[FOUNTAIN]The union and the axis

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[FOUNTAIN]The union and the axis

The State of the Union address is a message to Congress from the U.S. president about domestic and foreign policy. The message is usually sent early in the year when a new session of Congress begins. The State of the Union addresses are one of three regular presidential messages to Congress, but they attract more attention than the other presidential messages because they deal with issues that all Americans and the world are interested in.

Actually, a number of important U.S. domestic and foreign policies were presented through State of the Union addresses.

The Monroe Doctrine, which warned European powers not to meddle in the Western Hemisphere and is still a principle of American foreign policy, was enunciated in a State of the Union address in December 1823 by James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president. President Woodrow Wilson enunciated his Fourteen Points, his formulation for a peace program at the end of World War I, in his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1918. That speech also triggered the March 1, 1919 anti-Japanese uprising here.

In his State of the Union address in January 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt unveiled his "Four Freedoms" principles.

Of course, not all presidents used these addresses to formulate foreign policy. Peacetime presidents mainly focused on domestic issues.

Bill Clinton did so. Most of his eight State of the Union addresses focused on reforms in the U.S. economy, education and social welfare. He was helped, of course, by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan's "evil empire."

George W. Bush is urging Americans to focus on outside enemies in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Mr. Bush declared that the year 2002 is the "year of war." He designated North Korea, Iraq and Iran as members of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address on Jan. 29, 2002, triggering a strong reaction from those three countries and from other quarters.

Because the State of the Union messages by other U.S. presidents had great effects on the establishment and execution of U.S. foreign policies, Mr. Bush's "axis of evil" comment and declaration of a "year of war" are especially harsh. His "axis of evil" formulation is being criticized as oversimplified and overly aggressive inside the United States as well as in Europe. Mr. Bush, whose State of the Union address has been called the most aggressive in U.S. history, has begun a trip to Northeast Asia. It will be interesting to see what conclusions he reaches after his trip.

The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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