Book Review Number 19

19)  Ill Winds – Larry Diamond

The author is a recognized scholar on what makes democracies thrive as well as what makes them die. The central theme of this book is that democracy is under threat around the world and that the defense and advancement of democratic governance worldwide relies heavily on global leadership by the United States.

He makes the case that in this age of big data, the internet, and social media the very openness of liberal democracies makes them vulnerable to outside interference from authoritarian regimes. He discusses at some length the threat of subversion from Russia and China and details several such successful initiatives those two state actors have launched against not only the US but other democracies as well.

The author makes a distinction between the Russian and Chinese attitudes and objectives. While both focus on undermining confidence in democratic values and institutions their goals are not the same. He says that mostly Russia’s Putin is trying to regain standing as an equal on the world stage and is overcome with rage at the humiliation of the collapse of the Soviet Union. China’s Xi on the other hand is playing a long game pushing a national ambition for global economic and political dominance.

I actually just stumbled onto this book when I was browsing the library. The really most valuable part of it is that the author lays out what we need to do to win the war between democratic and authoritarian governance. I strongly recommend it as a contextual source of what is going on in the world today, how to re-enforce democracy, and especially how the US should relate to Russia and China.

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