In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 Dec. 14, 2007 / 4 Teves 5768

Has Russia left the West?

By Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Russian bear is back. Given his resentment of America, how scared should we be? Are we slipping back to the tensions of the Cold War? These are natural anxieties, given the triumph of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, which provides Putin with the popular mandate to dictate Russia's future in an election stacked in its favor by authoritarian pressures, notably by media manipulation and the banning or harassment of opposition parties.

The first thing to appreciate is that despite these deficiencies, Putin would have won anyway. He can do no wrong in Russia. He exercised muscles he did not need to exercise because his popularity is solidly based on giving his people what they longed for after the nonstop catastrophes of the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin was the president. Chaos prevailed and took many forms: an inflation of over 2,000 percent that wiped out the value of long-accumulated savings of average Russians; overwhelming corruption in both government and business, and from top to bottom; delays of weeks and months in the payments of salaries and pensions; Chechnya being allowed to become a terrorist center and then reduced to ruins. The descent into chaos ended only with the premature resignation of Yeltsin and the assumption of the presidency by Putin, a former head of the KGB, now the FSB—just the organization that Yeltsin had described as needing the most reform from the old Soviet days.

Order first. But Putin showed unusual abilities to stabilize chaotic post-Soviet society. He did it in the old-fashioned Russian way of the benevolent czar by restoring central control over the bureaucracy, the economy, the government, and the media. Most critical, his regime was sustained by a burgeoning economy. Standards of living rose: Wages quadrupled, and pensions and welfare payments increased—and were paid on time. What's more, a middle class emerged, along with stability and tranquillity that the Russians sought and do not believe could have been achieved without Putin's consolidation of power. Of course, the economic improvement and the increase in Russia's currency reserves came on a tidal wave of higher energy prices. But it was all managed in a sober and energetic style.

Putin brought into power a tiny group of men who make all the important decisions—the siloviki, a Russian word meaning roughly "power guys." They were from the KGB and the other security services, and many had served Putin in the KGB and came from his hometown of St. Petersburg. Putin and the silovikigave the Russians what they have traditionally found appealing in their rulers: toughness, authority, and even a degree of mystery as they took control of government and the security forces and regained most of Russia's natural resources grabbed under Yeltsin by the so-called oligarchs. The siloviki also helped Putin neutralize alternative forces of influence: regional governments, parliament, huge state-owned companies, nongovernmental organizations, and the media—the three major TV networks are under direct or indirect government control. The public accepted Putin's view that Russia must find its own way to democracy. After the chaos that resulted from the 1990s plunge into a free-market economy, they were willing to accept a strong ruler. The whole movement tied into the passion to re-create Russia into as mighty a state as the Soviet Union once was and so overcome the humiliating experience of the Soviet collapse.

This nationalist passion, deeply felt by ordinary Russians, has had follow-on effects on Putin's foreign policy that we have not handled with much skill. His second term has been characterized by an escalating opposition to America and his commitment to a revival of Russian influence as a counterweight. Putin accuses the United States of hypocrisy, arrogance, and military adventurism. His rhetoric has gotten more inflammatory, including a recent speech in which he seemed to compare the United States to the Third Reich. His hostility derives from the feeling that even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the West still has designs on Mother Russia. It began with NATO's moves eastward and the establishment of military bases, including the latest plan by the United States to site in eastern Europe part of its planned missile defenses against Iran, with radars that the Russians suspect will monitor everything they do in half their country.

The Russians' perspective is based on the following: They closed military bases in Vietnam and Cuba; they accepted America's unilateral exit from the antiballistic missile treaty; they cooperated in the war on terrorism; they acquiesced in NATO expansion into the Baltic States, as well as the use of military bases in Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, and Tajikistan. And what did they get? Certainly not an understanding of Russia's special role in the post-Soviet territories, where some 25 million ethnic Russians live outside Russia. Instead, they had to cope with abrupt acceptance into NATO of the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and our recent support for admission of Ukraine and Georgia. As they see it, "democracy" is being used to expand American interests, to embarrass and isolate Putin and undermine Russia's influence through the counterrevolutions described as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. Ukraine is a specific hot spot since it is a neighboring state that joined the Russian Empire in the 17th century and has a large Russian population. These challenges to Russia in an area so central to its national identity were barely discussed in the West.

Russia also resented NATO when it went to war against Serbia over Russian objections and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. And when Russia proposed joining NATO, it was rejected. That was not all. Instead of helping Russia's integration into the world economy, the United States turned out to be a major roadblock to Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization. And we have allowed our own laws to be violated in a manner insulting to Russia. The Jackson-Vanik amendment was passed to penalize and constrain trade with countries that restrict emigration. Russia responded positively by removing all restrictions. It was found to be in formal compliance with the immigration provisions of Jackson-Vanik. But it made no difference. The old resolution is still applied because of senatorial pressure, indeed because of a single senator.

NATO hostility. In a word, Russians see NATO treating post-Soviet Russia as a defeated enemy and not as a strategic partner. The Russians don't feel they were defeated since, in their view, it was Mikhail Gorbachev who ended the Soviet Union. In any event, they now believe their state has recovered, and they think their country deserves renewed respect, which they crave after the humiliation they experienced when the 1990s ended their role as a superpower. They want the world to know that the Russian bear is back. Hence, they throw their weight around in a Europe increasingly dependent on Russia's energy resources, an approach recommended in his thesis by one Ph.D. candidate named Putin.

They don't wish to be a junior partner but an equal partner and want to carve out an indispensable role in conflict resolution, particularly as a mediator between the East and the West. That is the way they rationalize the actions we deplore, like the sale of air defenses to Syria, their welcome of Hamas leaders in Moscow, their Security Council veto on such issues as Kosovo and Iran, their resumed arms sales to Iran (suspended by Yeltsin in the summer of 1995), and their reluctance to go beyond two inadequate U.N. sanctions resolutions against Iran's nuclear activities. They will feel vindicated by the latest intelligence estimate, which, for all its skepticism, ought not to convince us that all is well. We need that cooperation on Iran, but the prospects are dim, given the festering perceptions and the way popular nationalism is stoked by Russian TV. Russians have programs arguing that the United States is surrounding Russia with military bases, fomenting pro-American revolutions in countries neighboring Russia, and attempting to control Russia's natural resources. Such broadcasts provide fuel and support for more hawkish policies. Does all this mean that Russians seek a general confrontation with the United States? No. Their military expenditures are only about 5 percent of ours. What they seek is respect, a recognition that as a proud sovereign state they are no longer willing to adjust their behavior to fit our preferences.

We do not have to let things drift into more acrimony. We have the ability to extend a more equitable treatment of Russia. Its desire for our esteem is a key American resource, for the Russians see us as an essential yardstick of their own place in the world. Countering America enhances their self-esteem. They enjoy sticking their thumb in our eye for now, but receiving approval and appreciation from America has always been a key factor in legitimizing domestic political factions and enhancing respect for the leadership.

We have much to lose if Russia leaves the West. Russia is crucial to the global war on terrorism; to nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran; to the security of world energy; and to the containment of a resurgent, authoritarian China. Its veto on the Security Council might also mean that we could not provide U.N. legitimacy for U.S. military actions, not to speak of imposing U.N. sanctions on a rogue state. So the last thing we need is a new Cold War with Russia.

At the same time, we have to make it clear that Iran, global terrorism, and nonproliferation will be defining issues. We cannot accept a situation in which Russia provides cover for rogue nations such as Iran to confront Washington with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Putin is pivotal. He has been increasingly hostile to the West. He has just angered the West by signing a law suspending Russia's participation in the landmark post-Cold War defense agreement to limit conventional weapons deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia's Ural Mountains.

But this means we are going to have to be much more alert to Russians' fears that the West desires to subjugate them, much more sensitive to Russian interests. Accommodation, not confrontation, is the name of the game. The key here, of course, is Putin. From several meetings with him, I'd say he is somebody who is extremely intelligent and very thoughtful; he also has a redeeming sense of humor. He can be dealt with constructively if dealt with as an equal. That will be the challenge and opportunity for the next administration.

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© 2005, Mortimer Zuckerman