Monday, 1 June 2009

Unholy alliance: Edward Lucas + Keston Institute = "False Prophets of Doom"?

Unholy alliance: Edward Lucas + Keston Institute = "False Prophets of Doom"?

Recently the Keston Institute invited Edward Lucas to their conference. This is an interesting combination one group with a Cold War agenda and One author with a Cold War agenda: Perhaps they have both realised that together they can cash in on cold war phobia - who knows maybe next year they will write scripts for the BBC fictionalised story about MI5 the series appropriately named "Spooks"?

Anyway this is a report about what Edward Lucas said at the Keston Institute.

"Our second speaker was Edward Lucas, Deputy International Editor and Central and Eastern EuropeCorrespondent for The Economist who has been covering the region since 1986. He spoke about what he sees as a new ‘Cold War’ developing between Keston Newsletter No 8, 2009 14 Russia and the West which is acting naively in its over-rosy view of post-perestroikaRussia. Edward's sobering assessment deserves to be heard and acted upon by every politician in Europe and the USA. Onepoint he made which struck listeners forcibly (and which the press has ignored) was his contention that Vladimir Putin, while President, had missed a once-in-a-lifetime possibility of using Russia's new oil wealth to improve the substructure of thecountry. As it is, roads remain potholed, Moscow traffic gridlocked and the best medical services out of reach of the majority of the population. Instead, the billions were siphoned off into the bank accounts of the new rich. Now those revenues havesharply declined, so the chance has passed Russia by."

Now some may say that this is rubbish. Yes Moscow is full of cars and it is horrible. But surely the fact that people now have cars is a good indication that the wealth is starting to trickle down to those who are not rich.
Yes after a horrible period in the 1990's when the countries wealth was syphoned off to Wall Street and the bank accounts of exiles living in the West. Things have starting to turn around and it is not just the rich who have benefited.

Research by Sergei Gunie "Are Russians moving backwards" states
"Contrary to popular belief, the last decade of economic growth did not just benefit the rich: all the measures of economic well-being improved. Unemployment and poverty went down by half, and real wages tripled. Russians were taking their holidays abroad, buying cars and mobile phones to an extent that would have been unimaginable in the 1990s. An index of life satisfaction taken in 2008 comparing the same representative panel of Russians whose attitudes had been charted since 1994 found that people were substantially happier than in the late 1990s. "

Surprise! Surprise! Yes Russia does have social problems. But Russia is a big country that has had a turbulent history so one would expect things to move slowly. But times are changing. social problems are starting to be addressed thanks to the Russian Government and the Orthodox church and the social situation has improved tremendously since the failed American crusade of the 1990's. However, there are still things to be done for instance drinking, drugs and disease are a problem(as they are in the West) - so perhaps, rather than just blaming the Government, Edward Lucas should donate some money to help those people, in Russia, that are disadvantaged - people whose trategy stories have helped to sell his books rather than just becoming what some have called a " False Prophet of Doom"