Michael Idov argues that the "election" of Dmitri Medvedev was not really an election at all, but rather a further extension of Vladimir Putin's power in an increasingly complacent Russia: Putin's historic achievement is the creation, in eight short years, of what the chief Kremlin ideologist Vladislav Surkov terms suverennaya demokratiya ("sovereign democracy") and what's been rechristened, in liberal circles, suvenirnaya demokratiya: "souvenir democracy." In brief, this system consists of a narrow executive silo--about 50 Putin insiders spread out among government agencies--through which al
November 19, 2008
Why did Russia really invade Georgia? In late September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and offered a rather stunning explanation. Lavrov--who previously spent a decade as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, where he mastered the body of international precedents and U.N.
Notes On An Invasion
September 01, 2008
The future of Russia's excursion in Georgia remains to be determined. But some conclusions can already be drawn: 1. Russian power is extraordinarily brutal in the post-Soviet era, as we have already seen in Chechnya. This brutality has been confirmed -- although on a smaller scale -- in the spectacle of the Russian army occupying a sovereign country, moving through it as it pleases, advancing and retreating at will, and casually destroying the military and civilian infrastructures of a young democracy as an astonished world watches. Today it is Georgia. Tomorrow will it be Ukraine?
August 23, 2008
I have long been on record in support of Hillary Clinton for v.p., but it is clear that was never in the offing. Clinton aside, Joe Biden was the best possible pick for Senator Obama. Here's why: The fighting in Georgia underscored the need to bring some foreign policy experience to the ticket. No one does that better than Biden. Absent the situation in Georgia, Virginia Governor Kaine might have been the pick--in effect Vladimir Putin vetoed him. It's critical that the veep be willing and able to take an axe or at least an icepick to the presidential candidate of the other party.
When John Met Vlad
August 21, 2008
One of McCain's best lines is about Vladimir Putin. As McCain often says, "I looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes and I saw three things — a K and a G and a B.” This, of course, isn't just a shot at Putin but also at Bush, who famously declared upon meeting Putin in 2001 that he'd "looked the man in the eye" and "was able to get a sense of his soul." McCain tells us today that he knew Bush was wrong about Putin from the get go.
The Analogists' Ball
August 11, 2008
So there is historical memory in America! In fact, the American discussion of the Russian war on Georgia seems to consist mainly in remembering, or misremembering. The most pressing question of all is not how to stop Putin's vicious attack on an independent democratic state with a dream of the West, but whether or not we are witnessing a repetition of the Cold War. Who wants a repetition of the Cold War? Welcome back to the analogists' ball. If you are disgusted by Putin's war, then you are a grandchild of rollback and the sort of liberal lemming who would invade Iraq all over again.
The Georgia Crisis: What You Need To Know
August 11, 2008
On August 8, Russia sent troops into Georgia, spurring violence that has spread beyond two disputed breakaway regions and resulted in the deaths of thousands. The conflict was not unexpected; relations between the two countries have been seething for years. Here is a summary of the conflict's history, major actors, core issues, and consequences. WHAT HAPPENED -- Georgia, a small state that sits just north of Turkey, wedged between the Black and Caspian Seas, became independent in 1991 with the fall of the USSR.
The End of the End of History
April 23, 2008
I. In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration. Even after the political crackdown that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the disturbing signs of instability that appeared in Russia after 1993, most Americans and Europeans believed that China and Russia were on a path toward liberalism.
April 23, 2008
Minutes after the polls closed on March 2 in the westernmost Russian city of Kaliningrad--certifying a blowout victory by presidential candidate Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev, handpicked heir to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin--the men of the hour made an appearance at a massive concert underway in Red Square. As broadcast by NTV, a television channel owned by Gazprom (where Medvedev chairs the board of directors), the scene looked like something out of Mission: Impossible.
Musharraf for Brains
March 26, 2008
By November of last year, Pakistan, a nation hardly known for its stability, seemed primed to explode. After months of street protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the Pakistani dictator had declared de facto martial law, allowing him to arrest thousands of political activists and sparking even greater unrest. Many young Pakistanis turned to extremist organizations, and suicide bombings spread from the Afghan border into once-serene cities like Islamabad and Lahore.