from Asia Unbound

Ill Winds: A Review

China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin attend a signing ceremony during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China on June 10, 2018. Aly Song/Reuters

October 31, 2019

China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin attend a signing ceremony during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China on June 10, 2018. Aly Song/Reuters
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Renowned democracy expert Larry Diamond argues in his sweeping new book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency, that there are multiple major threats to democracy today, a time when authoritarianism is on the rise and democracy has been regressing, globally, for more than a decade. After briefly offering an overview of how effective democracy should work, Diamond ticks off a list of these threats. He counts China under Xi Jinping and Russia under Vladimir Putin as two of the greatest dangers to democracy worldwide, in part through their expanded ability to wield power within other countries’ political systems and societies. Diamond further argues that U.S. democracy is rotting from within, due to apathy, polarization, gerrymandering, increasing flows of political money, and other factors—and that a weakened United States is unable to stand up for democracy both at home and around the world. Diamond’s book, which comes along a raft of other new works on the global democratic crisis, offers a thorough and bracing analysis of the worldwide challenges to democracy today, and many recommendations for addressing rising authoritarianism. But he pins the biggest blame for this global democratic recession on China and Russia, devoting much of the book to the challenges from Moscow and Beijing. For more of my review of Ill Winds, see the review in the Washington Monthly.

More on:

Russia

China

Democracy

Influence Campaigns and Disinformation

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