Axis of weasels
The phrase "axis of weasels" is a derogatory term for certain European states that did not support the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, specifically France, Germany and Belgium.
The phrase is derived primarily from France's actions during United Nations debate on the threatened U.S. invasion of Iraq. In English slang, a weasel is a person who acts duplicitously or hypocritically. France had expressed strong opposition in the United Nations to an invasion of Iraq and had threatened to veto a proposed resolution against Iraq if it were voted upon. Belgium and Germany joined with France and thus were included in the group.
The phrase originated in a satirical item written by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace, his satirical blog, on January 22, 2003. Two days later, the New York Post used it in the main headline: AXIS OF WEASEL - GERMANY AND FRANCE WIMP OUT ON IRAQ. Ott's satirical item was spread widely by email, misleading some readers into believing that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had really referred to France and Germany as an "Axis of Weasels." Ott later used the phrase as the title for a book (ISBN 0-9761414-0-X).
The term is a conscious pun made on President George W. Bush's term "axis of evil", which he used in the 2002 State of the Union address to decry Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. "Axis of evil", which was coined partly by Bush speechwriter David Frum, became a contemporary meme and used in a wide variety of contexts. The word "axis" itself comes from the World War II term "axis powers" — Germany, Italy, and Japan — a label Germany and Italy had originally given to themselves.
Coverage in France
The French media translated the phrase as "axe de faux jetons" (literally, an "axis of fake gambling chips", though its figurative meaning is "axis of devious characters").
- Anti-French sentiment in the United States
- Cheese-eating surrender monkeys
- Freedom fries
- Axis of evil