Is Russia in danger of abandoning democracy and becoming a dictatorship once again? Many pundits have expressed such concerns in the wake of President Vladimir Putin's efforts to increase his control over the government there following the school hostage crisis in Beslan. One writer, however, Jacob Heilbrunn of the Los Angeles Times, says otherwise. In an article printed in the October 3, 2004, edition, entitled, "No Apology for Putin," he says, in replying to those who see tyranny on the increase in Russia,
Nothing, however, could be more mistaken than to write off Russia. Its experiment with democracy isn't over. It's barely begun. Russia should be judged as a struggling Third World country, not by the standards of an advanced democracy. To accuse Putin of abandoning Russian democracy is tantamount to saying that a plane that never got off the ground crashed. Far from being an extremist, Putin is a moderate in an increasingly radicalized Russia.
The full article can be found here. Registration is required; but it's free, relatively simple, and worth the effort.
Islam: Questions and Answers
Courtesy of the Discovery Channel, here is an article discussing the basics of the Islamic religion, presented in a question-and-answer format. Written by Jean R. AbiNader, Managing Director of the Arab-American Institute shortly after the events of 9/11, it is not an entirely objective presentation; but it is nevertheless a helpful starting point for those who might wonder about Islamic beliefs and practices.
Then, you should read "Exhibition Killing: The Muslim "Debate" on Hostage-taking and Beheading" by Amir Tahari of the Wall Street Journal. It helps bring some additional perspective to the issue.
More on the Presidential Campaign
Note to Huw Raphael: Please don't take me off your blogroll!
A blog site of some import, Dean's World, has an interview with Van Odell, who was a gunner aboard the swift boat commanded by Lt. John Kerry during the war in Vietnam, and who is opposed to the election of Sen. Kerry to be president. It is a very interesting article. I know that some people have "issues" with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; but if even a fraction of their concerns are correct, those who support the election of Sen. Kerry, or who are leaning in that direction, would do well, I think, to reconsider their choice.