When former President George W. Bush coined the term “Axis of Evil” to refer to the nations of Iran, No. Korea, and Iraq in his 2002 State of the Union speech, his comments were largely derided. Even in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center just a few months previously, Bush’s juvenile comments were seen as jingoistic hyperbole about three countries that posed no real threat to the United States.
At the time of Bush’s speech, Russia was a vastly-diminished power. China was viewed as an emerging economic powerhouse with no military ambitions. As for Iran, it was causing problems on a small scale in its realm of influence, but it was al-Quaeda and Osama bin Laden who had planned the 9/11 attacks.
But times have changed. Twenty years later, there has been a substantial realignment in the world order. Russia has re-emerged from the ashes of the former Soviet Union to pose a military threat in Eastern Europe (though Vladimir Putin’s army has been shown to be a paper tiger). China has expanded its military presence and capabilities dramatically under Xi Xinping. The Iranians under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have undertaken the development of.a nuclear weapon and are the sponsors of various terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis (who are in Yemen), who are causing chaos throughout the Middle East.
What all three of these nations have in common is that they are run by unyielding tyrants: Putin, Xi, and Khamenei are brutal rulers who essentially have become dictators for life. There is not even a pretense of democracy in their countries and dissent of any kind is met with arrests, beatings, torture, sham trials, long jail sentences, and even death — and that’s just for expressing an opinion critical of their government’s policies.
Ukraine and Israel presently are bearing the brunt of the assaults by these dictatorial regimes, with Taiwan poised to be next in line.
Understandably, Americans do not want to become involved in these conflicts, especially after we only just ended our own long war in Afghanistan. But the simple reality is that freedom isn’t free and this unholy trinity have been supporting each other, financially, militarily, and in other ways, to undermine America and our allies.
Fortunately, President Joe Biden and the vast majority of members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, recognize that we must do whatever we can to thwart this new Axis of Evil. The inconvenient truth is that only America can lead the free world against the forces of oppression. Burying our head in the sand is not an option.