Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria

Overview

The Bush administration has thus far left little doubt regarding its intentions for the regimes that compose the so-called Axis of Evil. It has already disposed of Iraq, while North Korea and Iran ignore U.S. threats at their peril. The same goes for Syria, the object of an intense propaganda campaign waged in conjunction with Operation Iraqi Freedom -- when it was reported that contingency plans for war with Damascus were under review. Yet Americans know very little about these three "evil" countries beyond what...
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Overview

The Bush administration has thus far left little doubt regarding its intentions for the regimes that compose the so-called Axis of Evil. It has already disposed of Iraq, while North Korea and Iran ignore U.S. threats at their peril. The same goes for Syria, the object of an intense propaganda campaign waged in conjunction with Operation Iraqi Freedom -- when it was reported that contingency plans for war with Damascus were under review. Yet Americans know very little about these three "evil" countries beyond what the Pentagon has told them. In Inventing the Axis of Evil, noted experts on each country set the record straight, confronting relentless fear-mongering with hard facts. The authors explore each country's history and internal politics alongside the spotty record of past U.S. interventions, including the war in Korea and the CIA-sponsored overthrow of Iran's elected prime minister in 1953. While entertaining no illusions about these despotic regimes, Inventing the Axis of Evil demonstrates that the whole truth is more complicated. Essential reading for anyone concerned that the deceit of the war in Iraq will lead to further misadventures, this is a vital corrective to the saber-rattling of the Bush administration and an expose of the dubious claims that may well underwrite America's next war.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Is there an axis of evil? Perhaps, but its headquarters may be in Washington. Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator, is not a nice man. But he has this in common with North Korea's would-be liberator, writes longtime Asia hand Cumings (Univ. of Chicago): "Like Bush, he has to contend every day with the knowledge that he would not be where he is without Daddy's provenance." Daddy, Kim Il Sung, wasn't a nice man either, but, Cumings argues, he was essentially forced into his role as Dr. Evil: isolated by virtue of his communist affiliations by the Americans after Korea was relieved of its Japanese occupiers following WWII, he and his followers were walled up north of Pyongyang and kept from the community of nations by an "ill-understood American hegemony" that preferred Japanese collaborators to resistance leaders. Why the saber-rattling? With Bush, it appears to be personal: "In a recent discussion . . . he blurted out, 'I loathe Kim Jong Il!' " So it is with Iran: the American government propped up a hated shah, then professed surprise when the Khomeini revolution painted the US as the bad guy. There's not a shred of evidence that the current Iranian government helped Osama bin Laden perform his evil work, writes Iran specialist Abrahamian (CUNY), but that didn't keep the Bush regime from charging that Iran was a bedfellow of terrorism. No matter: writes Abrahamian, "The Iranian regime, despite its problems and weaknesses, is not a pack of cards perched to collapse because of much huffing and puffing in Washington and Los Angeles." As a onetime ally of Iraq, Syria is slightly more problematic, acknowledges Israeli scholar Ma'oz (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem). Ma'oz suggests that whileBush's bluster is unlikely to earn any friends in Damascus, a little friendliness-and a resumption of foreign aid-would render the Ba'ath regime more cooperative. All in all, a persuasive argument that the axis-of-evil trope is as illusory as those elusive WMDs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595580382
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 213
  • Sales rank: 1,441,813
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Bruce Cumings is the author of North Korea, Korea’s Place in the Sun, and Parallax Visions. He teaches at the University of Chicago.

Ervand Abrahamian is distinguished professor of Iranian and Middle Eastern history and politics at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is a co-author (with Bruce Cumings and Moshe Ma’oz) of Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth About North Korea, Iran, and Syria and the author of The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations, both published by The New Press. The Coup was selected as the history book of the year by a committee of independent public intellectuals in Iran. Abrahamian was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Moshe Ma’oz is the author of Syria and Israel and Assad. He is a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Table of Contents

Editor's note
1 Decoupled from history: North Korea in the "Axis of Evil" 1
2 Empire strikes back : Iran in U.S. sights 93
3 Damascus vs. Washington : between the "Axis of Evil" and "Pax Americana" 157
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