How does Russia Rate G-8 Membership?
Once again, an avalanche of data has forced the world to ask: What is Russia doing in the G-8? There are no empirical criteria you can name which support Russian membership. It is an outlier, and by most measures in fact a barbarous state, whose presence in the cartel of leading civilized nations is profoundly mysterious.
Australia's Walk Free Foundation has just published a ranking of 162 world nations according to the number of slaves they currently hold as a share of their populations (see pages 118-121 of the report). It's a list where you want to be as close to the bottom as possible. G-8 leader the United States and Russia are polar opposites.
Coming in at #134, only 28 countries in the world have less slavery than the USA. What forms of slavery still exist in the USA, you ask? Two key categories of human trafficking are prostitutes who are essentially held prisoner by their pimps and migrant workers who are prisoners of their farms, factory sweat shops or even domestic homes. Both types of workers are often lured in on false promises only to learn they have no alternative but to work for little or no pay.
Coming in at #49, only 48 world nations have more slavery than Vladimir Putin's Russia. Walk Free believes that there are more than half a million people living in slavery today under Putin.
Russia is the only member of the G-8 to rank in the top 100 on this ignominious list. The U.K. is the leader of the pack at #160 (it's tied for the freest nation in the world with Ireland and Iceland) followed by Canada (#144), France (#139), Germany (#136), USA (#134), Italy (#132) and Japan (#130).
Even lowly China is far freer than Russia, coming in at #84 on the WF index. China's economy is far larger than Russia's, it has the same massive arsenal of nuclear arms, and its population dwarfs that of Russia. Why isn't China in the G-8? No rational explanation can be given. If China is excluded because it doesn't share the democratic values of the G-8, Russia must be excluded as well since it is just as hostile to such values, if not more so.
Vivid examples of the slave trade in Russia are abundant (Russian-language link). Massive race riots recently erupted in Moscow, which seethes with the desire to reinstitute the classic Russian practice of the pogrom in order to purge white, Slavic, Orthodox Russia of swarthy foreign interlopers. Yet without these migrant workers, the Russian economy would grind to a screeching halt due to intense demographic pressure on the remaining population.
If you look at a measurement on the polar extreme from slavery, the prominence of universities, Russia comes out looking just as barbaric.
The Times of London recently published the latest installment in its annual ranking of world universities. Russia doesn't have a single entry in the top two hundred, and has only one in the top four hundred. That one, Moscow State University, saw its rating drop significantly from last year (it was #234 this year but was threatening to crack the top two hundred last year at #214).
That the United States has seven of the top 10 universities on the TOL list should come as no surprise: When the dust cleared after this year's announcement of the Nobel Prizes, five of thirteen had been won by Americans and nine of thirteen had been won by scholars based at American universities.The U.K. has the other three of the top 10 universities. Canada has the #20 institution, Japan #23, China #45, Germany #55, France #67 and Italy G-8 is the laggard at #221. Unlike Russia, though, Italy has numerous entries in the top 275 list, to say nothing of the top 400.
Italy's relatively lowly status on the university list is, however, quite telling. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi has always been by far the most sympathetic G-8 leader to the Putin dictatorship, and revelations of Berlusconi's corruption and debauchery have made him seem eerily like a Russian politician. It figures that the most benighted country in the G-8 other than Russia would be cuddling up to Putin; one can almost see these two dunces giggling at the back of the G-8 classroom throwing spitballs.
Mark Nuckols, who teaches in Russia and sees the horror up close, says there is no hope: "Trying to create a big, world-class university in Russia could be worse than merely counterproductive. Russia can complete certain kinds of large scale projects, but creating a real university requires coordination ill-suited for Russian bureaucracy. Doing so will absorb limited financial, administrative and human resources, with the former being an attraction for more corruption."
The two key ingredients necessary to create great universities, freedom and honesty, are simply missing from Russian society. The slavery index is proof positive regarding the former, and Transparency International delivers the bad news on the latter.
TI prepares an annual ranking of nations according to broad measures of social, economic and political corruption. Here again, Russia is disqualified from G-8 membership.
Russia ranks #133 on TI's corruption index, meaning that only three dozen countries are more corrupt than Russia. At #9 Canada is the least corrupt G-8 nation, followed by Germany at #13, Japan and the U.K. tied at #17, the U.S. at #19, France at #22 and Italy bringing up the rear again at #72. Again, the basis for Putin's abiding love for Berlusconi is revealed in stark terms.
China is right on Italy's heels at #80 on the TI corruption index.
By giving Russia a seat on the G-8, the civilized world is putting its imprimatur on the Putin dictatorship. It is giving Putin the means to argue against domestic criticism by pointing to his acceptance within the fold of democratic leaders, and this in turn permits Putin to crack down ever more viciously on dissent.
Follow Kim Zigfeld on Twitter @larussophobe.