Jan 8, 2007

Still Waiting for an Upgrade: Russia's Defense Reform

The most recent issue of Political Science Quarterly (Volume 121 Number 4, 2006) has a fascinating look at the prospects, or lack thereof, for military reform in Russia.

In fact, Univ. of Texas Professor Zoltan Barany pulls no punches in his article, “The Politics of Russia’s Elusive Defense Reform.” His thesis: it’s all bad.

“Since the Gorbachev era, generals have acquired an autonomous political voice that is entirely incompatible with even the most generous definitions of democratic civil-military relations…the top brass has fought meaningful reforms tooth and nail, because such reforms are synonymous with the loss of prestige and privileges.”

But wait, there's more: “…the prospects of real military reform in contemporary Russia discourage hope that the country will soon field a modern and effective army.”

It seems that the country's lack of democratic development has prevented Russia from creating a lean, mean, highly mobile, threat specific military. While some may feel that a weakend Russia is preferable, the grave trans-national threats which beset the post-Soviet region might argue otherwise.

But at least the generals get to keep their dachas.

(While I tried to find an online version to hotlink, the Political Science Quarterly has not yet updated their website. A hard copy is available to those who ask.)



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