2002 SOTU, when President Bush proclaimed North Korea, Iran, Iraq and like states “an Axis of Evil,” contained this promise:

I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.

Arguably, invading Iraq forestalled that state from becoming a nuclear state–although it now appears they were either much further behind that was proclaimed, the bombing missions under Desert Fox were much more effective than realized, or they are the facilities were hidden phenomenally well. But, in the meantime, North Korea has gotten nuclear weapons and Iran either has them or is on the verge.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JohnC says:

    Nice gun. Lousy aim.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. The thing that finally convinced me that invading Iraq made sense was when the North Koreans announced they had nukes and it became apparent that, at that moment, they were beyond our practical reach. Preventing Saddam from getting nukes and having that power justified an invasion to me. But I’m puzzled as to why we’re letting Iran get them as, frankly, I’m not sure the Mullahs are saner than Saddam.

  3. John,

    Actually, both our gun and our aim are pretty good. An attack on North Korea would result in hundreds of thousands dead within a day or so due to their missiles pointed at Seoul.

    Iran is the “heart” of Islamic terror, in a way, because the modern Islamist revolution began there, but we had no casus belli with them as we did with Iraq.

    Iraq had been in violation of a cease-fire agreement with us for twelve years before we finally settled it. They were likewise a state-sponsor of terrorism and the first country to actually leave the State Department’s list of same.

    We’re positioned now to deal with Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia militarily if need be and have undermined one of the operating principles of al Qaeda and similar groups: that we will tolerate terrorism (Khobar Towers, Cole bombing) or cut and run when things turn difficult (Lebanon barracks bombing, Somalia).

    I think our aim is pretty good.

  4. JohnC says:

    Yea, keep saying that.