April 2023

Volume 34, Issue 2


The Putin Myth

Vladimir Putin’s reputation as a skillful leader was buoyed by years of economic good fortune. But when his regime faltered, his rule quickly descended into the fearful, repressive, and paranoid state we see today.

The CCP After the Zero-Covid Fail

The regime’s ill-fated policy to eliminate covid from China spurred the largest protests in a generation. It also made Xi Jinping’s challenge of maintaining authoritarian control over Chinese society even harder.

Why Monarchies Still Reign

Oppositions in monarchies don’t have to stage revolutions to win freedom: Monarchies are as compatible with democracy as they are with autocracy. The challenge for those who would remove a king is not to fall for the promises of reform that never come.

The Rise of Sportswashing

The staggering global popularity of soccer makes it a prime target for regimes that worry about the negative press they get for their undemocratic practices. The Gulf monarchies have led the way in getting into the wide world of sports as a means of cleaning their image.

The Iraq Invasion at Twenty


Iraq’s Mafia State

Although Saddam fell twenty years ago, the politicians who have come after him still think like Baathists. But a new generation has begun making itself heard. It believes in Iraq as a nation and it understands democracy as more than a source of spoils to be divided among groups.

The Iraq War and Democratic Backsliding

The global democratic decline of the last two decades is rarely discussed in the same breath with the 2003 decision by the United States and Britain to invade Iraq. But the roots of our present disorder can be traced to that disastrous and foolhardy war of choice.

Iraq’s Struggle for Democracy

Iraq today is more of a democracy than most people think, but still less of a democracy than it could be. While its future is uncertain, one thing is not: It will be determined by Iraqis.

Documents on Democracy

Zelensky’s speech on the first anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion; “Us–You–Them” by Ukrainian author Haska Shyyan; Belarusian human-rights defender Ales Bialiatski’s Nobel lecture; Activist Lhadon Tethong’s testimony on human-rights abuses against Tibetans in China; Activist Miriam Atahi’s remarks on women-led protests against Taliban rule in Afghanistan.