"The embattled tsar." (Mladen Antonov / AFP / Getty Images)

Russia’s Farcical Mutiny is Deadly Serious for China and Iran

July 2, 2023


The striking point about the past year is that all three members of the new Heartland Axis are afflicted with internal problems. It’s not just that a mercenary warlord could march on Moscow apparently unimpeded. Last year, the Iranian regime was rocked by the protests that followed the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, just the latest bout of popular unrest following episodes in 2009, 2012, 2017, 2018 and 2019. And the Chinese Communist Party was forced to abandon zero-Covid in the face of a wave of student protests — not the first time in Chinese history that Beijing undergraduates have challenged the country’s leadership. All in all, this is pretty heartening for Team Biden. It would appear that the major authoritarian regimes are afflicted with the usual pathologies of unrepresentative government. 

But what if democracies are also vulnerable to such internal crises?

Niall Ferguson is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the author, most recently, of “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.” He is the founder of Greenmantle, an advisory firm, FourWinds Research, Hunting Tower, a venture capital partnership, and the filmmaker Chimerica Media. @nfergus

Originally published in Bloomberg.

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