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Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006
From: "Paul Starobin" <PStarobin@nationaljournal.com>

I wonder if followers of JRL would agree that, as I sense, we are at the dawn of a new era of Russo-phobia in the West? I take the Ukraine gas episode as a case in point. Yes, it can be argued that this is an instance of Kremlin bullying. But it can also be argued that surely a West-leaning Ukraine cannot expect Russia to subsidize its gas supplies. That point, however, is mostly glossed over in Western coverage. My own particular concern is that Kremlin-phobia or Putin-phobia­a measure of which iis justified, given the track record of the Putin regime"is in danger of turning into Russo-phobia. Thus Edward Lucas, in JRL #2006, is not content with saying that Putin "increasingly looks like a monster." He goes on to say that Putin has unleashed "the imperialist urge that lies deep in the Russian psyche." I don't know quite what to make of this kind of political-Jungian analysis. If something like a collective "imperialist urge" can be said to exist, is it absent from other nations' psyches? (The Germans? The British? The Americans?) Whatever might be said of the Russian national psyche it strikes me that we are back at a familiar and unsatisfying place for Western observers of the Russians: We want to like '"them," and we would like them, if they were more like us, but they somehow insist on being more like themselves. And so "they" provoke our fear. When it comes to our view of Russia, must we always be looking through the glass, darkly?

Paul Starobin
Contributing editor, Atlantic Monthly
Moscow bureau chief, Business Week, 1999-2003

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 10:10:25 AM EST

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