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  • Author: Giorgi Badridze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: One of the fundamental problems of international relations is that people from the countries whose political system is based on the rule of law and human rights often do not understand the logic of conduct of authoritarian regimes. Incidentally, this is equally the case with the relatively conservative and completely liberal observers. Such misunderstanding has, on many occasions, produced catastrophic outcomes. The most vivid illustration of this is the 1930’s policy of appeasement. Despite the facts that Nevil Chamberlain was motivated by the noble goal of averting the war, the wrongful assessment of the Hitler regime brought about the bloodiest war in history. In this paper, I will attempt to evaluate some aspects of Russian foreign policy which, in my humble opinion, are misunderstood in the West and have resulted in serious complications for Russia’s neighbors and the West itself and which continues to represent a clear and present danger. Naturally, I do not intend to diminish the achievements of generations of brilliant diplomats, analysts and political leaders whose wisdom, vision and courage contributed to many triumphs of Western civilization in its struggle with tyrannies. Today, the world needs precisely the type of leaders who would be ready to see the reality that the ideals of human dignity, freedom and democracy are again under threat and that they must be defended.
  • Topic: International Relations, Authoritarianism, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Indian democracy is flawed, but pessimists claiming that Modi will crush all dissent, abandon secularism, and make India a Hindu state have been proved wrong. India’s constitution guarantees democracy, civil liberties, and secularism. But fears of India becoming a Hindu authoritarian state have been voiced after Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in New Delhi in 2014. The party’s Hindutva philosophy—the creation of a great Hindu state—envisages a Hindu state where citizens with other religious beliefs are tolerated but have second‐​class status. It lauds military toughness. Earlier governments were reluctant to retaliate militarily against Pakistan for fomenting terrorism in Kashmir, but Modi has responded twice with military strikes, gaining popularity as a strongman. In Muslim‐​majority Kashmir, which is claimed by Pakistan, Modi has abolished the state’s constitutionally guaranteed autonomy, arrested top local politicians and activists, and locked down the state. Meanwhile, a Pew Research Poll in 2017 suggested that most Indians would support military or authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Authoritarianism, Hinduism, Narendra Modi
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India
  • Author: Anthony Bubalo
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia show the risks in betting on the stability of autocratic regimes in the region. Despite the Arab uprisings of the last decade, most countries in the Middle East remain in the grip of autocrats, with a widespread view that this is the 'default setting' for the region. However, an examination of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism has been revived, reveals both regimes are struggling for popular legitimacy. Increasingly reliant on repression, these regimes risk provoking civil unrest, and external powers should reconsider their assumption that autocracy guarantees stability in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Authoritarianism, Political stability, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Egypt
  • Author: Lydia Khalil
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has emboldened Beijing to expand its use of digital technologies in the name of public health and safety. From mass surveillance, tracking intelligence, and internet censorship to the use of social credit systems, augmented data-collection capabilities, and big data, China’s new normal exposes and expands encroachments on civil liberties. The pandemic has provided a ‘proof of concept’, but China’s actions in the new digital landscape extend beyond managing its own pandemic response and controlling its own citizens. China is aggressively pursuing global technological dominance by investing in its indigenous tech sector and exporting technological surveillance tools. The reach of Chinese-engineered and monitored social control systems has wide-ranging implications, with current pandemic conditions serving as the justification for a significant increase in state surveillance, the adoption of digital authoritarian tools, and the deterioration of privacy and civil liberties.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Intelligence, Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Surveillance, COVID-19, Civil Liberties, Social Control
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The North Korean government response to the coronavirus has been extreme, but prudent and reasonable in context. It has closed the border to China almost entirely to both goods and people though surely some transports are still getting through. No travel is allowed to or from China although there must be exceptions to this rule as well. The state (under the banner of the Red Cross, whose branch in North Korea operates as a government entity) has dispatched people around the country to inform people about the virus. No reports have been confirmed at this time of writing, but exile journalists based in South Korea have reported several deaths from the virus from North Korea. Its actions have been blunt and all-encompassing, mainly because the state lacks the necessary capacity to act differently. North Korea doesn’t have the sort of equipment required to monitor people coming from China or to test people at the pace required.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Authoritarianism, Border Control, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Yaroslav Shevchenko
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are certainly the two most prominent authoritarian regimes in the world today, with their quasi-alliance characterized as an “axis of authoritarians” and portrayed as a major threat to the West and global liberal democracy. However, despite unmistakable similarities that exist between Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, the reality is far more complex. Their respective responses to the COVID-19 crisis shed some light on differences between the political-governance models of these two countries.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Economy, Crisis Management, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Political leaders could abuse the coronavirus crisis to undermine democracy. Europe’s biggest risk is Hungary. In late March, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán could use his two-thirds majority in parliament to push through a law that would empower him to rule by decrees with no specified time limit. If he succeeds, it will undermine the European Union’s core principles, making the EU even more fragmented and difficult to manage once the pandemic is over.
  • Topic: Government, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary
  • Author: Jacob Blanc
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
  • Abstract: A dictatorship-era torturer is suing one of his victims in Brazil in a stark reminder of how Bolsonaro emboldens rights abusers.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Torture, Authoritarianism, State Violence, Dictatorship
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Amaney Jamal, Michael Robbins, Salma Al-Shami
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Arab Barometer
  • Abstract: Youth economic frustration across MENA is increasing ▶ Youth have little trust in governments, which are widely viewed as being corrupt, leading to a potential crisis of legitimacy in the region ▶ However, views of youth differ relatively little from older generations in this regard ▶ Youth are more likely to want to emigrate and to participate in informal politics ▶ Arab publics, including youth, generally affirm women’s equal rights but less accepting of their equal roles in society
  • Topic: Corruption, Human Rights, Public Opinion, Authoritarianism, Women, Democracy, Youth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa