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Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001
From: Bram Caplan <caplanb@georgetown.edu>
Subject: Re: 5451-Glad/Russia's Coming Collapse

John Glad's piece highlights a number of the challenges that Russia will have
to confront in the near future (although, it is hardly news to even the most
casual observers that Russia has demographic/public health, economic,
military, and political troubles). But beyond that, I find hardly any
examples of the bold, analytical thinking that he calls for in his last
paragraph. Instead, John Glad appears to have accepted uncritically the
views of (the recent) Sam Huntington and Thomas Friedman.
Let's start with his prediction of the Soviet collapse. Even if he did
predict this event, I find very little evidence, in this article at least,
that the events or sequence of the collapse unfolded in the way he predicted.
In fact, he appears to place too much weight on the role of US defense
spending and economic factors. Now, if he had predicted way back in
1983--upon hearing of the exorbitant price of onions--that a Gorbachev would
come to power, and that most east European regimes would fall in 1989, and
that various national movements would gather strength in the USSR, and that a
coup would be attempted ten years ago, etc. etc., then I would be impressed.
But I'd like to see evidence of such predictions. Otherwise, he already had
a 50% chance of being right (that is, if the two scenarios in his predictive
calculation were "Soviet collapse" or "Soviet not collapse").

His thoughts on the future are even more suspect. On the one hand,
globalization is going to make the this century vastly different. But if
that is so, then why even bother looking for lessons in history? (i.e., why
compare Russia with Germany after Versailles?). On the other hand, lots of
countries are going to want to recover territories that were, at some point,
historically theirs. But in talking about Poland, he leaves unanswered the
question of just how far back in time will the Poles want to go when they
decide to attack Russia? Are we going to see another Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth? Well, in John Glad's bold, analytical universe, any prediction
is valid. And so, we see the prediction of a NATO country (Poland)
unilaterally attacking Russia. (I guess this rests on the bold, analytical
prediction that NATO will also collapse.) And we see a bold, analytical
connection made between high population densities and military prowess, as if
this were the only variable determining the outcome of wars.

So, here's a bold, analytical prediction: when China or Poland get around to
invading Russia, the USA will be first in line to come to Russia's aid.
Hell, and maybe if we lauch some nuclear weapons, we can make sure that every
country has a lower population density than we do.

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