Comey fired: Will Trump embolden autocrats?
Autocrats are watching what's happening in Washington
I spent the evening after FBI Director James Comey's firing with a group of women from developing countries who work to ease conflicts. Their take on what had just happened here was salutary, and a reminder that the global impact of what happens in Washington should not be underestimated.
Here were there two main concerns:
First, they fear the firing of Comey could embolden autocrats in their own countries. A woman from Uganda told me this is exactly the kind of thing President Yoweri Museveni takes note of it. She said leaders with dictatorial tendencies might use the dismissal as cover for their own autocratic actions - a sort of "if it's OK in America, then it's OK here too" rationale.
Second, these women, from Latin America, Asia and Africa were all surprised that America would risk compromising its moral leadership in this way. As one woman from Colombia put it, "In countries where the rule of law is fragile, we've looked to the US as an inspiration."
America is more than another democracy, she said, it's a role model for other nations, an example of what to do and what not to do.
To a woman, this group was concerned about the impact Comey's sudden dismissal would have on their own leaders.
Their conclusion was grim: It would encourage autocrats who already feel they are above the law to act with impunity.