Change or Decay

Change or Decay: Russia's Dilemma and the West's Response

LILIA SHEVTSOVA
ANDREW WOOD
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 259
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpjsd
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  • Book Info
    Change or Decay
    Book Description:

    The world is still coping with the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two decades later, the West has yet to adjust to the post-Soviet reality and Russia has not settled on its relationship with the rest of the world.

    InChange or Decay, two of the most respected scholars on Russia analyze how relations are shifting between Russia and the world. In a series of lively and candid conversations, Lilia Shevtsova and Andrew Wood discuss how the Russia of Putin and Medvedev emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union and the trajectory of Russia's relations with the West.

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-300-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 7-8)
    Jessica T. Mathews

    Twenty years is long enough to permit some—at least tentative—historical judgments. It is now clear that the twenty years that have elapsed since the Soviet Union imploded so suddenly have been a time of adjustment between Russia and the West without definitive outcomes.

    The West was caught off-guard by the very thing that it had fought for and earnestly desired for so long: the end of communism. When it finally came—and the process of disintegration of the Soviet bloc and its attendant ideology can be measured in months rather than years—no one knew what to expect,...

  4. LETTER TO THE READER
    (pp. 9-11)

    What follows is a record of our exchanges from late 2010 to mid-2011 on Russia’s trajectory and Western attitudes toward it.

    We started our dialogue with the usual friendly catch-up. “What’s new in Moscow?”; “How is the tandem doing?”; “What about the wider Russian picture?”; were the usual questions from one side. “What does the West think about the reset?”; “Don’t you think Brussels is pretending it has a strategy toward Russia?”; came from the other side. Soon we began to look deeper into the trends we were discussing and zeroed in on the interaction between the Western understanding of...

  5. THE BEGINNING WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
    (pp. 12-37)

    LILIA: Hardly anyone could have imagined the following situation after the demise of communism: Russia imitates democracy and the West sits on the sidelines, watching patiently in a way that serves only to encourage the imitators. Russian liberals criticize the Western community, while Russian authorities, despite occasional grudges, are generally happy with it. Western politicians, meanwhile, prefer to deal with the Russian state and are irritated by the constant lamentations of Russian liberals, which stand in the way of mutual satisfaction.

    How did we get here? We have to go back in time to find out. I will present here...

  6. ENTER VLADIMIR PUTIN 1999–2004 CONSOLIDATION OF THE NEW REGIME
    (pp. 38-53)

    ANDREW: I think we agree that the system that Yeltsin passed on to Putin had the potential then to become what it is now. If there is a difference between us, it is that I felt at the time that there were other options, provided that the various parts of the Russian system were allowed to continue to evolve as autonomous power centers. It rather quickly became evident that this was not going to happen, and perhaps I held on as Yeltsin gave way to Putin to the idea of benign development because I wanted to believe that the dead...

  7. “RUSSIA IS RISING FROM HER KNEES” 2004–2008
    (pp. 54-72)

    ANDREW: I see the relationship between Russia and the West, meaning the individual countries to Russia’s West as well as Western institutions, as a process of ups and downs, governed substantially by Russia’s internal evolution and its ideas of itself.

    LILIA: Let me just highlight this assumption of yours, which I share, but so few other Russia observers do.

    ANDREW: The West has difficulty understanding Russia’s internal development, as we know. But if this picture is a reasonable way of analyzing the issues, then I would be wary of too clearly dividing Russian history into different periods. What I see...

  8. THE RUSSIAN TANDEM CHANGES ITS TACTICS MODERNIZATION AS A WAY TO PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO FROM 2008 ON
    (pp. 73-118)

    ANDREW: The Russian belief that the West does not understand Russian realities goes far beyond the “liberal camp,” however widely one understands that term. I have been struck by recent disagreements about Russia’s trajectory among many, perhaps even most, Western observers, particularly in Washington and in Germany, and a wide group of Russian intellectuals, analysts, and business figures. The mood in Russia is more pessimistic than elsewhere. Russian disillusion may feed back into Western opinion in due course, but whether it does or not, the gap between attitudes reflects a difference of assumptions about the future that will endure. Western...

  9. THE U.S.-RUSSIAN RESET HOW SUSTAINABLE IS IT?
    (pp. 119-135)

    LILIA: If you don’t mind, I will sum up my rough thoughts. Three years on, the reset appears to have produced notable successes. Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev signed the New START treaty, and after a pretty tough struggle in Congress the treaty was ratified by both parliaments. They also reached an agreement on cooperation on Afghanistan (by May 2011 it resulted in the transit through Russian airspace of more than 170,000 U.S. personnel on over 1,000 flights); bridged positions in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program; and created an infrastructure for cooperation—the Bilateral Presidential Commission, consisting of sixteen...

  10. EUROPE AND THE RUSSIAN SYSTEM ACQUIESCENCE OR INFLUENCE?
    (pp. 136-152)

    ANDREW: The rest of Europe is as I have said before more closely bound up with Russia than is the United States. The European Union is, in principle, well placed to exercise influence on Moscow. Russia’s ability to put energy (that is, gas) pressure on Brussels and on a range of individual EU countries has diminished in the past few years. However, the main reason for the Russians to take Europe seriously is its ability to attract other European countries to its standards and the prospect of eventual membership in the European Union. This influence has in recent years been...

  11. REALPOLITIK VERSUS CONSTRUCTIVE REALISM
    (pp. 153-169)

    ANDREW: We should not forget that the changing balance between Asia and the rest of the world will also affect the relationship between Russia and the West. I do not, however, think that the changes in Asia will make Russia less important as a question for the West—probably the reverse: The rise of China is disturbing for an already insecure country. Russia likes to think of itself as a Eurasian power, and so it is, geographically. But it is a minor power for Asia, and not one that can call on China, for obvious reasons, as a counterbalance to...

  12. MYTHS WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM?
    (pp. 170-180)

    LILIA: There is another problem that has taken on a personal dimension for me: mass-scale involvement by Russian experts and intellectuals in creating illusions, empty stereotypes, and clichés about Russia that only confuse people, distort the real situation, and in this way help to legitimize the current system. Not everyone has taken part in this process, but all too many have.

    The reason why so many Russian intellectuals agree to serve the authorities is a separate issue that requires a lengthy discussion of its own. The Russian experts who have placed their talents in the service of the personalized power...

  13. WHY IS THE WEST READY TO PRETEND?
    (pp. 181-199)

    LILIA: The Russian liberal community is convinced that the West understands quite well what is afoot in Russia, but that Western political and intellectual figures prefer to turn a blind eye to it. Those who carried out the August 1991 coup against Gorbachev arranged for Swan Lake to be played non-stop on all television channels as a distraction while they tried to restore lost Soviet verities. For many Russians it is as though many in the West prefer to watch symbols of the past like Swan Lake in place of today’s realities. Of course it is the Russian political class...

  14. WHY THE WEST WON’T POKE THE BEAR
    (pp. 200-227)

    LILIA: You should go to the Russian liberal websites and read the comments there. You’ll find severe criticism of the political West by the Russian liberal pro-Western wing. This is something new in our history.

    Andrew, you helped me to understand the logic of Western policy, but I would still argue that, whatever the logic that underpins its policy, the West really prefers to live with the status quo rather than taking up the challenge of formulating a collective and strategically focused course of action. This may be of some help in solving the West’s domestic problems but I am...

  15. WHAT CAN THE WEST DO?
    (pp. 228-234)

    ANDREW: So what is the answer? I will give my view of how the West should act and ask for your comments and reflections on the Russian point of view. I have usually found that the Russians I speak with argue that there is rather little Western countries can do directly to encourage liberal change in their country. I’ve also found that those who consider that Moscow’s present course is the right one say that the West ought to redeem itself by accepting the premises of that course, notably Russia’s right to be the dominant actor in the former Soviet...

  16. EPILOGUE: DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? A CONCLUDING LETTER TO THE READER
    (pp. 235-238)

    We’ve come to the end of our conversation, for now. It would be good if the coming years proved our anxieties about the future wrong. Nevertheless, it is clear that difficult times are ahead.

    We have tried to establish, from both the liberal Russian and Western perspectives, a view of today’s Russia and the West’s past and future interaction with it. This “dual-track” approach helped us to clarify our initial assumptions and to reconcile them when they appeared at first to conflict. We hope that the resulting dialogue will prove useful to others in testing their own convictions. We’ve tried...

  17. INDEX
    (pp. 239-254)
  18. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 255-256)
  19. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 257-258)
  20. CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE
    (pp. 259-259)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-261)