Tuesday, January 1, 2008

On Russia

[Cc'ed Tara, Tasia and the blog]


Here's an interesting perspective on Russia that you might appreciate. I recommend skimming the whole article but here are four quotes:

"Russian foreign policy's modern-day motives are completely dissimilar to those of the recent Soviet and the more distant czarist past. Where-as the empire was predominantly about Eurasian geopolitics and the Soviet Union promoted a global ideological as well as political project backed up by military power, Russia's business is Russia itself. Seen from a different angle, Russia's business is business. In stark contrast to its Soviet past, postimperial Russia stands among the least ideological countries around the world. Ideas hardly matter, whereas interests reign supreme. It is not surprising then that the worldview of Russian elites is focused on financial interests. Their practical deeds in fact declare "In capital we trust." Values are secondary or tertiary issues, and even traditional military power is hardly appealing. Fluctuating energy prices, not nuclear warheads, are what really matter to Moscow.... Under President Vladimir Putin's watch, the Russian state has turned into something like Russia Inc., with top Kremlin staffers and senior ministers sitting on the boards of various state-owned corporations and taking an active interest in their progress and profits."

"Having survived in a ruthless domestic business and political environment, Russian leaders are well adjusted to rough competition and will take that mindset to the world stage. From their perspective, everyone can be a partner, from U.S. president George W. Bush to Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and from the Council of Europe's rapporteur on Chechnya, Lord Frank Judd, to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Equally, anyone can become an adversary, even Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. It's nothing personal, it's business."

"From Moscow's perspective, Russian-Western relations are competitive but not antagonistic. Russia does not crave world domination, and its leaders do not dream of restoring the Soviet Union."

"From the Russian perspective, a preventive war over Iran is worse than a nuclear Iran. They believe that a war would only delay Iran's nuclear program, but at the price of a major regional crisis, political radicalization, and Muslim-Western confrontation."

"All generalizations are false," particularly when they involve people, and predicting the future is never simple. Nevertheless, this analysis rings true to me. I will think about this article as I continue to watch the international political scene and interpret Russia's current moves.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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