Skip to main content
and now the hard part

And Now the Hard Part

How to Reverse the Global Drift Toward Authoritarianism


Activists of the Ukrainian far-right party National Corps salute
Activists of the Ukrainian far-right party National Corps salute
Activists of the Ukrainian far-right party National Corps salute and chant slogans as they rally next to the Ukrainian president's office in Kyiv on March 16. Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

Brookings President John Allen on why autocrats are rising and what to do about it.

Autocrats and populists are on the march around the world, including in European countries that were seen until recently as firmly in the democratic camp. The phenomenon, coupled with the deepening of authoritarian tendencies in already-repressive Russia and China, has prompted worries that liberalism itself may be waning.

This week on And Now the Hard Part, we trace the roots of the problem and talk about how to fix it.

“As we emerged from the Cold War, I think there was a legitimate reason for us to believe that … democracy would be institutionalized around the globe,” said John Allen, a retired four-star general and the president of the Brookings Institution. 

[But] in the last few years, we have seen a real slip … in the context of both the attractiveness of democracy and the endurance of democratic institutions.”

Allen is our guest on the podcast this week. Listen to the episode on this page or subscribe and download wherever you get your podcasts.


About And Now the Hard Part:  The world is a particularly confusing and daunting place these days: Russian bots, North Korean nukes, trade wars and climate emergencies. To understand it better, Foreign Policy and the Brookings Institution are teaming up for an 8-part podcast series. On each episode, host Jonathan Tepperman and a guest from Brookings discuss one of the world’s most vexing problems and trace its origins. And then, the hard part: Tepperman asks the guest to focus on plausible, actionable ways forward. Jonathan Tepperman, Foreign Policy’s editor in chief, hosts the podcast. The guests are some of the smartest and most experienced analysts around—all scholars from the Brookings Institution, including former government and intelligence officials.  See All Episodes


More And Now the Hard Part episodes:

How to Boost the Economies of Africa

Brookings scholar Landry Signé on why the continent underperforms when it comes to trade and what can be done about it.

How to Manage North Korea

Brookings senior fellow Jung H. Pak on why the United States has failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and what to do about it.

How to Repair Venezuela’s Shattered Economy

Brookings scholar Dany Bahar on how the crisis unfolded and what to do about it.

Other Foreign Policy podcasts:


First Person

Each week, one guest whose experience illuminates something timely and important about our world.

I Spy

I Spy

Spies don’t talk—it’s the cardinal rule of the business. But here at Foreign Policy, we get them to open up. On I Spy, we hear from the operations people: the spies who steal secrets, who kill adversaries, who turn agents into double agents. Each episode features one spy telling the story of one operation. Want swag? Check out I Spy's merch by clicking here.


To learn more about creating a podcast with us, contact Andrew Sollinger at

Loading graphics