Its been over two and a half years since since Bush branded Iran, Iraq and North Korea as “The Axis of Evil,” in his 2002 state of the union speech.
Now’s as good a time as any to see how Bush has done on that front. Iraq has been liberated from Saddam’s clutches at great cost and to uncertain outcome.
The one thing that is certain, at this point, is that invading Iraq has limited the US’s wiggle room. Our military resources are taxed. We had to pull significant resources out of Afghanistan before the job was done there, and its quite obvious that we are going to have trouble committing troops to any new fronts that open in the region or elsewhere in the world.
Invading Iraq as we did has also strained relations with our traditional allies and the broader international community, to the point that it is both difficult for their politicians to support the US and easy for them to score points at home by thwarting the US, even as they undermine their countries own broader interests.
Which brings us to the rest of the Axis of Evil. News that a large explosion in North Korea was a nuke test may have been a false alarm, but there are still indications that they may be close to testing a nuke; Iran may (or may not) be sending men, materiel & money to attack US forces in Iraq at the same time the their own nuclear program advances. Effective responses to these threats are constrained by our military situation and the diplomatic hurdles when coordinating with the rest of the international community.
All this has the stink of failure. The current state of affairs in North Korea and Iran might at first glance seem to provide justification for naming them as preeminent threats, but placing them in the same category as Iraq, and then invading Iraq gave both countries great incentive to speed up their weapons programs.
Even if Bush’s bellicose rhetoric and actions aren’t responsible for making North Korea and Iran that much more dangerous, the fact that they are more dangerous today than they were when he named them is a clear failure on his part. Unlike 9/11, he can’t claim to have been ignorant of the danger from North Korea and Iran, having done so much to call it out in the first place.
Similarly, Bush is responsible for the fallout from invading Iraq in the manner he chose. He’s responsible for the fact that our military is overstretched. He’s responsible for the fact that the country is too violent and unstable for international peacekeepers to engage. He’s responsible for the fact that the goodwill towards the US after 9/11 has been not merely squandered but reversed.
Bush has (again) failed to successfully address an issue that he himself identified and prioritized.