Federalism Disad

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Russian Federalism Good: Democracy

1) Federalism is vital to Russian democratization.

Clifford Kupchan, deputy coordinator of U.S. assistance to the New Independent States at the U.S. Department of State. The Washington Quarterly 23.2 (2000) 67-77. “Devolution Drives Russian Reform.”

Taken together, these four trends promote democracy by institutionalizing the expression of regional interests and checks on central power. Structural checks impede the rebirth of authoritarianism and leave the political arena open for a variety of pluralist interests to grow. Given the weakness of the central government, it will be a very long time before any Russian president will be able to reverse these gains. Moreover, since devolution has been a primary agent in weakening the authoritarian state, it has helped create and protect "political space" in Russia. Basic freedoms essential to democracy, and unheard of in the Soviet Union only eight years ago, are now virtually taken for granted. Examples include ready access to the Internet, unrestricted contacts with foreigners, freedom to travel, freedom of artistic expression, and increased--if incomplete--freedom of religion. Many Russian universities, including those in the regions, are centers of creative and spontaneous thought. 3 Since devolution checks central power, and since the center is currently and is likely to continue to be very weak, this political space will be very difficult to take away.

2) Without democratization the risk of a Russian accidental launch greatly increases.

James M. Goldgeier, scholar in foreign policy and international relations at the Library of Congress. AND, Michael McFaul, professor of political science at Stanford University. 10/1/05. Policy Review. “What to do about Russia.”

Today, Russian state weakness itself also threatens American national security. U.S. policymakers must worry about the possibility of nuclear technologies and weapons being stolen or sold on the world black market. The Russian state's inability to construct an effective early-warning radar system increases the likelihood of an accidental ballistic missile launch in response to faulty information. Russia's inability to defend its borders in the Caucasus has opened a new front on the global war on terror.

3) That sparks a global nuclear war and billions of casualties.

PR Newswire, 4/29/98. “NEJM Study Warns of Increasing Risk of Accidental Nuclear Attack; Over 6.8 Million Immediate U.S. Deaths Possible.”

An 'accidental' nuclear attack would create a public health disaster of an unprecedented scale, according to more than 70 articles and speeches on the subject, cited by the authors and written by leading nuclear war experts, public health officials, international peace organizations, and legislators. Furthermore, retired General Lee Butler, Commander from 1991-1994 of all U.S. Strategic Forces under former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, has warned that from his experience in many "war games" it is plausible that such an attack could provoke a nuclear counterattack that could trigger full-scale nuclear war with billions of casualties worldwide. The authors describe the immediate effects of an "accidental" launch from a single Russian submarine that would kill at least six to eight million people in firestorms in eight major U.S. cities. With hospitals destroyed and medical personnel killed, and with major communications and transportation networks disrupted, the delivery of emergency care would be all but impossible, according to Forrow and his colleagues.

Russian Federalism Good: Ethnic Conflict

Russian Federalism quells violence and unites ethnic groups in the country
Kaloudis, Doctoral candidate in Comparative Politics and Economics at The Catholic University of America, 2007
[Winter, Stergos, , http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3996/is_200701/ai_n19432280]

Over the course of the past decade federalism has, for the most part, allowed Russia to temporarily stave off ethnically motivated separatism by granting varying levels of autonomy to the regions. The question follows as to why this has worked successfully in certain non-Russian areas, specifically the republics of Tatarstan and Dagestan, which have joined with Moscow under this federalist arrangement, while other ethnic groups and states, most notably the Chechens, have pushed for secession and violence. Moreover, is instability inherent to an ethnically diverse federation or can agreement on the breakdown of power be achieved that will pacify all parties involved? Following the resignation of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian rump state lost the coercive and persuasive ability to rule a centrally controlled empire. Instead, the Russian masses were bequeathed a decentralized nation devoid of a coherent national identity and ethos.1 As Daniel Kempton and others show, the collapse of the Soviet Union let loose ". . . the centrifugal forces of ethnic nationalism, religious animosity, and regional self-interest."2 Adding to the exacerbation of the already deep ethnic and economic cleavages present in Russian society was the political tug-of-war developing between President Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of the Russian Supreme Soviet, who possessed the legal authority to run the country. In his attempt to build internal alliances against this legislative body, Yeltsin brokered numerous deals with the constituent republics over the levels of autonomy they could acquire.3 At this time, he uttered the now infamous and subsequently disastrous statement to the republics, "grab all the sovereignty you can."4 Between 1994 and 1998, the federal government signed forty-two power sharing treaties with forty-six of the eighty-nine regions.5 In many instances, the federal government ceded lucrative privileges within the economic and political arena to the local governors. The historical case studies within this article depict how interpersonal relations among the political elite played a key role in the development of asymmetry leading to either the occurrence or avoidance of conflict within Tatarstan, Dagestan, and Chechnya. Furthermore, by focusing on the erratic evolution of the institutional set up, the path discussed shows how political and economic incentives within a federalist framework can be used to incorporate all regions and republics into a unified state.6 The process denotes how the would-be disastrous remnants of asymmetry can be substantially reduced and replaced with political and economic motivators to incorporate the regions into the dominant regime. Federalism Defined The ripple effect set off by the attempts of the ethnic republics to assert greater sovereign control caused an ever-increasing move toward decentralization and confusion across the reigns of government. This process tested the limits of the new, however ambiguous, rules of power demarcation within the Russian Federation. Authorities had little guidance considering the federal design of the Soviet Union was more of a figurative construct on paper rather than a practiced reality. The result is that although the concept and application of federalism seems to be a natural design for the Russian state, its implementation has been full of half measures. Nonetheless, due to the vastness of its territory; the economic, climatic, and geographic diversity of its regions; and the great numbers of indigenous peoples that comprise its multiethnic nature, federalism is a necessity. Federalism allows the political elite to peacefully integrate different ethnic groups and states under a single overarching governing structure.7 The issue at hand, however, is what type of balance is necessary to placate the varying demands from different regions and republics. Unfortunately, as Dmitry Gorenburg reports, one of the lasting legacies of Soviet attempts at federalism was the creation of strong, sub-national, ethnically motivated identities with claims to territory, independence, and resources after the USSR's collapse.8

In this light, federalism acts as an institutional structure, distributing governing authority to various units over a unified territory. As James Alexander states, "[r]ule is divided between regional and national government to encourage self-rule within regions and shared rule across the entire state."9 Moreover, as Ronald Watts indicates, "[i]t is based on the presumed value and validity of combining unity and diversity and of accommodating, preserving and promoting distinct elements within a larger political union. The essence of federalism as a normative principle is the perpetuation of both union and non-centralization at the same time."10

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