This article presents a new framework for understanding the role of international factors in post-Cold War regime change.We treat the postCold War international environment as operating along two dimensions: western leverage, or governments' vulnerability to external pressure, and linkage to the West, or the density of a country's ties to the U.S., the European Union, and Western-led multilateral institutions. Both leverage and linkage raised the cost of authoritarianism during the postCold War period. However, mechanisms of leverage such as diplomatic pressure, or conditionality were--by themselves--rarely sufficient to democratize postCold War autocracies. Rather, the more subtle and diffuse effects of linkage contributed more consistently to democratization. The impact of linkage and leverage are examined in the context of postCold War hybrid or competitive authoritarian regimes.