China experts face the same challenge. For all of our advances in social science methods, it is striking to me how time we still spend (and rightly if tragically so) on reading tea leaves about Xi's or Putin's intentions.
the hardest part about being a russia expert is picking out the right crystal ball

Nov 22, 2021 · 4:30 PM UTC

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Replying to @McFaul
Democrats need to be running on this too!!! "The US has been added to an annual list of 'backsliding' democracies for the first time, the International IDEA thinktank has said, pointing to a 'visible deterioration' it said began in 2019." theguardian.com/us-news/2021…
Replying to @McFaul
At the end of the day it’s a people business.
Replying to @McFaul
Understandable. These are opaque governments with highly secretive policy making processes. Also, authoritarian regimes have learned to use social media to spread disinformation. Makes what you do very difficult I’m sure.
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Replying to @McFaul
When one understands the monetary system/finance/economics, it becomes a relatively simple undertaking. Russia has two options: 1) Kneel 2) Fight for her sovereignty.
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Replying to @McFaul
Why don't take them (Putin and Xi) at face value ? Or, if something is not clear, ask them ? Putin still picks up the phone. I found both Xi and Putin remarkably consistent in communicating their *intentions*. Not so the immediate tactics, fair enough - but intentions are clear
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Replying to @McFaul
hmm, I thought intentions are very transparent and predictable. Just methods and timings are varying.
Replying to @McFaul
Can you measure it? Can you express it in figures? Can you make a model of it? If not, your theory is apt to be based more upon imagination than upon knowledge. ~Lord Kelvin