Russia and China send a message: History's back

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Writing in The Financial Times last week, Chrystia Freeland recalled Francis Fukuyama's 1989 essay"The End of History?" - which trumpeted the definitive triumph of liberal democracy. The great nightmare tyrannies of last century - the Evil Empire, Red China - had been left behind by those inseparable twins, freedom and prosperity. Civilization had chosen, and it chose us.

So much for that thesis. Surveying the Russian military rout of neighboring Georgia and the spectacle of China's Olympics, Freeland, editor of The Financial Times's American edition and a journalist who started her career covering Russia and Ukraine, proclaimed that a new"Age of Authoritarianism" was upon us.

If it is not yet an age, it is at least a season: Springtime for autocrats, and not just the minor-league monsters of Zimbabwe and the like but the giant regimes that seemed so surely bound for the ash heap in 1989.

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