To become a truly prosperous and democratic nation, Russia must be willing to abandon cultural obstacles to progress. Based on a meeting I had with Russia's president last month, Moscow may not be ready to do that.
Vineyard Haven, Mass.
President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today. In their press conference, they talked about Afghanistan, an upcoming G-20 summit, and the World Trade Organization. What they should have discussed also is whether Moscow has the courage to lead Russia into a truly prosperous and democratic future.
Based on a recent meeting I had with Mr. Medvedev, I’m not sure it is.
In Moscow last month, I participated in a symposium on cultural values, cultural change, and economic development dedicated to the memory of Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington. I left with a strong sense that Russia is at a crossroads. Will it accept the mediocrity of continuing as a Second-World nation, or will it adopt the conditions to become a First-World power?
I essentially put that question directly to Medvedev at his residence. I distributed a chart about Russia (click on the graphic titled "Where Russia lags" at left) and expressed my belief that the indicators were rooted in cultural factors.
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