March 25, 2002
Axis or Mélange

This is a continuation of my immediately previous post, but I'll give it a separate header in case anyone wants to link to it separately. Thanks to Google, I've managed to track down where I read the phrase "mélange of evil". The answer is Amygdala on the State of the Union (January 30th):

"Axis of evil" is a very poor way to describe Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Not because elements in their government couldn't fairly be described as "evil," of course, or at least "dangerous to us." But because unlike the "Axis" of WWII, these three powers have no treaty or anything else whatsoever linking them. There is simply no "axis" among them or between any two of them. So it seems to anal-me a weird and poor choice of term.

I suppose "mélange of evil" doesn't have the same ring, though.

Others have already pointed out that the original Axis was also rather loosely put together, that Nazism, Fascism, and whatever you want to call Tojo's political philosophy had little in common except a strong hostility to western liberal democracy (and, to be fair, to Stalinism), that military cooperation was almost nonexistent (though that was mostly a matter of geography), and that the Japanese felt no obligation to invade Russia just because their German allies had done so.

However, I agree that "axis" is not the mot juste for what we're up against now, though "mélange" isn't quite right either. It's really a loosely-knotted Network of Evil, with far more nodes than the three Bush named. As in a network of computers or, for that matter, string, each element is connected to only a few of the others, but all are connected indirectly. Thus Libya supplies guns and explosives to the IRA, which sends ambassadors (bomb instructors?) to the Colombian FARC, who are in tight with Castro, and so on around the world. If North Korea sells missiles to Iran, it is no doubt mostly for the money, but partly because they're evil and like to know that other evil countries are well-armed -- there is some safety in numbers. The list of connections could be extended, but it would be easier to ask whether there is any organized violent antiWestern force in the world today that does not give or receive help from any of the others. Perhaps the Nepali Maoists? Or is it really likely that China is not shipping arms across their long and sparsely-populated border?

Someone with more detailed and up-to-date knowledge than I could put together a fascinating diagram of the most important nodes in the Network of Evil and all their known connections. It would look a little like one of those Lyndon LaRouche diagrams of who runs the world, tracing the puppet strings from the five Rockefeller brothers through the Pope, the Queen of England, various Wall Street law firms, and so on down to Bush and Blair and the rest. Of course, one important difference is that the Network of Evil has no center, no spider controlling the web: all nodes are equal, and most are independent, but they do work together. Another fundamental difference is that the connections in the Network of Evil are not imaginary. I haven't seen one of the LaRouche diagrams in over 20 years, so I'm not at all clear on who is supposed to be running the world now that Nelson and his brothers are all dead. Younger Rockefellers, I suppose, with perhaps a few Rothschilds thrown in to help hook the more antiSemitic morons.

Of course one other advantage of 'Network of Evil' as a slogan is that it is so much more contemporary. 'Axis of Evil' sounds so industrial age, five-year-plan, smelters and turbines, battleships and trench warfare, in short, so 19th-century. Bin Laden's cell phones and e-mailed communiqués, and the lack of any real front line in this particular war are just a few of the things that make it a network, not an axis.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 25, 2002 10:10 PM