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Prof: Axis of Evil overstated by Bush

Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

The Bush administration blew the concept of the Axis of Evil out of proportion, said Terry Anderson, a Vietnam veteran and history professor at Texas A&M, Tuesday evening during a Wiley Lecture Series panel discussion at the Memorial Student Center.

"I'm not a fan of the 'Axis of Evil' concept. If you like the last four years, you're going to love the next four years," Anderson said.

Twenty students attended the panel discussion, where three A&M faculty members discussed the Bush administration's Axis of Evil and its effects on America.

Jeffrey Engel, assistant professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, agreed with Anderson. He said that he considered it no threat, but it was still a powerful argument for the administration to make. Engel said there is an ongoing threat that other countries have the ability to create weapons of mass destruction.

"That should keep you awake at night," Engel said.

Engel said that Bush's Axis of Evil was analogous to the Axis Powers of Italy, Germany and Japan in World War II.

"World War II offers a central lesson," Engel said. "Dictators cannot be dealt with, they can only be destroyed. Bush wanted to use history as a weapon. That's why he refers to 'the original three' when speaking of Iran, Iraq and North Korea."

Michael Desch, first holder of the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-Making at the Bush School and professor of political science, said he thought the Axis of Evil concept was a mistake from the policy standpoint. Bush's administration started out attacking the war on terrorism and then switched gears by declaring war on the three Axis of Evil countries.

"The administration started going off-the-rails," Desch said.

Global terrorism is the main threat, Desch said. He said the Bush administration should be more concerned with the proliferation of terrorism in Pakistan than North Korea because of their fragile rule under a dictatorship and their long-term dispute with India.

"I listen to the president and hear his talk about proliferation being the center of the axis, but it's all wrong," Desch said.

During the question-and-answer session following the discussion, Anderson said Condoleeza Rice was the worst candidate for Secretary of State. Anderson said he has lived in the Axis of Evil countries and that it takes a man to be able to rebuild alliances with its countries' leaders.

Anderson said he is pessimistic about the next steps of the Bush administration's relationship to North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

"Bush's war has devoured the army and American policy," Anderson said. "The war has divided America and will drag on for years."

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