Arthur Herman in today’s WSJ writes about Russia and the New Axis of Evil
With Russian tanks now presiding over the dismemberment of the Republic of Georgia, can a lame-duck Bush administration — weary from its long drubbing by critics over Iraq and eyeing the exit door — rise to the challenge Russia has chosen to pose to the Free World?
To understand the nature of this challenge, consider that the distance between Baghdad and Tbilisi is barely 578 miles, less than the distance between New York City and Chicago. Iraq and Georgia, both of which have democratic governments, are sandwiched between Iran and Russia, two of the most authoritarian governments in the world. Russia has been collaborating with Iran to strengthen the latter’s nuclear program and its military. It is also steadily arming Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez.
Russia’s invasion of Georgia came exactly one month after Iran test-fired its Shahab III intermediate ballistic missile in order to intimidate neighbors like Israel and Iraq, and two weeks after Mr. Chávez traveled to Moscow to formalize a “Strategic Alliance” with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. Meanwhile, Iran’s proxies remain the principal threat to peace in Iraq — while on the other side of the world, evidence mounts of Mr. Chávez’s links to the terrorist group FARC, which threatens neighboring Colombia.
Coincidence? Iraq, Georgia and Colombia are battlegrounds in a new kind of international conflict that will define our geopolitical future. This conflict pits the U.S. and the West against an emerging axis of oil-rich dictatorships who are working together to push back against the liberalizing trends of globalization. One of their prime objectives is toppling or undermining neighboring, pro-Western democracies.
Herman explains in his article what Iran, Russia and Venezuela have in common, and asks, “What can the U.S. and a new president do?”
A broad strategy of targeted economic sanctions and multilateral diplomacy, backed by U.S. military power — together with a determined effort to push down oil prices by expanding supply and strengthening the dollar — can introduce a note of sober realism to the strategy of this new axis, and force them to realize how limited and vulnerable their source of money and power really is.
However, the most important strategy right now is to secure democracy’s vital new flanks — Iraq, Georgia and Colombia. By shoring up and strengthening, rather than abandoning all three governments, the U.S. will send a clear signal that liberty, not tyranny, is the wave of the globalizing future.
In today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern, my guest Jason Poblete and I will talk about the challenges this presents to the US, and will preview the upcoming Republican National Convention.
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