Tuesday, March 07, 2006
More on the U.S.-Russia relationship
I have been asked for my perspective on the U.S. - Russia relationship. Here is what I have sent off to the "experts' panel" of Russia Profile:
The "feeding frenzy" in Washington, and a similar rise in anti-American feeling in Russia, reflects the reality that the Russian-American relationship has shallow roots. While senior members of the executive branches of both countries are very aware of the importance of a good working relationship between Russia and the United States to ensuring the security of both states, the prevailing view in the bureaucracies and legislatures of both states has tended to minimize or discount altogether this reality. In turn, for most ordinary Americans and Russians, their sense of personal security and economic prosperity is almost completely divorced from their evaluation of the importance of the Russo-American relationship.
One only has to compare the German-Russian relationship. Angela Merkel certainly does not have the same personal rapport with Vladimir Putin that her predecessor did, but an extensive web of ties between the two countries--notably between the business communities--gives the German-Russian relationship ballast that the U.S.-Russia relationship lacks. The Germans have been quite critical of a number of Russian policy moves--including over the NGO law--but without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
We are also paying the price for some of the overheated, euphoric rhetoric in the past about "strategic partnership." Americans and Russians still have very divergent narratives, not only about the end of the Cold War (something I discussed in an essay for the International Herald Tribune several weeks ago) but about Russia's "proper role" in the post-Soviet space, the relationship between democracy and stability, and the very nature of the global order. Russia's relative weakness in the 1990s covered up these disagreements. But Russia's growing economic and energy clout (along with some slippage in America's relative power) gives it greater confidence today to stake out an independent course of action. And to the extent that Russia has taken decisions in an opaque fashion and to the extent that the decision-making process remains untransparent allows some Americans to assume the worst about the motives of the Russian government.
We must also recognize that there is no such thing as a la carte partnership; that the United States and Russia could on the one hand be engaged in intense geopolitical competition in Eurasia, for example, and on the other develop the close working relationship (between the two militaries, intelligence communities, and so on) essential for combating terrorism and stemming proliferation. This does not mean that either side has to abandon the pursuit of its political and economic interests, but it does mean working to ensure that issues on which both sides do not agree do not become issues where we disagree on fundamentals.
But I think it will require the presidents to put up real substantial political capital to make the case to skeptical publics in both countries about the value of the U.S.-Russia relationship, and with both Putin and Bush increasingly focused on issues of succession in 2008, I don't see that effort likely to happen.
The recovery is based largely but not exclusively on high energy and mineral prices but also the growth of a service sector and telecommunications--and its growth is attributed by many to the type of stability that Putin is perceived to have brought. Increasingly you have a group of managers also linked with the state companies. I found it quite telling that when Khodorkovsky was decapitated from YUKOS, the middle managers, professionals, etc. stayed right at their positions, even when their companies were taken over by the state. Salaries remain high. And a whole host of welfare professionals--teachers, doctors, etc. are benefitting from swelling tax rolls.
I see this middle class at about 30 percent. The number isn't increasingly radically--a point made by Harley Balzer--but this middle class is deepening--acquiring assets, etc.--and beginning to feel it can pass on this status to the next generation.
The demographic projections are still bad but compensated by the continuing in flow of not only ethnic Russians but other former Soviet nationalities to Russia--I've seen estimates about 1 million Georgians, 1 million Azeris, up to 5 million Ukrainians--moving to work in Russia.
Actually, the cash from the high energy and mineral prices goes mostly into the Stabilization Fund, debt repayment, or the Central Bank reserves. Very little of it actually gets spent in the Russian economy. So Russian economic growth comes mostly from internal demand and internal production of things Russians want.
This leadership (the fascist warmongers, profiteers, incompentent chickenhawks, and rapturist religious fanatics in the Bush government) do not represent America!!!!
wedding dresses 2010
Designer wedding dresses
wholesale wedding dresses
mother of the bride dresses
Wedding Dress Accessories
cheap wedding dresses
Flower Girl Dresses