Staunton, July 24 – In his State of the Union address in January 2002, then-US President George W. Bush said Iran, Iraq and North Korea constituted “an axis of evil” because of their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Now, a Moscow newspaper says, the US Congress has dropped Iraq from the list and put Russia in its place.
In an article today entitled “The US Congress has Included Russia in the World ‘Axis of Evil’ Together with Iran and North Korea,” a group of journalists at Kommersant says that the House of Representatives has taken this step because of its opposition to a whole range of Russian actions (kommersant.ru/doc/3365795).
These include, the paper says, Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, its intervention in the Donbass and Syria, its attacks on the cybersecurity of the United States and other countries, a pattern of actions that House leaders say constitutes evidence that Moscow “by various means is threatening its neihgbors and trying actively to undermine American interests.”
Not surprisingly, the Moscow paper speculates about how the Trump Administration will likely try to get around any measure the Congress passes and how Moscow may make use of this action, scheduled for a vote tomorrow, to exploit US-EU tensions and to bring a case against Washington at the World Trade Organization.
But it acknowledges that the House measure which the Senate is likely to approve as well and which President Donald Trump, because of his domestic political difficulties, will have no choice but to sign not only strengthens the West’s sanctions regime against Russia but makes the a matter of law rather than policy, thus restricting Trump’s freedom of action.
What the article doesn’t say but clearly suggests is that the inclusion of Russia on the “axis of evil” countries is something that will deeply offend most Russians and will only underscore the failure of the Kremlin to achieve a change in American policy by its interference in last year’s US elections.
Moreover, this article does not mention something that may matter even more for the future. For the first time since the early years of Gorbachev’s times, American media outlets and American politicians are now routinely referring to Russia as “a hostile foreign power,” a sea change for which Vladimir Putin has only himself to blame.