It’s no longer an “axis of evil,” now it’s an “axis of autocracy”!
The ideological reason is that these countries also share a commitment to illiberal rule in a relatively liberal age. Admittedly, we have not gone back to the 1950s, when the ideological conflict between Washington and Moscow took on global dimensions. Marxism-Leninism no longer provides the core of the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, as it did in the days of Stalin and Mao. But Russia, China and Iran are all autocratic regimes that see themselves fighting for influence and even survival in a world in which the leading power is a democracy and democratic values are still pre-eminent. Strategic and ideological resistance thus go hand-in-hand.