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LOOKING AHEAD
18.04.2008

April 11, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)

Maxim Kalashnikov

CASUS MCCAINI

New US Republican mobilization as one more challenge to Russia

A TECHNOCRATIC HAWK

The description of US Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, as a thickheaded hawk, adhering to old-fashioned perceptions, is incorrect. Despite his age, McCain is a dynamic and troublesome adversary. His technocratic agenda represents a serious challenge for Russians. McCain is a supporter of a vigorous development of nuclear energy in the United States, with its expansion and modernization. He views nuclear energy as a more adequate lever to ensure US independence from oil exporters than an effort to reduce oil prices. Thus, he seeks simultaneously revitalization of US productive economy and a resolute crackdown on the financial backing of Islamic radicalism. He has also realized that nuclear energy provides a real possibility to reduce emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus obtaining a strong argument against his Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

McCain thus rather personifies the pathos of the 1960s, the bold era of first spaceflights and technological breakthroughs than the feminine biological-environmentalist glamour of the subsequent "information age". According to the expression of writer Bruce Sterling, the sixties were the era of real masculine technique, the time when tough guys, rolling up sleeves and puffing plain cigarettes, would test nuclear weaponry on Pacific ranges. To get an insight in McCain's psychology, one should watch the early "Star Track", the Bond films with Sean Connery and the "Phantomas" serial. McCain is a guest from the old and strong nuclear-missile-spaceflight time. In terms of development, that is an advantage of America, as the "information age" has sputtered out. He enters the political brawl from the politically incorrect realm of flying fortresses, Forest Gump and the Apollo Program.

Undoubtedly, McCain will try to drag the United States from the crisis, counting on acceleration of scientific and technological progress, not reducible just to computers, telecommunications, mobile phones and multimedia. He is likely to undertake a program of comprehensive, wideband development, not the narrowband Clinton-Bush pattern. New technologies are supposed to provide new levers of power, influence, and wealth, paving the only reliable way of escape from the crisis. The Americans have earlier managed to pass through perilous loops of crisis – particularly, in the times of F. D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

McCain's economic approach is ambitious. He is going to overcome the crisis without tax pressure upon top business. He proposes Reaganist programs favoring the corporate class – which necessarily requires a technological breakthrough. In this way, he seeks to acquire operative freedom, granting new opportunities to America, including the prospect of challenging China in the civilizational and economic contest.

 

HOW TO ESCAPE FROM THE CRISIS?

For a rapid development, America requires a foreign adversary. In McCain's view, it is personified by not only China and Islam but also the Russian "KGB petrocracy".

This imperative underlies McCain's idea of an international, US-led "League of democracies", with expulsion of Russia from G-8, and a gunboat diplomacy with "non-democratic regimes".

McCain relies upon the flexible mind and energy of the US managerial establishment, along with the generously financed science and its brain centers. He equally realizes the weakness of Moscow arising from corruption and counter-innovativeness of Russian state bureaucracy.

His spirit provides him advantage, along with his white Saxon origin. Regardless from political correctness, the United States has never had a colored or female head of state. For related and other reasons, he is favored by business circles.

Therefore, McCain's ascent poses a serious challenge for Russia, requiring real innovative progress and comprehensive national mobilization.

It is noteworthy that since 1990s, the United States and Russia have been following similar paths. Russia has experienced a financial crisis in 1998, large-scale terrorist acts in 1998, a war in Chechnya and arrival of resolute centralizers in 2000. America has experienced a stock crash in 2000, the collapse of the speculative bubble of "new economy" followed by acts of mega-terror in 2001, and the subsequent war in Iraq, with a natural rise of military and intelligence establishment in decision-making.

These parallels are continuing in time. The United States is faced with a serious systemic crisis due to the devaluation of currency, a huge foreign debt, crisis of welfare, physical exhaustion of national energy infrastructure. This crisis is going to be exacerbated with racial and ethnic problems, increasing on the background of rivalry with China.

However, Russia is also faced with a serious economic challenge that has a whole array of aspects:

- a crisis of bank liquidity resulting from dependence from foreign loans and underdevelopment of the national banking system;

- a food crisis due to dependence from imports and rapid inflation on the background of a global price hike;

- zooming corporate liabilities at foreign markets;

- a developing managerial default due to "stiffening" of the ruling class and destruction of "social elevators", resulting in paralysis in case of emergency;

- a cadre crisis both in managerial and economic spheres, exacerbating with the senescence of the Soviet generation and educational ineptness of young cadres;

- a demographic crisis with insufficiency of labor force;

- a social shock wave from introducing European gas prices at the domestic market, and a political shock from re-orientation of Turkmen "blue fuel" to China and possibly to the EU;

- social problems ensuing from re-orientation of oil and gas incomes from social programs to exploration of new deposits, as West Siberian resources are depleted;

- a social crisis due to a hike of electricity tariffs;

- economic and social problems resulting from an unnecessary, uncalculated, and unprepared entry in the WTO;

- crisis of ethnic relations due to an excessive inflow of immigrants;

- catastrophes of exhausted housing infrastructure;

- exhaustion of railroads and fallout of civil aviation;

- exhaustion of electricity networks.

Thus, Russia requires its own scenario of national mobilization, involving an innovational revolution. We'll also have to recall the experience of 1960s and even earlier times, though in a creative revision, with regard of the reality of the new epoch.


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