Authoritarian powers across the globe remain a significant threat to liberal democracies and to liberalism as a global phenomenon. This authoritarian threat is vast and multivalent. On a military level, the threat includes seizure of land, war, and exhibitions of dominance. On a level of coercion, the threat includes pressurization and persuasion through political and economic means. On a disruptive level, the threat includes undermining political power, propaganda, and cyberattacks. Authoritarian principles like boundless power and personal rule are disseminated as normal and desirable. The threat also includes rupturing ties within democratic alliances. These threats face nearly every western liberal democracy. On many levels, and in many places, it has already come into effect. Liberal democracies must engage with and respond to their authoritarian rivals in constructive ways. They must shield against and put off the vast threat that is posed to them by the presence and ascendance of authoritarian states and ideas.
Authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin are wrong to think that their regimes will dominate the future and liberal democracies will somehow die out. Right before the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Putin said he thinks western liberalism is obsolete. But many western leaders countered his statement by pointing out that Russia has a slow, static economy and depends upon fluctuating oil production for government revenue. They also pointed out that Putin has recently needed to deal with growing civil resistance. They retorted that Putin, like other authoritarian leaders, would love to see western liberal values die out since democracy and human rights already jeopardize his position as a leader and his capacity to control his people.