Foreign Policy Digital

America’s Silence Helps Autocrats Triumph

Without the support of the U.S. government, pro-democracy forces around the world will wither as authoritarianism gains ground.

Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has made many gains. But the fate of freedom is now hanging in the balance globally. With astonishing courage and resolve over the last several months, ordinary citizens in Algeria, Sudan, Venezuela, and Hong Kong—in numbers and creativity that nearly defy comprehension—have shown that aspirations for democracy did not die with the implosion of the Arab Spring in 2013 or the relentless, bullying rise of a neototalitarian China.

In the face of sometimes brutal and even deadly state repression, the courageous mobilization of ordinary citizens, standing up for their rights, should inspire all of those who live in established, liberal democracies. At the same time, the ill winds of strongman populism, intolerance of minorities, and readiness to eclipse constitutional norms—which have already eviscerated democracy in countries such as Hungary, Turkey, and Bangladesh—now cast a shadow over the future of democracy in the Philippines, Poland, and India, particularly with the recently reelected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s

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