After the Collapse: Russia Reclaims Its Place as a Great Power

Dimitri Simes, Author
Dimitri Simes, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-684-82716-2
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Richard Nixon still speaks. Simes, who was the former president's Russia adviser and is now president of the Nixon Center, traveled with Nixon to Russia in 1991, when the ex-president met with Gorbachev and, according to this account, came away firmly convinced that ""it's really all over for the Soviet Union."" As he analyzes the state of postcommunist Russia, Simes fills his book, particularly the first part, with Nixon's observations and thoughts, comparing Nixon's prescience and savvy with what he believes are the clumsy actions taken by the Clinton administration, which he argues has bungled its role in Russia's transition. It is in the second part of the book, when discussing such issues as Russia's new foreign policy and the problems the U.S. faces in addressing them, that Simes's narrative strengthens. He criticizes Clinton's allegiance to the unpopular Yeltsin, which he believes will retard the development of democracy in Russia. He also argues that the successive bailouts of this thoroughly corrupt nation are destined to fail. Most importantly, Simes cautions readers that it would be a mistake to view Russia's loss of great power status as anything but temporary and that U.S. policy makers need to be firm while also retaining an awareness that U.S. and Russian interests are bound to differ in many areas. While not comprehensive, this examination highlights the most serious present failures in Russia and articulates informed concern for the beleaguered country's future. Agent, John Brockman. (Mar.)
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