Ogged, you are assuming that the election of regional governors are done democratically. I beg to differ. I don't know much about the Russian politics; however, I do know that mobs have a lot to do with influencing the outcome of their local governments (governors!). Who is to say what is better for Russia and for the world , in the short run, and in the long run? Additionally, you are also assuming that Putin's decision would endanger the world (with nuclear bombs?). I understand the argument here: dictatorship and nuclear bombs are a dangerous combination; but, this is all speculative.

Posted by: Veiled | Link to this comment | 09-13-04 8:31 PM
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I have to say that I agree with Ogged regarding his concerns over the fragility of the power structure in the former Soviet Union.

In the late 1980's, The U.S. welcomed the fall of communism in the USSR as a triumph of western capitalism over the evil empire of the "dirty Reds." This was probably the proudest accomplishment attributed to ol' man Regan when he kicked the bucket recently, despite the fact that his economic and foriegn policies had nothing whatsoever to do with the collapse of the USSR's economy and political infrastructure. I would personally offer 100 times the credit for the Soviet Union's disinegration to the nuclear disaster at Cherynobl than to any suppossed effort made by Regan. Regan merely acted in the typical fashion of American politicians - taking credit for the fact that the sun came up again in the morning then blaiming everyone else when the damned thing had the nerve to turn tail and go back down again at night. Unlike Regan, Cherynobl was a slap in the face to the already struggling Soviet leaders, exposing to the world the failure of the USSR's famous "five year plans" and disregard for the human cost of its competition with the US for the tiltle of ultimate superpower. A big part of the Soviet's problem was that the totalitarian system it employed did not allow the citezenry any means of holding the governement accountable for its policies, including its reprehensible use of low-level nuclear weapons as tools for excevation, its sub-standard maintenence of nulcear reactors, its mishandling of nulcear waste, and its over-all disregard for the environment that its citezens were forced to live in. Of course, this is a gross oversimplification of the entire issue, but it describes some of the challenges still faced by present-day Russia, challenges the US likes to pretend have evaporated since the USSR magically embraced the panceon of capitalism. However, the average Russian lives a lifestyle a hell of a lot less cushy than that of an American. Many aspects of commerce are controlled by organized crime, and true democracy has not even had the chance to take hold (not that it ever really has here, if you want to get down to it). And now Putin is pulling a "Bush" and using a terrorist attack by Chechnyans as an excuse to curtail the liberties of his people. Only the Russian people do not have the US constitution on their side. In addition, a lot of folks in Russia had better lives under the communist government, so they wouldn't be too terribly bothered to see the current US friendly regieme harken back to its roots and get a little of those Cold War patriotic juices flowwing. After all, the US has replaced the USSR with it nice new enemy, the demi-ambiguos "Middle East threat," but what does the Russian government have other than a few pathetic rebels left over from the genocide in Chechnya? That just won't go to far to coerce the average Russian to rally behind its corrupt governemnt. However, the US is still here, and we haven't changed much since those dreaded Pre-Regan days. And, if I recall, Russia happens to have, hmmm, something in the neighborhood of a gazillion weapons of mass destruction (gazillion being defined as "as much or more than we have, 'cause when it comes to us, we don't like doing the counting")?

That said, I think it's a good question to ask who it is that we should really be afraid of.

Posted by: Elanor | Link to this comment | 09-13-04 9:31 PM
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