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Russia -- not the Soviet Union

Reader comment on item: Another Voice Predicting Islamism's Doom
in response to reader comment: Whoa; Not So Fast

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Aug 7, 2016 at 04:50

Hi, Jerry

Just comparing notes on Russia. Here is what I consider the bottom line: GDP

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fc/World_share_of_nominal_GDP_IMF_WEO_2015.png/300px-World_share_of_nominal_GDP_IMF_WEO_2015.png

Notice that the US, EU and China together comprise about 65%of the world's GDP. Another 20% or so is produced by Japan, India, Brazil and Canada. Russia doesn't even make the list.

The Russians have a few things going for them that make them seem "big". One is their size on the map, which is exaggerated by most map projections. Size is important, in that it provides strategic depth (of purely defensive value), and potential mineral wealth. That wealth must be extracted, of course; and its value is then calculated as part of the GDP.

Another thing Russia has going for it, is its legacy as the center of the USSR. This has given it an enormous nuclear stockpile, roughly equivalent to America's. Of course, that is an asset that can only be used once, after which Russia will lie in ruins -- something like a bee sting, greatly multiplied. Russia also has some rusting, Soviet-legacy warships, including an aircraft carrier with limited launch capabilities and a bad maintenance record, and an impressive-looking but ancient missile cruiser.

Russia has the third most powerful navy in the world, after the US and China; and unlike most Western navies, they are putting a great effort into modernizing it. They are limited, however, by their GDP: Navies are expensive. The Russians are able to recoup some of their loss by exporting ships, such as their Kilo class submarines; but exporting detracts from strategic advantage when the recipient countries are allies of questionable loyalty.

Considering Russia's air force, they produce aircraft that are on the par with many Western offerings, which helps them secure their place as a close second to the US as an arms exporter. Their fighter bombers, in particular, are known for their simplicity, and ease of use by developing countries' air wings.

Russia's main problem, is lack of cash, exasperated by low worldwide energy prices. Another problem has been a great brain drain, especially during the 1990s to Israel.

Putin has been putting Russia's best foot forward, while his main competitor, the US, has been consistently putting its worst foot forward and backtracking. This is a situation that could easily reverse itself, if the US ever got strong leadership. In view of this, it may surprize some that Putin has generally spoken nicer things about Donald Trump than about Hillary Clinton. I believe this is because:

1. Russia is not interested in becoming #1 in the world. Putin is up against China, the US and Europe; and I don't believe he thinks he will see that change in his lifetime. Trump promises to rebuild our military and get the economy back on track; but this does not threaten Putin.

2. What Trump DOES offer Russia, and Clinton does not, is stability. Hillary promises to continue the policies of Barack Obama, which are, at best, a roll-of-the-dice crap shoot. With The Donald, Vladimir will have a counterpart that he can talk to and, literally, do business with.

One thing is certain about Russia: it is NOT the Soviet Union, and never will be; and we are NOT in a "Cold War" with it.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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