Saturday, December 11

Reassessing Russia

From The Economist:

THE drama playing out in the streets of Ukraine in recent weeks has been gripping in its own terms. But its bigger significance for the West lies north-east of Kiev, in Russia. As the tide moves towards a presidential election victory for the opposition leader, Victor Yushchenko, on December 26th, the efforts of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, to thwart him have looked ever more cack-handed. But they have also depressed those who still hoped that Mr Putin's Russia might move, slowly and tortuously, on to a path leading to political liberalism—and that he might prove an ally not a foe of the West.
The conclusion is inescapable. Far from being a political and economic reformer who runs an admittedly flawed but still recognisable democracy, Mr Putin has become an obstacle to change who is in charge of an ill-managed autocracy.
Russian again is moving toward dictatorship if it is not there already. This has the potential to turn into a new Cold War. We have won round one in Georgia and round two in Ukraine, but Putin is consolidating his grip on power at home. As we get closer to defeating Islamic Fascism in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will have to turn to defeating Fascism in Russia, and it will not be easy.