Is political decline now inevitable? The world's strongmen are watching Vladimir Putin's gamble play out in Ukraine, and the consequences of his success or failure will be global. Gideon Rachman analyses the cult status of the world's powerful autocrats from China to India. He considers what will happen to geopolitics as they grow in strength or lose their grip on power. "Trump's discourse seemed to confirm this longstanding Russian and Chinese position. Here was an American president willing to say: we also lie, we also kill, our media is fake, our elections are rigged, our courts are dishonest."