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[ 155 ] book review roundtable • the russia balance sheet past 500 years has exposed the reality of Russia’s economic underachievement. Russian living standards did improve after the Soviet Union collapsed because resources were diverted from military use, but per capita GDP in 1989–2006 was unchanged.9 There was no post-Communist Russian economic miracle, nor should one have been expected, and no one can say whether there will be one until the legacy of the 2008–10 global crisis can be assessed.10 9 Angus Maddison, The World Economy: Historical Statistics (Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2003), and subsequent electronic updates. 10 Daniel Quinn Mills, The World Financial Crisis of 2008–2010 (Seattle: Amazon CreateSpace, 2009). Authors’ Response: Russia in the Balance Anders Åslund & Andrew Kuchins Given the dilemma facing contemporary analysis of Russia that is laid out in the introduction of The Russia Balance Sheet—that depending on your perspective, Russia can be characterized as “a tale of two cities” and that much of what passes for analysis reflects deeply held historical, cultural, and political biases—it is not surprising that the six reviews diverge so greatly. We agree with comments of several reviewers that important topics, such as defense reform and corruption, did not receive adequate attention. It is impossible to cover the waterfront on a complex country like Russia in a book of less than 200 pages. Some of these topics we are taking up now in the second phase of the project, and we are currently just formulating our approach to the third and final phase. We thus value the reviewers’ suggestions about neglected andersåslundisaseniorfellowatthePetersonInstituteforInternationalEconomicsinWashington, D.C. He is a leading specialist on post-Communist economic transformation, with more than 30 years of experience in the field. He is the author of nine books, most recently, How Ukraine Became a Market Economy and Democracy (2009), Russia’s Capitalist Revolution (2007), and How Capitalism Was Built (2007), and he has edited fourteen books. Dr. Åslund has also worked as an economic advisor to the Russian, Ukrainian, and Kyrgyz governments. He can be reached at . andrewkuchinsisaSeniorFellowandDirectoroftheRussiaandEurasiaProgramattheCenterfor Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He served as Director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., from 2000 to 2003 and again in 2006, and as Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center in Russia from 2003 to 2005. Dr. Kuchins conducts research and writes widely on Russian foreign and security policy. His recent publications include “Economic Whiplash in Russia: An Opportunity to Bolster U.S.-Russia Commercial Ties?” (2009). He can be reached at . [ 156 ] asia policy yet important themes. In this response to the reviews, we shall touch upon five themes: the purpose of our book, domestic politics, economic and social issues, foreign policy, and U.S. policy advice. The reviewers seem to have understood our purpose, whether they agree with it or not. Peter Rutland has expressed this purpose most clearly, namely, that our first goal is “to break out of…ideological readings of Russia’s fate…to offer an even-handed assessment of the pros and cons of Russia’s evolutionary trajectory… The book is written as a primer for policymakers, with a neutral and descriptive tone.” That was exactly what we intended to do. Our second goal, also well-noticed, was to provide the incoming Obama administration with a straight set of policy recommendations. Disdainfully, Stephen Blank complains that our book “too readily accepts the Beltway consensus.” Given that our intention was to clarify the bases and implications of this consensus, we take this criticism as a compliment. As is usually the case, Russian domestic politics and history arouse the greatestcontroversy.Wellawareofthisfact,weminimizedhistoryanddomestic politics for this volume—we have discussed them amply elsewhere—trying to state the obvious facts in as neutral and descriptive terms as possible. These topics are so sensitive, however, that any mentioning arouses dissatisfaction. Yet it is incorrect to suggest, as a couple of the reviewers do, that we “overlook” history. The first chapter of the book, for example, frames Russia’s current struggles to break from traditions of centralized authoritarian political power and imperial or expansionist foreign policies through...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2960
Print ISSN
1559-0968
Pages
pp. 155-158
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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