Soviet Union Deja Vu? Russia's Hope and How It Failed

Article excerpt

Back in the halcyon days after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, most people--Westerners and especially Russians--thought that a new era of amity between Russia and the Euro-American alliance was in the offing.

But what some see as the West's crude, uncreative, insensitive, and shortsighted policies caused repeated hammer blows of disillusionment to bring relations with Russia to their present surly and snappish estate.

Still, some analysts say, things could have worked out. Dimitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C., is convinced it was a mistake to give the lead to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Instead of using the IMF as the principal international institution and at the same time as a proxy for the Clinton administration's foreign policy to help Russia," he says, "it was possible to create a special body under the G--7, which would have helped Russia, using not just economic but also political criteria." The G--7 is the Group of Seven, comprising the world's leading industrial nations.

This innovation, Simes says, would have allowed the West to focus far more on nurturing Russian democracy--such as cultivating government checks and balances and the spirit of compromise--than on any particular monetary policy or privatization model. …