On Monday, Igor Panarin of Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the global financial panic confirms his long-held belief that the United States will splinter into six pieces-the Pacific coast, the Atlantic coast, the Hispanic South, Texas, northern states, and central states. Moreover, Russia might deal a fatal blow to Sarah Palin’s presidential hopes by taking back Alaska, which is only “on lease.” As he noted in Izvestia, the economy is “already collapsing.”
Could America really fall apart? Some might think that faraway Guam, now a U.S. territory, might one day want independence, but in fact the Guamanians appear more loyal than those inhabiting the People’s Republic of Berkeley, the Republic of Vermont, certain parts of the San Francisco peninsula, and isolated pockets on the island of Manhattan. And despite what Panarin may think, not even any of those rambunctious areas will secede. The United States, unfortunately for our foes, is remarkably stable and, well, united.
But what about Panarin’s Russia? Will it be able to maintain its borders in the coming years when both the global financial system and the American-led international order are falling apart? First, Russia is undergoing a startling demographic collapse along with a depopulation of its Far East. Moscow’s leaders fear-with some justification-that the presence of illegal Chinese settlers there may motivate an irridentist Beijing to try to take back land that czars seized from “China” long ago.
Second, the Kremlin’s invasion of Georgia and its subsequent recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have reignited separatist sentiment in Russian territories, such as Tatarstan, Chechnya, Bashkortostan, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria. None of these lands is strong enough to break away from Moscow during normal times, but a Russian economic failure could tip the balance of power. Folks in these regions never forget the Russians conquered them and will wait centuries for their freedom.
So the last thing a Russian should be doing is encouraging separatism in other nations, as Panarin apparently is doing with his ludicrous prediction about the breakup of the United States. We should consider ourselves fortunate that the Kremlin is fully capable of causing trouble for itself. And we should remember it bears us ill will.