I hope Putin fails in his bid for more power. It looks like he is trying for a promotion to Dictator. Just like all dictators before him, he is basing his arguments on “law and order”, public safety, and “protection”. I certainly hope Russia has learned the hard lessons of the past (including their own past), and NOT put their faith in yet another “strong man”.
From what I’ve heard there’s been very little (if any) protest to Putin’s latest power grab. This seems to be a continuation of a trend that’s been going on for a while now. Putin already has virtually unlimited power, and there seems to be little opposition to his amassing even more. Even the regional politicians whose power is being drastically reduced have failed to express opposition, some have even endorsed Putin’s policy as a good move. If this sort of thing continues, democracy could be a very brief phenomenon in Russia.
Playing devil’s advocate here, Putim may actually be right.
If you goal is to preserve Russia as it is right now, including many religious and ethnic minorities on its long and meandering borders, democracy might not be the way to do it. It might take an authoritarian regime to keep the remnants of the Russian empire/USSR intact.
Putins goal seems to be stability and the question becomes what is the best way to achieve that stability: democracy or something closer to autocracy.
This may be hard for some of us in the US to grasp as it has been many generations since that issue played itself out here. And even then, we weren’t talking about ethnic or religious issues, which are much more difficult to resolve than are political disagreements.
So, one must ask: Is it that big a deal to let some of these regions go there own way? What will happen to those ethnic Russians living in those areas if they do?
This is a thorny question, and one that is easy to oversimplify. I would not want to be the person responsible for fixing it…
JM:If you goal is to preserve Russia as it is right now, including many religious and ethnic minorities on its long and meandering borders, democracy might not be the way to do it. It might take an authoritarian regime to keep the remnants of the Russian empire/USSR intact.
That’s a point, and one that a number of conservatives have been making recently about Russia (e.g., Paul Weyrich):
However, many conservatives who make such arguments will need to confront the apparent contradiction with the democracy-at-any-cost rhetoric that they were using to support the invasion of Iraq. How could we be justified in forcibly replacing a brutal authoritarian regime in Iraq with an attempt at a democracy, even at the possible cost of civil war and disintegration, and then turning around and saying that a brutal authoritarian regime in Russia should be tolerated to avoid civil war and disintegration?
(No, I’m not suggesting that Putin is as bad as Saddam Hussein, far from it. I just wonder what the criteria are supposed to be for deciding when you’ve got to overthrow authoritarianism for the sake of democratic freedoms, and when you’ve got to sacrifice democracy for the sake of authoritarian control. Obviously, you can’t have it both ways at once.)
I hope you’re not implying that I am among those "conservatveI’ thinkers…
I don’t really see this as a conservative/liberal issue, but more one of practical reality. FWIW, I posted on this board, before the invasion of Iraq, that the best case scenario I could see 10 years out was the emergence of a benevolent* strongman, along the lines of what we see in Pakistan right now. Democracy in a united Iraq is a low odds proposition.
I couldn’t tell you that. You’d have to ask someone who advocated the invasion. But we both know you’d only get a rather disjointed, tortured response.
One certainly can argue that a S.H. type malevolent dictator is **better **at keep Al Qaeda at bay than is a quasi-benevolent one like Musharraf, so the terrorism angle just doesn’t make much sense.
Getting back to the OP, though, I really do think it’s a choice between democracy and unity/stability of the country. If you want the former, you probably have to give up some of the latter, and vice versa. If only the entire world were like the Swiss…
But under the circumstances – with Putin controlling the media and everything – how can we really know what the Russian people “want,” assuming they are forced to choose between democracy and stability?
Remember, this is a country with autocratic traditions, but it is also a country with revolutionary traditions, and I don’t think the people have entirely forgotten that!
BG: Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that Russia should give up on democracy. I don’t really know what the answer is, but if I were Russian, I’d prefer a smaller, democractic Russia than a larger autocratic one. I’m still waiting for Putin to ring me up and ask my opinion, though.