Tuesday, March 4, 2008
If only it were this easy...
The race to become the leader of a superpower is no easy battle. To do so, one must raise a lot of money, know the issues, have experience, and appeal to the people--the voters who will decider whether or not they are fit to be leader. The current race for president here in the United States is a perfect example of just how difficult this accomplishment is. Just look at the ongoing battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with John McCain's struggle to win over conservative voters.
But what if it was easier? What if Hillary Clinton could simply decide that Barack Obama was not fit to be president and had the government shut his campaign down? What if President Bush decided he wanted to have a conservative in the White House in '09, and appointed Dick Cheney as the republican nominee, while eliminating the most serious challengers on the other side. Sure, to make sure it still looked like a "fair" election, maybe he would allow someone like Ralph Nader or Ron Paul to run, but in the end, his choice would end up being the victor. Yep, it would be pretty easy to hold onto power if you were in control of who could and could not run.
In Russia, that is exactly has happened. President Vladimir Putin, who is barred from running for a third term under the Russian Constitution, appointed a hand-picked successor to replace him. On March 2nd, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's candidate, was elected to office with over 70% of the vote. Of course, its always a lot easier to win if the most formidable opponents are banned from running, protesters are beaten in the streets, and critics meet suspicious deaths. Now that he is stepping down as president, Putin is expected to take the role as Prime Minister...while his buddy Medvedev will serve as President. The most likely scenario is that Putin will be able to continue on with his current policies, while holding onto a seat of power.
This shouldn't be a surprise though. President Bush might consider Putin to be a "good man", but the west should have been able to see this coming. For years, Putin has been attempting to rebuild Russia's image by consolidating power across the region. His regime has restricted free speech and he has increased the production of military weapons, all while supporting countries like Iran and helping them enrich uranium.
It sure is an interesting way to hold on to power though, isn't it? If the bad blood between Clinton and Obama seems bad, or the antics of Anne Coulter attacking John Mccain seem intense, then you just need to have a look at what's unfolding in Moscow. Not to mention, some Americans might be unhappy with our current president, but at least they can verbally attack him without having to worry about being beaten or arrested.
One thing's for sure, Vladimir Putin is a scary man. Whoever wins the presidential election this November, he/she will have the task of dealing with Putin and the KGB...and it will not be easy.