And just a quick update on Russia: On Monday, Putin endorsed Dmitry Medvedev for President, a man who is apparently quite young and unknown, and who will most likely allow Putin to direct from behind the scenes. On The World today they reported that Medvedev has, unsurpisingly, called for Putin to become his Prime Minister after he takes office.
I was talking to A about this today (check out his extremely erudite response to my previous Russian blog post) and he had the interesting idea that democracy, rather than being a totally new form of government, was really just an evolution of a monarchy:
King plus multiple Lords with power (ala Magna Carta) or multiple Oligarchs ->
A bunch more Lords or Oligarchs so power is more distributed ->
A way to elect said Lords or Oligarchs (aka democracy).
And so I came to my new Russian analogy - when I don't understand why Russians don't want democracy, what really makes me crazy is that I don't get why some societies are not interested in evolving. It's like the Russians see the folks with the opposing thumbs, but don't care about how easy it makes it to peel bananas. I just don't get it.