Russia is suffering a demographic implosion. It will be difficult for it to hold what it has. It is, moreover, well nigh impossible to get Russians to move to Siberia. It is not a pleasant place in which to live. The majority of those who live there today are not Russian. Many of them are Chinese who have journeyed north in search of well-paid work; and China, which is just across the border from Siberia, is an economic juggernaut increasingly desperate for resources of the very sort that are found in abundance in Siberia.That rings true to me, as does this:
Vladimir Putin should think hard about the precedent he is setting in the Crimea. The day may come when China does to Russia in Siberia what he is trying to do right now to the Ukraine in the Crimea. Putin's government piously states that its only concern is to protect the majority Russian population in the Crimea from the Tatars and the Ukrainians there. China, in time, will say the like about the Chinese in Siberia. And when that day comes, he will have alienated everyone of any significance who might otherwise have rallied to Russia's defense.
Our aim for the past seven decades has been to reorder the world in such a fashion as to make war counter-productive. The name of the game is commerce. The weapon we deploy is simple and powerful. Those who agree to leave their neighbors alone and to allow freedom of commerce can profit from a a world-wide economic system that will enrich everyone. Those who buck that system and opt for imperial ventures will be contained, weakened, and defeated.Conclusion: this is not good for Ukraine and Crimea right now, but in the long run Putin's only hurting Russia.
This is a lesson that France and Germany have taken to heart. But Vladimir Putin is simply too dumb to notice.
Deep breath, everyone calm down.
That was last week. This morning Rahe has a follow-up that's genuinely alarming. Maybe too much so, maybe it's just alarmist. But read not only the piece but the intelligent comments. The question is what China will learn from Russia's Crimea gambit --and Obama's manifest weakness. Rahe speculates that Taiwan might be in danger. His interlocutors think that's too much, but Japan's South Sea interests might be in real danger. RTWT.