Thursday, June 05, 2008


With all of the attention on whether or not the tandem of Putin/Medvedev can work in Russia, and whether or not there should be an Obama/Clinton tandem for the Democratic party, it might be useful to extrapolate some principles from other tandems (Nehru/Patel, Blair/Brown, Mao/Zhou, the "cohabitations" in France):

1) The two must generally respect each other (affection may or may not be required);
2) They should both be in general agreement about the overall course they wish to pursue;
3) They should have clearly delineated spheres of responsibility;
4) Following Dirty Harry's maxim that a "man ought to know his limitations", each member of the tandem should be aware of those areas his/her partner has superior ability.
5) Equality in the tandem as a general principle, but there needs to be one who is at least slightly superior than the other (the "elder" sibling).
6) Means for dispute resolution if the pair cannot come to an easy agreement on an issue.

So I would say this bodes well for Medvedev and Putin, at least in the short run, to 2010. Probably less so for Obama and Clinton.

By the way, sorry to be professorial, but to point out one fact: tandems were somewhat the norm in Russian political life in the 17th century, so for those to say this is unprecedented in Russian political culture, that's not quite accurate. Those tandems:

Patriarch Filaret/Tsar Mikhail (father-son); generally worked well
Patriarch Nikon/Tsar Alexis (spiritual father/spiritual son); worked well in the beginning but ended badly for Nikon when Alexis "outgrew" his mentor
Regent Sophia/Prince Golitsyn--could have started a more evolutionary modernization of Russia but overthrown by Peter
Peter and his brother Ivan: Peter handled military affairs, Ivan took care of the ceremonial aspects

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