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Monday, April 23, 2007

Why Boris Yeltsin's Death Matters to Hillary Clinton

Boris Yeltsin, 1931-2007
Russia's Maverick TIME
FACTBOX - Key facts about former Russian President Yeltsin Reuters.uk, UK

That's news in an election that must deal with Vladimir Putin. Putin took 20 steps back from all Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev accomplished.

Why does his death matter? Largely, the issue is symbolic. Yeltsin ceased being an influencer not long after he left office. His policies carried on, but that's incidental.

The real situation is about how, in his death, the media will look at his life, and, what's important to this discussion, what he accomplished. In doing so, the cavities in Putin's career become obvious.

Above, there are a few links. They are not the last word, but can begin a starting point in understanding how little reform Putin has established. Those heady days when communism collapsed ended, when -- in 1995? I'm making that up. It ended, and there's the problem. A Russian policy analyst will speak to this better than myself, but, when communism fell, fools rushed in, economies were deconstructed, but, in reconstructing them, allowed gaps of desperation. Bad decisions were made. Putin, and his leadership style, mixed with the already present corruption of the communist party's leadership, essentially forged inflation in ways we have never suffered in the USA.

What should Bush do? What should the next president be prepared to do?
With Russia still a player in the world, we will need a strong St. Petersburg as China grows its perspective. The president needs to understand this, and have policies to think globally, with an eye toward Eastern Europe and, specifically, Russia. China's oppression echoes some of what the former Soviet Union pushed on its citizens. China is willing to kill its citizens, much in the same way a Shariah-driven government will, as both try to protect its people from independent thoughts and beliefs about God, life, morality, economics and politics.

There is no easy solution. Russia, in a best case scenario, will continue to have growing pains. We in the USA, had the advantage of growing slowly. Russia was like a ready-made country, but the cement had no yet hardened.

Hillary Clinton was there during much of post-communist Russia's birth. She saw it, in many ways, first hand, through the office of husband Bill's White House job. This is big. Barack Obama, for all of his gifts, was never married to as president.

Will this be a factor in choosing the next president? Probably not, but it should be. The only factor? Of course not. Just put it on your T-chart scorecard as you compare candidates.

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