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The Impotence of Omnipotence

krastev051708.jpgIvan Krastev of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, has a strongly worded opinion article published in today’s Wall Street Journal remarking on the dual nature of the new Russian government, and the potential for internal conflict: “In short, mutual suspicions and intrigues between Medvedev’s Kremlin and Putin’s White House are inevitable — and could turn out to be worse than between the Kremlin and Washington’s White House. Messrs. Putin and Medvedev sound sincere today that a political war can be avoided. The war between their entourages has in fact already started. (…) The Putin-Medvedev regime comes onto an eerily familiar stage for Russia. In the last 150 years, Russia has implemented several liberal reforms that produced impressive economic growth, which were then followed by elite wars over the redistribution of power and wealth and the temptation to use the the newly acquired economic gains to achieve Russia’s geopolitical ambitions. The unintended result was the escalation of social tensions, the end of reforms and social and political catastrophe at the end. The major objective of the West’s policy toward Russia’s new power couple should be in helping Moscow to avoid the repeat of such a scenario.