Tyler Cowen gave a talk here on Monday night arguing that the myth of the rational autocrat is ending. The world experienced a nice period where many autocrats behaved semi-rationally and could be dealt with. There is no reason to think that pleasantness will continue, however.
Exhibit A is Europe’s biggest thorn in the side, Vladimir Putin. He was in Egypt yesterday bearing gifts. Here he is offering President Al-Sisi a Kalashnikov. I’m not sure why this was the gift he chose, but I have a hard time swallowing the manufacturer’s new PR campaign to rebrand the rifle as “a weapon of peace.”
And what did Putin get in return? For starters a lot of manufactured adulation and press, something he is probably not getting as much of at home these days. The streets were lined with his photos and the state-run newspaper praised his “glowing intelligence.” Ha! “Glowing” is a curious adjective to have chosen. Here is Pooty-poot glowing all around Egypt!