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FP: The Axis of Upheaval

Author: Niall Ferguson
March 1, 2009

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Forget Iran, Iraq, and North Korea--Bush's "Axis of Evil." As economic calamity meets political and social turmoil, the world's worst problems may come from countries like Somalia, Russia, and Mexico. And they're just the beginning, says Niall Ferguson.

Excerpt: Seven years ago, in his State of the Union address on Jan. 29, 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush warned of an "axis of evil" that was engaged in assisting terrorists, acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and "arming to threaten the peace of the world." In Bush's telling, this exclusive new club had three members: Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Bush's policy prescription for dealing with the axis of evil was preemption, and just over a year later he put this doctrine into action by invading Iraq.

The bad news for Bush's successor, Barack Obama, is that he now faces a much larger and potentially more troubling axis--an axis of upheaval. This axis has at least nine members, and quite possibly more. What unites them is not so much their wicked intentions as their instability, which the global financial crisis only makes worse every day. Unfortunately, that same crisis is making it far from easy for the United States to respond to this new "grave and growing danger."

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