Do Washington’s Favorites Want to Survive?

A quote from Spengler in The Asia Times, 10 September 2008

The fact is that there won't be any Georgians or Ukrainians in the not-too-distant future. By coincidence, Washington's two favorite beacons of liberty happen to be the two countries with the world's fastest rate of population decline. By mid-century they will have barely half as many inhabitants as they do today, and half of those who remain will be elderly. Hardly men of military age and women of child-bearing age will remain. Their economies will implode long before the mid-century mark, as soaring retirement costs crush state budgets, and young people emigrate to escape the burden of supporting the elderly.

Who are these countries, and why are they there? They don't seem to want to be there much longer.

Four Fastest-Shrinking Countries in the World




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Source: United Nations


The Georgian crisis began, as everyone knows – but nobody in Washington will say – with the Bill Clinton administration's decision to bomb Serbia in defense of Albanian Muslims in the Serbian province of Kosovo. [...] Why did America throw its influence behind the gangsters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and provoke the present crisis with Russia? Senator Joe Biden blurted it out in an op-ed for the Financial Times of London on January 2, 2007: "The people of Kosovo – already the most pro-American in the Islamic world - will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership. Stability in southeast Europe would be a welcome bit of good news and offer hope in a season of tremendous foreign policy challenges."

A "successful US-Muslim partnership" was the centerpiece of American policy in the Balkans. Why? Because America has not come to grips with the prospect that the Muslim world may not make it, either. One can blame naivete, or Saudi influence, or any number of factors, but the fundamental weakness of American policy lies in the inability of Americans to conceive of unhappy endings for some important stories. That is what has turned America's foreign policy into a George Carlin routine.

Over the long term, Russia's own survival is at risk, as I have argued elsewhere (Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess and Russia's hudna with the Muslim world). Whether Russia survives or not, it still will be a power in 2050 when the Ukraine and Georgia will exist only as obscure PhD topics in linguistics.

To say that Russia is brutal is a pleonasm, for Russia is not so much a noun as a gerund: what is Russian, is the result of Russification, a brutal business by definition. I hope that Russia will become a liberal democracy resembling the United States and that it will dispense with men like Vladimir Putin in the future. For it to become a liberal democracy, however, first it must survive, and most Russians today believe that they must be led by hard men to survive.

Pro-natalist measures are not counter-productive

France does not break down its statistics by race or ethnicity. But the general opinion among French demographers is that pro-natalist measures (family allowances, daycare, etc.) have a greater impact on indigenous French women than on Muslim women.


This is because French women tend to plan family size on the basis of their ability to pay. Muslim women are more influenced by other factors, especially the husband's desire to have male children. In addition, Muslims, like Third World immigrants in general, are less likely to plan the size of their families because they are more present-oriented and less likely to plan their lives in general. Finally, subsidized daycare has less impact on Muslim women because most of them are forced to stay at home.


Russia's family benefits are for Russian citizens only. There is a serious problem with illegal immigration from Central Asia, but any regularization of their situation is done on a case-by-case basis. Unlike Spain and the U.S., Russia has never amnestied illegal immigrants.

Russia also has an indigenous population of Muslim Tatars. The Tatars, however, are generally nominal Muslims and are thoroughly European in culture and outlook.

Don't ask for whom the bell tolls ...

I'm more optimistic. In fact, I'm more optimistic about Russia's demographic future than I am about North America's or Western Europe's.


Under Putin, Russia has introduced a large number of pro-natalist measures, which are starting to have an effect. Over the past two years, there has been a marked increase in the birth rate. It's still below replacement, but the change is in the right direction. When I talk with young Russians, there is now much more interest in family formation than there was just five years ago.


Is Russia a 'democratic civil society'? No. But how democratic are most societies in this world? (Ask Mark Stein about our Canadian 'democracy'). It's naive to think you can create democracy just by changing the government or by having the right laws. There has to be respect for law, not only by the government but also by common people at the grassroots level. 


It's the people who make the country, not the country that makes the people.

"and young people emigrate

"and young people emigrate to escape the burden of supporting the elderly."

Where are they going to escape to? Nigeria? Pakistan? Indonesia?

You can't fight demographics

Fortunately Russia's demographics are as bad or even worse. Take away the oil money and Russia is Zimbabwe with snow. The demographics in Europe as Mark Steyn in "America Alone" has pointed out will forever change the continent in Muslim's favor.

Russia is incapable of change. 70 yeas of Communism produced a population that is passive and risk averse and basically ignorant of what a democratic civil society would look like. The soft Communism that permeates Europe produces the same passive mind frame. Brussels morphs into the Politburo, rights are diminishing, natives are being systematically replaced and there is no a sense of urgency.

I don't see much changing this.