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November 26, 2008

Pot Calling Kettle, Russian Edition

Over at the Drudge Report, they (he?) are (is?) breathlessly hyping a story about a "leading Russian political analyst" predicting that the U.S.A. is "heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts."

Writing in Izvestia, Igor Panarin, "a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian foreign affairs ministry," laid out "how the US would divide along ethnic and cultural lines."

They are: the Pacific coast with its growing Chinese population; the increasingly Hispanic South; independence-minded Texas; the Atlantic Coast; a central state with a large Native American population; and the northern states where - he maintains - Canadian influence is strong.

Alaska could be claimed by Russia, he said, claiming that the region was "only granted on lease, after all."

Last things first, it was a sale, not a lease, Igor. Middle things second: he obviously knows even less about the current U.S.A. than he does about the 19th-century version. Native Americans dominating the Midwest?

More to the point, does the term "projection" mean anything to you, Igor? If it doesn't, here's why you may want to familiarize yourself with the concept:

As Oil Prices Fall, Russia Nears Economic Collapse

On Thursday experts indicated that Russia is now headed towards a major economic crisis, following news that the price of oil had fallen below $50 a barrel. The collapse of the value of oil is said to have several catastrophic consequences for Russia, including a severe drop in living standards next year and a possible devaluation of the rouble . . .

The oil slump however, has only worsened the already severe economic problems in Russian. Since May, Russian Markets have lost 70% of their value. Russian's top bank has spent $57.5 billion in two months attempting to prop up the currency.

Chris Weafer, an analyst with the Moscow brokerage Uralsib, said:

If the current trend continues with the government supporting the rouble, oil prices falling and a slowing economy we are going to have a major crisis. There will be more pressure on the rouble and an extremely difficult first quarter next year."

He added that Russia is more vulnerable than other countries because it is an oil state that failed to diversify its economy.

Throw in a decreasing life-expectancy, an abysmal birth-rate and "a public health crisis that verges on the catastrophic" (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, alcoholism, cancer, cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, suicides, smoking, traffic accidents . . .) and Russia is well on its way to national extinction, not renewed greatness.

I want to feel bad about this. I really do. There's so much about Russia that is admirable and even great. But what Moscow native Cathy Young calls its "oversized ego" and "its increasingly ridiculous delusions of being a great power," including Panarin's comments, make these qualities easy to overlook in favor of schadenfreude (a sin) at her comeuppance. 

So please shut up.

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Not only is the prognostication rather silly sounding coming from Russia, but he's late to the party. Case in point: I read this book in College:

The Nine Nations of North America


It appears to be out of print now, but I remember thinking (if I can actually describe what I was doing in college as thinking) at the time how "accurate" the book seemed to be.

Benjamin Ady

Here's a question regarding the "sale" of Alaska. How many Native Alaskans were there when their land was "sold" to the U.S. Empire by the Russian Empire? Did anybody ask how they felt about the "sale"?


Uh, Benjamin,
Inasmuch as the purchase transpired 141 years ago the Native Alaskans are now just as dead as the Russian and American Imperialists. This is not an area I have studied in depth, but I propose that the native Alaskans of the time were, by and large, clueless to the transaction.

Don't be too hard on the U.S. Empire, though. It was still recovering from the expense, property devastation, and massive loss of life that came from reconquering the hapless Confederate States of America. Compared to the Confederate victims (for whom I am sure you grieve daily) the Alaskans didn't fare too badly.

Benjamin Ady


I wonder why you are sure I grieve daily for the confederate victims? I never have really understood the civil war, and I have occasionally wondered if slavery might not have ended in the south sooner rather than later if the North had chosen to merely exert economic and political pressure rather than engage in open warfare. I don't see how it's connected to the Alaska thing, except perhaps for the sorts of things that eventually took place in Liberia.

jason taylor

Benjamin will you please define what constitutes "nativeness" so we can properly grieve over natives? Or is it just your connection that only Occidentals ever move about and natives somehow sprout out of the Earth?
Or how many generations does it take to attain the sublime dignity of nativeness?
And in any case, do you think that many "Alaskan Natives" would really like to live the lives of their fathers without such symbols of oppression as snowmobles, hunting rifles, Swiss Army knifes, Coast Guard rescue service and other tools of exploitation?

jason taylor

In any case the same people who are most sympathetic for natives whose lands were stolen are conspicuously sympathetic toward immigrants when they are non-occidentals in occidental countries as note Moslems in Britain.
So there are two possibilities. One can either find some way of explaining the inconsistency.
Or simply say the world is complicated and waxing indignant about such things is of limited value. Because in an immigration quarrel both the incomers and the natives tend to have some claim to sympathy, both are often fighting for their existence and being indignant is often wasted emotion, and not conducive to pleasant reaction from one's neighbors.

Jason Taylor

Actually the last two remarks were a little sarcastic and I don't like it when I get treated that way by someone else on the site.
And the same goes for anyone else I have treated harshly on this site in the last few days.

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