A New Cold War?
The Sources of Soviet Conduct
Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century
Atomic Weapons and American Policy
The Illusion of Disengagement
On Peaceful Coexistence
The Search for Stability
The Challenge of Change in the Soviet Bloc
The Practice of Partnership
The Framework of East-West Reconciliation
The Limits of Détente
After the Cold War
On Power: The Nature of Soviet Power
The Rise, Fall and Future of Détente
What Went Wrong With Arms Control?
Containment: 40 Years Later
Containment Then and Now
Beyond the Cold War
From Cold War Toward Trusting Peace
Toward the Post-Cold War World
America's Stake in the Soviet Future
Beyond Boris Yeltsin
Can Russia Change?
Russia Leaves the West
The Costs of Renewed Confrontation
Mission to Moscow
Why Authoritarian Stability Is a Myth
What Has Moscow Done?
Rebuilding U.S.-Russian Relations
Moscow's Modernization Dilemma
Is Russia Charting a New Foreign Policy?
The Dying Bear
Russia's Demographic Disaster
Managing the New Cold War
What Moscow and Washington Can Learn From the Last One
Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics
Putin Returns to the Historical Pattern
Putin's Foreign Policy
The Quest to Restore Russia’s Rightful Place
The Revival of the Russian Military
How Moscow Reloaded
Why Putin Took Crimea
The Gambler in the Kremlin
Trump and Russia
The Right Way to Manage Relations
Why New Russia Sanctions Won't Change Moscow's Behavior
Washington's Approach Lacks Clear Goals
The Kremlin's Latest Crackdown on Independent Media
Russia's New Foreign Agent Law in Context
Containing Russia, Again
An Adversary Attacked the United States—It’s Time to Respond
Putin's Past Explains Russia's Future
What to Expect After the Election
Has a New Cold War Really Begun?
Why the Term Shouldn't Apply to Today's Great-Power Tensions
The conventional explanation for Vladimir Putin's popularity is straightforward. In the 1990s, under post-Soviet Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, the state did not govern, the economy shrank, and the population suffered. Since 2000, under Putin, order has returned, the economy has flourished, and the average Russian is living better than ever before. As political freedom has decreased, economic growth has increased. Putin may have rolled back democratic gains, the story goes, but these were necessary sacrifices on the altar of stability and growth.
This narrative has a powerful simplicity, and most Russians seem to buy it. Putin's approval rating hovers near 80 percent, and nearly a third of Russians would like to see him become president for life. Putin, emboldened by such adoration, has signaled that he will stay actively involved in ruling Russia in some capacity after stepping down as president this year, perhaps as prime minister to a weak president or even as president once again later on. Authoritarians elsewhere, meanwhile, have held up Putin's popularity and accomplishments in Russia as proof that autocracy has a future -- that, contrary to the end-of-history claims about liberal democracy's inevitable triumph, Putin, like China's Deng Xiaoping did, has forged a model of successful market authoritarianism that can be imitated around the world.
This conventional narrative is wrong, based almost entirely on a spurious correlation between autocracy and growth. The emergence of Russian democracy in the 1990s did indeed coincide with state breakdown and economic decline, but it did not cause either. The reemergence of Russian autocracy under Putin, conversely, has coincided with economic growth but not caused it (high oil prices and recovery from the transition away from communism deserve most of the credit). There is also very little evidence to suggest that Putin's autocratic turn over the last several years has led to more effective governance than the fractious democracy of the 1990s. In fact, the reverse is much closer to the truth: to the extent that Putin's centralization of power has
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