EXECUTIVE LECTURE FORUM: Activities: 2000: Abstract: Odom
June 22, 2000

General William E. Odom, Senior Fellow, Director of National Security Studies, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.
In his excellent analysis, General William Odom offered a comprehensive picture of the present state of affairs in Russia.  He started out with  the rhetoric question:  can President Putin put things in order in Russia?  His answer was "no, most probably not."  He explained his rather pessimistic view by stating that the size and complexity of the challenge is much greater than is generally recognized even by close students of Russia.  First, there is not even an agreement on what properly constitutes the country and its basis for legitimacy.  Second, although Russia has a federal constitution, 46 states out of 89 have negotiated treaties with Moscow and most of them are not compatible with the constitution.  Third, most business firms and individuals avoid the courts and resort to private security firms to settle disputes, to collect debts, etc.  Fourth, the parliament passes laws, the the President has the power to issue decrees contradicting them.  Fifth, text laws are contradictory and counter productive.  Sixth, the number of bureaucrats on state payroll remains high.  The General spoke about the ramping corruption, the role of the oligarchies, the difficulties western investors are having on the Russian market.   He described also the grave problems of the Russian military.  He concluded his lecture by predicting that a year from now we will be calling Putin, President Yeltsin the second.  "Put simply," said the General, "I believe Russian is in what I call the weak state trapped and cannot get out any time soon, not even in several decades."

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