“The United States are making sure-footed strides directly along the path of the Soviet Union.”
It’s been 16 years since I published my article “Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century.” It was based on realizations I made a decade earlier, back in 1996, upon returning to the States after observing the aftermath of the Soviet collapse. Since then I have been focused on what I saw as the main causes of collapse in both the Soviet and in the American case: exorbitant debt, problems in the energy sector and unreformable political systems mired in corruption, their elites delusional in their feelings of omnipotence. And now comes a truly eerie analogy: the powder keg that detonated under the USSR was ethnic nationalism and separatism; and the powder keg that is currently detonating under the US is “woke” (anti-)racism: another brand of ethnic fascism but with American characteristics.
That article opened with the following paragraph:
A decade and a half ago the world went from bipolar to unipolar, because one of the poles fell apart: The S.U. is no more. The other pole – symmetrically named the U.S. – has not fallen apart – yet, but there are ominous rumblings on the horizon. The collapse of the United States seems about as unlikely now as the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed in 1985.
At the time my message was perceived as being provocative but very far from the political mainstream thinking of the time. But the world has since caught up with me. The following quotes (translation mine) are from Vladimir Putin’s address and the currently running St. Petersburg World Economic Forum.
Мы слышим угрозы, продолжающиеся из Конгресса, еще откуда-то. Все это делается в ходе внутриполитических процессов США. Вот люди, которые это делают, они исходят, видимо, из того, что мощь, экономическая, США, военная мощь, политическая, такова, что это не страшно, что это мы переживем, они думают
We are hearing threats coming out of US Congress and elsewhere. This is happening in the course of internal political processes within the USA. The people who make these threats are assuming, it would seem, that the power of the USA, its economic, military and political power, is such that this isn’t serious, that they will survive this. That’s what they think.
Вы знаете, в чем проблема, я вам расскажу как бывший гражданин бывшего Советского Союза. В чем проблема империй – им кажется, что они такие могущественные, что они могут позволить себе небольшие погрешности и ошибки. Этих купим, этих напугаем, с этими договоримся, этим дадим бусы, этим погрозим военными кораблями. И это решит проблемы. Но количество проблем нарастает. Наступает момент, когда с ними уже не справиться. И Соединенные Штаты уверенной поступью, уверенной походкой, твердым шагом идут прямо по пути Советского Союза.
But I’ll tell you what the problem is, as a former citizen of the Soviet Union. The problem of empires is that they imagine themselves to be so powerful that they can allow themselves small miscalculations and errors. Some they’ll bribe, some they’ll scare, some they’ll make a deal with, some they’ll give glass beads, some they’ll frighten with warships—and this will fix problems. But the number of problems continues to grow. There comes a moment when they can no longer cope with them. The United States are making sure-footed strides directly along the path of the Soviet Union.
It is one thing for such thoughts to be expressed by a little-known blogger; it is quite another for them to be voiced by the long-standing leader of a world superpower at a very prestigious and well-attended international forum. Those of you who have not been paying attention, or have but see the collapse of the USA as a somewhat whimsical, futuristic notion, need to pinch themselves.
If there is anything at all that you can do to prepare, your time is short. This is not a drill.