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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 9, 2007 / 23 Tamuz, 5767

Two Troublesome Powers

By Michael Barone


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | George W. Bush's meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forthcoming meeting with Chinese leader Hu Jin Tao are a reminder that Bush and his successors will continue to face the challenge of dealing with these two unfriendly and potentially dangerous powers. Much of the world has moved toward democracy and freedom, but China hasn't much and Russia seems headed in the opposite direction.


Of the two, China is probably easier to deal with. It appears to have a collective leadership, which gives a certain continuity to its policy.


The bad news is that the regime continues to suppress freedoms of speech and religion. Those within it who dissent seem to be jettisoned, as Zhou Ziyang was when he argued against the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.


The good news is that the collective leadership seems to be producing rational decisions responsive to events. The Chinese leaders have evidently moved the rogue North Korean regime in the direction of curbing its nuclear weapons programs. Apparently, they recognize that Kim Jong Il is a danger to China as well as to us.


Russia is different. Putin seems to be persisting in his irrational opposition to our decision to put missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. As Bush has pointed out, it's obvious that these are no threat to Russia — they're clearly designed to protect Europe against an Iranian missile attack. Putin's apparent desire to assert some kind of hegemony over what were once the Soviet Union's Eastern European satellites seems delusional.


But one man's delusions can move national policy in a country where the former KGB officer seems to have consolidated power in his own person. He appears in complete control of the government, which in turn controls the oil industry and the news media. And while he has reiterated that he will respect the law, which prevents him from running for re-election in 2008, he seems to be single-handedly picking his successor.


The Russian political system has come to resemble the political system of Mexico from 1929 to 2000, which was something of an absolute monarchy, with term limits. The candidate of the ruling PRI was always elected president, the legislature was a rubber stamp, and the incumbent president chose his successor. How this worked in practice is the subject of "Perpetuating Power: How Mexican Presidents Were Chosen," a fascinating book by former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda. He interviewed four Mexican presidents, who discussed frankly how they had been selected by their predecessors and how they, in turn, chose their successors. Only someone as well connected as Castaneda, who grew up as part of the PRI elite (his father was also foreign minister) could have elicited the almost Shakespearean accounts.


The continuing theme was that the outgoing president sought to exert power in the reign of his handpicked successor — and failed. The pattern was set early on. The originator of the PRI system, Plutarco Calles, tried to run things after his choice as successor, Lazaro Cardenas, took office. Cardenas called Calles into his office and told him that he had to stop and he could no longer live in Mexico. Calles moved to California, although he was eventually allowed to return to Mexico.


My guess is that Putin, as he decides whom to choose as the new president, hopes to continue to exert power himself. And that he will probably find himself shut out, as Calles was. Or as Boris Yeltsin, who single-handedly chose Putin to succeed himself in 1999, was.


The problem for the United States is that this kind of regime will tend to behave less predictably than the collective regime of China. In Putinist Russia, as in PRI Mexico, each new leader may lurch from policy to policy. Many such changes will not be predictable, because politicians contending to be selected by one man for a position of paramount power will not show him anything they think he doesn't want to see. As Castaneda's book shows, one-man rule tends to produce a sycophantic court and new leaders who do things no one expected.


Thus, Putin has veered off Yeltsin's course, suppressing the free press, menacing independent leaders in former Soviet republics and opposing efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We can only hope that the next Russian president veers off Putin's course, as well.

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JWR contributor Michael Barone is a columnist at U.S. News & World Report. Comment by clicking here.




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