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« The Russian Bear Awakes | Main | DIY Abortions »

July 31, 2007

Re: Russian Bear

Diane,

I actually think the Russian problem is a bit more complex than can be captured by dropping the f-bomb ("fascism") on the situation. Yes, there is much to be concerned about, particularly from a human rights perspective, but having lived in Ukraine for a year ('93-'94 ... okay, so it was eons ago), I can say with conviction that the Russian and Ukrainian people often think about their lives and freedoms very differently than do we. Do they want "freedom?" Well, yes. But they -- especially Russians -- also want their country to be great. And they want a higher quality of life than they've been experiencing since the USSR's dissolution.  There's a real, latent nationalism there, and Putin has tapped into it.

Then there's the security situation you mention ("[G]iven Russia's ties to Islamofascist regimes ... she's too dangerous to ignore."). But it's actually the Islamic population within their own borders that concerns them greatly.

Spengler does a nice job of describing that problem in this entertaining faux dialogue between President Bush and President Putin:

Putin: Of course you care about democracy - your population is made up of people who left their countries, forgot their language, abandoned their culture and threw themselves into the melting pot. They believe they have rights. Russians never had any rights to begin with and don't know what it means to defend them.

Bush: I've got to say, Vladimir, that's a hell of a way to run a country.

Putin: Who told you we were a country, George? Russia is an empire. We have 160 different ethnic groups spread across six time zones, and we have plenty of Russians in territories that used to belong to the Soviet Union. Maybe you don't like our history, but you can't run the tape in reverse. Let me give you an example: how many Muslims do you have in the US?

Bush: I don't see why that's relevant, but it's probably 3 million or 4 million.

Putin: That's not even 2% of your population. Do you know how many Muslims we have in Russia? At least 25 million, out of 150 million - and they might be a majority in 50 years, given their birth rates.

Bush: I don't understand your point.

Putin: My point is, do you really want democracy in Russia - one man, one vote? Because if you do, you might end up with an Islamic state half a century from now with more oil than Saudi Arabia and a big nuclear arsenal.

Bush: Vladimir, I don't get what you are driving at. Americans just don't think that way. We're trying to help Muslim countries build democracy so the Middle East can be at peace.

Putin: I don't want to throw cold water on your idea, George, but it doesn't seem to be working out too well in Iraq, or Palestine, or Lebanon, does it?

Now, there are good arguments on both sides of the debates about Islam versus Islamofascism and the effects of Muslim populations in the West and whathaveyou. But as to what concerns Russians, specifically, and how that is playing into nationalism *and* this initial (rather amusing) action to boost terribly low Russian birthrates, Spengler captures well some of the overall angst.

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Comments

Kim Moreland

Unfortunately, no one trained Eastern-bloc citizens how to think free-market-ly. For generations, citizens in the West have been raised to conduct ourselves in a manner appropriate for free-markets. In Russia until 1861, serfdom was still the rule of the land. After that, its citizens still suffered under incredibly brutal leaders.
The World Trade Bank opened its vaults without first ensuring Eastern-bloc people had the basic understanding of freedom as well as the ability to act free. So it is no wonder that all the crooks took control.
As for the abortion and suicide problem, I think those two problems were rife before the Wall fell.

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