Tuesday, 1 April 2014
We Are At (Cold) War With Russia, We Were Always At (Cold) War With Russia
In terms of geopolitics, the events of the last few weeks have brought about the most monumental changes since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Indeed, it can be said that the Crimean Crisis has reversed many of the changes the break-up of the Soviet Union caused. No longer can we see Russia as a slowly liberalizing nation who can be a potential ally but which must instead be regarded for what it really is-a militarized oligarchy which desires to expand and control once more the former lands of the Russian and Soviet empires.
The question must be asked: how have we gotten to this point? Was this an inevitable event? What can the Western powers do from this point on? The first question must be answered by pointing to a mixture of causes. The fall of the USSR caused hope in the citizens of those countries that there'd be a new day of prosperity and freedom with the coming of material benefits of Western capitalism and the principles of liberal democracy. Alas, this was not to be, thanks to the disastrous policies of the Russia's first post-communist President, Boris Yeltsin.
One of the most unfortunate facts in history is that the break-up of the USSR occurred with the rise of The architect of Yeltsin's economic policies was Yegor Gaidar whose programme would end up destroying the economy of the newly independent Russian Federation, For example by lifting all controls on prices, massive inflation occurred which wiped out the life savings of many people including the elderly. In response to these prices, a strict austerity program was instituted that resulted in massive cuts in public spending which threw millions of those dependent on social welfare programs into poverty, Privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises resulted in these companies being acquired at basement prices by a small group of oligarchs who soon dominated the Russian economy.
Demographic and economic number shows the grim results of these policies. According to the World Bank, certainly no lover of Soviet state socialism, poverty went from 1.5% to well into the mid-forties by 1993. Income inequality grew in Russia to the same level as Brazil, while unemployment