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In Russia

Ephraim Gadsby.

Posted to Politics on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 10:59:51 AM EST (promoted from Diaries by port1080). RSS.

Putin jails Pussy Riot for you.

 

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IF Russia...

novy.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:09:20 AM EST

none

went genuinely democratic, if Putin were replaced (without significant violence) by someone as legitimate as any leader in western Europe, even without America doing anything helpful en route, would right-wing Americans still hate Russia anyway?

19th century Britain believed in balancing European powers so that no one power would dominate all of Europe and come into position to challenge Britain globally. If 21st century America believed in balancing Asian powers so that no one power would dominate all of Asia and come into position to challenge America globally, it would be expected that America would want much warmer relations than it currently has with both Russia and India, lest China otherwise come to dominate all of Asia. But could you think of Russians as real friends, under any circumstances, as you did during World War II, or would your gut instincts say no?

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Re: IF Russia...

Gaius Petronius.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 10:01:05 AM EST

5.00 (interesting)

That's a lotta ifs there.

The American right would welcome a democratic Russia. As soon as it appears, which has been expected for a few centuries but hasn't shown up yet.  The problem is that a democratic Russia would have the same problems and conditions  Putin faces: a shrinking population, huge tracts of the country that are nearly ungovernable, a kleptocratic civil service, and a dependence on volitile resource markets. These will change only slowly, no matter who is in the Kremlin. Is there anybody willing to take the steps to build a civil society in Russia, which might then make the best use of all tha oil and gas?

As to balancing off China, there are a couple of approaches. China is an economic juggurnaut who is highly dependant on raw materials from other countries. If China starts getting belligerant, a few delayed shipments might make them think otherwise.  As i have said before, I think China is far less stable then they like to let on, and a sudden economic downturn in their fortunes would be worse on them then on us.

As to our friendship in WW2, I think it largely was based on the realpolitik that Stalin wasn't Hitler, nothing else. A friend of mine was a pilot for a US aircraft company that supplied thousands of fighters to Russia under Lend-Lease. He told me how his teeth were set on edge whenever he saw a Red Air Force officer in the factory.  People were grateful for the Russian's efforts, but didn't trust them (or Stalin) a bit.

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Re: IF Russia...

novy.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:53:37 AM EST

none

I return to my theory that whenever some country's economy has done well enough to turn much of its population middle class, western-style bourgeois democracy won't be very far behind. That seems to be happening not just in China but also in Russia. Yes, Russia has many serious problems, but so did China in 1984 when it began to reform its economy. As for "dependence on volatile resource markets", I'd rather be selling than buying these days.

I don't think America will long be in any position to get resource suppliers to delay shipments to China, but I also don't expect China to become particularly belligerent beyond beefing up its military so that it can achieve true "superpower" status.

I don't think Americans have ever much liked or cared about Russians anywhere near as much as they have liked/ cared about, say, China. When China went Communist, America's right spent years asking "Who lost China?" even though America never had China to lose, but when Russia went Communist, it was someone else's problem, and most Americans ignored it. Similarly, when China briefly looked like it might go democratic (Tiananmen Square days), Americans and their media were enthralled and watched constantly, but when Russia actually did throw off Communism, American reaction was tentative, more confused than excited, even though that revolution basically ended decades of Cold War antagonism. "[O]ur friendship in WW2" was "enemy of my enemy" stuff. Russia was already at war with Germany when Hitler declared war on America, and US/ UK forces needed as much help as they could get.

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Re: IF Russia...

Gaius Petronius.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:15:28 PM EST

none

If America was tentative during the Yeltsin ascendency, it was because we, like the Russians themselves, were flabbergasted by what was happening. The mighty, implacable and disciplined Party was falling apart like a cheap suitcase.  I can remember some commentators during the Glasnost era claiming it was all a trick by the Bolsheviks to get us to disarm, although after the 72-hour Coup even the greatest skeptic had to admit defeat. I see similar skepticism over the Arab Spring, perhaps with more reason.

As to Tienamin Square, our hopes were raised by the experience of the Soviet Collapse. Unfortunately, the Chinese Party  was also watching CNN, and did not let matters get beyond their control.

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Re: IF Russia...

novy.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:30:45 PM EST

none

Maybe during Yeltsin's ascendancy everyone was "flabbergasted", but two or three years in someone in America's government should have come up with some way to pull Russia into America's economic orbit. But neither Bush 41 nor Clinton cared enough to do anything bold.

Unrepentant neo-cons should be enjoying Arab Spring revolutions. Didn't Bush 43 predict this would happen when he invaded Iraq? I still don't know how it will all shake out, though, with everything still in flux. Most likely, "moderate" neo-Islamist governments will take over in much of that region, perhaps tied to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

I think China's middle class revolution may come within ten years.

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Re: IF Russia...

tjb.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:22:01 PM EST

none

I return to my theory that whenever some country's economy has done well enough to turn much of its population middle class, western-style bourgeois democracy won't be very far behind.

The leaders of Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, & the UAE might have a slightly different opinion.

but when Russia actually did throw off Communism, American reaction was tentative, more confused than excited, even though that revolution basically ended decades of Cold War antagonism.

I seem to recall the reaction being tentative, then excited and hopeful, then it becoming increasingly clear that Russia was still Russia - complaints about NATO expansion, backing up Milosevic in Yugoslavia, etc.

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Re: IF Russia...

novy.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 01:55:43 PM EST

none

Microstates run by ultra-rich businessmen or sheiks might be different, although I think that eventually those countries may come around too.

"Russia was still Russia" after America made no special effort either to prop up Russia's currency or economy in time of crisis, let alone offer any sort of "Marshall Plan", and after America's basic response to Soviet collapse was to try to take maximum advantage of Russian weakness in Europe.

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Re: IF Russia...

Ephraim Gadsby.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:32:20 PM EST

none

"As to our friendship in WW2, I think it largely was based on the realpolitik that Stalin wasn't Hitler"

That "friendship" was based on much of our establishment viewing Communism positively and actually liking Stalin.

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Re: IF Russia...

improper.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 03:27:09 PM EST

none

Much of our establishment viewed Nazism positively as well.

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Re: IF Russia...

Ephraim Gadsby.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 03:47:05 PM EST

none

That's not the case.

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Re: IF Russia...

thefadd.

Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 10:54:20 PM EST

none

Other than a few intellectuals who aren't even up to par with their equivalents of 100 years ago who actually pulled off a revolution, Russia has no overriding social desire to be democratic so it's a moot point. The Communists didn't significantly alter the country's course from that under the Czar and neither has Putin, except honestly to be less belligerent toward the rest of the world than either of his predecessor political systems.

I HAD HAD SEX WITH HUNTER S THOMPSON. HE CAME IN MY MOUTH AND I SWALLOWED IT. I SHOULD HAVE HAD HIS BABY. WE WOULD BE BALLIN' LIKE KOBE'S SON!!

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Re: In Russia

Alisa.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:04:15 AM EST

1.00

I am sorry , I couldn't get what it means clearly~~

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Re: In Russia

joshv.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 08:39:30 AM EST

none

Bye bye spammer

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Re: In Russia

Ephraim Gadsby.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:35:51 PM EST

5.00 (awesome)

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Re: In Russia

Ephraim Gadsby.

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 04:14:50 PM EST

5.00 (eaten)

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