Israel and the Axis of Evil 2.0

WORLD CLASS ENABLERS As we all know, George W. Bush uttered these words in his January 2002 State of the Union speech. He singled out Iraq, North Korea and Iran and their quest for weapons of mass destruction as the members of this “axis.” Eleven years later, it might be useful to see how it is doing, and how it affects not only the United States but also one of its staunchest allies, Israel.

Iraq never had weapons of mass destruction, but it was attacked anyway. Now, with Saddam gone, Iraq appears to be an even smaller player on the world stage. The Sunni/Shia bloodlust continues unabated, and a Yugoslavian-style breakup of the nation seems inevitable. As a threat to Israel, Iraq has been removed from the front lines. Malaki does not offer cash rewards to the families of suicide bombers who strike Israel. While relations between Iraq and Iran are far more cordial than before, they have not approached the level of military and external-policy cooperation that would give cause for real alarm.

North Korea holds down the “evil” fort with a firm foundation of military provocations, nuclear proliferation and all-around aggressive diplomatic behavior. If the central intelligence agencies of the Western world took the Kim dynasty seriously they would have leveled the place long ago. As of now, the world stands powerless against a madman armed with atomic weapons, unable to act and save itself from potential nuclear attack. Behind North Korea stands China. No amount of missile launches, prison construction or A-bomb development and testing seems to test their patience. China is either helpless or hopeless when it comes to reining in North Korea. It can be characterized as an enabler.

Last comes Iran. From Israel’s point of view, this is the head of the axis of evil. No nation on earth has threatened another in the manner in which Iran has threatened Israel. The U.S. certainly seems concerned with Iranian nuclear development, as do the Europeans. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, thus choking off the world’s oil.  Iran is the sole support for Syria’s despot. Iran is a promoter of Shia discontent in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It is a strong supporter of Hamas. Hezbollah could be accurately labeled as Iran’s military wing in Lebanon. Iran is the all-around axis-of-evil poster child.

Yet who is behind the evil in Iran? How does this second-world nation aggregate so much power? Two powers come to mind: China and Russia. The real puppeteers behind the comic and absurd Ahmadinejad are Putin and now Xi. At every turn they build and operate his nuclear plants, arm his revolutionary-guard forces. They supply him with the latest weaponry to bolster air defenses and supply ballistic-missile technology. On top of that, China views the world sanctions as a gift to sell Iran the goods and services it needs to keep the economy from collapsing while taking advantage by buying its oil at a deep discount.

Not to be outdone, the Russians help hack into dissident e-mail accounts, support Iran at every U.N. turn and, by keeping the Syrian slaughter alive, highlight Iran’s influence. Additionally, through threatening Israel with retaliation for any attacks on Syria and naval saber rattling in the Mediterranean, Moscow has sent a message that the cost to Israel in protecting itself from Iran will be high.

What is true here is that the real axis of evil dares not speak its name. The named axis countries are in fact only proxies for a larger evil that seeks to disrupt and counter American, Israeli and European interests. Without Russian and Chinese support, neither North Korea nor Iran would last out the year. To put it succinctly, the “axis of evil” has morphed into the largest bloc of political power opposing Western interests since the Cold War.

I am sure those who need to know this, do. What would be better is if the citizens of the affected countries did too.

About the Author
Jonathan Russo has been observing Israel and its policies since he first visited in 1966. He is a businessman in New York City.