Sunday, January 24, 2021

Biden ‘Paradoxically’ May Reprise Reagan’s Role in Transforming Russia, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 21 – “However paradoxical” it might seem, the new US president Democratic Joe Biden “is capable of playing the role which his predecessor Republican Ronald Reagan did four decades ago and promote the start of “’a new perestroika’” in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

            Because of that possibility, the Russian regionalist author says, the Kremlin is especially worried about how Biden will overturn Donald Trump’s approach. In many ways, Trump was someone Vladimir Putin could live with because he resembled the Kremlin leader in  being a rightwing populist, interested in spheres of influence but unconcerned with human rights (, reposted at

            Both Trump and Putin sought to make their countries “’great again,’ although their definition of greatness – based on military power rather than societal development – was out of step with global trends going in the opposite direction. And like Putin, Trump showed himself “practically uninterested in human rights and civic freedoms in in other countries.”

            Trump’s attitude toward such rights has now come back to him “like a boomerang” with Twitter and other social media blocking his use of them. That has been sharply criticized by many Europeans but not, it is worth nothing, but the Putin regime which seeks to impose such bans on its own people in an even more draconian fashion.

            Because Biden represents such a sharp departure from Trump on issues of populism, spheres of influence, and concern for human rights, the new American president will be transforming of the international environment and quite possibly of the Russian Federation as well. No wonder Putin is nervous.

            According to Shtepa, “the last American elections clearly demonstrate the crisis of the presidential model of rule, especially in major countries. Network technologies and relations today are changing the world in essential ways, but ‘the cult’ of this or that president on the contrary gives rise to inevitable conflicts.”

            That is especially the case in countries like the US where the population is divided nearly in half, and in Russia “where Putin in fact has destroyed all political chances for the opposition,” leaving its members to speculate “about what sort of prospects there will be in ‘a post-Putin era.’”

            Parliamentary republics do not suffer from the same problems, Shtepa continues. They seldom lead to the social divides that presidential systems do. Instead, they promote competition not between leaders who either want or are compelled by circumstances to develop a loyalist following but rather among various communities and institutions.

            That is a lesson the peoples of Russia need to consider as they seek to plot their future. If they do, the consequences could be just as great as they were 30 years ago. Indeed, the results would be far more long-lasting than any shift from one Kremlin leader to another.

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