Monday, July 30, 2018

War, Revolution, or Fragmentation?

Is Putin secure no matter how poor Russia gets?

Three sociologists concluded in May that Russia does not now face any risk of a color revolution; but in doing so, they came up with a question to which so far no one has an answer: Can Putin govern the country in which no one revolts but in which everyone hates the regime?

If true this would be a big deal given that Putin's fear of NATO is based not on an invasion which is out of the question, but on a "color" revolution hitting Russia.

If true, Russia needs no buffer states in the west and doesn't need to build a threatening military to cow potential sources of dissent in free countries bordering Russia.

That's sad for Russians, but if it is true, tough luck Russian people. I'd rather Russia wasn't a threat to NATO.

But there is a threat to Russian government control even if there isn't one now:

If the regime’s funds eventually do run out, then some kind of “orange revolution” becomes possible if a leader emerges to organize and direct the anger of the population. That risk is clearly on the minds of the Putin regime, Belanovsky argues.

“What must the state do to avoid a revolution?” According to the sociologist, it must “radically restructure the state” by handing over vastly more power to the municipalities so that Russians will see a direct connection between the taxes they pay and the better roads and social services they need.

Can Russia decentralize? Traditionally Russia needed a strong center to build and maintain those roads (and railroads). Honestly, I think a further break up of Russia is more likely than a color revolution across all of Russia.

And a heck of a lot of Russia's cash comes from the Far East (I've read that a lot of that money looks like it originates in Moscow but it does not). Russia needs to funnel that through Moscow. How does decentralization work with that glaring problem of varying revenue?

Of course, if Russia needs to save money, they can step back from the three sources of Russian weakness: a fleet, Poland, and the Caucasus. Then maybe they have a chance of avoiding war, revolution, or fragmentation.

But how likely is that under Putin?