Russia’s Decline Damages US’s Interests Directly or Indirectly - 26 February, 2003

That is why use of military force should be considered already today

It is customary now to speak if not about Russian-American cooperation then at least about cooperation between the two countries. In fact, there has been practically no large-scale conflicts between Moscow and Washington within the past two years. When problems in bilateral relations arise, they are settled rather quickly, at any case, this is guessed from official information. However, it is not yet clear how long this cooperation will be and to what extent it would be important for both sides. With respect to Moscow, the answer to the question is more or less obvious. It is quite natural that Russia expects to establish strong and friendly relations with the USA. Nothing else can be expected in the present-day situation when America is the only super power. No matter whether other countries like it or not, but Russia is unable to come into confrontation with Washington. The only thing Moscow can venture at this moment is to defend its interests, but it will be possible only as long as these interests are diametrically opposite to the American ones. Such is the reality, and it’s no use to try and find the guilty of this situation. What is more, the process aimed at restoration of Russia’s international authority may take years at best, or even decades.

To tell the truth, Washington doesn’t make a secret if its attitude toward Russia. The White House certainly stays within the limits of decency and doesn’t allow an obviously mentor tone. But something of this kind still sometimes happens. What concerns different extra-governmental organizations, research  institutes and foundations,  they call things by their proper names. And while the government has to observe the traditional diplomatic etiquette and to spare the pride of Russian politicians, different “specialists on Russia” (people who used to be Sovietologists some time ago) suggest different scenarios of Russia’s development. At that, these scenarios are mostly pessimistic and say that US’s military intervention is inevitable all the same.

There are still lots of forecasts regarding Russia as a potential source of threat to America’s national security (the “holy cow” of the American foreign policy) and it is unlikely that they will run short in the nearest future. These forecasts differ from each other in the degree of their scientific essence and in open access of all interested people to these forecasts.

It is clear that we are hardly likely to learn new ideas of the US Department of State, the CIA or the Pentagon in this respect, at least we won’t learn them very soon. However, there are rather reliable organizations, and reports of their analysts can be obtained for a reasonable payment (or for free at all). The RAND Corporation that describes itself as “a nonprofit organization specializing in improving of the policy of the American society by means of research and analysis” is one of the organizations of this kind. At that, official proceeds of the organization for 1999 made up 100 million dollars.   

RAND was founded in 1946 and originally closely cooperated with the US Air Force (the cooperation is still maintained even now); this organization covers a wide sphere of interests, including social sciences, technique, physics disciplines and economics. We should mention that leadership of the corporation makes no secret of its relations with American special services that order researches concerning prospects of development of different countries, certainly including Russia. 

An analytical report by Olga Oliker, Tanya Charlick-Paley, Assessing Russia's Decline: Trends and Implications for the United States and the U.S. Air Force published in 2002 was one of such researches. The research made up a 150-page volume, and there is no need to retell its content as it is available on the corporation’s website. However, conclusions reached by the authors of the research are very interesting.

They say that “Russia shows several signs that traditionally characterize “unsuccessful” states. Moscow’s efforts aimed at restoration of control of the central authority only demonstrate that majority of this control has been irreparably lost.” The authors say in conclusion that although it’s too early to say that Russia may vanish as a state, nevertheless, “there are several signs demonstrating that the decline process is proceeding and developing: there is no effective economic system in Russia; the merger between ubiquitous corruption and criminal economy is obvious; state institutions are “privatized” and used for the sake of personal security and enrichment; the army is morally corrupt from top to bottom and its fighting efficiency is low.”

Consequently, “Russia’s decline directly or indirectly influences America’s interests, that is why we should presuppose a situation when American armed forced will be asked for help, and the forces will operate on the territory of the Russian Federation or in the neighboring regions.” Authors of the report say that for this very reason “it’s important already now to start preventive planning of further actions and to cooperate with Russian partners (for instance, exercises can be held in Central Asia or in the Caucasus region). The US Air Force can already now join the programs for cooperation between the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and Russia’s EMERCOM which would be useful for study of the situation in the country. But if the Russian-American relations become worse, Air Force analysts should consider usage of territories of adjoining states as bases for settlement of crisis situations in Russia.”

It’s important to state that the White House usually follows recommendations from RAND. Although, sometimes conclusions reached by analysts of the corporation make an ass of the US Government. For instance, in July 2002, RAND officials issued a report saying that Saudi Arabia was “an active member of all levels of the terrorist network.” US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even had to tell journalists that the government didn’t share that point of view (the report was produced to the US Council for Defense Policy). And everybody already knows what serious consequences in the relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia followed the report. 

After all, we should not take the conclusions reached by RAND analysts too dramatically. The course of Russia’s development depends upon the Russian people themselves. In fact, there are no reasons to give up partnership relations with the USA only because someone allowed some unpleasant conclusions. At that, we should keep it in mind that the USA maintains partnership relations with other countries until they are profitable for it. We should act the same way.

Vasily Bubnov

Author`s name Michael Simpson