Dana E. Abizaid
December 18, 2003
Published in The Boston Globe.

"Putin's puppet democracy" (Dec. 9) rails against Russia's nascent democracy but doesn't attack the sorry state of our two-centuries-old democracy. It is typical of the US press to decry the situation in Russia with statements such as "the Russian people will not be getting the government they deserve from Sunday's parliamentary elections" without even a modicum of shame concerning the fact that we are being governed by George W. Bush and "his ruling clique" since they "manipulated the electoral process" and "brought forth nationalist, authoritarian forces no genuine democracy deserves."

The editorial self-righteously says that Putin strengthened Russia at "the price of letting loose archaic forces inimical to a pluralist democracy." Perhaps this is so, but Putin has largely accomplished his goals with either the tacit or overt support of Washington and in many cases has used the Bush administration's model of media manipulation, unconstitutional detentions, and character assassination to silence critics.

Burgeoning democracies like Russia need strong democratic role models. Russia has not been blessed by the good fortune that Americans seem to accept as a birthright.

Putin faces a constant threat from Chechen separatists, political unrest in Georgia, and instability in the former Soviet Central Asian republics to the south.

Perhaps it would be better to inform readers about the struggle a nation must undertake to bring forth a viable republic and the steps the United States can take to assist in that process rather than reprimand Russia and Putin for attempting to balance liberty with security and more often than not choosing, like their American benefactors, security.