Sunday, February 08, 2009


Panarin’s Crystal Ball

The prediction of Russia’s Igor Panarin on the breakup of the United States is still making the rounds, no doubt because it seems real and inevitable to some, or perhaps because of morbid fascination among some Americans. So it seems useful to examine the linked article and make a few comments where I think he got it right and wrong. Not that I have a crystal ball, but a little realistic thinking and common sense can help us evaluate his prediction more accurately.

First, is the US going to break up, and will it happen in 2010? Because all empires and their homelands eventually disintegrate, this is in part a no-brainer: there is no question that it will happen eventually. However, calling the year is trickier. There are so many variables that it would be hard to say when the breakup will actually begin, in what manner it will proceed, and how long it will take before we can say unequivocally that “the United States of America no longer exists,” or at least that the US as we know it no longer exists.

Why the US will disintegrate is becoming clearer every day. It takes a lot of energy, money, and strong central control to hold a large country together. Peak oil has triggered energy decline, perceived wealth is disappearing quickly, infrastructure is crumbling, the economy is in the sewer, unrest is growing in many countries, and around the world globalization is pulling back as industrial civilization starts to decline. Preexisting and new initiatives toward secession will add to the forces trying to tear the country apart.

Let’s focus on Pararin’s map. He has the states marked off in neat blocks. Obviously such neat divisions are highly unlikely. Although state lines may be used in some situations or in the initial stage, it is more likely that new divisions will eventually form along bioregional lines, major rivers, mountain ranges, and other natural features.

Second, Panarin says that each block will go to another power or fall under its influence. This prediction highlights a big mistake: he is assuming that other countries will not disintegrate. Clearly he’s wrong about this because Russia, China, Canada, Mexico, and the EU all have the same problems as the US does in varying degrees, and worse in some cases. China and Mexico are veritable powder kegs ready to blow up, so they’ll certainly be in no position to take and hold US territory. Ultimately what we now know as the Mexican government will likely end up in the same position as the current “government” of Afghanistan: maintaining tenuous control over the downtown area of the capital city. Beijing will at the least lose control over Tibet and the western regions and be hard-pressed to maintain control over the traditional Han region amid food shortages, mass unemployment, and civil uprisings. Russia, as we’ve seen in the news, has problems of its own, while EU unity is already being tested, and the international economic meltdown is just getting started. Hence, although some of these powers might at first have territorial ambitions in North America, they will soon find themselves overtaken by events at home.

“Mexican influence” in the US southwest will not be from the Mexican government (or whatever is left of it when this is all over), but rather from Mexican drug/warlords. Similarly, “Chinese influence” will more than likely be from China-based privateers or pirates.

So, where Panarin got it wrong is assuming that only the US will be seriously affected by the destructive global forces already at work.

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