Assessing Russia's Decline

Assessing Russia's Decline: Trends and Implications for the United States and the U.S. Air Force

Olga Oliker
Tanya Charlick-Paley
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 152
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1442af
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  • Book Info
    Assessing Russia's Decline
    Book Description:

    What challenges does today's Russia pose for the United States and the U.S. Air Force? If certain economic, military, social, and political negative trends in Russia continue, they may create a new set of dangers that might prove more real, and therefore more frightening, than the far-off specter of Russian attack ever was. In a number of scenarios, the U.S. Air Force is certain to be called upon for transportation and perhaps for various military missions in a very demanding environment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3384-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. SUMMARY
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Chapter One INTRODUCTION: STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS OF RUSSIA’S DECLINE
    (pp. 1-10)

    Throughout most of the Cold War era, U.S. and NATO military planners prepared and trained to fight a massive land war in Europe (and elsewhere) against the Soviet Union and its allies, with the specter of nuclear exchange ever present in the background. In testament to the skills and capabilities of those planners and to U.S. and NATO military forces as a whole, this preparation and planning successfully deterred conflict and maintained an uneasy peace until the collapse of the USSR brought the Cold War to its end.

    Today, Russia poses new threats to the United States and its allies....

  8. Chapter Two REGIONAL AUTONOMY OR INCREASED CENTRALIZATION?
    (pp. 11-24)

    For over 70 years, the political infrastructure of the Soviet Union was cemented by the Communist Party’s nearly complete monopoly over state power and control. The party could reward loyalty and obedience to its ideology and punish those who failed to follow its orders. Top administrative posts were conferred on reliable party leaders and policy planning took place almost exclusively in Moscow. Although local authorities had some autonomy in how they divided up rewards and implemented directives from Moscow, the Soviet Union was truly a top-down state, quite different from federal models such as that of the United States, where...

  9. Chapter Three THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY
    (pp. 25-40)

    Many useful accounts of the post–1991 evolution of the Russian economy provide an overview of the early days of privatization and the difficulties of reform throughout the 1990s.¹ Regionalization aside, the Russian economy remains in flux, with a variety of pathologies that have proven remarkably sustainable. Although recent indicators show significant improvement, it is unlikely that the economic turnaround will be sufficiently long-lasting to speedily complete the transformation to market economy that so many expected a decade ago.

    Some blame reform efforts themselves for the continued problems facing the Russian economic system. Janine Wedel argues that the administration of...

  10. Chapter Four RUSSIA’S POLITICAL FUTURE: WHITHER DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM?
    (pp. 41-48)

    In one sense, Russia is fundamentally and unquestionably a democracy. Free elections are held, including the presidential election that cemented Vladimir Putin in power in 2000. Politicians are concerned about their prospects for reelection and behave accordingly. Federal law requires that elections be contested; candidates cannot legally run unopposed. If the people of Russia can be accused of voting on personalities rather than issues, and, indeed, of being insufficiently well-informed when they cast their ballots, they are no different in this from the citizens of most other countries, including the United States. If business interests can be thought to sometimes...

  11. Chapter Five THE PEOPLE OF RUSSIA: ASSET OR LIABILITY?
    (pp. 49-60)

    There can be no doubt that the oppressiveness of the Soviet system created tremendous misery among the Russian people, the effects of which remain today. That said, the Communists should be given credit for imposing a far-ranging and efficient education system that quickly brought almost universal literacy to a nation that had had very limited access to education under previous regimes. Similarly, the Soviet socialized medical system, despite its drawbacks, provided medical care to many who might have lived shorter and even less pleasant lives without it. Unfortunately, the experience of the last ten years suggests that many of these...

  12. Chapter Six THE RUSSIAN MILITARY
    (pp. 61-84)

    Vladimir Putin has taken pains to court the military, both as an electoral bloc and as a political force. When he took power in early 2000, he promised higher defense spending, including higher salaries.¹ His handling of the second Chechnya war met with considerable favor in military circles, which saw the president as giving the armed forces a freer hand. This seemed a positive development given the rising belief among Russian military personnel (and others) that the first war was “lost” because civilians insisted on a peace treaty—whereas the military could have won given enough time (the situation on...

  13. Chapter Seven WEAK LINKS: ROAD, RAIL, AND NUCLEAR POWER
    (pp. 85-96)

    Russia’s transportation network is a critical variable in both the likelihood of crisis and the ease of its resolution. Throughout the 1990s, there were worries about the state of the road and rail network that connects Russia’s vast territory. For example, a 1998 study by the Russian Academy of Sciences found that investment in basic infrastructure in the 1990s was barely 25 percent of the 1989 Soviet level.¹ The most immediate and visible problems for Russia’s road networks are geographically centered in the Far East. Not a single surfaced road runs all the way across the country. An attempt to...

  14. Chapter Eight ILLUSTRATIVE SCENARIOS
    (pp. 97-112)

    The preceding chapters have illustrated the ways in which Russia’s decline affects that country and may evolve into challenges and dangers that extend well beyond its borders. The political factors of decline may make Russia a less stable international actor and other factors may increase the risk of internal unrest. Together and separately, they increase the risk of conflict and the potential scope of other imaginable disasters. The trends of regionalization, particularly the disparate rates of economic growth among regions combined with the politicization of regional economic and military interests, will be important to watch. The potential for locale, or...

  15. Chapter Nine NEXT STEPS: PLANNING FOR AND PREVENTING CONTINGENCIES
    (pp. 113-122)

    None of the scenarios outlined in the previous chapter, nor indeed any of the myriad others that could be imagined, ask the United States or its Air Force to do anything either is not capable of doing. The discrete tasks involved—transport, security, peace enforcement, logistical support, reconnaissance, and command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I)—are all things that the Air Force does frequently and does well. To the casual observer, this would suggest that no matter how bad things get in Russia, the United States need not worry. If it has to get involved, it should have no problems...

  16. Chapter Ten THE AIR FORCE ROLE
    (pp. 123-126)

    The U.S. Air Force has a role to play in the effort both to broaden cooperative ties with Russia and to assist in planning for various types of crisis response. The Air Force would undoubtedly be tasked with carrying out significant portions of such missions should they emerge. It is therefore very much in its best interests to begin identifying and thinking through possible scenarios. It is also in the Air Force’s interests to ensure that it has its own ideas and approaches, which can then be factored into the planning of the regional unified command(s) with respect to Russia....

  17. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 127-136)