The Axis of Evil is not so far away

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It isn’t ugly or twisted in a grimace (though it can be.) It doesn’t scowl balefully or bare yellow teeth (though it can.) It isn’t adorned by head dress or a turban or balaclava (not always, not even mostly.)

It can be white or black or brown, but mostly it’s white. It can be young or old, but mostly it’s middle-aged. Always it is privileged. Always it wields great power.

It isn’t foreign, either (though it can be.) Mostly, it is like your face, and mine, and your neighbor’s and parent’s and children’s. Friendly, reassuring, always ready with a smile. Familiar.

The true face of evil can be found at the summit of the world’s most dangerous regimes, ones which threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons. They pose a grave and growing danger. These regimes, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil.

Who are they?

They’re not tucked away in some oil-rich part of the world, though oil is vitally important to them. Their people aren’t swarthy, and poor, and ciphers, whose deaths in the thousands, even millions, can be dismissed as unfortunate, but necessary, and readily excused. Instead, their people are largely white, comfortable for the most part, (though not always,) whose violent deaths at the hands of outside forces cannot, unlike the deaths of brown-skinned people in remote countries, be excused for a moment, under any circumstances.

Of biological and chemical and nuclear weapons the evil axis knows much, for it has more of these weapons than anyone else. Nor is it a stranger to menacing the world, for it has pressed its arsenal of mass destruction into service before, killing millions, and it has threatened its use over and over, promising to kill millions more. Still it continues to issue threats. Still, the world is menaced.

There is no law this evil axis is subordinate to; not the UN Charter, not the World Court, not Security Council Resolutions, not the Geneva Conventions.

It is on a permanent war footing. It views the entire world as its battlefield. It threatens the world’s security.

Hundreds of thousands of its operatives, trained in terrorist camps, and dispatched to dozens of countries around the world, stand ready to pilot aircraft on missions to destroy civilians and their infrastructure, to spray chemical and biological weapons from the sky, while others of their number carry out targeted assassinations, engage in kidnapping, and lob grenades at innocents.

When its victims protest they are demonized. When they fight back they’re called terrorists.

Those billed as the evil axis’s most ferocious critics demonize the victims too, calling them monsters, fervently condemning their actual lapses while substantiating the lapses that have no substance.

The face of evil isn’t strange, not foreign or alien, or exotic. It is familiar. It’s home is not in some far off land, bearing an unpronounceable name.

On the contrary, the face of evil bears names that roll easily off the tongue.

Hundreds of thousands of children dead. The face of evil says, “It’s regrettable, but we think it’s worth it.” Prisoners mistreated. The face of evil says, “They’re illegal combatants.” By what authority have you imprisoned these people? The face of evil says, “Our authority is our high moral purpose.”

“When our nation commits its terrorists to war,” says the face of evil, “the world’s always been a better place for it.”

One million dead in Korea. Is the world’s a better place for it?

Three million dead in Indochina. Over fifty thousand American troops shown an early grave. Is the world’s a better place for it?

One and half million dead from sanctions in Iraq. Southern Iraq littered with depleted uranium. Is the world’s a better place for it?

Is the world a better place for thousands dead in Yugoslavia, tens of thousands permanently disabled, hundreds of thousands without work, thousands more to die from environmentally induced cancers, the unseen victims of war?

Is the world a better place for the economic dislocation and descent into Third World poverty that Eastern European countries have been pushed into by the intrigues, the intervention, the demands of the United States?

What high moral purpose led to the killing of five thousand poor and wretched Afghans? Is the world a better place for deaths from hunger and disease in refugee camps? For Palestinians driven from their homes, to live in refugee camps, or in a Palestine controlled by an American-backed and equipped Israeli Army that uses fighter jets, attack helicopters and bulldozers against civilians and their dwellings?

The world’s — indeed history’s — largest military, its largest arsenal of mass destruction; three hundred thousand troops in one hundred nations; thousands of nuclear weapons capable of destroying the world many times over; stockpiles of chemical weapons; warehouses full of biological weapons; all of that didn’t stop two hijacked aircraft from destroying the World Trade Centre and the lives of thousands. Still, the military budget, already bloated, will, in some perverted twist of logic, bloat some more. In the meantime, millions die every year from readily preventable diseases, though a fraction of the mountain of wealth that is given over to menacing the world, isn’t available for drugs and potable water and clinics and basic nutrition. There are some things for which the face of evil says we’re always strapped for cash. Others, having to do with killing, and imprisoning, and suppressing, we seem to always be able to afford.

Is the world a better place for this lie?

For some it is.

Gaze upon their faces.

They aren’t ugly or twisted in a grimace. They don’t scowl balefully or bare yellow teeth. They’re not adorned by head dress or a turban or balaclava.

They go by such names as Bush, Blair and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Sharon and Rice, Ashcroft and Powell.

This is the axis of evil.

Mr. Steve Gowans is a writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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