The strongman syndrome

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been praising Donald Trump, who has been returning the favor.   When it was brought up that Putin has a habit of killing his critics, Trump said that our country also does a lot of killing.  (See details after the jump.)

It isn’t just that the two have a mutual admiration society going.  David Ignatius says that Trump is America’s Putin.

I think what we are seeing is the strongman syndrome.  Democracies, by their nature, make for weak central governments and so have trouble “getting things done.”   So when things get bad, at some point, the very people who constitute the democracy, turn to a “strongman” to solve their problems, even though he will also do away with their rights.

This happened with the Greek democracy and the Roman Republic.  It happened when the French revolution turned to Napoleon and when the Russian revolution turned to Stalin.  It happened again after the fall of Communism, when the Russian people turned away from the messy democracy they had been trying in favor of the authoritarian Putin.  It happens regularly in Latin America.  Isn’t this what is happening in this country with the popularity of Donald Trump? [Read more...]

Zombie democracy

Christopher Walker tells how authoritarian governments are trying to make themselves seem legitimate by constructing a facade of democracy, complete with (fixed) elections, (controlled) news organizations, and even government-sponsored non-governmental organizations, such as human rights groups, election monitors, and environmental groups–all of which work to make the dictators look good and are wreaking havoc in the U.N. and international conferences. [Read more...]

Universities partnering with dictators

That blind Chinese dissident who was under house arrest for opposing forced abortion and escaped to the United States was given an academic appointment at New York University. But it’s being pulled now, some say because the university wants to open a satellite campus in China.  Jackson Diehl tells of other major universities that seem willing to throw out their commitment to academic freedom in order to land lucrative deals with dictatorial regimes. [Read more...]


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