Op-eds

An Authoritarian Axis Rising?: Op-Ed by Prof. William Martel

The Diplomat

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

It takes time for societies and policymakers to understand that a major shift in global affairs is afoot. But what we see clearly, in recent months, is the emergence of a new constellation of powers.

Such a concert of nations can only inject turmoil into the international system. It is a relatively new phenomenon that represents a radical shift in international politics, perhaps as momentous as the Soviet Union’s collapse two decades ago. By coordinating their policies, this grouping of powers is beginning to profoundly reshape global affairs, especially in the Asia-Pacific, Indo-Pacific, and Eurasian regions.

Who are the members of this group? Today, it includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.

Why does it exist? Fundamentally, this new axis signals growing anxiety on the part of its members that they are “behind the curve” of history. Simply put, these states are on the wrong side of history, politics and economics – and they know it.

Its members share certain characteristics that raise questions of how it is, precisely, that they and their peoples missed the curve in building democratic states and free markets.

Most worrisome of all: we see strong evidence that they actively coordinate their foreign policies. Such coordination appears to be a relatively recent development that coincides with Vladimir Putin’s return to Russia’s presidency.

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