David Frum

07.02.12

The Troublemaker Countries

William C. Martel, a professor at Tufts' Fletcher School, says there's a new Axis rising. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela all have a common interest in defying Washington:

Several principles govern the foreign policies of the axis states. The first is reflexive opposition to the United States.
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Another principle is apparent fealty to rules. Whether it’s the United Nations or other institutions, members of the axis claim to support international rules, but they actively oppose efforts to impose them.
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Finally, these states practice the simple, yet effective, policy of supporting and protecting each other—no matter what.
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They also have a tendency to threaten, and on occasion to invade, their neighbors.

Most of these nations are "on the wrong side of history" and survive by exploiting fear. The West should respond by emphasizing the strength of its values and simply outlasting them:

The first step is for the democracies and their allies to identify the problem—and they must remember that axes emerge as a normal event in geopolitics.
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Knowing that, the West’s countervailing strategy rests on three principles. First, identify regularly what the authoritarian states do, say, and stand for. Transparency is a powerful antidote to authoritarianism. Second, emphasize the power of the values of democracy, freedom and free markets, and human rights as the basis for true prosperity and power. Third, be prepared to engage the authoritarian states on the “playing fields” of democracy and freedom. If recent history is any guide, these authoritarian regimes in the long term are unlikely to survive —a reality they likely understand.