Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Shrinking Russian population

After reading George Friedman’s America’s Secret War, Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle between America and its Enemies. I accepted his invitation to receive his “free news letter.” I eventually tried to unsubscribe but wasn’t able to, so what follows is the current news letter that I can’t unsubscribe from nor properly reference in the form of a web site.

This news letter it is from an article By Reva Bhalla, Lauren Goodrich and Peter Zeihan. It covers a number of matters, but I’ll quote just four paragraphs that pertain to Russia.

Russia is among the world’s most strategically vulnerable states. Its core, the Moscow region, boasts no geographic barriers to invasion. Russia must thus expand its borders to create the largest possible buffer for its core, which requires forcibly incorporating legions of minorities who do not see themselves as Russian. The Russian government estimates that about 80 percent of Russia’s approximately 140 million people are actually ethnically Russian, but this number is somewhat suspect, as many minorities define themselves based on their use of the Russian language, just as many Hispanics in the United States define themselves by their use of English as their primary language. Thus, ironically, attaining security by creating a strategic buffer creates a new chronic security problem in the form of new populations hostile to Moscow’s rule. The need to deal with the latter problem explains the development of Russia’s elite intelligence services, which are primarily designed for and tasked with monitoring the country’s multiethnic population.

“Russia’s primary challenge, however, is time. In the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, the bottom fell out of the Russian birthrate, with fewer than half the number of babies born in the 1990s than were born in the 1980s. These post-Cold War children are now coming of age; in a few years, their small numbers are going to have a catastrophic impact on the size of the Russian population. By contrast, most non-Russian minorities — in particular those such as Chechens and Dagestanis, who are of Muslim faith — did not suffer from the 1990s birthrate plunge, so their numbers are rapidly increasing even as the number of ethnic Russians is rapidly decreasing. Add in deep-rooted, demographic-impacting problems such as HIV, tuberculosis and heroin abuse — concentrated not just among ethnic Russians but also among those of childbearing age — and Russia faces a hard-wired demographic time bomb. Put simply, Russia is an ascending power in the short run, but it is a declining power in the long run.

The Russian leadership is well aware of this coming crisis, and knows it is going to need every scrap of strength it can muster just to continue the struggle to keep Russia in one piece. To this end, Moscow must do everything it can now to secure buffers against external intrusion in the not-so-distant future. For the most part, this means rolling back Western influence wherever and whenever possible, and impressing upon states that would prefer integration into the West that their fates lie with Russia instead. Moscow’s natural gas crisis with Ukraine, August 2008 war with Georgia, efforts to eject American forces from Central Asia and constant pressure on the Baltic states all represent efforts to buy Russia more space — and with that space, more time for survival.

Expanding its buffer against such a diverse and potentially hostile collection of states is no small order, but Russia does have one major advantage: The security guarantor for nearly all of these countries is the United States, and the United States is currently very busy elsewhere. So long as U.S. ground forces are occupied with the Iraqi and Afghan wars, the Americans will not be riding to the rescue of the states on Russia’s periphery. Given this window of opportunity, the Russians have a fair chance to regain the relative security they seek. In light of the impending demographic catastrophe and the present window of opportunity, the Russians are in quite a hurry to act."

COMMENT:

The authors suggest, that the “100% Russian” ethnic element in present day Russia might be much smaller than the 79.8% listed in the CIA Factbook. But more importantly is the declining birthrate problem that also exists in the rest of Europe (or as Michael would prefer “in Europe as well as Russia”). Discussions on what to do about it, if anything, have raged in Europe. The official stance is to deny that there is a problem. People who speak out and say that there is are described as trouble-makers and crackpots. But there are only so many ways to shuffle the statistics. In the case of Europe, Olivier Roy, for example has argued in Globalized Islam, the Search for a New Ummah, that while Muslim birthrates are presently higher than for ambient native Europeans, that is only a temporary situation. As time goes on and Muslims become more integrated, their birthrates will drop to the same level as native Europeans. While this might be true if Muslims do become integrated, if they do not, if they remain in unintegrated enclaves, then their birthrate should remain high with the attendant problems alarmists such as Mark Steyn, Oriana Fallaci, and Bat Y’eor describe.

In regard to Russia, I don’t know whether they are integrating their more fertile minorities or isolating them into enclaves. But if Michael Kuznetsov is indicative of the current 100%-Russian jingoistic frame of mind, I suspect their minorities are in enclaves; in which case Russia can expect the same sort of difficulties that the aforementioned alarmists warn against in regard to Europe.

2 comments:

Michael Kuznetsov said...

Lawrence,

Any real "integration" of the non-Europeans into European society is impossible.

They would not integrate.
Never!
They are not intermixable like water and oil.

Moreover, they are not willing to become "Europeans", because they are made of different "stuff", believe me or not.

Of course, Russia MUST remain a white Christian country, otherwise it is not Russia at all.

There is little "jingoism", if at all, in my words, but only "Realpolitik"

As to the shrinking Russian population . . .

Well, we lost about 27 million people during the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945, the majority of them being just the Russians.

Additionally, a large half of the European part of our country was reduced to ashes, literally.

Nevertheless, in 12 years after the dire war, in 1957 we managed to launch the first SPUTNIK, and then in 1961 the first Man in Space -- Yuri Gagarin, as you can remember.

We got ahead of the USA!

Although racially we are of the same stock as Germans, Britons, and others, but now I would prefer to exclude us Russians from the European family for several reasons.

First, because of the present-day European atheism.

Second, because of the abominations in which Europe has been sinking -- for example, the disgusting "gay parades", etc., etc.

When we first watched on our TV a heinous "gay parade" in London or in Berlin, the first thought was: "Oh, no, we Russians are not Europeans any longer!"

God save us from such European "culture".

We believe that the Almighty God is with us.
Which fact has been explicitly proved by all our millennial glorious History.

So, don't ever hasten to bury Russia.
We'll wait and see.

Anonymous said...

God is with the followers, not with your satanic country. Like Byzantine perished due its betrayal to the God, Russia will face the same painful death because it was always an empire built on blood. For centuries they were oppressing orthodox christian nations and never was a real orthodox country, rather paganic. Russians are not an european stock but rather a mixture of european-turkic-finnish-mongol-caucasian stocks.