2022 may in retrospect be seen as the year in which the West began to recognize the threat of an alliance of autocrats, and began to see hope for countering that alliance. Vladimir Putin's February invasion of Ukraine was an eye-opener, and many observers feared that the unstoppable Russian army would quickly overrun Ukraine. These fears were overblown. As with many armies in tyrannical systems, Putin's army is unwieldy, tactically unsound and performs poorly when tested.
Two other autocratic rivals suffered setbacks as well. It seems increasingly likely that COVID-19 originated as a lab leak from China, revealing both malice in China's attempt to suppress the story as well as a level of technical incompetence that we don't usually ascribe to it. In addition, the protests that took place across China against prolonged lockdowns were the most significant threat to the regime since Tiananmen Square.
Iranian unrest over the abuses of that country's morality police shook that regime as well. So at the end of 2022, it is increasingly clear that America faces some powerful rivals in the world, but it is also clear that there is a path forward for democratic systems to prevail over autocratic ones.