Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#30 - JRL 2007-178 - JRL Home
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007
From: "Andrew DeSio" <Andrew_DeSio@press.princeton.edu>

Book Description

Why have Russian generals acquired an important political position since the Soviet Union's collapse while at the same time the effectiveness of their forces has deteriorated? Why have there been no radical defense reforms in Russia since the end of the cold war, even though they were high on the agenda of the country's new president in 2000? Democratic Breakdown and the Decline of the Russian Military explains these puzzles as it paints a comprehensive portrait of Russian military politics.

Zoltan Barany identifies three formative moments that gave rise to the Russian dilemma. The first was Gorbachev's decision to invite military participation in Soviet politics. The second was when Yeltsin acquiesced to a new political system that gave generals a legitimate political presence. The third was when Putin not only failed to press for needed military reforms but elevated numerous high-ranking officers to prominent positions in the federal administration. Included here are Barany's insightful analysis of crisis management following the sinking of the Kursk submarine, a systematic comparison of the Soviet/Russian armed forces in 1985 and the present, and compelling accounts of the army's political role, the elusive defense reform, and the relationship between politicians and generals.

Barany offers a rare look at the world of contemporary military politics in an increasingly authoritarian state. Destined to become a classic in post-Soviet studies, this book reminds us of the importance of the separation of powers as a means to safeguard democracy.

Editorial Reviews

Michael McFaul, Stanford University : The collapse of the Red Army was one of the most spectacular in human history, and also one of the most mysterious. Neither Soviet nor Russian armed forces suffered catastrophic losses on the battlefield, while Russian soldiers became more involved, not less, in politics in post-Soviet Russia. Through a sophisticated application of institutional theory to a rich collection of data, Zoltan Barany unravels this mystery in a compelling and masterful way. This book will become a classic on Russian civil-military relations, while also adding much to our understanding of Russian politics more generally.

M. Steven Fish, University of California, Berkeley, and author of "Democracy Derailed in Russia" : Zoltan Barany is one of the most wide-ranging and thoughtful scholars writing on postcommunist politics today. Here, he provides a fascinating look at one of the most important issues in contemporary Russia. The link Barany makes between the condition of the military and the character of the postcommunist political regime is especially interesting. This book will appeal to policymakers and observers of Russian politics both inside and outside academia.

Dale Herspring, Kansas State University : This book marks a new approach to the study of civil-military relations in Russia. It does something no one has done to date--it explains why Russian civil-military relations are not only not democratic, but are moving in the opposite direction. It also highlights the incredibly important roles that Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin have played in the evolution of such relations.

Thomas Nichols, United States Naval War College : This is political science at its best: a lucid explanation of an important puzzle, systematically approached but mindful of the crucial role of human interaction. Barany makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Russian military, the state of Russian democracy, and to the larger issue of civil-military relations and democracy in general.

Hardcover: 247 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 2, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0691128960
ISBN-13: 978-0691128962
$22.95 at www.amazon.com.