Reason Writers Around Town: Cathy Young on Russia, the "New Cold War," and Barack Obama


Writing in The New York Times, Contributing Editor Cathy Young looks at whether Russian President Dmitri Medvedev will keep the "new cold war" going during the Obama administration.

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  1. NYT Op-ed page, huh?

    Our little girl at Reason has all grown up.

    *wipes tear from eye*

  2. A suprisingly sensible article from Ms. Young.

    Too bad it’s illustrated with faux Cyrillic, a low and dishonest journalistic cliche, but that’s not her fault.

  3. More articles about Russia please. 🙂

    I have mixed feelings about Russia. I certainly fear the combination of a resurgent Russia with an antagonism for the West, empire envy, and an autocratic government. Sometimes parallels to weimar Germany are actully appropriate.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure what to do about it. I’d rather not have a New Cold War, thanks very much.

    We should be thinking about how to turn Russia into a libertarian place (if that’s possible). From what little I can tell from media reports, Russia today is a place where wealth is openly flaunted to a degree that would be considered vulgar in the West, and nobody seems to think there’s anything wrong with that. So, at least, they don’t seem to have retained the socialist derision for profit making. That’s something to work with. The idea of opening up the market so that any entrepreneur can play on a level field ought ot be appealing to a society where everyone’s trying to get rich. I wonder why we don’t push that angle instead of focusing on terms like “democracy” which have acquired a stench of corruption for most Russians.

    Anyway, I’d be interest to hear in more detail just what ordinary Russians actually think and whether libertarian ideas have penetrated very far into russian society.

  4. Great article, Young.

    The best argument against Marxism is the behavior of American Marxist over the last 65 years. During the Cold War, they wrote plenty of songs and books praising the Soviet Union. In the 1990’s there wasn’t any effort among the Marxists to help feed Russians. They loved the Soviet ideology, but didn’t give 2 cents about the people. In contrast, religious and libertarian groups have worked to improve living conditions in Russia now that they are allowed in.

  5. Very good article. Unfortunately all signs are that Cold War II is on.

    A Russian navel contingent is about to tour south and central America — along with some big honcho in their spy agency ‘verse. The Russians are also putting appearances in, in Africa and the Middle East again.

    This is the Cold War all over again folks, make no mistake. And you can’t claim it’s just because the Russians are “threatened” by our missile defense system or our past relationship with the Ukraine. This is Russia’s doing, as it largely was during Cold War I.

    How long will it be, until liberal pundits are telling us (again) that it’s all our own fault that the Russians don’t like us? Oh I know, just wait until we’ve got another Republican president, that’s all it’s going to take.

  6. We should be thinking about how to turn Russia into a libertarian place (if that’s possible).

    Don’t hold your breath. That opportunity only really existed during one short century, in all of Russian history. During this time in the Ukraine they had Venetian style city-states growing up, doing business with the Byzantines and others in the Mediterranean.

    The Mongols and then Ottomans put an end to those trade routes, and then Moscow came to power. Russia has lived under tyranny ever since.

    Libertarian impulses have a mere 1,000 year history to fight, if they want to take root in Russian soil.

  7. To summarize my previous comment, liberals (and many libertarians) have a really naive sense of how international relations really work. Are we ever going to get over the “blame America” BS?

  8. There’s too much paranoia about the new Russia. True, they’re a pretty lousy example of liberal democracy, but they look about like we did at their level of GDP per capita.

    But come on, they’re not going to roll out the Soviet flag and send the tanks rolling out like in the Simpsons episode.

    As liberal democracies get richer, they generally get freer. Look at how homosexuality was treated here; it was still classified as a mental illness as late as 1970.

    Freedom is a luxury good, people only start to care about it after food, shelter, heat, public safety, etc. are secure.

  9. As Ebeneezer noted, Russia has been an aggressive autocracy since its conception. That’s how it got to be the largest country on earth. Obviously no Westerner wants a Cold War II, but in Russia the fundamentals for it(consolidated rule of a hierarchy-collective under a strong man; constant imperative to assert its military authority) have been in place for centuries and have only ever let up during brief periods of instability.

  10. Poor Obama. Looks like he chose the wrong world catastrophe to run for president.

  11. But come on, they’re not going to roll out the Soviet flag and send the tanks rolling out like in the Simpsons episode.

    Nah, they would never dream of doing anything like that. I mean, sending a navel contingent on tour of central and south America, like they’re about to do, has absolutely nothing to do with tanks.

    Of course, our central and South American problems would be much smaller, if we got smart and ended the WoD. But this time around we’ve got a weakness we didn’t have before, with the Mexican government on the verge of collapse. Because they can’t fight off the drug cartels.

    There is a very high probability that Russian “advisors”, or spies, or whatever guise they’re running under, are going to stir the Mexican pot. Just because they can.

    but they look about like we did at their level of GDP per capita

    I don’t suppose you could translate that into something that makes a little bit of sense?

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