Afraid of the answer, the autocracies are understandably pushing back, with some effect. Autocracy is making a comeback. The modern liberal mind at "the end of history" has trouble understanding the enduring appeal of autocracy in this globalized world. But changes in the ideological complexion of the most influential world powers have always had some effect on the choices made by leaders of smaller nations. Fascism was in vogue in Latin America in the 1930s and '40s partly because it seemed successful in Italy, Germany and Spain. The rising power of democracies in the last years of the Cold War, culminating in communism's collapse after 1989, contributed to the global wave of democratization. The rise of two powerful autocracies may shift the balance back again.We now know that simply trying to talk with China and Russia or hoping to liberalize China's political freedoms by giving the the Olympics or trading with them will not be enough to stop China's support for tyrannous governments throughout the world or to grant more political freedoms to their own citizens. We're now involved in a new type of cold war and it is time to start recognizing it.
Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, welcomes the return of ideological competition. "For the first time in many years," he boasts, "a real competitive environment has emerged on the market of ideas" between different "value systems and development models." And the good news, from the Kremlin's perspective, is that "the West is losing its monopoly on the globalization process."
All this comes as an unwelcome surprise to a democratic world that believed such competition ended when the Berlin Wall fell. It's time to wake up from the dream.
Last night Professor Bereket Selassie from UNC came to speak at our school on conflicts in the Horn of Africa and he was making the point that China had invested deeply throughout Africa and was propping up several dictators. Europe and the United States are way behind in this respect and thus the future of Africa will be a story of Chinese involvement and western frustrations. It is time that we wake up to this new reality. And does anyone think that Putin's Russia will be following any different plan?