History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Friday, January 14, 2005

    The Sick Man of Europe

    That term used to be used to describe the Ottoman Empire, which was finally put down following the First World War. Now, however, that term is used by Nicholas Eberstadt to described Russia.

    The Russian Federation today is in the grip of a steadily tightening mesh of serious demographic problems, for which the term "crisis" is no overstatement. This crisis is altering the realm of the possible for the country and its people—continuously, directly, and adversely. Russian social conditions, economic potential, military power, and international influence are today all subject to negative demographic constraints—and these constraints stand only to worsen over the years immediately ahead.

    Russia is now at the brink of a steep population decline—a peacetime hemorrhage framed by a collapse of the birth rate and a catastrophic surge in the death rate. The forces that have shaped this path of depopulation and debilitation are powerful ones, and they are by now deeply rooted in Russian soil. Altering Russia's demographic trajectory would be a formidable task under any circumstances. As yet, unfortunately, neither Russia's political leadership nor the voting public that sustains it have even begun to face up to the enormous magnitude of the country's demographic challenges.

    I have written before on the Russian Dilemma. Its a major problem, and is something that the US needs to plan for. Russia isn't going to die tomorrow, but the vacuum left by its fall will be huge, and plans should be laid for the day when it comes.

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