Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Tuesday, April 30, 2002
And speaking of the Kremlin: David Satter has a depressing piece on the 1999 apartment bombings in Russian on National Review Online. Nothing really new here, but the last time I thought about this story - and the likelihood that the Yeltsin "family" had hundreds of innocent Russians murdered to ensure Putin's election - was around the time of the bombings themselves, when Russia looked like it was spiralling down the drain at an accelerating pace, and it didn't seem to matter so much just how awful things were; they were clearly too awful to worry about. (Kind of how we thought about Afghanistan for the past decade.) Anyhow, I've been very impressed at the strategic direction Putin has taken - I think he's far more Western-oriented than Satter does - and at the strategic insight the Bush Administration has had in partnering up with his regime. But that only makes this blast-from-the-past (as it were) more disturbing and depressing. Because if Putin's regime is really founded on mass-murder then I agree with Satter that whatever Russia builds is built on sand. Actually, it's worse than that. If Putin had come to power by killing a bunch of "troublemakers" - a la Tiananmen Square or the Santiago stadium - his regime could possibly be salvaged by pointing to a higher cause. Perhaps those who died did not deserve to die, but they were leading to "disorder," and this justified "strong measures." This is the way dictators talk all the time, and a transition to democracy can be made if the "emergency" is over and the dictator can be convinced to relinquish power, as happened in Spain, Chile, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and many other countries. But if the apartment bombings were a Kremlin plot, then the regime is guilty of murdering people selected entirely at random, and selected in order to cause disorder not to quell it. The Putin government would be less legitimate than the Nazis who came to power after setting the Reichstag fire. I'm really finding it hard to come up with proper comparisons. And to the extent that our government is strategically linked to Putin's, the potential downside for ultimate relations with the United States is significant. But I don't know what the U.S. can do about it. Something to worry about for the future.