Cheerful thoughts on Ukraine

A credentialed expert on Russian politics tells me the end is near for Putin’s dictatorship.

Just ran into Daniel Treisman, a credentialed expert on Russian politics, who told me back when Yeltsin was president (and Treisman was a grad student) that Putin was next and that he would fix himself in power. Short version of the dialogue:

DT: Interesting times.
MK: I told you your boy Putin was an SOB.
DT: He’s always been an SOB, but he didn’t use to be delusional.
MK: Huh?
DT: After fourteen years of cautious and skilful politics, he’s lost touch with reality. I knew his control was going to end, but this week brings the end much nearer.
MK: To be replaced by …?
DT: Something closer to democracy.

From his lips to God’s ears. Daniel was right when I was optimistic, so let’s hope that he’s right now that he’s optimistic.

Update Treisman’s more detailed thoughts.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Cheerful thoughts on Ukraine”

  1. The Crimea was Russia's Florida: a nice sunny place to go for the holidays, or at least aspire to go to someday. (I've been to Yalta; the hotel infrastructure along miles of pristine Black Sea coastline is astonishingly underdeveloped.) But no Russian will want to go to, or invest in, an armed trouble spot under international sanctions.The prize will quickly tarnish.

  2. This definitely looks like a bad gamble for Putin, because while he is protecting the vital military bases in Crimea, he is also alienating non-Russians within Russia's sphere of influence.

    But if I were you, I would definitely be careful about a wish for a democratic Russia. Russian public opinion is generally that the country should be a great power. (Not much different from pre-Iraq War US public opinion about US foreign policy.) They hated Boris Yeltsin giving away so much of the country's resources and power and prestige to oligarchs and the West. Putin has quite possibly lost it, but Putinism is alive and well and any truly democratically elected Russia is probably going to want to act as a great power with a sphere of influence and is not going to have a lot of fondness for the West.

  3. Gee, I thought Sochi was Russia's Florida. (Which makes it a peculiar place to hold Olympic Winter games, doesn't it?)

  4. Is anarchy closer to democracy than dictatorship? Because unless Putin is deposed by a broad-based coup (exactly the kind of thing he’s been very good at stamping out) there are going to be a lot of different groups competing for power, none of them with traditions of bowing to the supposed will of the people.

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