Axis of Evil
By Jerome Grossman
President Bush has decided to abandon his long-standing position that his administration would not meet face-to-face with Iran until Tehran suspended its uranium enrichment program. A senior American official recently participated in talks with Iranian officials, the first such meeting since the seizure of the US Embassy by Iranian militants in Tehran in 1979.
This policy shift followed President Bush's announcement in late June that the United States would remove North Korea from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. This was in response to progress in the effort with Asian nations to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice then met with the North Korean Foreign Minister.
In late July, Prime Minister Nuri al-Malakai insisted that the United States agree to a timetable for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. President Bush and General Petraeus agree with him in principle although not on a precise date.
These dramatic changes in administration policies have astonished the world and infuriated hard-liners -- many of whom once worked for Bush. The harsh rhetoric, the name calling, the military threats made against these nations have diminished. The "Axis of Evil" used by Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address is no longer part of his vocabulary.
The invasion of Iraq is now almost universally regarded as a mistake. The diplomatic maneuvers with North Korea and Iran are clearly the better road to solutions of long-standing differences, solutions with low cost in lives and treasure.
As Winston Churchill remarked at a White House luncheon in 1954 at the height of the Cold War, "It is better to jaw - jaw than to war - war."