Axis of Evil

A Look at the Axis of Evil, Rogue States, and Outposts of Tyranny

President George Bush Announces the Axis of Evil
U.S. President George W. Bush (C) flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney (L) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert before delivering his State Of the Union address in which he announces the Axis of Evil. (January 29 2002). (Photo by Luke Frazza/Getty Images)

When President Bush used the term "Axis of Evil" in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, many were to wonder who exactly he was talking about. Although the seriousness of this term shook many Americans, this was not the first time that the United States had labeled its enemies. Take a look back at the history and terms used for enemies of the United States. 

Cold War

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union, its allies, members of the Warsaw Pact, and other communist countries were part of the Cold War-era's "Axis of Evil."

Interestingly, during the Cold War era of the Soviet Union, the term "first world" referred to the United States and its allies while the "second world" referred to the USSR and its allies. The "third world" referred to those countries that were unaligned with either the Soviet Union or the United States. These third world countries were often the less-developed countries of the world.

Today, these "worlds" are obsolete. Most people now refer to two groups of countries, with a country being labeled either "developed" or "less-developed." 

In 1979, with the Cold War still going strong, a new list was created -- "State Sponsors of Terrorism."

State Sponsors of Terrorism

Countries that are placed on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism have provided support for international terrorism, as decided by the U.S. secretary of state.  As of 2014, the countries on that list are Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

In 2006, Libya was removed from the list, followed by North Korea in 2008. Syria is the oldest member of the list, having been placed there in 1979.

Rogue States

At the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Soviet bloc countries were no longer enemies of the United States. Thus came the development of the list of "Rogue States," countries that seem to be threatening world peace.

These countries often are run by a dictator, restrict human rights, and are actively developing Weapons of Mass Destruction or already possess them.

In 2000, the State Department decided to rename the list, believing that the word "rogue" might in itself hurt international relations. The new name for the list became "States of Concern."

Axis of Evil and Beyond

In 2002, Bush announced the "Axis of Evil" in his State of the Union address, clearly stating that he meant Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

In May 2002, Under-Secretary of State John Bolton (later U.N. Ambassador) gave a speech which listed the three Axis of Evil members (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) along with Libya, Syria, and Cuba as part of the "beyond the Axis of Evil" -- expanding the list to countries that have the potential of using Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Outposts of Tyranny

In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, listed six, anti-American countries that are the "Outposts of Tyranny." On her list were Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar (called Burma by the U.S. government).

Axis of Terror

The most recent use of the term "axis" was in April 2006 by Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.

In front of the UN Security Council, Gillerman identified the "Axis of Terror" as Iran, Syria, and Hamas (a Palestinian organization).

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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "Axis of Evil." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, Rosenberg, Matt. (2017, March 3). Axis of Evil. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Matt. "Axis of Evil." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 21, 2017).