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Axis of Evil

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The "Axis of Evil" was a list of countries that George W. Bush had philosophical[note 1] and ideological differences with, but had a problem coming up with legitimate reasons to resolve the differences by force.[note 2] It was a short list of the usual suspects (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea), who had pretty much nothing to do with each other until they all ended up on the list.[note 3] Later on, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Cuba declared themselves to be an "Axis of Good", although this was probably tongue-in-cheek. The phrase was coined for Bush's 2002 State of the Union address by White House speechwriter David Frum, who left to spend time with his family after his wife stole Bush's thunder and e-mailed the Internet that David had written this glorious God-delivered phrase.

The "Axis of Evil" speech was a particularly effective bit of speechifying: it caused Iran to release "brutal" insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and send him back into Afghanistan to make trouble.[1] It also provided a convenient excuse for Kim Jong-il to restart his nuclear program.[2] Mission accomplished!

In cosmology[edit]

The "Axis of Evil" is also the nickname received by an asymmetry of the cosmic microwave background as studied by the WMAP and Planck missions. It's not clear what it is: if it's mere data processing errors, proof of the universe having a doughnut-shaped form,[note 4] or simply a pattern that is [apparently] there because of our tendency to see those things everywhere.[3] Very recent (2016) studies of the expansion of the Universe, that show it to be uniform to the limit of measurements, show that the first and/or the last possibilities could be the most likely ones.[4]

Of course, this "Axis of Evil" has been the victim of cranks, who have used it to prove (for example) that Earth is the center of the Universe. Yeah, right.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. What his advisors told him, really, as he can't seem to think coherently.
  2. Well, he still has trouble with coming up with reasons for what he wants to do, but he's no longer President (thank God)!
  3. Admittedly, all three of those nations were authoritarian hellholes at the time, so the term "evil" could reasonably be applied to their leadership. However, as is so depressingly often the case, the U.S. government had no problem with this until a very tragic event whipped up a desire to slay Muslims among the general population and some war-hawks in high places decided that they could profit by ransacking them. Just to prove how ineffective this egotist model of nation-uplifting really is, Iran and North Korea, which Bush never actually got around to invading, are still authoritarian hellholes (barring a dashed spot of hope for actual democracy and rationality in Iran); Iraq spent some time as an anarchic hellhole as a result of the United States' meddling, with its current status being somewhat uncertain.[citation needed]
  4. Mmmmmm… doughnuts.