1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 12. Juni 2011
The end of the Cold War has been one of the watershed moments of the twentieth century. The tension between the Soviet Union and its allies on one hand, and the Western capitalist democracies on the other, has completely dominated all of international relations for almost half a century. The collapse of the Soviet Union had spurred hopes that the days of bipolar world and the constant threat of total nuclear holocaust are finally behind us. For some time it looked that Russia and a myriad other post-Soviet republics are firmly on a path of joining the West in emulation the institutions and practices of modern liberal democracies. Russia in particular, despite all of its massive economic troubles, seemed to be opening more and more and getting increasingly integrated in the international institutions and treaties. However, the beginning of the twenty-first century saw a dramatic reversal in political and personal freedoms within Russia and an increasing hostility and open challenge to the Western nations on international front. This renewed Russian belligerence and repression of political freedoms is the consequence of the arrival of Vladimir Putin on the scene, and his systematic attempts to reverse what is perceived by many in Russia as the whole scale national decline into chaos and lawlessness.
All of these developments and many others that are not so familiar to the western observers are chronicled with an unprecedented detail and thoroughness by Edward Lucas in "The New Cold war." Edward Lucas is one of the best journalists who specialize in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. He relies heavily on his own journalistic contacts and experiences to weave a powerful and informative narrative of Putin's Russia and the power structures and mechanism that it employs. The picture is oftentimes very brutal and ugly, but this is just a reflection of the facts on the ground.
The second part of the book deals with the geopolitical threats that the resurgent Russia poses to its neighbors and the West. This part of the book is much shorter than the part that deals with internal Russian affairs, and the information is not as fresh and original. This is all rather unfortunate, since the book's title and the premise imply that the main focus of this book is on new Russia's foreign affairs and dealings, and how this constitutes a threat to the World on par with the Cold War. The reader takes home the message that Russia, despite its very sketchy and unsavory domestic and international politics is nowhere near to its erstwhile power to disrupt the peace and stability in the World. This may indeed be the accurate picture of the true potential and importance of Russia right now, but if the author wanted to alert the public to Russia's international aspirations then this book falls short. I truly hope to find the answer to this dilemma, and would like to read a book that is in fact entirely devoted to Russia's current diplomatic relations.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 16. Januar 2009
I must admitt that until I started reading this book I had been to some extent a fan of Putin. It seemed to me that after all the dismal failures of the Yeltsin years that Russia was finally recovered and in the later years even prospering economically once Putin had been in power for some years.
Now, I will seriously have to revise my ideas about Putin, because as the book clearly points out he is not friend of pluralism or democracy, rather he preferrs to rule via intimidation and force if necessary. The Kremlin's new look is nothing but a facade, as the author proves. Putin has maintained a closely guarded hold on power in Russia, much like the rulers of the Soviet Union did during their times. The only things that has really changed is that the communist party is no longer the only legal party in Russia, but even this is of little relieve, since Putin and his supporters have managed to control to media to such an extent that it can't be called a free media anymore, as it had at least to some extent been the case under Yeltsin and Gorbachev.
Furthermore, Putin has made it clear that he will not tolerate any challenges to his leadership. The author has uncovered some unsettling evidence that Putin may be involved in the murder and intimidation of serveral political opponents. Many of them have faced threats and been even draged into court, because they dared to defy Putin and his government. Some dissidents even had to leave the country for fear of their lives. This is clearly not the way a free media is supposed to work.
Furthermore, when it comes to foreign policy Putin has not only made Russia more economically stronger, but he also has changed some of the ways foreign policy is made. First of all, he was taken on the West in a much more aggressive way than ever since the end of the Soviet Union. He has made it clear that he will not tolerate too much Western influence in the so called near abroad, those areas that once belonged to the Soviet Union and these are now considered Russia's sphere of influence. Some have as the book also shows talked of a new Russian "Monroe Doctrine" when it come to this. Also Putin has embarked on a much more confrontational foreign policy with NATO. The conflict with Georgia of last year can be seen as one instrumental example of this, when Russia threatend to fire ICBMs and hence nuclear missiles into Poland and Hungary, if the USA were to persist in its expansion policy of NATO and to place nuclear missiles in those 2 countries.
When it comes to economic policy Putin has also come down hard on many Western companies that were simply forced to give up their (stock market) shares of companies in Russia that they had invested in. By and large, Putin has simply nationalized these companies and paid very little in terms of compensation to those Western M.N.C.s. It is once instrumental of his tough and aggressive policy toward Western firm that want to make business in lucrative Russia. The West, according to the author, is not responding properly to such intimidation tactics and strategies, because it is apparently much more interested in short term profits than its overall policy toward the Kremlin. The author claims that such accomodating behavior will not be overlooked by the Kremlin and be seen as a clear sign of success when it come to dealing with Western companies and nations. Russia known that it has many essential resources that the West needs and hence it is behaving much more assertive. For example 40% of the gas that Germany needs is already being imported from Russia, with a definitely rising tendency for the near future. The EU is in a similar position when it comes to especially gas from Russia. This has led Putin to assume a much more assertive policy toward the EU in general, even to the point of making previously unheard demands of those countries in the EU that are importing gas from Russia.
Finally, when it comes to military matters Putins has also changed the way that the Russian military is looking at the West. The years after the demise of the Soviet Union were known for their initial attempts to form some kind of an understanding between Russia and the West. There were attempts to reduce any conflictual issues. All this is no longer an issue with Putin's Russia that has reasserted itself in terms of military strategy toward the West. As the author points out Putin has changed the way the military is now purchasing its weapons. The traditional days of the old Soviet Union when quantity clearly took precedence over quality are over. Nowadays, Russia is producing weapons of a much higher quality, although it can no longer produce them in the massive numbers that the former Soviet Union could. But nonetheless, this means that the Russian military, is so to speak, getting leaner and meaning. The Russian military machine has clearly been upgraded and improved, although it is obviously no match for the US one. But as long as the economic revival of Russia continues the military is going to get gradually stronger in that country.
Overall this is certainly a good book to read if one wants to know what Putin's leadership is all about, and what this means for Russia's relationship with the West and the rest of the world.
The sources that I saw seemed to be sound, so that it will be hard to dispute the facts that have been cited in this book.
Lastly, I'd like to say that this book is easy to read the author dosen't use any unnecessary terminology or a difficult writing style. Thus, definitely a very good book worth getting.
5 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
am 23. Mai 2008
Russia is heading in an ominous direction that poses a threat to its own citizens, neighboring states and the world as a whole. This book with its disturbing message takes a hard look at the Russian ruling elite which emerged almost entirely from the ranks of the old KGB. The Russian government now directly competes with the West on various fronts, both economical and political. Genuine freedom of expression and the rule of law are long gone and the state has grabbed all political and economic power that matters. Putin's term "managed" or "sovereign" democracy really means a particularly malignant form of Tsarism or Fascism. In her 2004 book Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy, Anna Politkovskaya correctly observed that the brutality in Chechnya was an omen of Russia's future cruelty to all its citizens.
The media now portrays Putin as a hero that rescued the country from the "chaos" of the 1990s since the political class has revived the Soviet habit of revisionism. And it uses the Orthodox Church for spreading the ideology of patriotism and Russian nationalism, a policy that inflames xenophobia resulting in violent racist attacks on non-Slav and non-Russian citizens. There have also been signs that this church is reverting to its infamous history of antisemitism. Militarism and imperialism are integral to the new nationalism although Lucas believes that the aim is the "Finlandisation" of Europe rather than territorial expansion. In the West Russia has plenty of paid propagandists plus the romantically deluded species known as Russophiles for whom this failed state with its history of genocide, sadism and misery can do no wrong.
Lucas charts the rise of Putin (explained in horrifying detail in Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror by Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky) and the course of the new cold war in a thorough and systematic manner, concluding with advice for the West on how to conduct and win it. Although he doesn't soon expect any military threat, Russia's nuclear stockpile must be reckoned with. The weapons employed in this multifaceted undeclared war are oil, gas and the revenues generated by their export. Instead of allocating it to real needs, the Kremlin uses the income to further its imperialist ambitions by acquiring strategic assets in Europe. Some of it flows straight to the elite for private investment abroad.
This war is pursued while Russia suffers from demographic collapse, massive corruption and widespread lawlessness. Ex-KGB operatives are in charge of all major companies and state enterprises, ensuring more inefficiency and corruption. On the international stage, not only has Russia behaved like a thug against Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia and Georgia, it is supplying weapons to rogue states Iran and Syria and their terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. There is no shortage of willing collaborators in the West, like previous German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, although western investors have begun to realize that investment in Russia is not worth the risk. When foreign companies resist state interference they risk confiscation. A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia by Anna Politkovskaya exposes the mentality, power and incompetence of the ruling class.
The geopolitical implications are staggering, as the Putin gang eagerly befriends all enemies of the West. Russia is pursuing an energy policy aimed at strangling the liberal democracies by e.g. establishing a gas cartel. Lucas warns the West to get its house in order by inter alia cleaning up financial markets and reconsidering Russia's G8 membership. Should a criminal state be allowed to remain in a club of civilized nations? Whatever other evils result from Russia's abandonment of Western values, it is sure to become a more barbaric place for its citizens and a considerably more dangerous international player. One may confidently expect it to supply Iran with nuclear weapons technology and to cooperate with every loathsome thugocracy that defiles the planet.
Evidence is accumulating that Russia seeks an alliance with the Islamic world and a partial restoration of the Soviet Empire through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization of which China is a member. The Kremlin ignores the real threat from China despite the particularly dire demographic and infrastructural implosion in Russia's far east. However, the Shanghai arrangement will bring the Turkic speaking states of Central Asia (plus Persian Tajikistan) back into the bear's embrace. Turkey's future role will be crucial; it remains to be seen where its recent Islamist trend will take it and how its foreign policy might change in case of almost certain exclusion from the inner core of the EU. Of course economic ties to Europe are assured but the country might establish closer relations with the aforementioned Central Asian states.
Should Israel be forced to act against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah an intensified Russian engagement in the Middle East conflict cannot be excluded. It might reluctantly be drawn into direct military intervention by its humiliated and devastated allies in the region. For those interested in prophetic speculation, I recommend Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg, an engrossing book based on the prophecies of Ezekiel about an anti-Israel confederacy which increasingly resembles the expanded axis of evil, an anti-western alliance that Russia is so vigorously pursuing.