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The Freedom Factor
by Isaiah Z. Sterrett
5 December 2003American Flag

Each of the countries in the Axis of Evil lacked -- at least when the President grouped them so -- the critical ingredient of liberty.

Upon President Bush’s State of the Union address in which he labeled Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the “Axis of Evil,” liberals instantly became hot with righteous indignation. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said the line garnered “more uncertainty than certainty.”  Sen. Robert Byrd, former Klansman and current Democrat from West Virginia, windily complained that the President was “shooting from the hip.” Then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said it “conjures up the notion that we have a single-minded, unilateral policy affecting all three countries identically.”

Still spooked by that killer bunny incident, former President Jimmy Carter said, “I think it will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement.”  He went on to call it “overly simplistic and counter productive.” (By contrast, Carter’s policy inevitably would have been to boycott the Pyongyang Olympics.)  An article in USA Today sneered, “An axis? Hardly.  The countries have more differences than similarities.”

As it turns out, there may have been more of a connection between the Axis nations than was originally reported.  International inspectors have discovered computer files in Baghdad which illustrate beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein was engaged in weapons negotiations with North Korea for two years before the war began.  His goal, according to the New York Times, “was to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag, the North Korean missile system, which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region…”  These negotiations were primarily conducted in Syria, with the knowledge of the Syrian government.

Iraq sought missiles known as the Rodong, and thus clearly violated U.N. resolutions prohibiting the nation from acquiring missiles of that range.  The final session of negotiations occurred last February, and it was on this trip that Iraq also attempted to buy night-vision goggles, ammunition, and gun barrels, presumably in preparation for the impending attack. Frighteningly, the man who conducted the negations, Munir Awad, the senior officer of Al Bashair, is now believed to be in Syria under the protection of the Syrian government.

In spite of these tense talks between Axis members, it seems that Saddam fell victim to precisely the same man that our own William Jefferson Clinton did: the ever-mendacious Kim Jong Il.  Said the Times, “In return for a $10 million down payment, Mr. Hussein appears to have gotten nothing.”  A month before the invasion, Iraqi officials went to Syria to demand that North Korea refund $1.9 million because it had failed to meet the agreed upon deadlines.

On the basis of these reports, it’s probably safe to conclude that all of the pre-war bloviating about that moron in the White House and that silly Axis of Evil was absolutely preposterous.  There was a factual link between the three nations, and the administration acted accordingly.  There is, however, a much larger link -- one that all should have recognized immediately, but that only thoughtful conservatives did.  

Totalitarianism breeds terrorism, and it must thus be the free world’s principal mission to end it.  The Axis of Evil is comprised not of nations with identical problems, or which pose identical threats.  This is precisely why, notwithstanding the wails of a certain addled senator, they don’t require identical American responses.  Each of the countries in the Axis of Evil lacked -- at least when the President grouped them so -- the critical ingredient of liberty. 

To be sure, there were more tangible connections between the countries, like the aforementioned Iraq-North Korea missile deal, but it was the freedom factor which most tightly bound them. Defeating the remnants of Saddam’s bloody regime is essential to winning the struggle against terrorism, but the broader fight is against all forces that seek to hinder the global expansion of freedom.  That is what the Axis of Evil was about, that is what Operation Iraqi Freedom is about, and that is what the War on Terrorism itself, is about.

Isaiah Z. Sterrett, a resident of Aptos, California, is a Lifetime Member of the California Junior Scholarship Federation and a Sustaining Member of the Republican National Committee.

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