A very interesting article I read, and thought, was worth sharing. Author puts up questions on who the respondents of the poll think are the "Axis of Evil", a term put forth by GW Bush. Mind you, the author doesnt believe in any such thing like an "Axis of Evil". Article is by: CAROLINE JAINE, written for dawn.com. About the author: Caroline Jaine is a UK based writer, artist and film-maker with a background in media strategy, training and diplomacy. Her book A Better Basra, about her time in Iraq was published in August 2011. More about Carolineâ€™s work and her contact details can be found on Home and facebook. Some very interesting questions raised: Is there some thing called evil? If yes, what is it? Should countries and the populace of that country be tagged as evil? At the bottom of the article are the findings of the poll. -------------------------- Perceived as evil: Pakistan, US, Israel & China Recently, I was at a seminar in the Netherlands where I met a young Israeli diplomat who thought one of Israelâ€™s biggest external perception challenges was that the country was seen as under-developed. It was a polite and small gathering, but with a fascination for the perceptions of nations, I couldnâ€™t help suggest that it was Israelâ€™s policy towards Palestine, rather than the fact that people thought Israelis were tent dwelling, camel riders that may be impacting how people saw the nation â€“ and in fact may have a greater impact on Israelâ€™s long term security. Having worked for the British government in Iraq, I know that no matter how much you window-dress a situation â€“ itâ€™s the reality of the policy (and action) that dominates the narrative â€“ and what you will be judged on. I share this anecdote because I am still swirling in a sea of shock and concern having examined the fourth and final part to my ongoing Axis of Evil survey. I have already shared readersâ€™ thoughts on Iraq, Iran and North Korea â€“ but in this last installment, I look at the responses of readers when offered the chance to speculate on which nations they thought were â€œevilâ€ in todayâ€™s world. They didnâ€™t hold back. The perceptions of the nations concerned were astonishing. Knives were drawn. Defining Evil Some readers asked me to define â€œevilâ€. I deliberately didnâ€™t. As George Bush didnâ€™t when he announced the evil three a decade ago. The fact is, I donâ€™t really believe in it. I agree with the 7 per cent of respondents who said there was really no such thing as an out-and-out â€œevilâ€ country. The questionnaire was set up to challenge prejudices and alert people to the propaganda of leaders (in particular Bush) and how you might be influenced by them â€“ and, as it turns out â€“ by the media too. But an overwhelming majority came straight out with naming and shaming places as being purely, greatly of simply â€œevilâ€. In fairness, many people went into detail to define evil acts or the reasons for their choices. But not all. Most Evil Some were singled out as evil: Tony Blair; Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield; Big Oil Republicans; those controlling the media; the rather poetic â€œbrutal-evil CIA-Mossad Delta and Orange Forcesâ€; and not just the state but a casting of the very â€œpeople of Pakistanâ€ as evil (someone used the example of rose petals being showered on the assassin of the Punjab Governor as evidence of this). One person listed a huge range of countries as evil, but then included â€œignoranceâ€ at the end. Hmmm. Another offered a complex sliding scale of evil â€“ with Saudi at the top and the UK at the bottom (the later considered evil nonetheless). One even claimed that â€œeveryone!â€ was evil. The causes for evil were many â€“ some said money, corruption, the deliberate destabilisation of other countries, communism, or â€œviolent and nihilistic Islamâ€. Others said lunacy or the madness of leaders. In general we thought ignoring UN resolutions was evil, as were human rights abuses, bullying other nations, and an overuse of military power (5 per cent mentioned the invasion of Iraq as an Act of Evil). Nearly a quarter of readers believed that harboring or funding violent extremists was very evil indeed. And here is where Pakistan comes inâ€¦ The problem with Pakistanâ€¦ An Over Diagnosed Nation was my second piece of writing for Dawn about Pakistan. I stand by everything that I wrote in that article. My modest Axis of Evil survey showed that a staggering 56 per cent of respondents thought that Pakistan was categorically evil as a nation. Thatâ€™s more than half â€“ and masses more than the next most evil â€“ the USA. At first I was cynical about the high numbers of Indian respondents and felt empathy for the India-Pakistan paranoia that is as rife as self-diagnosis. However, it soon became apparent that although more than half of respondents were from India (â€œPakistan is evil, but not because I am an Indianâ€) many of the mud-slingers were from Pakistan itself (â€œPakistan is evil, even though Iâ€™m Pakistaniâ€). And the reasons for this claim were plentiful. The top reason, far outnumbering any other cause of evil for any nation was harbouring or funding terrorists. This evil act was also credited for causes of evil in Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Yemen, Palestine, Somalia, and Afghanistan. But to be fair, mostly to Pakistan. Other causes, pretty much reflected the much mused over â€œproblems with Pakistanâ€¦â€: corruption; lawlessness; the Baloch issue; double dealing with the USA; blasphemy laws; her false aspiration to â€œbe like the Arabsâ€; for â€œnot valuing the lives of itâ€™s own citizensâ€; and 4 per cent of people said Pakistan was evil for simply â€œbeing weakâ€. One person said Pakistan was evil because it was paranoid about India, which made me smile given the large number of Indian respondents. And of course the â€œmisuse of military powerâ€ is never far away from any rhetoric on Pakistan. It was bad. It felt like self-mutilation in places. And it was very angry. One person wrote, â€œPakistan is one of the greatest evil nationsâ€. Tears pricked my eyes. All the positive things I know Pakistan to be felt smashed. You wonâ€™t be surprised to hear that all this got me seriously thinking about how useful it is for a nation to be perceived in this way â€“ either by itâ€™s own people or by others. A gold star should be given to the person who wrote that although Pakistan was evil, it had the potential to become a â€œbeacon of hope for the Muslim world if a liberal leadership emergedâ€. More of this please. Curiously, Pakistan was often mentioned in the same breath as Israel â€“ and some parodied the nations as both being founded on faith â€“ and perhaps the birth of each nation a painful, messy one. I will talk about it all being Britainâ€™s fault in a moment. I was struck again by the Israeli diplomatâ€™s research, which told him that Israeli nationals were fed up with being considered as people who rode camels in the desert. How far from the truth could this perception be? I immediately wanted to grab a clipboard and step out on the street and ask people about their perceptions of Israel â€“ but I guess that would have been doing the diplomatâ€™s work for him. The Pakistanis (and maybe the Indians) on the other hand, appear equally deluded and transfixed almost entirely with â€œeverything that is badâ€ about Pakistan. There is perhaps a PhD thesis in studying each nations media and relating this to domestic self-esteem around nationality. The American bully The most common grouping offered as a new axis was Britain, Israel and America, with America topping the three. Thirty-two per cent of respondents thought the USA was an evil country â€“ making it the second most popular choice. Several people thought it was â€œso obviousâ€ why the US (and Israel) were evil, that they didnâ€™t elaborate â€“ but those that did, offered the invasion of Iraq (5 per cent); the war on terror; hating Muslims and spreading Islamophobia and Pakiphobia; and thought the USA was evil for â€œcreating monsters like Afghanistan, Bin Laden, and Israelâ€. I was surprised that nobody mentioned drones in the sample I looked at. America is aware that it has a perception problem, particularly in Pakistan. Many thought that Barrack Obamaâ€™s arrival in office would put an end to the perception of Islamobia, but actions speak louder than words. A quote from JS Knox that I often use in strategic communications seminars is â€œyou cannot antagonise and influence at the same timeâ€. Back to my previous point about window-dressing. Israel â€¦ Its obvious (And China) I was surprised at the third highest scoring â€œevilâ€ nation. I quite expected Israel to be there as many of those that contact me rant about her ills, but China? To those studying public diplomacy in the west, China appears as the master of quiet diplomacy. At the Netherlands conference we marveled at the paper presented by the Chinese delegate â€“ and over coffee someone suggested that China really had its overseas operations â€œsewn-upâ€ with bold infrastructure projects in exchange for economic and mineral extraction deals. But it seems the people, at least in this survey, are not fooled. Not forgetting this survey was announced in a Pakistani newspaper, I had assumed that as beneficiaries of Chinese â€œsupportâ€ those close to Pakistan would view the country favourably. Iâ€™m not pointing the finger, but perhaps I have to remember that 50 per cent of respondents were from India. Reasons for Chinese evil were offered as: bullying/manipulating itâ€™s neighbours (4 per cent); buying US bonds to blackmail USA in the future; her â€œpotentialâ€ energy policies; and 2 per cent thought China was evil for supporting Pakistan and North Korea. The main reason (when a reason was given) for Israelâ€™s evil was, as I suggested to the Israeli diplomat â€“ her treatment of Palestinians and the settlement situation. Others thought her relationship with India was evil, as well as her attitude towards her Arab neighbours. One person simply wrote â€œIsrael is the illegitimate child of the westâ€. I will pass the news on to my Israeli friend. All the other Evil places Twenty-two other evil nations were named and shamed (see below), and as readers snorted their derision, I internally flinched each time my own nation was mentioned. As a former British diplomat I was uncomfortable (to say the least) about the invasion of Iraq and our alliance with the USA, and the shameful â€œdodgy dossierâ€, but I had no idea that Britain was still blamed for so many ills of the world. One reader described Great Britain as â€œthe real â€˜monkeysâ€™ of Kiplingâ€™s â€˜Jungle Bookâ€™â€, and the UK was blamed for the situations in Kashmir, Iraq and Palestine. Partition was our fault as was â€œthe Arab-Springâ€. These are all claims that I am allowed to make as a Brit, but I realised how defensive I felt when someone else pointed the finger of evil. Perhaps I am beginning to understand what it is like to be a Pakistani! The one claim that really flummoxed me was the claim that Britain was evil for â€œdragging the US into World War IIâ€. I had honestly never, ever looked at it this way. As diplomatic scholars we are in awe of Churchillâ€™s strategic communications campaign to persuade America to come to our aid (see â€œSelling Warâ€ itâ€™s a fascinating read). Americaâ€™s last minute â€œrescue of Europeâ€ is seen as heroic â€“ saving us from a sure life of fascism under Nazi rule. But I guess if you had relations in Hiroshima you might feel differently. I am always grateful to have my own perceptions challenged. Media influencing opinion In all three previous articles on Iraq, Iran and North Korea, I wrote about how the media had influenced our perceptions of a nation. The findings appear to be that the more we rely on the news media to influence our opinions of a country â€“ the more negative they are likely to be. This discovery, from rather crude research certainly begs further research â€“ and perhaps more study needs to be done into domestic media and national self-esteem. I fear, as I always have that Pakistanâ€™s problems are exacerbated not only by external media reporting on the bad, but by an overwhelming negative self-reporting press. The problem with this survey I mentioned that this survey was crude â€“ hundreds of people responded, but as I said in the first scene-setting piece about Iraq, I was only able to access a hundred of the responses, which were also almost entirely comprised of readers from Dawn. The other accusation that could be leveled at me was that it was entrapment. I asked respondees to let me know what countries they considered as â€œevilâ€ and when they replied I shot them down in flames. I am not going to apologies for this, only ask you to query whether it really is possible for a whole nation to be considered as â€œEvilâ€. To sum up To see the CAPITAL LETTER anger directed at America is as disturbing as the lower case doom and gloom about Pakistan. To see that so many readers appear to go along with George Bushâ€™s outrageous claim that North Korea, Iraq and Iran were the axis of evil was distressing â€“ albeit that Iraq has largely been replaced with Pakistan. But perhaps the most disturbing reflection of how we feel about todayâ€™s world were the 10 per cent of respondents who were convinced that the world was getting worse, nuclear exchange was on the cards, or that the world was about to come to a nasty end. â€œHow useful is this?â€ doesnâ€™t even begin to address this. Many of you may be poised to point out that a British writer, who attends fancy conferences with Israeli diplomats may not have been exposed to the evils of the world, and is in no place to point out that â€œevilâ€ is not a useful rhetoric. Please take my word for it, I have witnessed evils, and quoting Thomas Hardy as I did on the first page of my book â€œIf a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worstâ€. There. We have done it. Now letâ€™s get on with a better path. Response in more details Evil countries by % respondents 56 per cent Pakistan (3 per cent said â€œbut itâ€™s the USAâ€™s faultâ€, and 1 said specifically â€œwest Punjabâ€) 32 per cent USA (2 per cent said allies of the USA) 21 per cent Israel 21 per cent China 19 per cent North Korea 16 per cent Iran 16 per cent Saudi Arabia 15 per cent UK 8 per cent Afghanistan 7 per cent India 6 per cent Russia 5 per cent France 5 per cent â€œAll Nato countriesâ€ 4 per cent Somalia 3 per cent Australia 3 per cent Iraq 3 per cent Burma/Myanmmar 2 per cent Europe/EU (1 per cent said â€œeven if Turkey is in itâ€) 2 per cent Germany 2 per cent Yemen 2 per cent Egypt 2 per cent Syria 2 per cent â€œThe Talibanâ€ 1 per cent â€œThe Arab Worldâ€ 1 per cent â€œSome Muslim countriesâ€ 1 per cent â€œThe Middle Eastâ€ 1 per cent Canada 1 per cent Bahrain 1 per cent Bangladesh 1 per cent Palestine 1 per cent Lebanon 1 per cent Denmark Some Evil acts/causes 22 per cent being a base/funder for violent extremism (17 per cent Pakistan, 6 per cent Saudi, 1 per cent Iran, 1 per cent India, 1 per cent Yemen, 1 per cent Palestine, 1 per cent Somalia, 1 per cent Afghanistan) 12 per cent misuse of power/military/being a bully 5 per cent the invasion of Iraq 5 per cent disregard for human rights/murder/torture 4 per cent the â€œsituationâ€ in Palestine/settlement policy/oppression of Palestinians 4 per cent China bullying/manipulating itâ€™s neighbors 4 per cent money â€“ if in doubt follow the money 4 per cent being a nuclear â€œthreatâ€ 4 per cent Pakistan for being week (!) 3 per cent the attack on Afghanistan (by US and allies) 3 per cent extreme maddrassas/corrupt education 3 per cent corruption 2 per cent French attacks on Libya 2 per cent Chinas support for Pakistan and North Korea 2 per cent thought UK is to blame for most conflicts of the world 2 per cent for being selfish and not making an effort to resolve regional and global conflicts 2 per cent killing own people (1 said Bahrain, 1 said Syria) 1 per cent on the war on terror 1 per cent a terrorist calling â€œAllahu akbarâ€ before blood-letting. 1 per cent India for supporting USA, UK and Israel 1 per cent Denmark for blasphemy 1 per cent Pakistan for blasphemy laws 1 per cent piracy 1 per cent oppressing their people (China) Perceived as evil: Pakistan, US, Israel & China | Blog | DAWN.COM --------------------------- If you ask me, I have a very simple thought on the issue. It really depends on who the question is posed to and what the question is. Is there anything like Axis of Evil? At least for me, no! Everyone is working in/for their own interests some way or the other. If those interests align, we stand as partners, if the interests dont converge but are in conflict, we either distance ourselves or deal with it in ways that it might harm the other, and when that happens, others tend to give names to it, be those whatever.