As I wrote not for once, I stopped treating American geopolitical theorists as serious scholars a long time ago. Most of what passes in contemporary US as a "national security studies" is a pseudo-academic sophistry revolving around the United States as one and only "best thing ever" which ever happened or will ever happen to humanity. The only work, as in set of the ideas, which came out of the US and which still has some relation, however limited, to reality is Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations, and even this influential work turned out to be filled with misconceptions, pop-history and all other traits of what is commonly known as Political Science. In general, contemporary American geopolitical "thought" is still defined by Fukuyama's scandalously stupid and delusional, to put it politely, failure of The End of History.
Most taxonomies of the American geopolitical thought, such as realists, neo-realists, neocons, liberal interventionists, globalists, you name it, make absolutely no sense since do not realistically describe American doctrine-mongering in any sensible way. There is very little difference between, say John Mearsheimer, who passes in US as "offensive realist" or whatever is hip and cool any given day, and, say Robert Kagan, who is a certifiable war-monger and pseudo-academic. Views of both originate from the same starting point and differ only in minute details. This starting point is American exceptionalism and strong belief that US is economically and militarily omnipotent. Enter Nicholas Gvosdev, whose bio, apart from naming some of his places of employment, including him being "professor" of national security studies in Naval War College, is rather foggy. For years this guy presented himself as a geopolitical "realist" (or whatever) but lately he finally dropped this BS mask and exposed himself for what he is--a classic American exceptionalist who has very little grasp of the subject of his "study" (evidently he has his Ph.D in it)--Russia.
The issue here is not a complete mental breakdown in Gvosdev's latest piece in, where else, The National Interest, no, the issue is, as it is an overwhelming case with US "academe", a loss of any touch with the reality. I wrote a lot on this issue and not for once I stated that people in US who write on Russia's economy should really abstain from regurgitation of therapeutic self-medicating ignorant mantras on Russia's economy since they will spare their own nerves and avoid parading themselves as amateur fools most of them are. It is not enough that most of American "economists" continue to live in a delusion, such as former Reagan's budget director David Stockman:
Its entire GDP of $1.5 trillion is less than that of the New York metro area, and only 8% of the US economy as a whole. The very idea that it’s a military threat to America is just flat out ludicrous; and that is in no way changed by Putin’s recent hints that Russia has developed a new class of non-ballistic strategic weapons that are not vulnerable to US ABM defenses.
Being an ignorant hack on Russia he certainly doesn't understand how actual economy (I will omit here his total ignorance on any military-technological issue) works and measured but that is expected from the former Wall Street shyster whose understanding of any serious industry is limited by methodology of fraud. For a man with degree in....theology, among many other "useful" backgrounds he boasts, it is expected not to have understanding of basic mathematics. Enter Gvosdev, who teaches, among many other things, Economic Geography. So, unlike ignorant Stockman, in his nervous-breakdown manifesto he comes up with a new wet-dream "measure" of Russia's economic "weakness". Get this:
It’s time to part with illusions. For too long, the U.S. national-security community has oscillated in its assessment of the Russian Federation, swinging between viewing Moscow as the country’s number one geopolitical threat to dismissing the challenge of a nation whose per capita GDP equals that of Portugal.
Initially when I read this I was startled. I thought Gvosdev followed Stockman's method of comparing NYC "economy", most of it based on Wall Street speculations with snake oil and air, to Russia's, but then I read "per capita". A-ha, I thought, Gvosdev is certainly smarter than so many of his Russia's "expert" colleagues who continue to spread various economic BS about Russia. The reason for this thought was simple--indeed, current Russia's GDP per capita is somewhere in the vicinity of Portugal's which, if Gvosdev didn't know is not the richest but by far not the poorest nation in the European Union with surprisingly robust economy for such a small country. The question thus is this: how Russia's per capita GDP, which only fifteen years ago was in her death throes and had a completely destroyed economy and livelihood of tens of millions of Russians, is bad? If anything, Russia's per capita GDP was growing steadily and this comparison with Portugal far from reinforcing Gvosdev's thesis of Russia's economy being weak, actually debunks it.
Nor Gvosdev's statement such as this:
The second illusion is that Russia’s trend lines are negative. This is true—with predictions about Russia’s relative economic size and military power by 2050 showing radical diminishment.
has anything to do with reality, especially projected against the background of US being now at the precipice of economic and military global irrelevance. But, Gvosdev's piece is just another one in a non-stop hysterical reaction in the US on own and accelerating departure from, largely self-proclaimed, omnipotence. Russia has become an ultimate enemy and it seems that always weak US "academe" awareness of Russia is either completely lost or is reduced to a set of irrational reactions based only on emotions. These are the signs of a mental breakdown and are the heralds of a collapse, no, not Russia's. Desperation always drives increased illusions of own omnipotence and disregard of reality. It is one of the manifestations of one of (which one is for you to decide) the stages of Kubler-Ross Grief Model. Saker thinks that these are first two stages simultaneously--I agree. These are now denial and anger, with bargaining, depression and acceptance coming at some point of time and, hopefully, without anyone in US deciding to do the unthinkable thus taking human civilization as a factor out of the history of our rather small planet. Pseudo "academic" exercises such as Gvosdev's piece or Stockman's pretentious ignorance are not helping in containing a massive geopolitical turbulence which we all are facing now. I will omit elaborating on political points here completely: I said many times, I will repeat it--American "Russian Studies" field is a sewer.