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viernes, 2 de marzo de 2018

DANIEL VAUGHAN: A New Axis of Evil is Threatening America

The Axis of Evil was a phrase coined by President George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address, describing why Iran, North Korea, and Iraq posed direct threats to the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, these nations continued to take hostile actions towards the United States and the world.

The phrase was widely mocked, almost to the extent that Mitt Romney was ridiculed for suggesting Russia was the most significant geopolitical foe to the United States. While the Iraq portion of the Axis of Evil was defeated, Iran and North Korea are thriving and working together in Syria. And Vladimir Putin’s Russia is flaunting its nuclear ambitions to push the U.S. and NATO out of Europe and the Middle East. In short, a new Axis of Evil has formed, and this one is more lethal.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is the center of the new axis. His veto power, along with China, in the United Nations Security Council effectively lets him block anything meaningful from happening. He’s now touting new weapons capable of evading U.S. missile defenses and recently declared, “Efforts to contain Russia have failed.” As the Wall Street Journal notes, the message he’s sending is clear:

The Russian president seemed to be sending a message that if the U.S. expands its defenses against ballistic missiles, Russia can circumvent them…

Putin and his allies call this a “strategic balance” in the world. What it means is that he’s trying to force NATO and the U.S. out of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Putin’s missile message is intended to convey that the U.S. shouldn’t send any arms, aid, or support to countries near his border.

While Putin handles the macro level, countries like North Korea are clinging to life by selling chemical weapons information, technology, and supplies to dictators willing to use them, like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, along with Hezbollah and Iran. A secret UN report claims North Korea has sent fifty tons of material to Syria to build a chemical weapons factory. Not only that, but North Korea has helped Syria’s nuclear ambitions in the past:

Pyongyang helped build the Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli midnight strikes in September 2007. That facility was thought to be a near duplicate of North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor. In their confidential report, U.N. investigators identified more than 40 shipments of material for use in arms production and other banned weapon programs from North Korea to Syria’s unconventional weapons group. The last one was sent just a few weeks ago, the investigators wrote.

North Korea’s second Middle East ally: Iran. The Iranians have deals and relationships with the North Koreans going back to the 1980’s, as the two have shared information and resources. As North Korea has successfully grown into a nuclear-power, Iran has copied their playbook.

Fresh off the Obama administration’s Iran Deal, the Iranians are using a new influx of cash to bolster relationships with North Korea and build up their terrorist organization Hezbollah. In turn, Iran is working with Russia to keep Syria destabilized and prevent U.S. forces and allies from gaining a grip in the region.

Each country — Russia, Iran, and North Korea — looks out for the other and ensures each country’s survival. China also plays this game but is more constrained because they enjoy the economic benefits of the West. And while the economies of these countries aren’t robust, they’ve developed a way to move money, supplies, and people across borders to meet their military and defense needs.

As President Bush declared in 2002, the price of indifference to these countries would be catastrophic:

By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.

The United States cannot afford for Russia, Iran, or North Korea to become state arms dealers for terrorists, dictators, and enemies of the U.S. or her allies. North Korea poses direct threats to South Korea, Japan, and U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean. Iran poses an immediate threat to Israel and U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. And Russia is helping them all.

We need to continue enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. Getting China to enforce current sanctions is driving North Korea into an economic crisis in 2019, potentially on par with the catastrophe they faced in the 1990’s. We also need to do more to prevent North Korea’s criminal enterprises abroad.

The Iran Deal poses the same risks as our nuclear deals with North Korea, buying Iran time and resources to develop nuclear arms. Detering Iran involves cutting off their funding and resources, the same as North Korea.

And finally, on Russia, we must contain them within their borders until Putin’s reign comes to a close. The decision to move tanks and other arms into Ukraine is a wise move by the Trump administration and would help Ukrainians stand up to Russian influence. That includes continuing to build up and reinforce the Baltic states through NATO.

It’s time for America to recognize its enemies abroad and react accordingly. Treating Iran and North Korea with indifference helped create the dangerous world we have today. We cannot afford to continue this indifference and allow a new axis of evil to run the world.


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