Saturday, October 27, 2007

Self Esteem

Russia is not about to become a superpower despite their recent oil wealth and bluster, as I noted here.

Strategypage writes:

Putin's people have got the economy going (at six percent, Russia has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe), cracked down (but certainly not eliminated) on the lawlessness and corruption, and played to the popular affection for "restoring Russia's place in the world" (becoming a superpower again.)

Russia can't become a superpower again because it's population is shrinking (low birth rate, like the rest of Russia), and all those nuclear weapons are great for defending the country, but you need non-nuclear forces to throw your weight around. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, Russia has lost over 90 percent of its combat power.

Russia's GDP is about 6% of ours. Even if they spent half their GDP on defense, they wouldn't match our 4% of GDP defense spending.

In the end, Russia's bluster will accomplish two things. One, they'll rally Russians to accepting a benign dictatorship with only the forms of democracy. Two, Russia will scare their neighbors.

The result of this fright in the near term will be that Ukraine will enter NATO.

Looking further down the road, this fright will mean that should China confront Russia to overturn 18th century treaties that gave Russia Chinese Far Eastern territory, Russia will find theat their good friends in Belorus and Venezuela will be of zero help.

And keep in mind that Russia is portraying the West as a threat not because the West is a threat but because Putin wants his people to rally around the flag. Having a pretend foreign threat is safer than picking an actual threat to focus anger on. So let's end right now any talk of how we provoked Russia into hostility.

So good luck with that plan, Moscow. It's going to feel real good to be a revived Putin Russia right up until you crash and burn while we just watch.