The Banality of Putin and Xi

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We instinctually ascribe political and strategic genius to the authoritarians of the world. One American commentator described Putin as a “grandmaster of chess” when it comes to strategy. But anyone that acts as a tyrant over the people of their country, and causes the pain and suffering of a war, is no genius, writes Yaron Brook and Elan Journo. No death toll can truly capture the devastation that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and their ilk inflicted upon the world. The engineered Great Famine in Ukraine (Holodomor), the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, and the Killing Fields of the twentieth century should have taught us to evaluate dictators properly. But, depressingly, many politicians and intellectuals persist in misreading dictators.

How the West got Russia and China Wrong
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For example, when Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran was rising to power, he found admirers among Western intellectuals. In 1979 Richard Falk, a professor of inte…

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