) Though a few have noted this above, it seems most have already forgotten the numerous pro-Bush, pro-American essays he wrote after 9/11.

The Mirror has intentionally adopted an anti-American viewpoint on the war purely to create a market niche amongst the lower-middle-class tabloids in Britain. They even rehired A-List Idiotarian (if you don't know what that word means, go read some warblogs) John Pilger, 15 years after firing him, purely because he's so good at writing virulent anti-American screeds without paying any mind as to the truth of what he's saying. So Hitchens saw an opportunity to bang out a quick column, make a few bucks (quid?) and piss off a lot of people in the process, and he took it. I can't knock him for that.

As for the definition of "axis," BentPenguin is correct, but I think the following better shows why Bush's use of the term is quite correct:

Merriam-Webster's definition of "axis": "8 : PARTNERSHIP, ALLIANCE." Now, what's an "alliance"? "3 : union by relationship in qualities : AFFINITY." QED.
posted by aaron at 1:43 PM on March 11, 2002


Our involvement seems to be infinite in these things.

Why is this so wrong or suspicious? Evil is part of the human condition. America's posture is much better than that of the various Euro-econo-whores such as France, who do worse than nothing, and seek to play the US off horrible governments to their economic benefit. How could you have watched that program on CBS last night and not understand who horrible these three nations are? Even if Saudi Arabia is bad, it's not Iran, and especially not Iraq. Frankly, I'm more sceptical of the danger North Korea poses because the place is so poor. Then again, they do have nuclear power, so they're doing something "right"?
posted by ParisParamus at 1:46 PM on March 11, 2002


In another recent article, Hitchens mentioned that he considered the "axis of evil" to be "Christianity, Judaism, and Islam." It's an interesting proposition - how much international conflict would we have if exclusive monotheistic religions didn't exist?
posted by lizs at 2:33 PM on March 11, 2002


Paris: Saudi Arabia is that much better than Iraw. As I mentioned ealier, not one of the hijackers came from Iraq, to my knowledge. I do know, though, that most came from Saudi Arabia. Also, Iraq has in some areas a better human rights record - letting women wear western clothing (mini-skirts, even) and participate in governance in whatever limited way, etc. But the records of the nations are similarly depressing. Here, check out the U.S. government's consideration of the records of both nations. Iraq fares much worse in, say, disappearances but both are cited for torture. If you find much of a way that Saudia Arabia absolutely shines in comparison to Iraq, except perhaps in the lack of disappearances, by all means let me know.
posted by raysmj at 2:36 PM on March 11, 2002


Oh, extrajudicial killings are bad in Iraq too, as far as one can tell from these reports. But I take it you can watch films and read Freud and whatnot. Freud is dead and as such doesn't have anything bad to say about Saddam, so it's prolly OK.
posted by raysmj at 2:51 PM on March 11, 2002


The Mirror has intentionally adopted an anti-American viewpoint on the war purely to create a market niche amongst the lower-middle-class tabloids in Britain.

It's good that you have such a clear vision into the mind of Piers Morgan, aaron. Of course, if it's 'purely' the case (and who could doubt such an objective judgement as aaron's?) no alternative explanations can be considered, such as the desire to put aside celebrity pap after Sept. 11th for coverage of world affairs. (Y'know, like the way the US network news teams briefly felt as if they could talk about the big scary world for the first time in decades? Obviously that was just pandering to the target demo, as well.) And damnit if the entire journalistic community was fooled by such opportunism when awarding the Mirror the 'Newspaper of the Year' award! What cunning!

(Oh, and if you think that the Mirror is 'lower middle-class', then you're obviously getting your briefings on the British media from someone without a clue. It's safe to travel again, you know. It might help you out with your brilliant observations.)

They even rehired A-List Idiotarian (if you don't know what that word means, go read some warblogs)

Um, I'll pass on that. I like my experience of the web unsoiled by the rantings of a bunch of feverish, twitching nonentities, fuelled on the testosterone rush that comes from gulping down the protein-shake of each other's ejaculatory nonsense.

(As Erasmus said, dulce bellum inexpertis.)

John Pilger, 15 years after firing him, purely because he's so good at writing virulent anti-American screeds without paying any mind as to the truth of what he's saying.

As opposed to Matt Welch and his cadre of adolescent-minded,k opinioneering bigots? Yeah, right. I'm still awaiting Ken Layne's report from Indo-China. (Oh, and dhartung: wipe your mouth. You're drooling.)

As for the definition of "axis," BentPenguin is correct, but I think the following better shows why Bush's use of the term is quite correct:

Nonsense: the term is so loaded by WWII that to use it is like wearing a swastika in Jerusalem and pointing complainants back to its ancient Hindu usage. Words matter here. And that's why Hitch takes umbrage, following the example set by his mentor George Orwell in 'Politics and the English Language' and 1984. After all, Orwell knew that the fastest route to mental tyranny is through playing fast and loose with language, and that's precisely the exercise that the Bush cadre is embarked upon, in order to justify the wet dreams of the White House hawks. It's evident in Cheney's words in London today:
we have to be concerned about the potential marriage if you will between the terrorist organisation like al Qu'eda and those who hold or are proliferating knowledge about weapons of mass destruction.
'Potential marriage': the metaphor is the thing. Talk about 'marriage', about 'al-Qaeda being in bed with Iraq', about an 'Axis of evil', and you make it harder to get at the reality beneath the rhetoric. Let's just say that the 'potential marriage' between Ba'athist Iraq and Wahhabist al-Qaeda is the sort of cross-species union that wouldn't be conceivable even on the Island of Dr Moreau. Is there any evidence that al-Q and Iraq are even dating? (And don't throw the supposed Prague meeting between Atta and the Iraqi bureau chief at me: the Czech source recanted on that months ago.)

At least Blair knows that to continue in his role as Bush's lickspittle is to alienate perhaps two-thirds of his own party. And in a parliamentary democracy, that actually means something.
posted by riviera at 4:08 PM on March 11, 2002


And Ty: do you think Bush is the first freakin' world leader with a tendency toward malapropisms? Get a grip.

No, but Bush is the first freakin' world leader to be largely defined by his mis-apprehension of his own language.

Bush has - by the way - access to large amounts of covert intelligence that Hitchens simply does not. Hitchens is looking up "axis" in the dictionary.

By that logic one could similarly condemn any writer who dares criticize the government. Implying that it's improper to criticize the government because they have "access to large amounts of covert intelligence" is mindless, and vaguely soviet.

How could you have watched that program on CBS last night and not understand who horrible these three nations are?

If being a horrible nation qualifies one for membership in the Axis of Evil (tm), then when are we going to invade Burma?

I like my experience of the web unsoiled by the rantings of a bunch of feverish, twitching nonentities, fuelled on the testosterone rush that comes from gulping down the protein-shake of each other's ejaculatory nonsense.

Daaaamn...otherwise, right on riviera.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:12 PM on March 11, 2002


My impression is the Bush folks figured it would be cute to combine a reference to Reagan's Evil Empire phrase with the WWII Axis. Firing the speechwriter probably shows they regret what they stepped into.

The reason I've heard discussed that the majority of the hijackers were Saudi was so that Bin Laden could sour our relations with Saudi Arabia, one of his stated goals. They could have come from a number of nations.

There does seem to be some semi-reliable evidence Iraq has ben involved in terrorist attacks on America. You can be sure that groups with an axe to grind will find it whether it exists or not.
posted by euphorb at 5:16 PM on March 11, 2002


The phrase "axis of evil" was dramatic, and made the point, but I am still uncomfortable when someone takes it upon themselves to pass judgement on others as "evil." (It's that old "Judge not, that you not be judged" routine again ... where ever did that come from?) Going along with things like calling other people "evil" is not necessarily something that should be taken lightly.
posted by sheauga at 6:23 PM on March 11, 2002


If being a horrible nation qualifies one for membership in the Axis of Evil (tm), then when are we going to invade Burma?

If they are exporting their brand of existence, yes. If not, it's for better or worse, not our problem. At least not our military's chore.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:46 PM on March 11, 2002


riviera, talk to the hand. Matt Welch, a man who personally worked his ass off on pennies a day bringing modern journalism to Eastern Europe, with no real profit to speak of, and married to a citizen of another country, does not need lessons on "bigotry" from the likes of you. What pointless name-calling.
posted by dhartung at 6:48 PM on March 11, 2002


There does seem to be some semi-reliable evidence Iraq has ben involved in terrorist attacks on America.

euphorb: check the dateline on that link: November 2001. By December, the Czech connection was coming under enough scrutiny to suggest that it was a triumph of mistaken identity. Similarly, the Iraqi military 'informants' have to be taken with a pinch of salt: after all, they're the ones who'd benefit most from a change of regime.

And just to add to raymsj's comment about semantics here: remember April Glaspie, anyone?

But as dhartung said: milkman, which is more dangerous -- a terrorist with a plane loaded with jet fuel, or a word? Don't be a moron.

I quote Ms Glaspie: "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." Who needs jet fuel when you say something that incendiary?

What pointless name-calling.

Pot. Kettle. And don't speak with your mouth full.
posted by riviera at 6:54 PM on March 11, 2002


dan, you are definitely watching too much tv. Talk to the hand? You need to bring LakeFX back, stat!!
posted by chaz at 7:16 PM on March 11, 2002


riviera, you distinctly remind me of someone...
posted by chaz at 7:22 PM on March 11, 2002


(Is anyone even slightly surprised that riviera both has an anonymous user page and has only been a MeFi member for one day?)
posted by aaron at 10:24 PM on March 11, 2002


aaron, how is that relevant to the topic/thread?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2002


Bluetrain: It has long been considered suspicious on MeFi when someone comes barging through the door and immediately launches into a series of shrill, polarizing posts, often containing personal attacks on other members (something riviera has done in either 2/3 or 100% of his three posts so far, depending on how much of an insult you consider "don't speak with your mouth full" to be), while hiding behind the shield of total anonymity. That's why.

Especially amusing that he launches into such an impassioned, if spittle-coated, defense of The Mirror as such a high-minded journalistic enterprise, while, over in the other thread, he berates its more direct competition, The Sun, as being fishwrap (in the context of personally attacking MeFi user RobertLoch, of course).
posted by aaron at 10:49 PM on March 11, 2002


("more direct" = "most direct," sorry)
posted by aaron at 10:50 PM on March 11, 2002


cool, just checking...
posted by BlueTrain at 11:02 PM on March 11, 2002


And such lovely Usenetisms, to boot.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 AM on March 12, 2002


impassioned, if spittle- coated

Coming from someone who could only offer a sniffy partisan dismissal of what the Piers Morgan has actually done with our editorial line, that's a compliment. (But that's what comes from being an embittered ex-hack, I suppose. And as for shrill and polarizing...)
posted by riviera at 3:34 AM on March 12, 2002


Aaron: I'm conservative but I'm afraid the Sun is (not fit for) fishwrap. You can't really compare it to the Daily Mirror, an honourable, brave newspaper which does real journalism and, though of course Labour-supporting, is no less feisty and iconoclastic than The Guardian. Piers Morgan is a fantastic editor and he's turned The Mirror into a must-read, even for tabloid-haters. It's as fun as say, The New York Post, but with a coherent political viewpoint.

English newspapers are a minefield but the conservative counterpart to The Mirror today would be The Daily Mail. The Sun, like The Daily Star, The News Of The World, The Sunday People and The Sunday Sport(if they're all still going - I hope they aren't)are just beyond the pale. Apart from the News Of The World(which does do some highly selective reporting) they have zero per cent journalism.

There are no U.S. national newspapers as bad.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:55 AM on March 12, 2002


aaron, what do you expect a member with posting rights to do?
not having an email address is of no consequence, this is an internet forum, not a mail merge.
anyway, that has been discussed before.
welcome riviera!
posted by asok at 5:51 AM on March 12, 2002


Miguel, the National Enquirer makes the Sun look like the London Times.
posted by talos at 6:00 AM on March 12, 2002


Miguel, I think you're right about the Mirror, but don't idolize Morgan too much. The man has two of the top ten PCC greatest hits.

And I think that the Mail is far more disgusting and hypocritical than the Sun, which is just populist trash. It was the Mail as much as the Sun that led the campaign against asylum-seekers. The fact that the Mail takes itself seriously makes it even more appalling that it persists in racist hysteria.
posted by Gaz at 6:22 AM on March 12, 2002


Coming from someone who could only offer a sniffy partisan dismissal of what the Piers Morgan has actually done with our editorial line...

Oh, so that's what this is about. "OUR editorial line," eh?

Aaron: I'm conservative but I'm afraid the Sun is (not fit for) fishwrap. You can't really compare it to the Daily Mirror, an honourable, brave newspaper which does real journalism and, though of course Labour-supporting, is no less feisty and iconoclastic than The Guardian.

Okay, I admit my experience with the London newspaper world is limited; there's only so many of them you can get over here, and they cost too much to buy more than occasionally. But everything I've ever read or heard about the industry says the Mirror and Sun consider each other arch-rivals, and that many British tabloids have a history of trading in one editorial ideology on a relatively regular basis, as it suits them in their constant battle with their many competitors. In fact, the Guardian ran a long article just yesterday about the battle between the Mirror and Sun, and how the Star is slowly working its way up to the point where it might one day become a serious rival to both papers. Now, I KNOW the Star is absolute sleaze-on-newsprint, so if it has any chance of all at becoming actual competition for the readers of either the Sun or Mirror, then those latter two papers cannot be quite as high-minded as the Times or Guardian, can they?

Given the different meanings of "class", and the different emotions the use of the term engenders on both sides, I'll recant my description of the Mirror as "lower-middle-class" if it's really pissed anybody off. As an American, I wasn't trying to use the term to make allegations about the quality or social status, or lack thereof, of the paper's readers, only its demographics. But I'd like to know just where it does fit into the equation over there. Because, IMHO, that Guardian article I linked to in the above paragraph seems to back up my opinions on the Sun and Mirror, as well as the battle between them. "Piers Morgan's Damascene conversion" after 9/11 from whatever it was before to the more serious Labourite paper it is now, and the financial realities that required him to make such a change. The Sun's similar conversion, if more clumsy, over the course of the last three years. "Their old-style working class audience." Etc. In short, I don't see what I'm getting wrong here.
posted by aaron at 1:30 PM on March 12, 2002


And for the record, I love all the damn British newspapers; every tabloid, every broadsheet. I'd give anything to spend a few months working at one of them (especially one of the tabloids), even if only as an intern, just for the unique experience. It's a wildly different style of journalism, and I'd love to experience the ride for a little while. Yes, even at the Mirror.
posted by aaron at 1:34 PM on March 12, 2002


I've always wanted to work for a tabloid. I remember a Sun journalist once saying that the difference between him and someone who writes for the Guardian was that he could do the Guardian job but no Guardian writer was good enough to write for the Sun. The Sun may have very little proper news content and little interest in challenging its readers, but it's a lesson in how to keep a strict house style and write for your audience. In fact it's a work of art. The Mirror is nothing compared to it.

The best insight into working on a tabloid was a documentary done by the BBC(?) a couple of years ago about the Sunday Sport (the lowest of the low). I remember the editor coming up with a headline for the Versace shooting: 'basque terrorist'. Ho ho. They didn't use it.
posted by Summer at 3:19 PM on March 12, 2002


Yes, even at the Mirror.

Aaron, as ever you are truly a gentleman and a scholar.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:06 PM on March 12, 2002


"OUR editorial line," eh?

Fair cop, aaron. It's grating to have a genuine revived interest in news dismissed as marketing. (Sorry for earlier flames: I used MeFi as asbestos for the night desk.) But the answer to your question - "lower middle-class" isn't a demographic anyone admits targetting. Or existing. Anyway, at least we can look down on the Indy ;)
posted by riviera at 4:07 PM on March 12, 2002


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