Lumping US adversaries into a single-headed monster is a paranoid delusion used as to fuel militarism.

by Daniel Larison, Responsible Statecraft

George W. Bush smiling at some event

While it is true that there has been some increased cooperation between these four governments, it is dangerous and misleading to suggest that they form anything resembling a close alliance or coalition. If the U.S. were to “act accordingly,” as Adm. Aquilino recommended, it would risk driving these states much closer together and creating the very axis that U.S. officials fear.

Aquilino’s phrasing is revealing. When he said, “we’re almost back to the axis of evil,” that seems to suggest that he thinks there was a real one that serves as a model for the current group. The first “axis of evil” that George W. Bush denounced in his 2002 State of the Union address was made up of three states — Iran, Iraq, and North Korea — that were united only by Washington’s hostility to them. Iran and Iraq had long been enemies and remained so at the time, and North Korea was added to the mix so that it wouldn’t be entirely fixated on predominantly Muslim countries. These states weren’t working together, and two of them were opposed to each other.

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