Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Leon Aron on Vladimir Putin

Leon Aron has some choice words on Putin's choices:

But the Kremlin's authoritarian project--while deplorable in its own right--carries even greater risks than commonly appreciated. Although officially justified as necessary to 'strengthen' state and society, these policies in fact are likely to do the very opposite, destabilizing Russia's politics, economy, and national security. In evaluating the current situation, some leading analysts in Moscow privately spoke last fall of a 'GKchP-2 scenario,' a reference to the unsuccessful August 1991 hardliner putsch, whose perpetrators sought to prevent the breakup of the Soviet Union but instead brought about its speedy collapse.

The cumulative effect of Putin's re-centralization has been to raise the center of political gravity to the very top at precisely the time when the Russian state will need every available ounce of stability and maneuverability to absorb severe shocks and navigate sharp turns. The regime's course is made even more perilous by its efforts to remove or obscure the road signs of societal feedback, which Russia's increasingly emaciated democratic politics and constrained media are less and less capable of providing.

I think the "Babushka revolution" is evidence that the authoritarian path Putin seems to be following has a dangerous element of cutting off too much needed feedback, as Aron suggests...