–Russia Essay, Research Paper
The former USSR, now called Russia, has abandoned its dreams of a communist utopia in the hopes of becoming a strong capitalist country. But the road is not an easy one. To do this, Russia must abandon the last vestiges of its former regime, and even if they are successful in this, they must also experience the growing pains of a democratic nation, something that most members of the developed world have long ago conquered. The main problem is that most democratic nations evolve into their present stake, while Russia must do it seemingly overnight. It is a near impossible task, but with the proper tools it can be accomplished. Although this former superpower is now in economic, political and social ruin, with economic aid, that is funds and equipment, better technology, and good political advice regarding the governing of the nation and its people, Russia can become a strong member of our global community.
Russia is in dire straits in terms of cash. The Russian economy has had to do a complete turnaround, which is very difficult. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, everything was government owned, and made only for need, as opposed to luxury. The Russian government has had to find independent owners/operators for most of its companies, and has been somewhat successful in doing so. Also, Western based companies have used the collapse of the Iron Curtain to explore a new market, which was never available before. This has led to some revenue in tariffs and taxes. The market and the people in Russia are still struggling, however. Over 40% of its citizens are below the poverty line, and although Russia has immense natural resource deposits, such as diamonds and oil, there is not much industry yet to reap the benefits of these untold riches. When the full potential of these resources come about, however, it will be a monumental step towards the revitalization of the Russian economy. Right now, however, Russia needs most only cold, hard cash so they can take the first step out of their economic crisis. Many countries and organizations are already moving to help Russia, as it is a good political and humanitairian cause. As of 1995 44 billion dollars in total have been given to Russia. (Stevonson, In wake of ). The U.S. relief program USAID provided Russia with 95.7 million, (Wedel, Foreign policy ) and other international organizations have also provided money, but some are reluctant to give. This is mainly because Russia still has a strong Communist presence, and if they were to be built into a superpower again, and then revert back to Communism, it could start the Cold War anew. Although analyst doubt this will happen, monetary aid has been withdrawn or withheld during crisis situations in the new Russia, as it is a political or military crisis that could lead to the ultimate downfall of democratic rule in Russia. Russia’s economy is however, at this time, slowly recovering, and its people adapting.
One of the other largest problems the Russian government and populace have to deal with is the fact that crime is running rampart through their country, from the highest levels of government to the lowest slums on the streets. Russian officials lack the infrastructure and technology to properly keep track of their massive country. The U.S., on more than one occasion, has called for assurances that loans have not been lost to corruption. (Stevonson, In wake ). Although economic aid still continues, no assurances have been made as of yet, and none but Russian officials know where some of the money is going. Aside from corruption at a political level, Russia also faces problems with its growing crime gangs. A thriving black market, mainly in illegal arms, has grown out of the collapse of the Soviet Union and gives many criminals the incentive to set up shop in Moscow. A recent report reads that Mafia lords populating Russia are judged to be more plentiful then ever (Clancy, The cardinal ). These criminal overlords control many of the organized crime rings, and often the also wield great political power. The Russian police, too, are often bought out, and even those who remain true to their cause lack the technology and know-how to effectively combat the situation. The United States has played a great part in improving the Russians investigative techniques, however, and many Russian police departments deal with a FBI liaison officer. Also, more and more Russian police officers are being trained in the United States and other such countries in effective ways of combating organized crime. The UN, along with countries acting independently, has also tried to crack down on international arms trade. These actions are working to some degree, but the Russian government must do much more before the black markets progress is truly slowed, or even halted.
Another problem that Russia faces involving technology is its lack of up-to-date farming techniques. Only about 8 percent of its territory is cultivated (Microsoft Encarta, Russia ) and this is causing not a food shortage, but more of a food availability. More and more people are losing their purchasing power with the downfall of the Russian economy, and not many are willing to but food that is grown in their country. This is just yet another stress that is added to the lives of the Russian people, to go along with many others already there. There is a very large, unused portion of Russia, but it must be modified by humans before it can be put into use. The upper regions of Russia, getting into Siberia, have a very short growing period, and only in greenhouses can plants survive long enough to reach maturity. The lower regions, near the Gobi desert, need to be artificially irrigated to be used to grow crops. With the proper technology, these things could happen, and Russia could become near self-sufficient in food, but the money needed, and the technology itself, is a long way off.
Lastly, to turn Russia into a truly healthy nation, the government must right itself. Most of the officials now in office grew up in a Communist world, and still think using Communism as a basis. To develop into a true capitalist, economically driven nation, this must not be. The whole reason that the Soviet Union collapsed was the downfall of their economy, and the Russian government now is more or less trying to build a new country out of the ashes of an old one. The world stands by to help, but after long years of shelter behind the Iron Curtain, many of the Russian politicians are unwilling to accept this help.
However, accepting political advice, and following the example of more established countries may be the only route many of these politicians are left with. Some have turned to it already, in the case of the Russian Minister of Agriculture consulting with U.S. sources for aid (Doglov, Russian Minister ). Although Russia should govern Russia, when a country is growing and experiencing the pains involved in running a new nation a new way, the need for help should be expected. Never before has a former superpower dissolved, and the changed the outlook of it political spectrum overnight. It is obvious that a former Communist government might have problems running a capitalist nation, it can be likened to the U.S. government running a Communist nation. To experience problems should be expected. But to not accept help is unthinkable, and does not make good political sense.
Russia has already taken the first step to becoming a contributing member of the world community, and that was its abolishing of Communism. To take the next steps, it needs many things, the first and foremost being cash. To acquire this cash, more emphasis needs to be put on exploiting the vast natural resource reserves available. Also, the world community should help out by providing necessary training and equipment wherever it is needed. Finally, our global village needs to offer support and advice to the people and leaders of Russia, and more importantly, they need to accept it, in order to further the growth of their country. In these ways will Russia become more quickly a leading member of our society, and play a greater part in world affairs.