In China and Russia, a 'Springtime for Autocrats'

Is the Age of Authoritarianism upon us?
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2008 2:36 PM CDT
South Ossetian refugees pass through a customs checkpoint in Upper Zaramag, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008.    (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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(Newser) – The autocratic world powers that were crumbling in the late 1980s may yet have their day, and sooner than we think, writes executive editor Bill Keller in the New York Times. As China keeps its stranglehold on free speech despite promises to the IOC, and Russia tests how far it can push the West in Georgia, "It is at least a season: Springtime for autocrats," writes Keller.

Vladimir Putin's personal grievances, grown during decades of belittling by the US, may be fueling some of Russia's recent aggression. But no one in Europe seems to know how to deal with the "reinvigorated autocracy," as Keller calls Russia, and now China is looking more like its Soviet neighbor. If the Cold War is returning, writes Keller, the tables may be turned: "History, it seems, is back, and not so obviously on our side."