Friday, August 31, 2007

More of the Same

The 11th installment of the AJISS Commentary just dropped into my mail box.

Amaterasu, do not provoke me--the Commentary, entitled "Russia Reverting to Type," highlights the matter I brought earlier today--the familial connections behind and between the present day actors on the international scene.

But I get ahead of myself.

In line with AJISS guidelines since "that little misunderstanding of last year," the piece does break too much crockery. However, it is not without value: it does offer a corrective as regards the recent outcry over Russia's abandoning liberal democracy:

Putin's Russia does not care about its reputation in the West, for the president is now aware that Europe and the United States can no longer ignore the economically powerful Russia. The former Soviet republics, which moved away from Moscow in the economically difficult 1990s, are reviewing and placing greater emphasis on their relations with Russia, while the Kremlin is nurturing the ambition of extending its influence over them. The chilled relationship with the West has driven Moscow to deepen ties with Beijing. Such was the backdrop against which Putin in Munich unleashed his strongest criticisms ever of Washington in February 2007.

Has Russia changed? When viewed from a long-term historical perspective, the Gorbachev/Yeltsin era, during which Russia sought integration into the West, was rather exceptional. Today’s Russia can be seen as reverting to the “original Russia” or revealing some of its true face. Those democrats and reformists in the West and Russia who had optimistically expected that a Western-style democracy and a market economy would take root in Russia in a short period and that political and economic integration into the West would easily be achieved did not fully understand the history and social reality of Russia.

If Russia as a whole is to make a qualitative change, a stable middle class will need to take root in society at large and the international-minded business elite and the young generation will need to occupy the center stage of Russian society. It would take at least several generations for this to happen, although certain Russian businesses are likely to reach the world-class level soon.
The really interesting aspect of the essay is how AJISS - Commentary chooses to introduce the author.

Shigeki Hakamada is a Professor in the School of International Politics, Economics and Business at Aoyama Gakuin University.

Which is true...but insufficiently descriptive. The introduction probably should have been a wee bit longer. Something like:

Shigeki Hakamada is a Professor in the School of International Politics, Economics and Business at Aoyama Gakuin University. His father was Masuo Mutsuo Hakamada, a member of the Japan Communist Party who fled to the Soviet Union in 1938. Known as the mockingly as the "Tiger of Siberia" and "Emperor Hakamada" he was the editor of the Nippon Shimbun, the Japanese language paper printed for the Japanese POWs of Siberia. The author's uncle was Satomi Hakamada, former Deputy Chairman of the Japan Communist Party. The author's half-sister is Irina Khakamada, a former Deputy Speaker of the Russian Duma and member of the opposition The Other Russia coalition. She ran for president of Russia in 2004 as an independent and finished fourth.

That's better.

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