This witty and interesting piece is impressive on many levels. It represents a creative interpretation of the assignment and shows the highest level of craftsmanship. (Witness the amount of code devoted to ensuring flowing syntax in the labels.) It is also suited to a shared-source project, since the program itself holds surprises. Skimming the code, you may at first think the "world.gif" image is simply the map in the applet's background--but it's something more.
Your piece is very entertaining. It seems that the ties that bind axes of evil are very loose indeed. My axis of Germany, France and Spain was held together by Olympic judo Silver medal winners. Your code was very elegant -- searching through the code, there are no drawing routines that create the countries or axes. All of the connection is made through palette manipulation of a single image. I think this adds a nice layer of commentary onto the piece -- these labels we place on countries have nothing to do with their intrinsic nature, but are merely our minds imposing an imaginary order (in this case conspiracy) onto the planet.
Indeed, as Martin said, VERY competent programming, runs like a charm and is a pleasure to look at. I notice that Golan uses the "official" United Nations map projection, rather than a strict lat/lon projection. Don't you think it over-emphasizes Europe and Africa? I love the sense of humor (if you can call it humor) and the very "professional" code comments ("...and a secret handshake. Ours is wicked cool."). I also very much appreciate the content-driven approach. Sometimes the axis "description" is a little forced and redundant, but often it is quite funny, and certainly points to the redundancy of political agendas in the first place. The funniest descriptions depend on the countries one chooses. This highlights a certain property common to many interactive and generative pieces, it really matters what the user does. This is not a bad thing, I think it is ultimately very much the point.
Golan Levin: John wrote that 'the funniest descriptions depend on the countries one chooses,' and Scott has pointed out how tenuous the connections in the 'axes' can get. I think these comments are dead on, and point to the greatest weakness of the piece.