Russia's Dangerous Implosion

Russia is set to experience a debilitating demographic crisis.  Its population will sicken and drop by one-third, and its dominant Slavic-Orthodox population will dwindle and be surpassed by its Islamic faction.  The consequences of this crisis will, unless the world gets better leadership than the likes of Barack Obama, and soon, have dire and direct and lasting effects for the rest of the world.

According to RIA Novosti, Russia's Kremlin-funded answer to Reuters, between 1950 and 2000 Russia's share of the world population fell by half, from 4% to 2%.  And, according to RIA, it will fall by half again before this century is out, dropping to just 1%.  That means only one out of every 100 people on the planet will be citizen of the Russian federation. 

If you look at a map of the world in 2100 with boundaries redrawn to reflect share of world population (RIA helpfully draws one for you), Russia is invisible. While the population of the rest of the world has grown, Russia's has fallen back to the level it had in 1950 under Stalin.  By 2100, the population if the USA will be more than triple that of Russia.

If we start analyzing the causes of this catastrophe, we make initial note of the fact that Russia has the world's highest rate of abortion.  In 2009 Russia exterminated a shocking 1.3 million fetuses, 73 for every 100 babies born.  Russia has more abortions each year than the United States, a country with more than double Russia's population.   By contrast, Russia's birth rate ranks #166 out of 195 world nations. Hardly any babies are being conceived, and more than 40% of those that are conceived are exterminated before being born.

The fate of babies that are born in Russia is a bleak one.  Russia ranks #6 in the world for fatality by suicide.   It has the second-highest prevalence of AIDS in Eurasia.   It is #7 in the world for cigarette consumption and #5 in the world for alcohol consumption. Its rate of fatality by fire is ten times that of the United States, and it is the most dangerous place in the world to drive a car or get on a plane.

All this leads Russians to a very early grave: Russia's average life expectancy of 65.5 years places it #135 out of 194 world countries.  That's the bottom third of the planet.

So Russians kill their babies at a frightening rate, as if they did not want to victimize them by forcing them to be born into such a country.  Then they commit suicide, or if they manage to keep on breathing they live their lives as if they did not care about the adverse consequences.  What these facts make clear is that Russians have an exceedingly negative view of the future, so they might as well do whatever they want today.  This would also explain, of course, why Russia ranks so high in national corruption.  Why not steal, if you believe the world will probably end tomorrow.

Exhaustive studies of Russian population trends by the United Nations and the Berlin Institute have confirmed reports ranging from PBS to the Global Post to Foreign Affairs:  The Putin regime has failed utterly to address, much less reform, any of the key defects which are causing the problem, and it is now irreversible.

If Russia's population has not entered freefall quite yet, there is just one reason:  immigration. There are still a few places that are even worse than Russia, and some of those places even have people with Russian ethnicity in them, people who now want to return to Mother Russia.  Places, for instance, like Kosovo -- if you are a mass-murdering Serb, the people Russians think of as their "little brother."   More often, though, it's economic basket cases like Tajikinstan, where decades of Soviet exploitation have left ruined states in the wake of the collapse of the USSR.

But there's a big problem with Russia relying on immigration to save its population from freefall: Russians hate foreigners, especially dark-skinned foreigners who aren't of the Orthodox faith. 

Russians are deeply, fundamentally, infamously suspicious of anyone who is not white, Slavic and Orthodox, and therefore the notion of creating a "melting pot" in Russia is nothing more than a pipe dream.  If the inflow of such persons continues there will be a furious backlash led by Russia's fearless and shameless skinhead nationalists. 

What's more, with every day that passes, more and more Russians flee their country, while they still have the chance.  Entrepreneurs most particularly, are leaving in droves.  As this process accelerates and the supply of wretched refuse so lowly that they see Russia as a step up diminishes, immigration will cease to be a factor in stabilizing Russia's population.

So immigration is no solution for Russia, and everybody knows it. Including the Kremlin.

But the KGB regime of Vladimir Putin does still have one fallback option.  It can allow its population to enter freefall and offset international marginalization the same way the much smaller organization operated by Osama bin Laden did, by using terrorism.  And if they can count on continued, craven weakness from the White House, they just might get away with something like this.

When it comes to modalities of terror, Russia is to be viewed as a wealthy and successful land.  It is governed by a proud KGB spy who is fortified by decades of state-sponsored R&D where terrorism is concerned, and it has even more options in this regard than bin Laden.

First, nuclear weapons.  Simplest and most direct, Russia can threaten to blow up the world if it doesn't get what it wants.

Second, oil and gas.  Especially in former Soviet space, Russia can threaten energy blackmail, turning off the lights and the heat in any country that doesn't do Moscow's bidding. The government of Ukraine has recently announced a massive shale exploration program to try to break its dependence on Russian crude.

Finally, cold war politics. Russia can funnel money, weapons and diplomatic support to the rogue regimes of the Middle East, just the way the USSR always did. It can threaten to roil their oil markets and create political instability throughout the region.

Sometimes, two or more of the modalities can be combined; in such instances, Russian terrorism is at its most powerful.  This has been seen most recently in regard to Iran, where the Obama administration's "reset" policy has failed utterly and Russia has aggressively sided with the Islamic dictatorship against the West in the confrontation over Iranian nuclear weapons development.  In doing so, Russia combines all three modalities of terror into one horrifying weapon.

The brutal and relentless manner in which Vladimir Putin has purged the last vestiges of democracy and dissent in Russia, declaring himself president for life, makes clear that Russia does not intend to try to reform the system that has brought its population to the brink of collapse.  To do so would empower the people, create independent centers of power that could challenge the Putin dictatorship for supremacy, and Putin is not interested in taking that chance.

Barack Obama's response to the Russian threat is the same one offered by Neville Chamberlain:  capitulation.  Appeasement. Call it what you like, the theory is that if we give the bully what he wants he will leave us alone.  Among other things, the 2012 presidential election in the USA will be a referendum on that idea. Time to pick a side.

An important first step has been taken in the U.S. Senate, where Obama's nomination of Michael McFaul as the next U.S. ambassador to Russia is under fire and may be blocked.  As Obama's closest advisor on Russia, McFaul is the worst possible choice for ambassador, and blocking him from taking up the post would be the best possible first step towards reversing course.  America should have, if not a president, at least an ambassador who will stand up to Russian aggression the way Ronald Reagan did.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner has also boldly spoken out against Obama's betrayal of American values.  At last, it seems that Republicans are beginning to provide the leadership Americans expect.  We can only hope it is not too late.