Ignore Russia and Die in Your Sleep

by proplog2 27 Replies latest jw friends

  • proplog2

    My posts about Russia are generally ignored. Maybe 100 people click on them. Actually 50 if you count the click back of posters who check the threads progress.

    This is to be expected. People in the USA don't get much exposure to geo-politics unless it's a PBS or Charlie Rose interview. Even the "divinely" guided channel we love to criticize - the Watchtower - has abandoned the idea of Russia as the King of the North.

    So once again I feel obligated to post for the few who care. This article came out yesterday. It is hot. It is from a subscription source of a private intelligence service that is widely respected. It shows the current predicament of Russia. I will highlight those parts that I feel significantly illustrate the dangerous option Putin is liable to exercise.

    July 3, 2006
    Russia: What Now?
    By Peter Zeihan

    For the past two weeks, the Kremlin has been
    issuing a flood of seemingly contradictory
    statements through officials such as Gazprom CEO
    Alexei Miller, deputy presidential administration
    heads Vladislav Surkov and Igor Sechin, Deputy
    Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei
    Ivanov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and even President Vladimir Putin.

    One day, Miller seemed to obliquely threaten
    European natural gas supplies; the next, Gazprom
    granted the Ukrainians another three months of
    exports at less than half European market rates.
    On another day, Lavrov proposed sharply limiting
    discussion at the upcoming Group of Eight (G-8)
    summit in St. Petersburg to preclude topics, such
    as Chechnya, that the Russians find
    uncomfortable; this was followed by a statement
    from Lavrov's office declaring no topic taboo. On
    another front, Ivanov waxed philosophic about the
    might of the Russian military and warned of
    Western encroachment, while Surkov noted that
    Russia would never modernize without robust and
    friendly relations with the West. At one point,
    the Russians could be seen aggressively lobbying
    for Iran's right to a full civilian nuclear program, and then just as
    empathically noting their concerns about nuclear proliferation.

    These statements and others like them not only
    seem disjointed -- they are disjointed. These
    disconnects are the public symptoms of an
    underlying and systemic problem. Briefly stated,
    Russia -- after 25 years of the Andropov doctrine
    -- finds itself in a deepening crisis, with no
    immediate or effective solutions apparent.
    The issues with which Russia grapples are
    multifaceted -- and they have only grown in scale
    since they were first recognized by the leaders of Andropov's generation.

    Demographically, the country is in terrible
    shape: The population is growing simultaneously
    older, smaller and more sickly. The number of
    Muslims is growing, while the number of ethnic
    Russians is declining. Nearly all of the economic
    growth that has occurred since the 1998 financial
    crisis has stemmed from either an artificially
    weak currency or rising energy prices, and there
    are echoes of the Soviet financial overextension
    after the 1973 and 1981 oil price booms. NATO and
    the European Union -- once rather distant
    concerns -- now occupy the entire western
    horizon, and they are steadily extending their
    reach into a Ukraine whose future is now in play.

    More recently, another set of concerns --
    encapsulated in the START treaty -- have cropped
    up as well. The treaty, which took force in 1991
    and obliges the United States and Russia to
    maintain no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads
    apiece, expires in 2009, and the United States is
    not exactly anxious to renew it. Among American
    defense planners, there is a belief that the vast
    majority of the Russian nuclear defense program
    is nearing the end of its reliable lifecycle, and
    that replacing the entire fleet would be well
    beyond Russia's financial capacity. >From the
    U.S. point of view, there is no reason to subject
    itself to a new treaty that would limit U.S.
    options, particularly when the Russia of today is
    far less able to support an arms race than the Soviet Union of yesteryear.

    With all of that, it is becoming clear to leaders
    in Moscow that something must be done if Russia
    is to withstand these external and internal
    threats. The government is casting about for a
    strategy, but modern Russian history offers no
    successful models from which to work.
    The Andropov Doctrine

    Modern Russian history, of course, dates from
    before the fall of the Soviet Union -- beginning
    with Yuri Andropov's rise to power in November
    1982. As someone who was in charge of the KGB, in
    a state where information was tightly
    compartmentalized, Andropov came into office
    knowing something that did not become apparent to
    the rest of the world for years: Not only was the
    Soviet Union losing the Cold War, but it was
    dangerously close to economic collapse. The West
    had long since surpassed the Soviets in every
    measure that mattered -- from economic output to
    worker productivity to military reach. In time,
    Andropov was convinced, Moscow would fall -- barring a
    massive change in course.

    Andropov's plan was to secure money, managerial
    skills and non-military technologies from the
    West in order to refashion a more functional
    Soviet Union. But the Soviets had nothing
    significant to trade. They did not have the cash,
    they lacked goods that the West wanted, and
    Andropov had no intention of trading away Soviet
    military technology (which, even 15 years after
    the Cold War ended, still gives its U.S.
    counterpart a good run for the money). In the
    end, Andropov knew that the Soviet Union had only
    one thing the West wanted: geopolitical space. So space was what he gave.
    It was what subsequent leaders -- Gorbachev,
    Yeltsin, and Putin after them -- gave as well.
    The one common thread uniting Russian leaders
    over the past quarter-century has been this: the
    belief that without a fundamental remake, Russia
    would not survive. And the only way to gain the
    tools necessary for that remake was to give up
    influence. Consequently, everything from Cuba to
    Namibia to Poland to Afghanistan to Vietnam was
    surrendered, set free or otherwise abandoned --
    all in hopes that Russia could buy enough time,
    technology or cash to make the critical difference.
    This was the strategy for nearly 25 years, until
    the loss of Ukraine in the Orange Revolution
    raised the specter of Russian dissolution. The
    Russians stepped away from the Andropov doctrine,
    abandoned the implicit bargain within it,
    reformed the government under the leadership of
    pragmatists loyal to Putin, and began pushing
    back against American and Western pressure.

    It has not gone altogether well.
    The Crux

    While the Russians have hardly lost their talent
    for confrontation when the need arises, the
    confrontations they have initiated have been
    countered. The Russians are attempting to push
    back against the rise of American influence
    their region with any means possible, with the
    goal of distracting and deflecting American
    attention. But there is an element of
    self-restraint as well: The pragmatic leaders now
    in power realize full well that if the Kremlin
    pushes too hard, the very tools they use to
    preserve their influence will trigger reactions
    from the United States and others that will only compound the pressure.

    In the past seven months, Moscow has temporarily
    shut off natural gas supplies in an attempt to
    force Western European powers to assist Russia in
    reining in portions of its near-abroad that
    Moscow viewed as rebellious. The response from
    the Europeans, however, has been to begin
    exploring ways of weaning themselves from Russian
    energy supplies -- something that was never
    contemplated during Cold War-era Red Army
    maneuvers. Meanwhile, Moscow has attempted to
    engage China in an alliance that would
    counterbalance the United States, and China has
    taken advantage of this overture to extend its
    own reach deep into Central Asia. Meanwhile, the
    Russians have tried using arms sales and
    diplomacy to complicate U.S. efforts in the
    Middle East. However, they have found themselves
    being used as a negotiation tool by the Iranians,
    only to be discarded. In sum, Russia's weight
    does not count for nearly as much as it once did.

    Watching the Kremlin these days, one has a sense
    that there is an intense argument under way among
    a group of old acquaintances -- all of them fully
    aware of the circumstances they face. This
    probably isn't far from the truth. Putin has
    cobbled the current government together by
    co-opting factions among the siloviki, reformers
    and oligarchs who would be beholden to him -- all
    of whom recognize the strengths and weaknesses of
    the ideologies of their predecessors.

    For the first time in decades, those calling the
    shots in the Kremlin not only agree on the nature
    of Russia's problems and are not really arguing
    amongst themselves, but they also are no longer
    willing to subject their country to the false
    comfort of policies driven by ideology, national
    chauvinism or reformist idealism. This is the
    most unified and pragmatic government Moscow has
    known in a generation. But it is a unified and
    pragmatic government that is grasping at straws.
    Russia's leaders all believe that the path the
    Soviet Union traveled led to failure, and thus
    they are committed to the logic, rationale and
    conclusions of the Andropov doctrine.
    Nevertheless, they also are all realistic and
    intelligent enough to recognize that this
    doctrine, too, has failed their country.

    And so the Putin government is wrestling with a fundamental question: What now?
    Russia's Options

    With no good options available -- and all of the
    bad ones having been tried in some manner already
    -- there is a proliferation of reactive,
    short-term policies. Everyone who has some
    authority is experimenting on the margins of
    policy. Medvedev tinkers with Ukrainian energy
    policy, while Ivanov rattles the nuclear saber --
    and Putin tries to make the two seems like
    opposite sides of the same coin while preparing
    for the G-8 talks. Kremlin officials are trying
    to coordinate, and there is little internal
    hostility -- but in the end, no one dares push
    hard on any front for fear of a strong reaction
    that would only make matters worse. The strategy,
    or lack thereof, generates immense caution.

    Human nature, of course, plays a part. No one
    wants to be personally responsible for a policy
    that might result in a national setback; thus,
    government officials seek full buy-in from their
    peers. And it is impossible to get full backing
    from a group of intelligent men who all recognize
    the history and risks involved. Just because one
    knows that the long-term penalty of inaction is
    death does not mean there is no hesitancy about trying experimental cures.But experimental cures are practically all that
    is left for Russia. Wielding energy supplies as a
    weapon will not buy Moscow greater power; that
    can achieve short-term goals, but only at the
    cost of long-term influence as customers turn to
    other solutions. And while a partnership with
    China is attractive by some measures, the Chinese
    want Russian energy supplies and military
    technology without the politico-military baggage
    that would come with a formal alliance. Moscow
    retains the capacity to generate endless
    headaches for Western, and particularly American,
    policymakers, but the costs of such actions are
    high and -- even considering the weakness of the
    current administration in Washington -- only rarely worth the consequences.

    All of this leaves three possibilities for the
    pragmatists. One is for Putin's team to ignore
    history and everything they know to be true and
    play geopolitical Russian roulette. In other
    words, they can push for confrontation with the
    West and pray that the counterstrikes are not too
    The second is to do nothing -- fearing
    the consequences of all actions too much to take
    any -- or continue with the recent trend of
    rhetorical spasms. Under this "strategy," the
    Russian government would succumb to the problems
    foreseen by Andropov a generation ago.

    The third possibility is a leadership
    displacement. Just as Putin displaced Russia's
    oligarchs, reformers and siloviki because he felt
    their ideas would not translate into success for
    Russia, those power groups feel the same way
    about the Putin government. The option, then, is
    for one of these groups to somehow displace the
    current government and attempt to remake Russia
    yet again. Several caveats apply: It would have
    to be a group cohesive enough to take and hold
    power, committed enough to a defining ideology to
    ignore any deficiencies of that ideology, and
    either trusted or feared enough by the population to be allowed to wield power.Russia's oligarchs are neither united nor
    trusted, and historically have placed
    self-interest far above national interests. The
    reformers, while united, are clearly not trusted
    by the populace as a whole, and the idealism of
    the group that implemented the disastrous shock
    therapy in the early 1990s is long gone.

    The siloviki, however, are broadly cohesive and
    populist, and they have not allowed economics or
    politics to get in the way of their nationalism
    or ideological opposition to capitalism and the
    United States. Moreover, they have little fear of
    using the military club when the natives -- or the neighbors -- get restless.

    Assuming Russia does not become paralyzed by
    fear, it appears destined to return to a model in
    which the nationalists, military and intelligence
    apparatuses call the shots -- a sort of Soviet
    Union with a Russian ethnic base. If this is the
    case, the only question remaining is: Who will lead the transformation?

    With every passing day, Putin seems less fit for the role. ___END

    My comments:

    There is only one solution. It isn't discussed because it's horrible. Putin/Russia is going to temporarily destabilize the USA so that it doesn't interfere in its back yard. One day (most likely a week-day when people are at work) our newsfeeds from New York are going to go dead. Perhaps our TVs and electricity in the eastern powergrid will go dark. That will be the sign that a nuclear bomb has gone off in New York, the most likely target.

    The blast will be blamed on terrorist who perhaps got hold of a loose Russian nuke. Putin will call Bush immediately to express his shock and condolences and offer to help in any way possible. Putin will have dropped the dollar by 90%. The dollar after all is a stock certificate in the American Economy. Such a dissaster will have a devastating effect on the American Economy. The USA will have to recover from that blow before it can meddle in Russian affairs. Such a simple terrible solution. The solution of a desperate man and a country that has nothing to look forward to. Very similar to Weimar Germany. Putin will be able to accomplish this without fear of retaliation. How do you retaliate against terrorist you can't identify?

    The world will continue. Economies will be hurt but not destroyed. China will continue to churn out consumer goods. The Middle East and Russia will continue to pump oil. But American Hegemony will be over.

    You may now go back to your regularly scheduled fluff.

  • JH

    Interesting article and comment Proplog2.

    I like reading International news from many sources, and I think it's only a question of time that someone or some country will do something drastic.

    Russia is helping many countries, who are anti American, right now, by selling them sophisticated military hardware.

    Russia has many proxies working in their behalf.

  • daniel-p

    Interesting article, but i fail to see the rationality of the title of your thread and also your "King of the North" implications. Ever since the breakdown of the USSR, Russia has been set back decades in military and economic might. It will take a long time before it once again becomes the threat it once was. Your post analysis is horseshit, man. Complete conjecture. You may not get a huge responce on these forums because there are only a few here who crave conspiracy theories of this magnitude. No offense or anything.

  • JH

    You have a pm Proplog2.

  • heathen

    Way to stike up the paranoia again . I do remember the Russians demanding US funding tho , it was pretty creepy how they said, give us the money or we aren't responsible for what happens next . Oh that's just great try to rattle the nukes at us again but only in a way that they can avoid accountability . Hopefully the US still has some opperatives observing what goes on in Russia . It seemed like there was more info during the cold war on what Russia was up to . Anyway I don't like black mail , they need to play ball if they want help from the west .

  • serendipity

    HI proplog,

    A tip: If you add "Sex" or "boobs" to the subject, your topics will get more attention.

    Like: "Sexy Russian babes"

    Seriously, you might get more attention for this stuff over at e-watchman.

  • heathen

    Also I remember it being said that the western oil companies were the ones that shut down the refineries after having bought them .It was all about greed .

  • LDH

    More troubling that this synopsis is that Putin pulled up a little boy's shirt (about 4) and kissed him on his stomach this week while greeting a crowd. When asked why he did it, he said, "he wanted to kiss him like a kitten."

  • proplog2

    Daniel P: Interesting article, but i fail to see the rationality of the title of your thread and also your "King of the North" implications. Ever since the breakdown of the USSR, Russia has been set back decades in military and economic might. It will take a long time before it once again becomes the threat it once was. Your post analysis is horseshit, man. ; Complete conjecture. ; You may not ;get a huge responce on these forums because there are only a few here who crave conspiracy theories of this magnitude. ; No offense or anything. If you aren't aware of the significance of Russia in the geo-political situation you are likely to be a victim of your own ignorance. King of the North? Were you ever a JW? I am saying that there is nothing North of Russia and it remains an enemy of the US. If you believe the USA and Russia are friends then you are a typical apathetic American drugged by your own narrow self interests. Russia was never the threat we though it was. We thought they could overun NATO troops in a European War. Thats why we threatened Russia with Nuclear Weapons if they invaded any NATO country. The questions was always about at what point in an invasion of Europe would we launch nuclear missles. But the ultimate threat remains. Russia has a couple thousand nuclear missiles that it can lob at the USA. And the USA has a few thousand it can shoot at Russia. The USA invaded Iraq because they believed they had WMD. Russia DOES have WMD and the still have maneuvers that simulate a battle with the USA complete with shooting down their surveilance sattelites. Russia carries out sophisticated computer simulations of this to maintain readiness. To say that my post analysis is horse manure means you have some kind of information that would make that scenario impossible. So present that information. Do you think it would be impossible for Russians to have a bomb in New York? Do you think that countries faced with collapsing won't resort to desperate measures? You apparently don't understand that this is not a conspiracy theory. Russia is not a secret society. It is a great nation. It looks at its situation and acts in its best interests. You are mis-labeling this. Perhaps you perceive any prediction of bad news as a conspiracy theory. I am not here to gain popularity. I don't care how many people read this post. I recognize most people aren't interested in this subject. Do you get mad at a weatherman if he says the conditions are developing that make the formation of a tornado likely?

  • proplog2


    E-Watchman? You mean our old friend You Know?

    We have a profound divergence. He thinks he's God's prophet. And I don't believe in God.

    This forum is good for posting because its going to last. I hate posting to a forum and it shuts down.

    The reward of a prognosticator is if he can point to a statement and say ha! I told you so.

    The risk is that when you are wrong you get laughed at.

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