“Debating Russia’s Discorporation,” by Mark Safranski, Zen Pundit, 19 April 2005, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/04/debating-russias-discorporation.html.
Following up a debate on what Russia’s disintegration would mean, Mark opines
Dan’s connectivity observations regarding what we might call the first great centrifugal wave of nationalism that rocked the Soviet empire concerned true nation-states, all of which had previous experience with political independence, however briefly and long cultural histories. Georgian and Armenian historical memory stretch back to antiquity, the Ukranians to Kievan Rus, St. Cyril and Byzantine tutelage in Chritianity and civilization. A few of the original memnbers of the Commonwealth of Independent States like Belarus, Moldova and Tadjikstan have somewhat shakier national pedigrees but all of them outshine the potential aspirants of the second centrifugal wave battering Russia, of which the Chechens are but the cutting edge.
Currently Becker and Posner are debating the viability of small states, arguing in the main that the current world economic and political climate is more receptive to the survival of small polities. I agree provided the polities come with good governance – something I have grave doubts can be achieved by numerically tiny peoples like the Ossetians, Kalmyks, Mingrelians, Abkhazians who are little more than tribes yearning for flags, dominated politically by mafiya oligarchs and ex-Communist thugs.
Perhaps a free Tartarstan can make the grade, being larger and having oil but I don’t forsee a Yakut, Daghestani or Ingush state anytime soon petitioning for admittance to the WTO. They simply aren’t yet playing in the same civil society league that the Lithuanians were in in 1990 and at present the retreat of Russian power from these territories today is apt to spawn a constellation of failed states – a subsaharan Africa on the Caspian.
Mark’s write that dozens of microrepublics would be a disaster. Such a scheme is based on the federal components of Russia – its 89 parts. While Tartarstan and Kaliningrad may be viable, another model would be Russia’s federal districts
1. Central Federal District, 2. Southern Federal District, 3. Northwestern Federal District, 4. Far Eastern Federal District, 5. Siberian Federal District, 6. Urals Federal District, 7. Privolzhsky (Volga) Federal District
The Far Eastern Federal District was independent shortly after the Russian revolution, and many of the other districts have attributes of stable states.
Mark also has another point: Russia contains “Core,” “Seam State,” and “Gap” elements depending on geography. One solution would be to continue yoking these areas together under Moscow’s leadership. Another would be allowing discorporation, followed by a multilateral effort to connect everybody.
Why should only Russia be worried about Dagestan or Inguishtina? Why aren’t EU, NATO, or even Indian troops helping to connect the Caspain Sea littoral?
I am not saying we must collapse Russia, or press for this outcome. But such a future, it is happens, is not worth fighting.
Update 27 October 2005: Mark at Zen Pundit watches Russia die.