Today it is not an iron curtain but a red carpet that marks authoritarians’ ascendancy across the globe. In contrast to the vigorous defense of democracy and human rights that has long characterized American leadership, the defining feature of President Donald Trump’s recent 12-day Asia tour was his eagerness to embrace dictatorial leaders, provided they welcomed him with lavish parades and festivities. Such a retreat from global leadership harms American interests and sets the stage for future crises as authoritarianism grows stronger across the world. The threat posed by today’s dictators and would-be dictators is nearly as great as in 1946, when Winston Churchill gave notice to America that Central and Eastern Europe were falling under the veiled fist of the Soviet Union. Yet unlike during the Cold War, when America rallied to lead the free world in defending democratic institutions, however imperfectly, today’s repressive regimes advance unchallenged. In China, where President Xi Jinping has consolidated power to a degree not seen in decades, President Trump was effusive in his praise, describing the “incredibly warm” feelings he has for President Xi and complimenting him as “a very special man.” Given such language it is not surprising President Trump conceded to the Chinese in refusing to allow the press to ask questions following a joint appearance. In the Philippines, President Trump went even further, exclaiming the “great relationship” he has with President Rodrigo Duterte – a man who has endorsed extrajudicial killings in his country’s fight against drug trafficking. President Trump also said nothing when Duterte, at one point during a meeting, pointed to the press and called them “spies.” Finally, President Trump closed his trip to Asia by showing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertions that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 election, saying “every time he (Putin) sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” Though he later walked back this statement, President Trump’s refusal to confront Putin for attacking our country epitomizes his preference for appeasing