Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Elite Seven?

The Dynamic Duo has struck again, brining justice and reason to an otherwise troubled world!

... But seriously, when Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman work together, I listen to what they have to say. If I don't have the time to listen/read the details of their joint work, it's usually a good guess that I'd agree. In the past, they've tried to introduce a gun-control bill (decried by the NRA as an "unworkable 'middle ground' bill") and a climate stewardship act (decried by the Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Energy as a "dangerous bill" saying it would "force most power plants to switch from using coal").

So with the most bi-partisan politicians backing legislation, it's best to listen. Right now, McCain and Lieberman are pushing for the removal of Russia from the Group of Eight. What began in 1975 as the Group of Six was a group of the democratic economic leaders, the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, meeting annually in economic summits. A year later, Canada was added to make the Group of Seven. With Russia opening up under Yeltsin in the late 1990's, Russia was added as a reward for its increasingly democratic policies, making it -- can you guess? -- the Group of Eight. With the current political trajectory in Russia, beginning with the stifling of free speech, it's time to question their membership in a democratic-only society.

It's important to point out that Russia was never a full-fledged member, and has the smallest economy by far out of the elite eight. Also worth noting is that the legislation being proposed has no immediate consequence, it would merely urge President Bush to push for Russia's suspension. However, coming just days before Bush's meeting with Putin, the message could start the political wheels moving to pressure Russian reform, especially coming from two highly respected senators.

While working at the Library of Congress, I got a chance to look at the exhibit of Ann Telnaes's political cartoons. One springs to mind. To quote the Daily Show: And now, your moment of Zen.


At 3:40 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Haha, excellent comic.

And yeah, I'd just been reading about this new proposal. Even if it has no tangible effect, it sends a clear sign to Putin before Thursday's meeting with Bush. Joe Biden's demanded to know "When are we going to get tough with Russia?" The answer is, starting now, because we're not thrilled about Putin's USSR nostalgia. The buddy-buddy relationship between Bush and Putin is on the rocks. Either Putin stops that backslide and starts seeing eye-to-eye with the U.S. on security issues, or else he faces the consequences.

Final thought--Thursday's meeting is uber-important. Bush has to walk a fine line between coaxing Putin to the right side versus pushing him into a corner and making him feel threatened and isolated. Stay tuned...

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I came across this today while reading the Books&Arts section of last week's TNR:

"According to an opinion poll conducted in 2003, fifty years after Stalin's death, 53 percent of Russians think positively of his historical role. Only 33 percent condemn him. For many his name became a synonym of all the things supposedly missing in today's Russian life: public order, decent living standards, a sense of national solidarity, collective dignity and strength. Even Russian youngsters point out that it was under Stalin that their country achieved superpower status "on a par with America." I wonder how much this public acquiescence to nostalgia for one of history's most ruthless executioners is responsible for Russia's recent shift away from democracy.


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