The United States” recognition of Kosovo has been accompanied by some familiar attacks on Vladimir Putin. According to his critics, the Russian president seeks the Finlandization of Europe and is a grave threat to America. In opposing Russia, Putin’s neoconservative and neoliberal enemies have been willing to support the birth of an Islamic state in the newly minted Kosovo and even shelve the war of terror to back Chechen rebels through organizations such as the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. But beyond the propaganda, Putin’s real crime is that he has refused to play by the rules of globalization. In fact, he has done something remarkably, indeed, unheard of in most Western countries”he has sought to enact policies that truly are in Russia’s interest. Instead of demonizing Putin, a saner course of action for the U.S. would be to extend the olive branch to Russia and recognize her as a nation of the greater West”a transnational cultural body of which we, too, are a part (or should hope to be.)
The ongoing violence in Iraq has caused observers to reflect on the challenges of bringing democracy to tribal societies. Before the Iraq War was launched in 2003, the Bush administration assured Americans and the world that the removal of Saddam Hussein would result in the creation of a peaceful, well-governed, and democratic society. But it is now becoming clear that building a successful democracy is not as easy as many Americans had assumed. Pure democracy is a system that works well in particular cultures, and not all cultures are equally capable of building harmonious democratic societies. If the Bush administration had been interested in studying the track record of democracy-building efforts in tribal cultures, they should have studied the experience of Sub-Saharan Africa.