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Another Twist in the Russian Spy Story

Mikhail Semenko TWN.jpg

As I wrote a few days ago, I was informed that alleged Russian spy Mikhail Semenko had my business card. Turns out I had his information as well in my personal lap top and had hoped to meet him before my next trip to China -- as his blog on the Chinese economy interested me.

There are rumors that Semenko applied for jobs at both the New America Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I've checked with New America's director of human resources, and there is no application -- so I can't confirm that he applied. He may have wanted to; New America is a cool place for youngish policy wonks.

But I met Semenko at a meeting I chaired with global strategic risk guru Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, who was speaking about his best-selling new book, The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?.

The fundamental thesis of Bremmer's fascinating book is that the biggest, most significant new feature of the global economy is the emergence of "state capitalism". Bremmer argues that his state capitalism -- as manifested in its most potent form in China -- threatens both firms and states that practice more traditional laissez-faire market capitalism.

This debate on Chinese vs. American approaches to capitalism is what the handsome alleged Russian agent Mikhail Semenko came to learn about when he visited the New America Foundation on May 27, 2010. Fascinating.

Above is a short clip of my exchange with Ian Bremer on that day -- and this is a link to the longer program. It would be interesting to see (I haven't had the chance to check) whether Semenko lodges any questions during the Q&A session.

The Washington Post is reporting that all or most of the alleged Russian spies are going to plead guilty and be deported to Russia as early as tomorrow. I sort of hope that Mikhail Semenko keeps up his blog from Russia -- because "agent of influence" or not -- his interest in key questions on how the world organizes itself is something we should all be thinking about.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note. Clemons can be followed on Twitter @SCClemons