Jimmy Carter: Bush 'Axis of Evil' Comment 'Overly Simplistic'

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Former President Jimmy Carter, in a speech at Emory University on Thursday, said President Bush did more harm than good in labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "axis of evil."

Bush's statement was "overly simplistic and counterproductive," Carter said, adding that in his opinion, "It will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement."

Carter said the "axis of evil" remark would jeopardize the "progress" the United States had made with those three countries in recent years.

However, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger praised Bush's approach during his trip to Asia.

"I think it was a successful trip. The president made the basic point of his strategy and of his concerns in a number of countries. My impression is that the conversations with the Chinese were quite constructive," Kissinger said Friday during an interview on CNN.

The long-standing dispute over Taiwan's bid for independence from China "cannot get settled," Kissinger said. "What is needed on Taiwan is restraint."

China's sale of weapons to countries like Iran is also a sore subject and one difficult for the U.S. to resolve, Kissinger said. "As long as we sell weapons to Taiwan, [the Chinese] are not going to give us pledges" of weapons non-proliferation.

"But I think the Chinese understand the president's basic concern on proliferation and they're going to be careful about sending it to states that he has defined as being part of the 'axis of evil.' So I think progress has been made, and the president has stated his position, even though it's unpopular, in very strong and effective terms," Kissinger concluded.

Meanwhile, a new study of network news coverage finds that the evening news programs have spent more time talking about Bush's "axis of evil" comment than they have spent examining the actual threat posed by those regimes.

According to a Media Research Center (MRC) report, the networks produced 37 stories on Bush's comment between Jan. 30, the day after the president's State of the Union speech and Feb. 19. But only five of those stories actually dealt with the policies of Iran, Iraq, or North Korea.

The main focus of most of the stories was the negative reaction to Bush's description of those countries, the MRC study stated. The Media Research Center is the parent organization of CNSNews.com.

E-mail a news tip to Jim Burns.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.