Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America

By Mannes, Aaron | Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America


Mannes, Aaron, Middle East Quarterly


Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America. By Dan Berman. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2013.252 pp. $27.95.

With Russian president Vladimir Putin playing an outsized role on the worldstage, any book discussing "the end of Russia" is quite the intellectual outlier. But Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council and an experienced Russia hand, looks to the field of demographics (too often ignored by students of international affairs) to observe that Russia's population is on the precipice of a rapid decline and that its current economic strength rests on weak foundations. Berman has done an enormous service in pointing out this deep trend in international affairs.

Russian birthrates are well below replacement levels; life expectancy has declined, and Russians are rapidly fleeing the corruption and lack of opportunity in their homeland by emigrating to the West. Russia's depopulation is particularly problematic in the Far East where a resurgent China covets the vast resources of this enormous region. As Russians leave Asia, Moscow will be hard-pressed to enforce its authority in the face of China's growing presence.

Meanwhile, in European Russia, Muslims are the fastest growing segment of the population and, thanks in great part to Russia's heavy-handed counterterror policies, are isolated from broader Russian society and turning towards radical Islam. …

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