Friday, October 22, 2004


The article below was written by an old friend and colleague, Jack N. Behrman. Dr. Behrman served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Domestic and International Business during the Kennedy Administration. He is Luther Hodges Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina Business School, and the author of more than a score of books and articles.

By Jack N. Behrman

A sage once said: "Be careful who you choose for your enemy, for you will become like them." George W. Bush has almost completely copied the very aspects of the "Axis of Evil" that he has most forcefully criticized and asserted that he would eradicate. The list includes at a minimum the following orientations, actions, and policies:

Bush has sought to extend the influence and control of the U.S. into and over foreign countries -- just as he has criticized others for seeking to impose their will abroad.

For example, criticism of Putin in Chechnya.

As Emperors have in the past, he brooks no criticism, avers that he is following God's will, states that he makes decisions by "instinct", and demands complete and unfailing loyalty from all--"if you are not with me, you are against me"; "criticism is unpatriotic".

His Administration is the most secretive and undemocratic of any in the history of the country -- while he criticizes the lack of public information in other countries.

He has protected his "cronies" and "loyal followers" from oversight and prosecution and extended benefits and favors to them directly and indirectly --while criticizing other national leaders for doing the same.

His policies are the most divisive we have seen in the past century -- setting rich against the poor and middle class, the "have mores" against the "have less or none", and religious (fundamentalists) against the moderates and secularists.

He has injected religious "faith" into politics and government policy, while demanding that the religious leaders abroad accept "democracy".

He has, despite his criticism of others, sought to change the culture of peoples by force -- as did Stalin, Mao, and Saddam -- and worse, in foreign countries, where his leadership (authority) has no legitimacy.

He has followed the Dictators of the past (and present) in becoming arrogant, repressive, and protective of corruption. These qualities brought down the Shah of Iran; Iranians averred that they could accept two but not all three.

He has relaxed environmental and business regulation through little funding support while claiming to be in favor of environmental protection.

He has permitted those who countenanced torture of prisoners -- acts which he has criticized in the "Axis of Evil" -- to remain in office while urging Human Rights worldwide.

He has weakened the value of the dollar by extensive borrowing and permitting vast expansion of credit in the country -- similar to Russia, Mexico, and Argentina, which he has criticized.

He manipulated the past presidential election and is seeking to do the same by various means in the present election -- similar to the tactics criticized as undemocratic and fraudulent in other countries.

He has isolated himself and his Administration--as Castro, Mao, Kim Il-jung, Stalin (et al) have done--from traditional allies and become a pariah in intergovernmental organizations.

He has practiced deception by claiming to offer "compassionate conservatism" and to heal the divisions in the country while doing the opposite.

He has claimed to be supportive of the aged but has provided bonanzas to the pharmaceutical industry while letting the cost of health assistance rise and coverage fall.

He has sought to cow the media and the Congress -- as in Russia, China, and other authoritarian governments -- again insisting on unthinking loyalty to his positions, rejecting and silencing critical assessments by others.

He claims to be seeking freedom for others while damping it in the U.S., expecting citizens to be non-critical. Yet, as another sage said: "The only thing that freedom-loving people have to do to lose their freedom is to keep silent." The U.S. is losing its freedom rapidly as Bush seeks to run over and silence criticism at home and abroad.