There will be no honeymoon for Barack Obama on the Axis of Evil. Though Obama campaigned on a promise to talk to American enemies whom George Bush had once shunned, including erstwhile members of his Axis of Evil—Iran, North Korea and Iraq—they responded by pre-emptively hardening their bargaining positions. North Korea welcomed Obama by saying that it had not agreed to fully open its nuclear sites to international inspection, even though the Bush administration said it had. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad backtracked from a warm letter he'd sent to Obama by demanding last week that Washington furnish "mutual respect"—in other words, an assurance Obama won't seek regime change and will accept Iran's nuclear program.
Having an American enemy provides Iran and North Korea with an excuse to pursue nuclear weapons, and a way to divert attention from economic woes at home. But they're not the only ones raising the ante on Obama. Russia promised to station missiles in Belarus if Obama does not rescind Bush's plan to station an antimissile shield in Poland. And Qaeda leaders—whom Obama has offered nothing except a promise to bring them down—tried to dampen Muslim enthusiasm for the president-elect by dismissing him as a "house Negro."
So the prospect of early breakthroughs with America's rivals is dimming even before Obama takes office. For the world's anti-American regimes, Obama is not change they can believe in.