Bush may be surprised at Russia's creep back toward tyranny, but Burke would understand. From an excellent new essay in the New York Review of Books by Sergei Kovalev:

Is the 71 percent of the vote he received in 2004 convincing evidence of his popularity? I have never met anyone who likes Putin as a person. One answer to the riddle of his electoral success is quite simple and quite sad. For virtually the first time in history, Russian citizens were given the primary instrument of political democracy: direct and competitive elections. But they do not know why they need this instrument or how to make use of it. Eleven hundred years of history have taught us only two possible relationships to authority, submission and revolt. The idea of peacefully replacing our ruler through a legal process is still a wild, alien thought for us. The powers-that-be are above the law and they're unchangeable by law. Overthrowing them is something we understand. But at the moment, we don't want to. We've had quite enough revolution."

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