Axis of Evil 2.0
The tendency to call various non-democratic aggressive regimes the Axis of Evil began long ago, but chiefly for journalistic purposes. The Axis of Evil included several regimes under sanctions, which supported terrorism and had the status of outcasts in the international arena. Some of these regimes fell due to internal uprisings and revolutions (e.g., Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya) or after foreign interventions (Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq), but most continue their existence.
Recently, however, the situation in the world has begun to change. First, the Russian Federation, which was long considered part of the civilized world after the collapse of the USSR and was part of the G8 along with the leading democracies, gradually embarked on a path of confrontation with the West and building a rigid autocracy. It completed the process with military aggression against Ukraine. Today, Russia is confronting the West using purely terrorist methods: nuclear blackmail, terror against the civilian population of Ukraine, and war crimes.
Second, there is a significant divide between the West and China. Although China has never been a democracy, it has long played the role of an important economic partner of Europe and the United States, which was supposed to serve as a safeguard against mutual aggression. Recently, however, the United States and China have been in a confrontation that is only intensifying. Beijing is seeking to regain control of Taiwan, a longtime partner of the United States. Similarly, China is becoming increasingly tied to Russia, from which it receives resources and supplies technology and weapons.
Finally, Iran, having been under sanctions for a long time, has not weakened but has managed to build its powerful military-industrial complex. Tehran is actively producing missiles and kamikaze drones. Russia is vigorously using the latter during its aggression against Ukraine. In addition, Iran is close to developing its nuclear weapons, which will immediately make it even more dangerous to the world.
Although the rogue regimes of the recent past, such as North Korea, continue to exist, they are not the ones beginning to form a new Axis of Evil. It includes much more powerful and dangerous states for the civilized world.
The Axis of Evil Is Already a Reality
Currently, there is no official international treaty in which Russia, China, Iran, and a number of their satellites (from the DPRK and Belarus to Hamas) would ally. However, in practice, this is not necessary. They align in interests and common enemies. Iran has long opposed the West. Russia began this confrontation not long ago, and China does not officially oppose the West, but its relations with Brussels and Washington have long been problematic. All of these states seek to challenge and weaken the West's influence on the situation in the world.
At the same time, they can help each other. Iran has serious military technologies that it actively shares with Russia. Iran can also destabilize the situation in the Middle East, relying on several terrorist organizations (from Hamas to Hezbollah) to which it supplies weapons. Russia and China can provide Iran with diplomatic cover through the United Nations Security Council, where both states have veto power. China can provide all its partners with almost unlimited access to high-tech products needed for the weaponry production. If not directly, then through China's longtime satellite, the DPRK. In addition, China is a major buyer of Russian resources, which provides Moscow with a steady stream of revenue to continue the war in Ukraine. Russia can also provide its partners with some technological goods. For example, it can supply Iran with airplanes and nuclear technology. Finally, all regimes can exchange specific experiences in conducting military operations in modern conditions.
As already mentioned, all the main participants of the so-called Axis of Evil have many regimes dependent on them, through which they can provide each other with assistance or organize terrorist acts without being directly involved. This gives them additional flexibility and the ability to engage in complex diplomatic games.
Guardians of the West
In his latest State of the Union address, U.S. President Joseph Biden equated the Hamas terrorist organization with the Russian Federation led by Vladimir Putin for the first time. Both Hamas and Russia seek to destroy neighboring sovereign democratic states.
Such statements indicate a change in the minds of Western elites. Previously, they sought to deny the terrorist nature of the Russian regime and wanted to separate all the numerous military conflicts, aggressions, and acts of terrorism that were taking place in the world. When Russia launched its military aggression against Ukraine, the model for Western governments was a constant desire to deter escalation and negotiate with Russia. Assistance to Ukraine was provided with delays and in small amounts so as not to provoke escalation. Illusions persisted that the situation could somehow be "frozen" to prevent the expansion of the conflict zone and instability. However, reality has shown that this approach was wrong.
The brutal terrorist attack on Israel showed that the West not only failed to manage the conflict between Russia and Ukraine but also missed the moment when the conflict became global. There would not have been an attack on Israel if Iran had not supported Hamas, and Iran would not have supported Hamas if it had not recently become significantly stronger due to active cooperation with Russia and China.
While the West has tried to ignore the connection, numerous non-democratic regimes have been uniting, finding new partners, strengthening military cooperation, and becoming much more prepared for a global conflict. Over time, their readiness will only increase.
Therefore, it is unreasonable to turn a blind eye to these problems. Just as the so-called Axis of Evil is uniting its resources and forces, so should the civilized democratic world. The situation can only worsen tomorrow, and a new world war will become a reality. That's what Joe Biden meant when he called for the development of a new world order, which should stem from the unification of the civilized world in the face of common challenges based on effective mechanisms rather than old, incapable of real action organizations. The example of the Ramstein format, where most of the civilized world has united in support of Ukraine, demonstrates the potential for jointly addressing pressing issues. It is necessary to increase concrete, joint interaction to repel common threats.