Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Two Timetables

Thoughts on the two timetables that seem to guide American and Russian approaches to the Eurasian space. With the likely cancellation of the missile defense system for Poland and the Czech Republic, will this change the equation?

"..while future trends for Russia look grim (especially when it comes to demography"

Obviously, VPOTUS Biden dosen't know that in 200 Russia had the second highest birth rate of any major European country, exceeded only by France. Or that even with the global financial collapse, Russia's births for the first 6 months of 2009 are up over the same period of 2008.

So I wouldn't count Russia out yet.

Putin should get a lot of credit for making Russia into a fit place to have and raise children, and for getting Russians to believe that Russia has a future.

The folks advising Yeltsin back in the 1990s obviously didn't know much about things like that, or care.
You are right on the target, rkka. Thank you.
US policy with regard to Russia is very shortsighted. It will harm the United States over the long term. However, bidens don’t see it… (surprise!)
I don't think Biden was talking about fertility rate. The concern in the US is over life expectancy and net population growth in Russia. But certainly Putin (and Medvedev) should get credit for making Russia a better place to have children.

Instead of criticising Russia's economy, we should look for joint ventures in high priority areas like Internet development that can strengthen both our economies.
"I don't think Biden was talking about fertility rate. The concern in the US is over life expectancy and net population growth in Russia."

Concern is the wrong word here. Its more delight in the belief that Russia will no longer be a power to be reconed with in the medium term. And that belief is so 1990s.

Russia's death rate has been dropping too. Including immigration, Russia's population decline rate for 2008 was 0.085%

Ukraine's 2008 decline rate was 0.56%. Yup, you read that right. It's about 6 times as great as Russia's.

I'd suggest to VPOTUS Biden that the USG should worry more about population decline in their Baltic and Ukrainian client states than about Russia's.

Clearly, the West has no solutions to the problem of population decline in successor states of the USSR.

And the USG should also keep this in mind when urging "reforms" on the Russian government.
Yes RKK.

Seoul has a more pleasant subway system than does Washington DC. London is more posh that New York City. All over US you will note that the major cities are dilapitated and in decline. All over US you see closed store-fronts and a poor but blustering population.

Western Europe is now a better place that US to live.

I am not aware of anyone with a responsible position in the USA who looks forward to the prospect of a declining Russia with nuclear weapons. Male life expectancy is still a problem in Russia and the turnaround in other trends is still very recent but the outlook is much better now and Biden should be brought up to date.

What would be even better for young adults is success turning Russia's high level of education into innovation and entrepreneurship. On his video blog not too long ago Medvedev sounded almost American in his enthusiasm for the Internet. There could be some opportunities for working together.

Regarding conditions in the United States, there are cities and smaller towns that have done well and the country will still attract immigrants as the recession lifts. But I agree that too much of the country is in decline and has been so for too long.

Americans are now trying to debate their domestic future to a degree not seen in a generation. How this turns out could affect our role in the world as well as the kind of society we become. If nothing much happens and we return to recent past trends, then in my view the moment for change will only be delayed.
"Biden said Russia's economic difficulties are likely to make the Kremlin more willing to cooperate with the United States on a range of national security issues.
"I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold," he said in an interview to The Wall Street Journal published Saturday.

I'm not sure how else to read "I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold" than great satisfaction that Russia is weakening and therefore we will soon be able to impose our will upon them. In his further remarks, I saw no hint that the US would do anything to help Russia deal with the problems Biden subsequently listed. This was much more a list of weaknesses to exploit.
It certainly reads that way, although if it is a statement of US policy it suggests not the view that we will impose ourselves but the view that our doing nothing will somehow result in Russia seeking accommodation with us. Russia's recovery will settle the matter.

Moscow is looking to streamline its armed forces but only to make them more efficient. It would be a sign of weakness not to make these changes; both sides in any case have far more nuclear weapons than they need. The legitimate question now is how far Russia is willing to go to enforce nuclear non-proliferation. But the same question could also be asked of the United States.

The recent US missile defense decision and Russia's immediate response create an opportunity for bilateral relations to improve. I hope we do not squander the opening.
The recent US missile defense decision and Russia's immediate response create an opportunity for bilateral relations to improve. I hope we do not squander the opening."

Agreed. Another good sign is all the neocons bleating about it. It counts for a lot that the Administration are willing to take a little heat to improve US-Russian relations. This is the first serious US gesture to the Russian government in years. It has caused hope for good, mutually beneficial US-Russian relations to rise even in my jaded, cynical heart.

Can Jackson-Vanik repeal be far behind??!
Re: Reference to Tymoshenko in Article Linked at Above Blog Post

During her first of two stints as Ukrainian PM, she publicly praised Putin and suggested that Ukraine join NATO when Russia does.

She appears more of a go with the flow sort unlike Yushchenko and Yanukovych.

This leads to some quick hunches on what might (stress might) happen in Ukraine.

- It will not join NATO with Russia left out
- A new lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet being agreed upon.
- The Orthodox Church issue continues to comprise three branches, that might eventually become loosely affiliated in an umbrella association
- The language issue seeing Ukrainian remain as the sole language, but with Russian having something close to an official status.

These stated hunches can easily see any one or more of them not happen. I don't anticipate that they all won't happen on the basis that Ukraine's continued existence depends on an overall compromise of the different sympathies in that former Soviet republic.
Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.
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