- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2002

Let's start with anthrax, nerve gas and black-market nuclear devices. Put those horrors on "List A."
Now, move to ballistic missiles and suicide terrorist strikes. Jot those down on List B.
Name List A: "Sample Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)."
Dub List B: "Sample means for delivering WMD in order to kill human beings by the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and thousands of thousands."
Neither list is all-inclusive, particularly List B. However, including "postal envelope" with "ballistic missile" as an effective means of delivering "bugs" (biological weapons) in order to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people would be highly misleading. There's a tremendous difference between creating mass panic via Postal Service-delivered anthrax (where psychological jolt far supercedes physical damage) and a missile attack where a warhead disperses disease spores over a city, literally seeding large-scale suffering and destruction.
Now jump to List D: That's the list where you'll find al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
Yes, I skipped List C. For the moment, put three names on that list: Iran, Iraq, North Korea.
The Bush administration labels this list "the axis of evil." Critics of President Bush, of both the foreign European feckless and domestic spineless varieties, say the "axis of evil" label is a rhetorical excess. Perhaps, but sometimes harsh facts require harsh language.
List C helps connect List D to the weapons and delivery systems of Lists A and B. That's the harsh hell of it. The connections among these states and terror organizations are as real as the hole that was the World Trade Center.
These "rogue-led states" (a more accurate description than "rogue states") on List C provide "back up" and support to terrorists. Arguably, if not the source of a particular terrorist's "global reach," these nations act as the financial, intelligence and material facilitators of that capability. In some cases, they may indeed act as instigators. The "rogue-led" states also interconnect. North Korean ballistic missiles crop up in Iran's arsenal.
Mr. Bush deserves kudos for his clarity of language. "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
The budget Mr. Bush proposed this week deserves kudos for clarity of purpose. It is a serious budget for a serious war a just war that must be fought, won and paid for.
The feckless and spineless appear to prefer a superficial war. Superficial war was the coin of the last administration. Bill Clinton offered bombast, declaring war against terrorism in 1998. Was that rhetorical excess? A more apt description is words without deeds. September 11 demonstrates that the price for waging a superficial war is stiff.
In contrast, Mr. Bush provides leadership and budget. Naming the names demonstrates that Mr. Bush is not going to fight a superficial war, because the future price exacted by either terrorists or rogue-leaders using WMD will be far too terrible.
Yet the feckless and spineless are shocked at President Bush naming names.
They shouldn't be. Everyone knows who they are. Last fall, Undersecretary of State John Bolton tabbed Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iran and North Korea as states possessing or pursuing bio-terror weapons. These six dreg states have all served as entrepots for global terror organizations sustaining them with men, money and guns. Mr. Bush was merely drawing a finer bead, fingering the three chief culprits.
The administration clearly understands that Iran, North Korea and Iraq represent distinct challenges. The Iranian people are sick of their fundamentalist dictators. American political, economic and intelligence operations will help support Iranians seeking democratic change. The mullahs, however, have been given notice that the United States will no longer accept their edgier capers, such as allowing al Qaeda terrorists to escape through Iran. North Korea is a basket case, but a basket case that still prefers to proliferate rather than cooperate. The Bush message to Pyongyang is to recalculate. Since September 11, the gray zone for facilitating terror has shrunk. The few millions Kim Jong-il's cohorts obtain from selling weapons to terrorists could quickly turn their basket into a casket.
As for Iraq's Saddam Hussein, that particular hub of the "axis of evil" will be broken by bombs and tanks. Put him on List E, the one for dead dictators who will not be missed or mourned.

Austin Bay is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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