Friday, September 17

Winston-Salem Journal | Putin's Power Grab

Winston-Salem Journal | Putin's Power Grab

What Putin is attempting to do is very much like what Bush did following September 11th. He asked Congress and was granted Caesarian authority to fight the War on Terror. A blank check. Carte Blanche(If thats how it's spelled). The American Executive branch(Bush) version of this predictable
grab for power included the Patriot Act among thousands of other things. Bush has used September 11th to achieve his goals domestically and abroad. He wanted to take out Saddam Hussein before 9/11 and now he had his chance. He lied the American people into Vietnam 2: The Arabian Jungle. All of this made possible by 9/11 and ratified by the American People. Putin is only following Bush's example. We knew this could happen. Now it has. If we have to face Russia in another international struggle, let us remember this was the day it began. When Putin began his consolidation of power in the Kremlin in imitation of what George W Bush did in America. Bush set the example. And now the world must live with the consequences. Go ahead America. Give him four more years. Theres got to be something else he can do to endanger the future of the world. In everything Bush supports the will of the Rich and Ruling Class over the other two-hundred and ninety million Americans. It's only right I guess. After WW3 the only people left to hold his ass accountable will be the ones that could afford bomb shelters. Real ones now, not those redneck knock-offs above ground. Nuff fer now.

Putin's Power Grab

Winston-Salem Journal

Tyrants know that internal unrest provides a perfect opportunity to undermine democratic institutions. Hitler was a master of it, and Mussolini, Franco and Stalin all consolidated power in such times.

It may well be that the saddest legacy of the Beslan school massacre will be that Vladimir Putin taps public outrage to undermine what is left of Russia's infant democracy. That is clearly what the Russian president has in mind.

In a proposal announced Monday, Putin responded to the Beslan murders - in which approximately 336 people died, about half of them children - with a series of political changes that will consolidate power in his hands. His rationale - that the changes would aid Russia's war on terror - is not believable.

Putin wants the Parliament that his allies control to take from voters the right to elect the leaders of the country's 89 regional governments - a rough equivalent of the American states.

Regional legislatures would gain that authority, but they would vote only on nominees forwarded by Putin.

Furthermore, Putin proposes to change how the lower house of Parliament, the Duma, is elected. Representatives would be elected from national slates, a move clearly designed to rid the federal congress of its independents and liberals.

It is difficult to see how Putin's proposals confront Russia's problem with terrorists. The problem there has not rested with regional governments. Furthermore, Putin now controls the Parliament that sets national policy - only a few independents and liberals serve.

Putin is obviously using a national tragedy to rid himself of competing political power bases.

But give the Russian leader credit. The Beslan tragedy brought Russians to the streets and previously cowed political commentators out of their caves. Putin, and his federal agencies, were widely blamed for allowing the massacre to occur. Putin has now turned what might have been a challenge to his power into a device for solidifying it.

If the proposal proceeds, as it is likely to do, the Bush administration will be in a very difficult position.

This is clearly a domestic matter for Russians, and, given America's reduced influence in the world in the aftermath of President Bush's policies on Iraq, there appears little that the president can say or do to stop Putin.

Secretary of State Colin Powell issued cautious criticism of Putin's moves on Tuesday, and he promised to make American concerns about this concentration of power in the Kremlin known to the Russian government in the near future.

As things stand now, it appears that the last vestiges of Russia's experiment with democracy may have died along with hundreds of children in a school in Beslan.


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