By Gideon Rachman

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a “democratic wave”. Political freedom spread from its traditional bastions in western Europe and the US — and countries as diverse as Poland, South Africa and Indonesia turned democratic. But now the process seems to have gone into reverse. An authoritarian wave that began outside the established democracies of the west has spread to the US and Europe.

By Gideon Rachman

Donald Trump’s travails with his “Muslim ban” make it easy to dismiss the whole idea as an aberration that will swiftly be consigned to history by the judicial system and the court of public opinion. But that would be a misreading. The ban on migrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries was put together clumsily and executed cruelly. But it responded to a hostility to Islam and a craving for security and cultural homogeneity that is finding adherents across the western world — and not just on the far right.

By Gideon Rachman

For the most ardent supporters of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump was a mixture of vindication and salvation. The president of the US, no less, thinks it is a great idea for Britain to leave the EU. Even better, he seems to offer an exciting escape route. The UK can leap off the rotting raft of the EU and on to the gleaming battleship HMS Anglosphere.

By Gideon Rachman

The man from the BBC was laughing as he reported the White House’s false claims about the size of the crowd at Donald Trump’s inauguration. He should have been crying. What we are witnessing is the destruction of the credibility of the American government.

By Gideon Rachman

The questions surrounding Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia are lurid and compelling. But they are distracting from a more important and more dangerous story: the growing signs that the Trump administration is heading for a clash with China — one that could even lead to military conflict.

By Gideon Rachman

James Jesus Angleton, who ran counter-intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1954 until 1975, once described his world as a “wilderness of mirrors”. The heads of America’s intelligence agencies must have felt a similar sense of surreal disorientation, when they briefed Donald Trump last week. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

America is used to setting global trends. But long before Donald Trump vowed to “Make America Great Again”, China, Russia and Turkey had already established the fashion for nostalgic nationalism.

By Gideon Rachman

So which is it to be: “hard” or “soft” Brexit? Maybe neither. There is a third possibility that is little discussed but increasingly likely: “train-crash Brexit”. In this version of events, the UK and the EU fail to agree a negotiated divorce. Instead, Britain simply crashes out of the EU — with chaotic consequences for trade and diplomatic relations.

By Gideon Rachman

Donald Trump seems to have brought the techniques of Twitter to the construction of his government. “Trolling” on Twitter is defined as “making a deliberately offensive online posting with the aim of upsetting someone”. In this spirit, Mr Trump has placed a climate-change denier in charge of environmental protection, an opponent of the minimum wage as labour secretary, a conspiracy theorist in charge of the National Security Council and a protectionist at the commerce department. The pièce de résistance could be the appointment of Rex Tillerson, a recipient of the Kremlin’s Order of Friendship, as secretary of state.

By Gideon Rachman

Europe’s fightback against populism was going well for a couple of hours. On Sunday afternoon, it emerged that the far-right candidate had lost the Austrian presidential election. But the good news from Austria was drowned out by bad news that same evening, from the other side of the Alps. Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, had lost his referendum on constitutional reform and confirmed that he will resign.

Donald Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen was a massive break with established policy – which will be greeted with shock in Beijing. When the US re-established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, it also severed diplomatic links with Taiwan. Since then there have been no direct conversations between the leaders of the US and Taiwan.

The stakes involved in the triangular relationship between Taipei, Beijing and Washington could not be higher. The Chinese government has repeatedly stressed that it is prepared to go to war, rather than accept Taiwanese independence. The US, while it does not promote the independence of Taiwan, has also promised to resist any attempt to incorporate Taiwan into China by force. I have personally witnessed a conversation between Chinese officials and high-ranking Americans, in which the US side has said openly that a Chinese attack on Taiwan would lead to war between the US and China. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

People who are worried by the prospect of President Donald Trump are often reminded of the checks and balances in the American system. The US president is not a dictator. He is constrained by the constitution, the courts and the Congress.

By Gideon Rachman

This time last year, I wrote that “I have a nightmare vision for 2017: President Trump, President Le Pen, President Putin.” So, after Donald Trump’s victory, the next question is whether Marine Le Pen can indeed capture the French presidency?

By Gideon Rachman

What is going on between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump? That question hung over the US election. Now that Mr Trump has won the presidency, the question of his relationship with the Russian leader assumes global significance.

Labeling a politician a fascist is not usually helpful. The word is chucked around so much that it has lost most of its explanatory force. As long ago as 1944, George Orwell wrote that – “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless …I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting … Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek … and I do not know what else.”

And yet, this US presidential election has seen some of America’s most prominent political commentators describe Donald Trump as a fascist. So does the Republican candidate deserve this description? Might America, indeed, be on the brink of electing a fascist as its next president? Read more

By Gideon Rachman

From Moscow to Manila, Beijing to Budapest, Ankara to Delhi, the nationalist “strongman” leader is back in fashion. If the US elects Donald Trump next week, it would be following an international trend, not leading it.

Could the 2016 presidential election, once again come down to Florida? To judge by the two candidates’ travel schedules – it certainly might. Over the past week, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both been campaigning hard in the Sunshine State.

I went to see Trump speak at Orlando-Sanford airport on Tuesday afternoon. Several concerned friends told me to take care at the Trump rally – assuming it would be full of angry, violent racists. As it happens, I did not find the atmosphere particularly threatening. This was partly because the audience was extremely geriatric (see photos). Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are criss-crossing America in the last frantic weeks of the presidential election campaign. But events will not stand still, while “America decides”. On the other side of the world, the US has just suffered a significant strategic reverse.

By Gideon Rachman

The assault on the Iraqi city of Mosul that began this week underlines the fact that the next three months will be a perilous period in international politics. Fighting is intensifying in the Middle East. Tensions are rising between Russia and the west. And relations between China and its Asian neighbours are getting edgier. All this is happening while the US is diverted by the Trump-Clinton melodrama and the transition to a new president.

By Gideon Rachman

How did it come to this? The presidential election debates should represent US democracy at its finest. Instead, the second Clinton-Trump debate centred around sordid allegations of sexual assault, threats, lies and mutual contempt.