Mahathir's Exit Strategy

For better or worse, Asia owes much of its collective face to a handful of authoritarian, single-minded leaders. They were possessed of a clear idea of where they wanted to take their countries—usually to economic nirvana—and of a supreme self-confidence that they knew best how to get there, even if it meant trampling on liberties along the way. As these strongmen saw it, for many Asian states the stakes were simply too high to take a chance on unbridled freedom: potential unrest in China, the specter of communism in Indonesia, the risk of being overshadowed by a neighbor like Singapore, the...

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