The next ten years will see a resurgence in an American-Russian rivalry.
This is the theory of George Friedman, founder of private intelligence company Stratfor. After reading some (okay, quite a bit) of his work, I would have to say that I agree with him.
Here’s the lowdown. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States entered the beginning of, well, a golden age of sorts. It’s unmatched and unparalleled in wealth (the economy is larger than the next three largest economies combined), military power (controlling all five oceans – something no other navy has been able to do) and political influence (definitely demonstrated in the Wikileaks cables).
After the USSR broke up, it receded in terms of its global reach. It was kind of like when a TV actor leaves the TV show that was really popular to start with to go make movies… but the movies don’t really do well and then they return to television. That’s exactly what is happening with Russia right now. They’re just like Matthew Perry returning to television. In the early 90′s Russia (and Friends) was huge! They were everywhere. Once the wall came down though, it was like the end of Friends. Even the Ukraine started voting in people without Moscow’s permission. Now, you see the beginning of Russia re-entering it’s former sphere’s of influence by meddling with eastern European politics and moving into Central Asia. They even invaded Canada’s airspace a few times, forcing NORAD jets to be scrambled. As Russia increases its hold over the energy trade into Europe through gas and oil pipelines through Gazprom, and as Matthew Perry starts a new television show it’s pretty clear that Russia is looking to expand it’s role in the world. Again.
Russia is the next great threat to western society. Forget fundamentalist Islamic terrorism – that war has already been won. The goals of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were primarily to remove the threat of a strong Radical Violent Islamicist Caliphate. Not only was that goal accomplished, but the Arab and Muslim worlds are more divided than ever before (see Ousting of Tunisian President). Crazy to hear that isn’t it? The next ten years of our lives will see the rise of Russia (again) and witness it’s sphere of influence expand. Also maybe another Matthew Perry television show, with that girl from the West Wing… it might be good.
What does this mean for us? Well, depending on where you are, it’ll affect your life more than others. If you live in Estonia, Georgia or Iran… your life will be considerably impacted by the expansion of Russia’s international activities. Kind of like living next door to a family that has 4 kids about to become teenagers. There… will be parties late at night.
If you live in Poland though – your life and your country will become much more significant and powerful over the next 10-50 years. More on that next time though.