In recent years, as leading authoritarian countries such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela have become emboldened within the global arena, challenging the liberal international political order, the advanced democracies have retreated rather than responding to this threat.
Today’s authoritarians are using “sharp power” to project their influence internationally, with the objective of limiting free expression, spreading confusion, and distorting the political environment within democracies.
As explained in the essays that follow, kleptocracy has become a potent threat to the integrity of democracy around the globe.
Although the leading authoritarian regimes are today integrated in many ways into the global system, they have not become more like the democracies; instead, they have been devising policies and practices aimed at blocking democracy’s advance.
“New media” may generate a lot of buzz, but authoritarian regimes are proving disturbingly adept both at counteracting them and at using more traditional media to help themselves hang on to power.
A review of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy by William J. Dobson