In the universe of global disaster scenarios the only restraint on one’s imagination is usually self-imposed. We relish thinking about the calamities that might befall us as a civilization, as a species, or even as a planet – and are constantly conjuring new cataclysms to heighten our human urge for senseless anxiety. Holy crap! It’s nook-u-ler war!!!! Hide under your desk! Here comes the Texas-sized giant meteor headed straight for Central Park! Everybody duck! AND -oh muh gawd! HERE COME THE BIRDS!!!!!!
Oy. It’s exhausting to keep up with all the ways that we humans can figure out how we should get wiped off of the planet. It’s almost as if we feel guilty about being here. How else to explain a world where we would accept that apes or robots might displace us at the top of the food chain?
But, however exhilarating the potential extinction of the human race might be for movie-goers, if all human beings vanished from earth tomorrow, who’d even notice, much less give a sh*t?
As compared to the ho-hum nature of the extinguishment of the human race, the potential demise of a “country” offers a wide pallet from which to draw personal indignity. And so I must.
Throughout history, countries have died or been reshaped with alarming regularity, and the accompanying trauma of the collapse of the common bond, purpose and identity to those dedicated to a particular social order is devastating. Yes, it is true that other social ideals and political arrangements will rush to fill the void. But however benevolent the subsequent civil structure, the dialog of such social change historically has been debated in blood.
Not surprisingly, then, I am drawn to drawing blood when I read this pronouncement by the “Russian Academic” Igor Panarin* that the United States is destined to fall apart by 2010.
Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.
But it’s his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin’s views also fit neatly with the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.
A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.
“There’s a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur,” he says. “One could rejoice in that process,” he adds, poker-faced. “But if we’re talking reasonably, it’s not the best scenario — for Russia.” Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.
Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.
Well, hell. Based upon this carefully reasoned KGB-sponsored geo-political assessment, please cancel my $100 donation to the “Sarah Palin for Vice-President 2012 Committee.” There’s a 55-45% chance that she’s a goddamned commie mommy who’s going to sell out the cuddly polar bears!
//sticks tongue in electrical socket to clear head//
Before we all go applying for visas to Canada, let’s just step back for a moment to consider the foundation for Prof. Panarin’s pronouncement of the imminent collapse of the United States.
He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI [the Russian equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency] analysts, he says.
Oh. Well if it’s classified KGB data, then it must be true.
He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union.
Hmmm… Let’s see now: Virginia decides one day not to pay it’s income taxes to the federal government and effectively secedes (again). Wait a minute. Virginia doesn’t pay taxes to the feds, Virginians do. The Commonwealth of Virginia gets money from the feds, some of which was donated (at the point of a gun) by Virginians. Are you getting the feeling that the good Professor doesn’t know his ass from his elbow when it comes to how the United States operates?
Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.
Crickey. Has this guy ever spent a single day in New York City? Does he have any idea how difficult it would be to “split” this magnificently diverse country “along ethnic lines?” Sorry Professor, We the People of the United States just ain’t that organized, and couldn’t get that organized in a million years, much less 24 months. Plus, the whole “civil war” concept is so over here in the states. In order to have a civil war you’ve got to have two distinct factions willing to duke it out. We did that once, over this nation’s original sin; slavery. It was a hard lesson, learned hard, and it’s not likely that such an occasion will ever be repeated.
California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.
Okie-dokie, Smokey. And Tibet just bid $12 for Topeka on eBay.
I appreciate that the Russians are still hurting over the collapse of their communist empire. But their Marxist experiment really didn’t last that long, and it certainly didn’t result in anything lasting, culturally, spiritually, or socially – unless you count Chernobyl, a plethora of heroic statues, and several million unmarked graves.
Despite all of his “classified” data on American culture, Professor Paranin fails to grasp what is obvious to anyone who simply pulls into a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike: We are a varied people, but every one of us is confident in his or her knowledge of two simple facts: (1) I am better off living in America than not living in America; and (2) in-door plumbing is a very good thing, particularly for women.
Prof. Pararin’s entire opium dream appears to be based upon the historical premise that the same kind of divisive ethnic, religious, tribal, and socio-economic ills that have doomed countless other regimes throughout history will, sooner or later, be the demise of the United States. And that may still be so… someday.
But not yet, Comrade.
And believe me when I tell you that we are all, very much, still standing.
*(I admit that I can’t help but think of crusty bread bowls filled with potato(e) chowder and an asiago cheese bagel whenever I read his name).