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What Game Is Putin Playing?

March 23rd, 2014 - 6:07 am

David Goldman, aka Spengler, has published a thoughtful piece about Putin, Ukraine, and the future of Russia. I say “published,” but “republished” is more accurate.  It first appeared nearly six years ago, in August 2008.  But “Americans Play Monopoly, Russians Chess” is as pertinent today as it was when it was first published.

Some scene setters:

1. On the night of November 22, 2004, Vladimir Putin watched the television news in his dacha near Moscow. People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding “Orange” revolution in Ukraine. “They lied to me,” Putin said bitterly of the United States. “I’ll never trust them again.” The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine.

2. Demographics. Goldman reminds us of the dismal truth: “The United Nations publishes population projections for Russia up to 2050, and I have extended these to 2100. If the UN demographers are correct, Russia’s adult population will fall from about 90 million today to only 20 million by the end of the century. Russia is the only country where abortions are more numerous than live births, a devastating gauge of national despair.”

Sure, extrapolation from present trends to future realties is always hazardous. But those present trends are also present realities, and in the case of Russia’s population they pose an existential threat. Putin has tried mightily to increase natality, and has had some modest success. But Goldman provides the demographic backdrop: “demographers observe that the number of Russian women of childbearing age is about to fall off a cliff. No matter how much the birth rate improves, the sharp fall in the number of prospective mothers will depress the number of births. UN forecasts show the number of Russians aged 20-29 falling from 25 million today to only 10 million by 2040.”

Yikes.  And what does this mean? It means that “Russia has passed the point of no return in terms of fertility. Although roughly four-fifths of the population of the Russian Federation is considered ethnic Russians, fertility is much higher among the Muslim minorities in Central Asia. Some demographers predict a Muslim majority in Russia by 2040, and by mid-century at the latest.”

3. And this brings us to the Ukraine. Goldman, remember, was writing in 2008, but he might have been writing yesterday.

The place to avert tragedy is in Ukraine. Russia will not permit Ukraine to drift to the West. Whether a country that never had an independent national existence prior to the collapse of communism should become the poster-child for national self-determination is a different question. The West has two choices: draw a line in the sand around Ukraine, or trade it to the Russians for something more important.

My proposal is simple: Russia’s help in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism in the Middle East is of infinitely greater import to the West than the dubious self-determination of Ukraine. The West should do its best to pretend that the “Orange” revolution of 2004 and 2005 never happened, and secure Russia’s assistance in the Iranian nuclear issue as well as energy security in return for an understanding of Russia’s existential requirements in the near abroad. Anyone who thinks this sounds cynical should spend a week in Kiev.

Is Goldman right?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Right you are MB4. A lot of people here are fixated on Russia, and the idea that we should do something with our current Commander in Chief whose favorite thing to do with our troops is get them killed.

Yet nobody seems to be very worried about the fact Obama is making great headway in destroying America (transforming) and he has ZERO opposition from the Republican leadership. In fact, their main focus is giving him an AMNESTY bill to reward the Mexican criminal in our midst.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
My article years ago here at PJM called The Inversion Narrative highlighted the manner in which leftists and their lapdogs in media, Hollywood and academia handle a world full of facts that they don't like, so they simply invent an inverted narrative to "put the world right" with them.

Juxtaposing with Roger's most recent article, this is Affirmative Action politics. It creates an outcome via truth quotas and artificially replacing facts and evidence with pre-masticated outcomes and feeding them to the little baby birds who cannot feed themselves facts and evidence....and can't swallow truth.

Affirmative Action science creates a conclusion that leftists want the world to accept and then reverse engineers any hypothesis that remotely supports the conclusion, hides the "decline" and the 95% disaster of the models and declares the science "settled". It then serially assaults, slanders and demonizes the "deniers" of the fraudulent, inverted narrative.

Affirmative Action journalism declares that the Koch Brothers are the biggest landholders in the Keystone Pipeline landscape...and then when Powerline disproves the entire notion, suggests that the work disproving the fraud was the very type of "dialogue" that the fraud was designed to promote. It's not that the Washington Post has no soul, no moral compass, no honor...it's that it couldn't find any of the three in five more lifetimes. Affirmative Action journalism inverts the truth, destroys and hides facts and evidence and then delivers as "news" the inverted fraud...because that is how they would like the world to be.

People think of Affirmative Action as "race" based. It isn't. It is outcome based. Race is just one element. Affirmative Action sports has every little player getting an award for just participating.

There is no winning and losing. Because that's how leftists want the world to behave. But there are winners and losers. The losers are the ones who play an inverted narrative game against foes who don't.

Affirmative Action is virtual reality living. It creates a fake world and then acts as if it is real....to everyone's detriment.

And...it doesn't do what it claims to do. It doesn't make things better, more equal, more egalitarian, doesn't deliver better outcomes.


The guys are Powerline do it again...this time outlining the Harvard debate on why it actually HURTS to impose Affirmative Action. I expand on this notion above, but the same rules of logic apply and the same Inversion Narrative takes place every time.


"Going to any school to which a student is admitted because of race, rather than to a school better matched to the student’s aptitude, isn’t helpful. For example, affirmative-action students are 50 to 75 percent more likely to drop out of a science program than are regular admits. But students who attend a school where their entering credentials are similar to those of their fellow students are more likely to follow through with an ambition to major in science or engineering, more likely to decide to become a college professor, and more likely to finish law school and pass the bar. We almost certainly now have fewer minority doctors, lawyers, and business chiefs than we would have had under race-neutral admissions policies."



http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/03/deep-secrets-of-affirmative-action-debated.php
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Russians are playing chess and Obama is playing hooky.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (35)
All Comments   (35)
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Roger,
Many thanks for widening the discussion and for your kind comments on my 2008 piece. I fear that something fundamental has changed with respect to Iran: the Obama administration wants to turn Iran into a partner of sorts, if not an actual ally. That is the old Gates-Brzezinski view per their old Council on Foreign Relations paper: see

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK14Ak01.html

China is also developing relations with Iran as an increasingly important source of hydrocarbons.

I suspect that Moscow believes that there is now a competition for Iran's good graces, and that it wants to assert its own prospective alliance with Iran against both Washington and Beijing.

That is, the issue has shifted from whether Russia will spoil American efforts to contain or reduce Iran, to a Russian response to Obama's attempts to entice Iran into a strategic partnership.

This is complete insanity on Washington's part, and it gives Russia a set of no-penalty, low-cost options in various parts of the world. We now have nothing to offer Putin, and nothing with which to threaten him.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mein gott- Iran wants to be the new Saudi Arabia, and we're going to treat them that way.

The humanitarian, patriotic Shah wanted to create a non-Arab Muslim trading bloc that would've outnumbered the Arabs, so Arabia sent an Arabist Lenin (Khomeini) with our help. Hope the Saudis and DC like the results.

(SAVAK killed 500 armed traitors, while the militants killed 20,000.
Likewise, 3000 Chilean communists killed 300,000, so Pinochet killed them and stayed long enough to root the rest out of the judicial system.
Thus, Bolsheviks hate both the Shah and Pinochet.)
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aside: the staggering abortion rate in Russia is nothing new. It's been the standard "contraceptive" policy going back decades, well into the Soviet era.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem with Kissinger's and Goldman's theory is that it assumes that after Russia is given Ukraine, they will honor their commitment to restrain Iran and their other buddies in the region. They won't.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine."
.
Then America armed Georgia, and was dismayed when Putin intervened before Shaakashvilli committed genocide in South Ossetia. What game is Putin playing? The one American is forcing him to play.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the "leader of the free world" promises your protege that he'll try to be more flexible, it sends a definitive message of weakness.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
What game is Putin playing.

Winner Take All.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
What Game Is Putin Playing?

world domination, but he doesn't think it's a game.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
My big worry is that if Obama does decide to do something real about Ukraine he will go overboard and get us in a very nasty war with Russia which can turn nuclear in a hurry. The seeds for what is happening now were sown when we forced Kosovo away from the Serbs, all just to show the world we were not ant-Muslim. Of course the Muslims could have cared less and all the Russians could do was protest but the Russians have long memories and play the long game.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
My big worry is that if Obama does decide to do something real about Ukraine he will go overboard and get us in a very nasty war with Russia

Did Obama "do something real about" Benghazi with the Libyans? No, he targeted a Coptic Christian filmmaker. Did Obama "do something real about" his red line being crossed in Syria? No, he claimed "I didn't create a red line, the world created a red line." Obama is a scape goat artist, and Putin is the critic.

Did Obama OK the Keystone XL pipeline to put downward pressure on world oil prices, hurting one of Putin's two chief exports? No. Did Obama fast track LNG plant approvals to put downward pressure on world natural gas prices, hurting Putin's other chief export? No. Did Obama now make it easier to drill on federal land, putting downward pressure on all petroleum prices? No.

Obama is a known product. Putin is a retired intelligence officer. Putin has Obama and Europe correctly pegged. I am afraid that Americas chickens have come home to roost.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Part of the problem here is that Ukraine took its newfound freedom and became thoroughly corrupt. So, while we can support freedom, why should we pour money into the hands of corrupt officials?

Our main interest here should be making sure China and Russia do not ally against us; that the two powers balance each other in the region for as long as possible while China rises and Russia declines.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The corruption is so widespread and so deep in eastern Europe that it will take small changes over generations to effectively combat.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
" My proposal is simple: Russia’s help in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism in the Middle East is of infinitely greater import to the West than the dubious self-determination of Ukraine. The West should do its best to pretend that the “Orange” revolution of 2004 and 2005 never happened, and secure Russia’s assistance in the Iranian nuclear issue as well as energy security in return for an understanding of Russia’s existential requirements in the near abroad. Anyone who thinks this sounds cynical should spend a week in Kiev.

Is Goldman right?"


I suppose he is. If he is God.

If he is not then we have the pesky little matters of selling the God given rights of others and trusting the Russians so completely to keep their end of the bargain.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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