Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Freedom Stages a Comeback

Freedom Stages a Comeback by Walter Russell Mead
Excerpt: Pity the world’s struggling despots. Just when everything seemed to be going their way, life got messy. China appeared poised to tighten its grip on Hong Kong last summer with the infamous extradition bill. That hasn’t quite panned out. Not only have the protesters kept their movement alive in the face of relentless hostility from Beijing; they humiliated the Chinese Communist Party in local elections in November by taking majorities in 17 out of 18 district councils. Meanwhile in Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, whose re-election prospects seemed doubtful last summer, swept to a landslide victory Saturday as voters embraced her party’s determination to defend Taiwanese freedom from an increasingly menacing mainland. In Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro’s thuggish regime had enjoyed some success in repressing Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as the legitimate president of Venezuela by more than 60 countries. But last week regime pressure failed to keep the National Assembly in line and 100 of its 167 members defied Mr. Maduro to support Mr. Guaidó’s re-election as the assembly’s president. Tehran’s attempts to gain greater regional hegemony haven’t gone smoothly either. In Iraq, anti-Iranian protests shook up the political system late last year. Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed militias killed hundreds of demonstrators but failed to quell protests in the strongly Shiite south against political corruption and Iranian influence. Lebanon has seen its own wave of protests also aimed at a corrupt political elite and Iranian influence.(At least we see glimmers of light in the world now and then. --Del)

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