DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA….Robert Kagan (naturally) is calling Bush’s bluff on democracy promotion:
The question now: Does President Bush care about the fate of democracy in Russia? Ever since Sept. 11 he has proclaimed a grand strategy of promoting democracy worldwide. He has rightly made this his goal in Iraq, and despite the faulty performance of his Pentagon advisers, it remains his primary objective. Bush has also trumpeted plans for promoting democracy in the greater Middle East.
….Failure to take sides with democratic forces in Russia will cast doubt on Bush’s commitment to worldwide democracy. A White House official commented to the New York Times that Putin’s actions are “a domestic matter for the Russian people.” Really? If so, then the same holds for all other peoples whose rights are taken away by tyrants. If the Bush administration holds to that line, then those hostile to democracy in the Middle East will point to the glaring U.S. double standard; those who favor democracy in the Middle East will be discredited. That will be a severe blow to what Bush regards as a central element of his war on terrorism.
Even if our substantive leverage with Putin is fairly small, we all know that Bush is fond of the bully pulpit. Why isn’t he using it now?