On Making "Geo-Strategic" Mean "Peripheral" and on the "Conspiracy Exemption"

Mark Jones mark.jones at tiscali.co.uk
Thu Dec 13 05:06:24 MST 2001

[ URL substituted for forwarded post. Les]

At 13/12/2001 01:45, you wrote:
> I kept the "Subj." line just for the sake of those who want to track
> the debate back to its origin.
> But I have something different to say here.

Mostly off-the-wall fantasy if I may humbly says so.

The economy controlled by Moscow has already fallen in absolute GNP
from third in the world in 1987 to fifteenth in 1996 (behind India,
Australia, the Netherlands, and South Korea and just ahead of Mexico,
Switzerland, and Argentina).

The country has collapsed in more ways than you can imagine. As for it
being a nuclear power, well yes, people in Zhirinovsky's party liked
to say that, but they couldn't help smiling when they did.

Despite its oil and gas, Russian per capita GDP is a half or less than
Argentina's. Nuf said? No? OK, here's more.



 A World without Russia?
 Thomas E. Graham, Jr.

Jamestown Foundation Conference Washington, DC June 9, 1999 Thomas
E. Graham, Jr. Senior Associate Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment in September 1998,
Mr. Graham was a Foreign Service Officer on academic leave with RAND
in Moscow from 1997 to 1998. From 1994-1997, he served as Head of the
Political/Internal Unit and then Acting Political Counselor at the
U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

For the past decade, reform, economic and political, has dominated
discussion first of the Soviet Union and then of Russia. Russian
President Yeltsin and his successive prime ministers have stressed
their commitment to reform; Western governments, particularly the
Clinton administration, have made assisting Russia's transition to
democracy and a market economy the centerpiece of their
policy. Through all the zigs and zags of Russian domestic politics and
economic performance, the Administration has -- until quite recently
-- assured us that Russia was making steady, albeit at times slow,
progress in economic reform and democratization. In September 1997,
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott went so far as to declare
that Russia was at "the end of the beginning" of its journey toward
becoming a "normal, modern state." "It may be," he said, "on the brink
of a breakthrough."1

We all now know how off the mark that prediction was. The financial
collapse of last August shattered all illusions about Russia's
trajectory. It marked the failure of the West's policy of the past
seven years, the end of the grand liberal project of rapidly
transforming Russia into a normal market economy and democratic
polity. Debate, both in Russia and the West, naturally turned to the
question of what went wrong and who was to blame. And, in that guise,
the question of reform has continued to frame discussion of Russia.

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