Streetwise Professor

October 31, 2007

Tu Quoque, European Edition

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:02 am

In “How do you say ‘Tu Quoque’ in Russian?” I remarked on Putin’s tendency to respond to any external criticism of Russia with “Tu Quoque” (i.e, “your another”) arguments. In response to European criticism of Russian “sovereign” or “managed” democracy (choose your Orwellian modifier), Putin has announced plans to set up a think tank to critique European democracy:

Putin Says Russia Will Check EU on Rights

President Vladimir Putin told European leaders that he was planning to set up a think tank for freedom and democracy in the very heart of the European Union.

The proposal, which seemed designed to turn the tables on countries that have criticized Russia on human rights and democracy issues, caused some consternation at the EU-Russia summit Friday, when the Kremlin’s top aide flatly denied that the Europeans would be allowed to play any role in the institution.

I actually have mixed emotions about this. I believe that Europe is becoming progressively less democratic, and I support an institution in the heart of Europe making this case. But somehow I doubt that the newly announced Russian think tank will engage in thoughtful critiques of the EU’s increasing democracy deficit, but will instead merely churn out a stream of tendentious research and press releases intended to suggest a moral equivalence between the EU and the RF. That’s the old Soviet way. As troubling as the political evolution of Europe is, with its tendency towards greater centralization, unaccountable bureaucracy, and refusals to consult the electorates on fundamental matters of political organization, all this pales in comparison to what goes on in Russia.

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