Thursday, September 15, 2022
Life Is an Accident of Space and Time
Why the U.S. Is Being Ominously Compared to Hungary and Turkey A conversation with Max Fisher, who covers the decline of democracy around the world.
Opinion: Putin is fooling no one -- certainly not Xi In Samarkand, Putin will undoubtedly keep up his triumphant, self-assured demeanor -- but that will fool no one, certainly not Xi, who must be deeply worried about the astonishing collapse of Russia's forces in northeast Ukraine....... Not only is Russia humiliated, Ukraine exuberant, and the West united, but even China, which still expresses support for the Kremlin, is making statements that embarrass Russia. ........ Russia confirmed Xi and Putin would meet on the sidelines of the summit for "very important" talks. China has confirmed Xi's trip, but its foreign minister on Tuesday declined to confirm a meeting with the Russian president. ........ The relationship between Xi and Putin was never one of equals, but now Putin is encountering Xi during one of the most disastrous moments of his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. He will likely seek more support from Xi, who has been generous with words but much less with deeds. ......... China has been reluctant to break the sanctions, or step in to provide a major boost to Russia's dwindling military supplies. If it had, Putin could have avoided the awkward spectacle of seeking weapons from Iran and North Korea, minor, if aggressive powers. .......... Putin needs Xi much more than Xi needs Putin, and that imbalance has grown far greater since their last meeting. ........ he Russian president's suppression of all criticism about the war has taken an expected turn. Those who opposed the "special military operation," have gone to prison, exile or have mostly fallen silent. But now some of the war's most vocal supporters are fuming, enraged by the military's poor performance. (They even call it a "war" -- a word that could not previously be uttered without some consequence.) ........... A strongman cannot afford to be weak, and Putin knows it. ........ For now, there's no chance that Beijing will discard its unofficial alliance with Moscow, even if Russia is a greatly diminished power. Xi wants to be the leader of a global front opposing the US-led liberal democratic order. To do that, he needs to line up support from nations large and small. And Russia remains an important, nuclear-armed nation. ........... Next month, China's Communist Pary will hold its twice-a-decade party congress. Xi, China's most powerful figure since Mao, is expected to secure an unprecedented third term amid a sharp economic slowdown, made worse by his extreme zero-Covid policy. The possibility of a global recession, heightened by Russia's gas wars against Europe, would hit export-reliant China very hard.
Why the U.S. Is Being Ominously Compared to Hungary and Turkey A conversation with Max Fisher, who covers the decline of democracy around the world. ....... That democracy is declining more or less everywhere now. Not necessarily in every country but in every region, in rich and poor countries, old and new democracies. And the decline is incremental but steady, which means that the scale of the change isn’t necessarily obvious until you start looking at the data. ......... What happens is more like what has occurred in Venezuela, say, or Turkey or Hungary. Elected leaders rise within a democracy promising to defeat some threat within, and in the process end up slowly tearing that democracy down. ......... more democracies are in decline today than at any other point in the last century. .......... The United States fits pretty cleanly into what is now a well-established global pattern of democratic backsliding.