The Atlantic Daily: How Much Authoritarian Creep Will Countries Tolerate?

Earlier this week, the leader of Belarus forced a plane to land because of an exiled dissident on board. The event could give other dictators around the world a new tool of oppression.

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Earlier this week, a commercial plane traveling through Belarusian skies was forced to land under orders from the country’s strongman leader. The pilots were told that the emergency rerouting was because of a bomb threat. Except no bomb was on board: just an exiled dissident, who was detained upon landing.

Alexander Lukashenko’s brazen move is a test for the international community. How much authoritarian creep will other countries tolerate?

  • Authoritarians around the world are watching. Anne Applebaum argues: “Others will seek to use [this new tool of oppression], if only because it sends a message to their dissident and exile communities: You are not safe.”

  • The West is failing Belarus. “Since December, we haven’t had any sanctions; we haven’t had any high-profile meetings,” the country’s opposition leader told our reporter Yasmeen Serhan via Zoom.

The rest of the news, in three sentences:

(1) President Joe Biden is pushing  for the United States to investigate the origin of the coronavirus—which means considering the lab-leak theory. (2) Nine are dead after a shooting in San Jose, California. (3) Jeff Bezos’s empire grows: Amazon is buying the studio MGM.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

“Certain types of movies just play better on TV after you’ve already seen them three or four times,” David Sims writes. “One such film is Molly’s Game.” Rent it online.

Find more comfort movies worth streaming on David’s list of 25 feel-good films.

A break from the news:

“Then she asked me if I knew about Benghazi.” Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, recounts a conversation with a Trump voter in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.