The myth of Vladimir Putin is no more. With no victory in sight in Ukraine, he can no longer claim to be the sharp, wily, tactical genius who wins wars and keeps the Russian economy afloat. He has revealed himself to be as hapless as many power-hungry autocrats before him, and his regime has no response but greater repression to extend his reign.
Plus: How women are spearheading a nationwide uprising in Iran; why Xi Jinping’s zero-covid policy will haunt the CCP for years to come; how the Gulf monarchies are using “sportswashing” to gloss over their abuses; and 20 years later, what did the Iraq War accomplish?
- Years of economic good fortune buoyed Vladimir Putin’s reputation as a skillful leader. But when the regime faltered, Kathryn Stoner explains, his rule descended into the fearful, repressive, and paranoid state we see today.
- Today’s protests against Iran’s corrupt theocracy are different from past protest waves. Asef Bayat explores this movement to reclaim life and asks if Iran could be on the verge of another revolution.
- Beijing’s ill-fated zero-covid policy not only spurred massive protests, writes Lynette H. Ong, it also made the challenge of maintaining authoritarian control over Chinese society even harder.
- Oppositions in autocratic monarchies don’t have to stage revolutions to win freedom; monarchies are as compatible with democracy as they are with autocracy, explains Adria Lawrence. Yet some kings desperate to keep the throne may promise reform but never deliver.
- Gulf monarchies have spearheaded the rise of “sportswashing.” Sarath K. Ganji details how they invest in popular international sports like soccer to turn attention away from their undemocratic practices.
- Complaining about parties and politicians is common everywhere. But, argue Rodrigo Barrenechea and Alberto Vergara, troubled Peru has devolved into a cautionary tale for what a democracy without established parties and professional politicians can look like.
- Chilean voters overwhelmingly rejected a draft constitution that did not reflect their values. They want a new charter, not a new country, write Eduardo Alemán and Patricio Navia.
- The 2022 Freedom House survey found that global improvements in freedom nearly equaled global declines, report Yana Gorokhovskaia, Adrian Shahbaz, and Amy Slipowitz. Is democracy poised for a comeback?
- Kelley E. Currie, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council, reviews Beijing’s Global Media Offensive by Joshua Kurlantzick.
The Iraq Invasion at Twenty
- Iraq still functions like a mafia state, observes Kanan Makiya. But a new generation of Iraqis understands that democracy is more than a source of spoils to be divided among groups.
- The global democratic decline of the last twenty years is rarely discussed together with the 2003 decision by the United States and Britain to invade Iraq. Emma Sky explains how the roots of our present disorder can be traced to that disastrous choice.
- Iraq today is more of a democracy than most people think, but still less of a democracy than it could be. While its future is uncertain, writes Marsin Alshamary, one thing is not: It will be determined by Iraqis.
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