Streetwise Professor

February 4, 2008


Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:26 am

Last month I gently chided Edward Lucas about his overly sunny appraisal of the prospects for a kinder, gentler Russian government in 2008. Fortunately, and not unexpectedly, Edward has moved beyond his generous holiday mood. I very much look forward to his new book, The New Cold War, and in the meantime have enjoyed his most recent writings, especially “Whataboutism” in the latest Economist. In it, Edward draws attention to a tendency that I had noted, namely, the frequent resort of Russian speakers to “tu quoque” argument. Whenever questioned about a problematic aspect of Russian politics or life, Russian officials often respond with “well what about” some sordid aspect of America or the West.

Edward shows that this is a longstanding Soviet, and now Russian, tactic. He also suggests that this tactic is ultimately self-defeating because it impedes the development of the healthy self-criticism that is necessary for any society to adapt, change, and evolve. Hear, hear.

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