Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, April 29, 2005

Steyn does it Again, #2

      Go read his latest column in Britain's Spectator, about the relative chances for Russia and China.

      One point worth commenting on:
      In his state-of-the-union address this week, Vladimir Putin, as befits an old KGB hand, was waxing nostalgic. ‘The demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,’ he declared. ‘For the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.’

      Well, why don’t they come home? If there’s one thing Russia could use, it’s more Russians. The country is midway through its transition from ‘superpower’ to ghost town. Russian men already have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis — not because Bangladesh is brimming with actuarial advantages but because, if he had four legs and hung from a tree in a rain forest, the Russian male would be on the endangered species list. By mid-century, vast empty Russia will have a smaller population than tiny Yemen. The decline in male longevity is unprecedented for a (relatively) advanced nation not at war. Russia has extraordinary rates of drug-fuelled Aids, hepatitis C, heart disease and TB, all of which are mere symptoms of an entire people unable to pull themselves out of self-destruction.

      Another question might be, if you don't like living among foreigners, why did you leave Russia?  The answer is, they left as conquerors, and got weak, lazy, corrupt, and sloppy, and collapsed.  This is the most frequent fate of empires.  In 1958, Poul Anderson's science fiction short story "The Last of the Deliverers" projected just that fate for the USSR, and now it's happened.

      By the way, I just LOVE to read the "President" of the "Russian Republic" whine about "the demise of the Soviet Union."  OOH, OOH, OOH!  FUN!

      Anyway, read all of Stein's column.  Great, as usual.



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