Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

2022: The year the good guys struck back

By Michael Hirsh

19 Dec 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

After years of rising authoritarianism and xenophobic populism, FP unpacks how 2022 will be remembered as the year democracy was strengthened. But they warn "a long struggle lies ahead."

2022 started off with the most devastating blow to the liberal international order since World War II: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brazen invasion of neighboring Ukraine, a sovereign democratic state. Despite the many horrors of that war, the year is ending with Putin’s utter humiliation by Ukrainian forces. Led by its heroic president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s dedication to preserving “the flame of liberty”—as U.S. President Joe Biden described the bloody struggle—has all but ensured Putin’s marginalization and, very probably, his future irrelevance in world affairs. Putin’s Ukraine debacle is shaping up to be the worst defeat for imperial Russia—and today’s Russia must be called that—since Tsar Nicholas II saw his navy destroyed by a newly rising Japan in 1905.

That’s hardly the only good news this year for democracy, which has made something of a comeback after a decade in which authoritarianism and populist xenophobia were rising around the world and many leading democracies seemed to be badly malfunctioning. Those menacing trends persist, but liberal democratic values have managed to reassert themselves on a number of other fronts.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content