Eye on the Middle East Jul/Aug 2006

Speaking before the British House of Commons on June 8, 1982, President Ronald Reagan gave his famous “evil empire” speech in which he affirmed the reality of evil in the world and insisted on solidarity and determination opposing the enemies of freedom.

In view of the threat of the evil empire (the Soviet Union), the president declared, “The emergency is upon us. Let us be shy no longer. Let us go to our strength. Let us offer hope. Let us tell the world that a new age is not only possible, but probable.”

In President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002, he coined the term axis of evil, which defined perfectly the enemy confronting free people.

He declared, “We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

Today another evil entity stalks the scene. It has been identified as the axis of terror. It is real, it is deadly, and it is a menace in the Middle East, with designs on global supremacy. With the rise of the ayatollahs of Iran and the belligerence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, totalitarian-leader wannabes have quickly followed Iran’s lead and joined its axis of terror.

Iran’s fellow travelers are Syria, elements in Iraq, the Hezbollah operating from Lebanon, and the Hamas terrorist government recently voted into power by the Palestinian people. Although much of the Arab world has distanced itself from Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel and the West (particularly the United States), the aforementioned have eagerly jumped on board with the most radical, outspoken regime in the region.

For Israel the threat is imminent. So much so that Israel has launched a surveillance satellite that will keep an eye on the development of Iran’s nuclear facilities and military movements. Especially disconcerting for Israel is the alliance between Iran and the Hamas government that flaunts the same goal: the annihilation of the Jewish state and its people.

On the day before the observance of Holocaust remembrance in April, Iran’s president called for Jewish people to get out of the Middle East and go to Europe. Israel’s very existence, he said, is illegitimate. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said, “Of all the threats we face, Iran is the biggest. The world must not wait. It must do everything necessary on a diplomatic level in order to stop its nuclear activity.” He added, “Since Hitler we have not faced such a threat.”

Despite all of the talk about progress, tolerance, understanding, and moderation, there is evil in this world. It is a perpetual presence that unfortunately will not diminish but intensify as we approach the end of the age. President Reagan was correct in calling the Soviet Union an evil empire. President Bush was right when he identified Islamists and their supporters as an axis of evil. Now we, together with Israel and our allies, face an axis of terror.

The words of our late president, Ronald Reagan, still resonate:

If history teaches anything, it teaches that self-delusion in the face of unpleasant fact is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma….What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

The full story of evil on this planet has not yet been written. Thankfully, God is writing the last chapter.

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