The 2002 State of the Union and the Axis of Evil
In his first State of the Union address to the nation on January 29, 2002, President Bush presented both his justification and plans for the war on terror and made it clear that the war against the terrorists was just beginning.
These statements have since been referred to as the “axis of evil” charge. The president denounced North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as dangers to the rest of the world and warned that the United States would wage war against countries developing weapons of mass destruction. There were parts of his address that were later found to be untrue; for example the president stated, “Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants.”
The State of the Union address by Presidents of the United States is mandated by the United States Constitution. George Washington's first State of the Union was probably the shortest, only 833 words, which most likely took four to seven minutes to deliver. The longest State of the Union was by Harry Truman in 1946; his speech was over 25,000 words!
On May 14, 2002, the United Nations Security Council replaced sanctions on Iraq with “smart sanctions.” “Smart sanctions” were meant to allow food, medical supplies, and goods into the country while restricting any trade that could be used for military purposes. These sanctions were designed to force Iraq to comply with United Nations resolutions about weapons of mass destruction. At the time, it was estimated by the United Nations that the sanctions had resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Iraqi civilians.