The New York Times editorialized, "The application of power and intimidation has returned to the forefront of American foreign policy. That was the unmistakable message delivered by President Bush in his State of the Union address when he labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an 'axis of evil.'"
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said using the label "axis of evil" was "a big mistake," and that "the international community thinks we have lost our mind."
"It was reckless rhetoric," said Rep. James Moran, D-Va., "to lump all three countries together." And Warren Christopher, secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, said, "It was a speechwriter's dream and a policy-maker's nightmare."
Former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., called for a "global test" in determining the rightfulness of our actions, thus attacking Bush for his "swaggering" go-it-alone foreign policy. But now Sen. Clinton whacks him for "outsourcing" the problem with Iran to the French, the Germans and the British.
The Iranians claim they intend to pursue a nuclear capability for peaceful reasons. The Iranian parliament, however, provides little comfort, given that their meetings frequently include chants of "Death to America." During military parades, the Iranians show off enormous missiles, painted with charming phrases: "We will crush America under our feet," and "Israel must be wiped off the map."
Experts disagree on how long it would take before Iran develops a bomb, but the disagreement stands on when, not whether. Given cries of "Bush lied, people died," expect much of America to discount any statement by the president. After all, goes the line, we got Iraq wrong, how do we know the truth about Iran? Even French President Jacques Chirac now seems to get it. He recently warned, "Leaders of any state that uses terrorist means against us, as well as any that may be envisaging, in one way or another, using weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would be exposing themselves to a firm and appropriate response on our behalf," said Chirac. "That response could be conventional, it could also be of another nature," clearly referring to France's nuclear weapons.
What would Israel do? What would the Europeans do? In the end, however, expect America, as usual, to do the heavy lifting -- no matter the criticism. The question remains: Will the worldwide hostility toward President Bush, and the desire to interpret everything he says as "a lie," prevent rational people from doing rational things to prevent the irrational people from committing mass murder?