If there was a formal declaration of war against the post-cold war threats of the 21st century it came in President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, in the famous “Axis of Evil” speech and the president’s declaration that he would not wait for threats to materialize.
The national and international media scorned the phrase and made it the point of jokes and satires. The speech warned of development of weapons of mass destruction by the axis: North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Bush was correct on all three accounts: the North Koreans were well on their way, the Iranians were developing, and evidence now clearly illustrates that the Iraqis were waiting to restart. The president also warned of state sponsorship of terrorism and the state terrorism that the subjects of these nations faced daily. He was right in every sense of the word. The media frenzy continued for years over the “undiplomatic language” (another falsehood made by those who don’t understand the purpose of diplomacy).
Compare this to the near silence concerning the latest axis, the so-called “Axis of Resistance.” Adopted in 2010 by Iran as a vehicle to destroy Israel, the term encompasses the forces of Iran, Hezbollah (Iran’s para-military proxy in Lebanon), Bashar Assad’s Syria (Iran’s new proxy) and Hamas (Iran’s Palestinian proxy). As Bush’s “Axis of Evil” demarcated a new grand strategy of the United States, so does the Iranian axis, which uses the Syrian conflict as the testing ground. Its tactical purpose is to pressure Iraq, and its operational goal is to cause harm to Israel and the United States. This is all within the strategic goal of uniting Muslims under a single cause. Many consider Russia to be a supporting member, at least and as long as Russian geo-strategic goals are served.
Following the shooting down on Feb. 10 of an Iranian drone and the loss of an Israeli F-16 following Israeli strikes against Syria, the media gave limited mention to the “Axis of Resistance phrase,” but with little depth or discussion of purpose or motivation.
Political Cartoons on Iran
Iran has mobilized its own forces, its proxies and Syrian services to create a powerful network to threaten Israeli security. Iran and Syria have been instrumental in transferring greater amounts and more sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah, utilizing the fighting in Syria as a real-world training ground for future conflicts. The world was so mono-focused on the Islamic State group and the Syrian civil war that it continued to ignore Iranian strategic moves and intentions that go well beyond an Assad victory. In fact, we may come to view the Syrian Civil War as merely phase one of an overall Iranian plan to dominate the Middle East and wage war against Israel, culminating in an attempt to blunt or even drive out the American presence from much of the region.
Related to this is an Iranian attempt to gain access to the Mediterranean. If this new axis is allowed to metastasize, it could become powerful enough to intimidate American allies in the region to retract support for American foreign policy goals. It joins Iranian realist geo-strategic goals of regional dominance, with anti-Western (particularly anti-Israeli and anti-American) ideology.
The “Axis of Resistance” poses a direct threat to the national interests of the United States and should be treated as a fundamental priority. It has no place in the international arena, and the movements and regimes that are its supporters are by definition illegitimate. In the past, the United States allowed Syria to dominate Lebanon; it now needs to decide if it is acceptable for Iran to dominate Syria, coerce Iraq and wage war against Israel.
If the Nazi-fascist-militarist axis of the 1940s was anathema to American interests and values, then this axis, worshiping at the altar of tyranny, conquest and theocracy is just as evil.