From the November/December issue of The National Interest.
TWENTY YEARS after the fall of the Berlin wall, Russia remains as Sir Winston Churchill described it: "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Russia's complexity has contributed to an American debate in which policy preferences too often shape analysis rather than analysis driving policy. It's not a sound basis for decisions when key American interests and goals are at stake.
One doesn't need to be a Russian domestic radical or a foreign Russophobe to see major flaws in the way Russia is ruled. The country's president, Dmitri Medvedev, has catalogued its problems: "an inefficient economy, semi-Soviet social sphere, fragile democracy, negative demographic trends and unstable [North] Caucasus," not to mention "endemic corruption" defended by "influential groups of corrupt officials and do-nothing ‘entrepreneurs'" who want to "squeeze the profits from the remnants of Soviet industry and squander the natural resources that belong to us all."