January 1, 2009

[H/t Heather]

So it seems there's this Rooskie professor who thinks the United States is going to wind up following the path of the old Soviet Republic:

For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin's views also fit neatly with the Kremlin's narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

Dunno about you, but the results of the last election didn't seem to suggest any dissolution of the United States -- rather the opposite. We seem to be in the process of healing old divisions and coming back together after a decade of Republican-induced strife. We'll see if it continues. But Professor Panarin sounds like he has a bad case of the projections.

Of course, there's always that possible asteroid impact that's been all over the YouTubes, if you prefer your apocalyptic scenarios more, ah, complete.

Either way, I take some comfort in knowing that the cranks who keep predicting the end of the world are still with us. (Oh, hello, Pastor Hagee.) They've all been so wrong over so many years that I'd actually start to worry if they stopped the predictions.

For myself, I look forward to waking up to a new day and a new year this morning. It's as full of risk and promise as every day, but for some reason, this year is already looking better than the past eight. And that's good enough for me.

(Posting will be light today. We're going to be like normal people and mostly take the day off.)

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