Is the ‘Virus’ the New ‘Axis of Evil’?

Feb 16, 2009
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Is the ‘Virus’ the New ‘Axis of Evil’?

Today’s idea: Venezuela, Iran and Russia together pose a serious threat to American objectives worldwide, a foreign affairs scholar writes, dubbing the combined peril the “Virus.”

World | You’ve heard of the “axis of evil” — Iran, Iraq and North Korea — George W. Bush’s rhetorical packaging of three nations with little in common but their pariah status.

Now consider a triple threat with a more plausible unifying rationale, writes Sean Goforth of the Foreign Policy Association: the “Virus,” for Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

Summarizing years of provocative and shadowy actions, Mr. Goforth says the anti-American “axis of unity” forged by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 is made “more menacing, and more impervious to Western opposition” by Russia’s backing in the form of arms deals, political support and (in Iran’s case) nuclear assistance. He sees method in the alliance for all concerned:

The Virus is a political pact that bolsters military capacity and extends diplomatic cooperation to magnify regional influence. Russia yearns to renew its superpower status, becoming once more a key variable in any international calculus. Iran and Venezuela seek regional preeminence with global relevance, allowing each to be a global power broker on a selective basis.

Until recently, each nation was handily checked by Western-backing, be it Israel, Colombia, or NATO. But in league, the threat posed by the Virus is greater than the sum total of its parts. Power centers emanating from Venezuela, Iran and Russia have expanded and fused, threatening the regional stability that Western allies have provided. The Andes, Middle East, and Eastern Europe have become powder kegs as a result, with cash, arms, and—between Latin America and the Middle East at least—insurgents flowing between regions.

Viewed in this light, chances of enlisting Russian support for tough sanctions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions are slim indeed, Mr. Goforth writes.

But antagonism only “justifies more arms purchases and feeds anti-American rhetoric,” he adds, counseling instead “savvy diplomacy that breaks the bonds between its constituent members, which is a realistic objective because Venezuela, Russia, and Iran don’t share deep-seeded cultural or economic ties.” [Foreign Policy Association]

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