A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Monday, April 23, 2007

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Remember to pour out some Stolichnaya today for Boris Yeltsin, who just passed away at a very impressive 76.

I think he'll get a harsh send-off from most media, which is not totally undeserved (see: loans-for-shares, Chechnya, and the ties between his "Family" and the Russian Mafia), but on balance I'm not sure how much we could have expected of anyone else.

It's passe, but I'm going to go ahead and Blame America for a lot of what happened there between '91 and '99 (extended thoughts possibly, but not probably, to follow in an extended post).

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Blogger steve said...

I am curious to read your Blame America thoughts; I know next to nothing about post Soviet Russian politics and goings on, really.

I do agree that there's little to blame Yeltsin for since he was pretty much cast into an impossible situation.

12:19 PM

Blogger steve said...

Also, that Post article detailing his background--his background is amazing.

12:25 PM

Blogger neill said...

Overall--and I don't think this is a complete answer, but it's a good chunk--I think that America really dropped the ball in terms of helping manage the transition. I'm all about technocratic elitism, but it boggles the mind how apolitical shock therapy actually was. (Aside: Beyond Yeltsin's own populism, there was very little de-Sovietification; I don't know how much help America could have been in that regard, it certainly doesn't ,ook favorably in light of our half-assed political culture improvement efforts in Ukraine and Belarus.)

Anyway, the ballpark figure on US aid to Russia from 92-97 is $5B. The US spends around $4B on Israel / Egypt alone per year. I don't know how you spend 50 years preparing for nuclear annihilation from somebody and then take a hands-off approach when that somebody suddenly collapses. Of course, given what happened to that aid that *was* provided--most of it got embezzled by people at Harvard and their confederates in St. Petersburg who were contracted by USAID--maybe it's good we went light.

The other thing that rankles me is that most of this happened on Clinton's watch, and that Gore was his point man on Russian relations, especially since I'll be hearing Clinton at the UMich commencement this weekend.

8:13 PM


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