Monday, December 29, 2008

Is This When the Zombies Attack?

Andrew Osborn has an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today. The article discusses a prediction made by Igor Panarin, the Dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for foreign diplomats (and a former-KGB analyst), that the United States will suffer an economic and moral collapse in 2010 that will result in the breakup of the Union. Apparently Mr Panarin has been predicting the dissolution of the United States for over a decade, but now that the economy is "messed up," people are taking him a bit more seriously. Should we?

According to the article, Mr Panarin used classified data to formulate his prediction 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. 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.

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. who is the guy? Well, he's not a member of the fringe-crazy-conspiracy underground. He has a doctorate in political science, has studied U.S. economics, and worked for the Russian equivalent of the National Security Agency. He developed his theory that the US will disintegrate while he was writing strategy forecasts in the 1990's. Mr. Panarin says that the disintegration of the US will not be a good thing for Russia, but still says there is a 55-45% chance that it will happen. is his theory nuts? It seems to me that Mr. Panarin's disintegration theory is more than a bit "extreme;" but like many extreme theories, may have an underlying basis of reality embedded somewhere inside. The US does face challenging times in 2010. Our economy seems to be in a decline, that even President-elect Obama warns may take a long time to fix. Economic stimulus packages, mortgage and Wall Street bailouts, and even the Christmas shopping season have not generated an economic recovery. People continue to be pessimistic about the economy, and have very definite ideas on what will, or will not, work. There is fear of another "Great Depression." We also have a very definite schism between political parties, and we seem to be losing all pretense of civility. We have "red states" and "blue states" with differing interests, outlooks, and political philosophies. Our "red states" feel that the "blue states" have a disproportional influence on national priorities; even though the "red states" are more numerous. As a public, we don't trust our politicians and we want a change in how our politicians (at both the local and national levels) do business...but we still want "our" representatives to "bring home the bacon." We also don't trust bankers, CEOs, and newspaper reporters (and probably shouldn't based on their recent records). For some reason, though, we do trust celebrities. Most of the public also trusts the military, but that portion of the country who wears pink, has attended an Ivy-League school, or lives in the Northeast still lives in the Vietnam-era fear that the military will stage a coup...or something. We are suffering from a "quiet invasion" of illegal immigrants; and cannot figure out how to respond. We have created, and perpetrated, a culture of victimization. Many of our citizens, rightly or wrongly, still feel like they are treated as second-class citizens because of their skin color or their gender or their religion. We avoid risks instead of taking them as challenges. should we worry? Like I said, things are challenging; but I don't think we should necessarily start selling our US Savings Bonds, yet. I don't know if Mr. Panarin understands the basic psyche of the American public. We may have economic and political challenges, but we will still support the "idea" of a national union against all comers. Remember how, despite differences, we pulled together after the 9/11 attacks? Underneath all, most Americans are patriots. We love our successful experiment in representative democracy and want it to not only survive but grow stronger. Like any big family facing challenges, we will argue and fight amongst ourselves; but when an outsider wants to intervene, we will pull together and display a united front. So, while Mr. Panarin's theory is interesting (and good for a bit of a laugh); I don't think we need to fear the Zombies, quite yet.


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