Russians are stereotyped globally as drunks and hot shots (Irish might contest that), English--as pompous and having bad teeth, in Russia Estonians are stereotyped as slow. Consider this: what is infinity? It is when Estonians count Chinese. Evidently, most of the American geopolitical pseudo-intellectuals are Estonians, otherwise how can you explain this. Kofman and Kendall-Taylor write in this petty cash rag for STEM-challenged "thinkers", Foreign Affairs, about the myth of Russian decline:
The problem is that the case for Russian decline is overstated. Much of the evidence for it, such as Russia’s shrinking population and its resource-dependent economy, is not as consequential for the Kremlin as many in Washington assume. Nor should the United States expect that Russia will automatically abandon its course of confrontation once President Vladimir Putin leaves office. Putin’s foreign policy enjoys widespread support among the country’s ruling elite, and his legacy will include a thicket of unresolved disputes, chief among them that over the annexation of Crimea. Any disagreements with the United States are here to stay.
As I am on record for many years, the Russia Study field in the West is a fraud and the crop of current Russia "experts" is a prefect reflection of the overall decline of the Western intellectual elites, of which I warned since the inception of this blog and am contemplating writing the book on precisely how this all occurred. Most importantly, majority of the so called "experts" in the West are highly uncultured people despite their many a Ph.D degrees in such subjects as "history", political "science" etc. Why they are uncultured is a separate issue, but it is a fact that they have a very skewed understanding of ethics and the extreme manifestation of such "ethics" one may easily find in the US media and in "Let's Go Brandon". People with actual ethics approach life with the assumption that they do not know much, in the modern West it is exactly the other way around, hence a dominance of clueless "experts" and onset of radical ideologies as a main tool for inquiry. Ideologies are much easier than actual study--as electric current, they take the path of the least resistance. Pontification increasingly becomes the only way of "intellectual exchange".
At this stage, it really doesn't matter what any of US "experts" think or project. Kofman and his co-writer are no exception. They state:
Expectations of Russian decline contain important truths. The country’s economy is stagnant, with few sources of value other than the extraction and export of natural resources. The entire system is rife with corruption and dominated by inefficient state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, and international sanctions limit access to capital and technology. Russia struggles to develop, retain, and attract talent; the state chronically underfunds scientific research; and bureaucratic mismanagement hinders technological innovation. As a result, Russia lags considerably behind the United States and China in most metrics of scientific and technological development.
Kofman, being a proud product of the US "humanities" degree-mill, writes on matters in which he precisely has zero expertise but what can you do? This is how US think-tankdom operates. But then again, you cannot teach the old dog new tricks because Kofman, obviously, has a very vague understanding of what real "metrics of scientific and technological developments" are, because he has degree in political "science" and the only "metric" he knows is that of iPhone. It is understandable in a way, it is difficult to resign oneself to the realities of the West's in general, and American in particular, decline, especially in the field of STEM in which Russia produces almost equal with the US number of graduates (two times more per capita than in the US). But then again, can you explain the difference between Russian public school Physics text book for the 10th grade and the same in the US, ah...wait, I forgot. In related news, Rosatom is a "state-controlled" company, as is most of Russian MIC, which produces weapons (and not only) the United States can only dream about. Well, never mind.
Kofman's ego is hurt. He is not completely dumb, he feels that things do not go his way, he knows his grasp of Russia and her affairs, from military to economic ones, is at best tenuous. He doesn't understand Russia, he cannot, because he needs to study real history of the 20th century and of Russia's history--he is not able to. He still lives in La La Land of America's hegemony handed to her by providence and a series of historic events of unimaginable magnitude but he is afraid to recognize that. Hence, same beaten to death mantras trying to ignore such facts that today the third of Americans are forced to skip a meal to make their ends meet.
Our survey results reaffirmed troubling data relating to food insecurity and food prices. The Zogby Poll® found food insecurity is being experienced by almost a third (29%) of respondents, while two thirds said no, and 5% were not sure. It's quite astounding to think nearly three in ten likely voters said they had or family members missed meals due to food price inflation.
Boy, talk about delusion. But then again, this is modern American expertdom for ya. But why being Estonian? Because the slow realization of truth is creeping in as is understanding of a fraudulent nature of any "metrics" by which modern West committed suicide. Kofman finally admits:
Washington must move past the myth that Russia is a beleaguered or cornered state, lashing out in recognition of its own demise. In truth, there is little evidence that Russia’s leaders see their country in this way—on the contrary, they consider Russia to be the center of power in its own region and an assertive player globally. Events such as the bungled U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan only reinforce Moscow’s perception that it is rather the United States that is in decline. Ignoring that view will create false expectations for Russia’s behavior, leaving the United States and its allies poorly positioned to anticipate Russian actions.
Mr Kofman, "perceptions", really? For a man claiming to be an expert in "military affairs" it is about time to start learning about warfare, not from BS propaganda but face a hard cold fact of the United States losing, or not winning, all its wars (with the exception of invasion of mighty Grenada) since 1945 (and even then, in 1945, defeat of Nazi Germany was not exactly to the America's credit as it is claimed often) and escape from Afghanistan was not a "perception" but a solid forecast very many years prior to this embarrassment in Kabul. Many people warned about it. But it is what it is, US geopolitical "elites" continue to fail in finding their own asses with their both hands in a brightly lit room and refuse to recognize that the United States today is at the mercy of global forces which it cannot recognize nor accept as objective laws of real economy, warfare, politics and culture and continue to delude themselves with "garrulous patriotism", as noted by both Alexis de Tocqueville and, later, in different words, by Mencken, in feeble attempts to avoid facing a reality of a multi-polar world in which the US is but one of few global powers and is impotent militarily when facing real militaries and real economies.
UPDATE: speak of the devil. Putin at Valdai on WW II history.