29 Jan: Bush, Frum and the Axis of Evil

George W. Bush’s controversial State of the Union address from 29th January, 2002 – saw the introduction of the phrase ‘the Axis of Evil’. 

Speechwriter David Frum had initially grouped Iraq, Iran and North Korea together as an ‘Axis of Hatred’ – but Bush himself chose to replace the word ‘hatred’ with ‘evil’, a choice viewed by most Americans as striking the right tone, but many international commentators as a stepping-stone to indiscriminately invading Iraq.

In this episode Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider how Bush’s pivot to ‘evil’ opened up numerous sticky diplomatic questions for his administration; reveal which countries Republican hawk John Bolton felt were the next-most-evil nations; and explain how Frum took inspiration from FDR’s reaction to Pearl Harbor… 

Further Reading:

• ‘David Frum: The Enduring Lessons of the ‘Axis of Evil’ Speech’ (The Atlantic, 2022): https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/01/axis-of-evil-speech-frum-bush/621397/

• ‘20 years later, the ‘Axis of Evil’ is bigger, bolder — and more evil’ (The Hill, 2022): https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/3754480-20-years-later-the-axis-of-evil-is-bigger-bolder-and-more-evil/

• ‘George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address’ (2002): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btkJhAM7hZw

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