We prioritize instant gratification above long-term vision, and we're getting exactly the representatives who match those expectations hand in glove: clowns who can dance while we riddle the ground around their feet with bullets. Those clowns do not leaders make.
Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of "Glasnost" and "Perestroika" -- the openness and restructuring of the Soviet Union adopted in the 1980s -- has, by contrast, given Russia the perfect excuse for patience, and the ideal cover of underestimation.
No one expected post-Cold War Russia to get its act together anytime soon. In recent discussions with colleagues, some were debating whether Russia's military was so cash-strapped that the country's security might have to be outsourced to a proxy ally. But not only is Putin now tripling military wages, he's setting future pay on par with that of private-sector managers.
Putin explains that "by 2020, the proportion of new armaments should rise to at least 70 percent," including "over 400 modern land and sea-based inter-continental ballistic missiles, eight strategic ballistic missile submarines, about 20 multipurpose submarines, over 50 surface warships, around 100 military spacecraft, over 600 modern aircraft including fifth-generation fighter jets, more than 1,000 helicopters, 28 regimental kits of S-400 air defense systems, 38 battalion kits of Vityaz missile systems, 10 brigade kits of Iskander-M missile systems, over 2,300 modern tanks, about 2,000 self-propelled artillery systems and vehicles, and more than 17,000 military vehicles."
When did this happen, you ask? It's amazing what some countries will do while we're busy tweeting our lives away over whether Michelle Obama is eating "like some kind of hypocrite" today, or which GOP candidate will get the Sarah Palin endorsement.