America does not need to fear Russia. Instead, America needs to fear becoming Russia.
To explain, Russia is a shrinking, bankrupt, post-imperial power, that has nothing left but some weapons, some oil, some minerals, and a lot of history. For example, Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal with around 6,257 atomic weapons, World Population Review estimates.
Yet Russia has the world’s 11th largest economy, Investopedia estimates. Russia’s economy is smaller than those of South Korea, Canada, Italy, and France.
Thus, all Russia has these days is its military and its history. There seems to be nothing else left. One result of this imbalance is meaningless military adventures such as the intervention in Syria and the insane invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Insanity
Another symptom of the Russian was President Vladimir Putin’s absurd speech on 21 February 2022.
In the speech, Putin sat in front of an Imperial Russian flag and condemned Ukrainians for tearing down statues of Lenin. Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet dictator, was the man who ordered the murder of the entire Russian Imperial family in 1918. Hence, Putin’s Russian history has no relation to reality.
Putin’s speech was an attempt to justify military moves against Ukraine. Yet the only arguments Putin could make were historical. For example, claiming that ethnic Russians and Russian Orthodox Christians have lived in parts of Ukraine since Medieval times.
That’s true, but ethnic Turks and Muslims have also lived in Ukraine since Medieval times. Hence, Putin’s arguments are stupid because a Turkish leader could make them.
Putin offered no reasonable explanations for Russia’s moves against Ukraine. Offering evidence that the Ukrainians threaten Russia’s security, for example. Instead, the only arguments are historical.
Putin’s speech shows Russia has no ideology or beliefs. Instead all Russia has is history and its powerful military.
A Nation with No Economy
I think Russia lacks the economic resources to sustain that military. For example, the Kremlin had to draft over 135,000 men to maintain its army in Spring 2020, TASS reports.
Hence, Russia’s mighty military is a paper tiger. Its army could be full of untrained, poorly-disciplined, and bored conscripts. Conscripts who will probably surrender or runaway if sent into combat.
Thus, Putin is sacrificing Russia’s youth for a mythical version of history. Worse, I think Putin could be laying the groundwork for the next Russian Revolution by giving tens of thousands and angry and frustrated young men guns.
What could go wrong with that? It worked out well for Czar Nicholas II. I think those young men are just as likely to turn their guns on their officers and the Kremlin as the Ukrainians.
Will America become Russia?
Modern Russia is a nation with no productive industry, no functioning economy (most of the money comes from oil and mineral extraction), a hollow joke of a military, and no effective government.
Americans need to examine Russia because it could be our future. The United States is exhibiting some symptoms of the same decline.
For example, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) claims the United States lost 91,000 manufacturing plants between 1997 and 2020. In fact, the EPI estimates around 1,800 US factories closed during the Trump administration (2017-2021).
In recent years, this deindustralization has begun to harm America’s economy. For example, the United States was suffering shortages of plastics and chemicals in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, new Ford Broncos are sitting unfinished in a factory parking lot in Michigan because of a semiconductor shortage.
Similarly, the Heritage Foundation speculates the US lacks the industrial capacity to fill Congress’s mandate of a 355 ship navy. In fact, Heritage estimates the US has just 24 shipyards to build naval vessels in contrast to China’s 1,200 shipyards.
America is becoming Russia
Thus, America is already in severe industrial decline yet the US government fails to take substantive action to restore industry.
Worse, the US is imitating Russia by ramping up oil and gas drilling as Climate Change gets worse. For example, The Washington Post claims the Biden administration has been approving more oil and gas drilling permits a month than the Trump administration. Instead of electrifying our economy, our government is trying to make money by drilling for more oil.
Finally, the US has the world’s largest defense budget. Statista estimates the USA spent $778 billion on defense in 2020, or over three times as much as the closest rival the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese spent $252 billion on defense in 2020.
Yet, the US seems to get less for its military spending than its greatest rival. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is already larger than the United States Navy (USN). To explain, Heritage estimated the PLAN had 370 ships in contrast to the USN’s 297 ships in October 2021.
Hence, the United is already imitating the Russian example of deindustrializing while devoting enormous resources to the military. In Russia, that spending pattern has created a society obsessed with past military glories that is incapable of participating in the global economy.
The first country to put satellites and people in space lacks meaningful technology and consumer products industries. America could soon find itself in a similar situation. That United States is already dependent on Chinese industry for many basic consumer goods such as as coffeemakers and toasters as every American consumer knows.
Instead of preparing to fight Russia or imitating Russia as former President Donald J.Trump (R-Florida) advises. Americans need to study Russia in order to avoid becoming Russia.