In Iran in the mid-1990s, the U.S. and its (former) European allies had successfully created a republican (with small "r") movement in Iran that was poised to reduce, if not completely replace, the power of the mullahs. That republican movement in Iran was crushed virtually overnight by Bush's "Axis of Evil" State of the Union address in 2004.
That reference to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "Axis of Evil" is a frightening case study of how policy is made in the Bush administration. In his insiders' account of the U.S. preparations for the invasion of Iraq, Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward recounts how the term "axis of hatred" was included in the State of the Union address by Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson after asking conservative author David Frum "to come up with a sentence or two summing up the case for going after Iraq." Gerson changed "axis of hatred" to "axis of evil." Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley then suggested including Iran and North Korea by name, in order to "protect" the secrecy of then ongoing Iraq war planning. (See Plan of Attack, pages 86 to 91.)
Bush's mention of Iran as part of an axis of evil thus was a small part of a major speech that had no input from the professional diplomats at the State Department or the spymasters at the CIA. But this small part had major repercussions inside Iran, where the terms of political debate shifted in the mullahs' favor literally overnight, derailing the republican movement that had been slowly and painstakingly nurtured over nearly a decade. This is just one country. For the full story read - How Bush Lost the World