Thank you, Mr. Powell

by John Stevenson | 5/24/02 5:00am

To the Editor:

Every since President George Bush uttered the phrase "axis of evil," morally self-righteous commentators, politicians and so-called intellectuals lambasted the President for being too simplistic. Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized our European partners for offering nothing but criticism for American foreign policy. I would like to echo Mr. Powell and add something more: a thank you to President Bush for moral clarity.

People who decry the axis of evil statement forget to analyze the basic premise of their arguments.

Are the regimes of Iran, Iraq and North Korea (and the recent additions of Cuba, Libya and Syria) evil? Are they not stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and, in Cuba's case, possibly constructing biological weapons? Even the BBC reported that the conservative side of the regime in Iran is under attack from the population and the reform parliament and president. Iraq has pretended to be a player in the world community and now seeks to avoid a "regime change." North Korea is engaging the Bush administration in talks about peace.

Is there a problem with a "simple" statement? President Bush wanted to communicate a basic truth to the average citizen of the world in a way the phrase "rogue nations" couldn't. President Reagan, when trying to get his message across to the common folk, said that the Soviet regime was an "Evil Empire." When President Clinton was laying out the basis for his presidential campaign, he said, "It's the economy, stupid." Most people could care less about Dr. Jeanne Kirkpatrick's analysis of the Soviet system and books by Middle East experts that present a more complicated picture of the situation on the ground. When President Bush wanted to communicate how Iraq, Iran and North Korea weren't just bad places to live or states that wouldn't cooperate with the United States, he called them evil and summed up his message in one phrase.

Secretaries Powell and Rumsfield have scolded the Europeans for calling American foreign policy unilateral. The secretaries and Dr. Josef Joffe put out that the world is not a place where we can sit in a room and vote on every issue. Henry Kissinger warned that NATO was becoming an ineffectual political club where political interests trump the military and defensive nature of the organization. President Bush said it nicely when he said, "If we don't do it, who will?" Rumsfield echoed the purpose of coalitions in his statement in the New York Times a few weeks ago, "The mission will determine the coalition and not the other way around." In the BBC, Powell taught the Europeans, saying, "We will continue to take principled positions that we believe are right for the U.S. and right for the issue. We realize that sometimes we Americans speak in a certain way that causes distress, but it's not necessarily because we are wrong. This is an administration and this is a president that has strong beliefs and values. And just because we may not be able to reach an agreement doesn't mean we don't care what everybody else says."

I would like to thank Secretary Powell and President Bush for clarity and the strength to resist the voices of the enlightened whose pretenses to moral self-righteousness and superiority are disgusting.