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Paperback Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World Book

ISBN: 0679759220

ISBN13: 9780679759225

Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World

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Book Overview

2010: Russia disintegrates as its frontier regions rebel or drift into the orbit of neighboring countries. 2010: Russia is invigorated by an economic chudo -- "miracle" -- that turns it into a... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

Russia 2010=Russia 2004?

Written in 1993, it is fascinating to re-read "Russia 2010" today, 11 years later -- but still 6 years before the ultimate forecast date of the title -- to see how Dan Yergin and Thane Gustafson's predictions are doing. Given the events of recent months, with the school massacre in southern Russia and other terrorist actions, the ongoing brutal war in Chechnya, the continued clampdown on freedom of the press and civil society in Russia, the prosecution/persecution of leading business moguls (specifically, Mikhail Khodorkovsky), and President Putin's dramatic moves to increase his power, Russia should definitely be getting a lot more attention than most people have been giving it. Which makes the analysis of "Russia 2010" more relevant than ever. Most importantely, what Yergin and Gustafson did in "Russia 2010" was NOT to make absolute forecasts or to simply (and mindlessly) extrapolate from the situation at the time, but instead to apply powerful "scenario planning" techniques to thinking through the most likely futures for Russia. Back in 1993, the authors laid out four main scenarios: 1) "muddling down;" 2) the "Two-Headed Eagle;" 3) "Time of Troubles;" and 4) "Chudo" (economic miracle). How did the authors do? Today, in 2004, we can confidently conclude that #4 was wrong -- there has been no Russian economic miracle, although oil prices have certainly helped Russia recover from the post-Soviet low point of the early- to mid-1990s. It also turns out that #1, "muddling down," the scenario that came closest to simply extrapolating from the existing situation at the time (as most forecasters erroneously do) was somewhat off the mark in the long run, although its predictions of a "relatively free atmosphere" and "weak Russian central government" did hold true for a few years at least. Scenario #3 is interesting, as it accurately anticipates separatist tendencies (although not specifically mentioning Chechnya) and the reaction of the "Russian Bear" to reassert itself. To some extent, that's exactly what we see today. It is Scenario #4 (the "Two-Headed Eagle"), however, that appears to have hit the nail squarely - almost eerily so -- on the head. In "Russia 2010," Yergin and Gustafson posit that an attempted assassination on the Russian President by a "petty hoodlum"/mafia type "from the north Caucasus" leads to: a) Russian military action in that unnamed north Caucasus republic; b) a popular call for a crackdown on "the mafia, on corruption, and the private economy, which are all rolled into one in many people's minds;" c) the central government taking advantage of this situation to consolidate its own power, rein in the provinces, strengthen the executive over the legislative branch, reassert its control over natural resource exports; and d) an "ambivalent" and half-hearted Western reaction to these moves. Sound familiar? It should, because Scenario #4 -- the "premature reconstitution of a strong state" -- is almost exactly what w

A book giving perspective

Written in 1993, this book is still worth of reading today. Actually, it is more interesting to read today because some of the uncertainties in Russia back then had worked themselves out. The book was well structured and followed clear themes. The scenarios were plausible. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Russian transition from a market economy to a market one.

Russia's Future -- In Retrospect

Yergin and Gustafson present a series of three conceivable roads of reform along which Russia may travel between 1994 and 2010. The first scenario, "Muddling Down," which precedes all other roads in their model, is described as "the scenario that extends the present" (pg. 140). It is characterized by a weak central government and a lack of legal infrastructure. The three roads from this point are "Two-Headed Eagle" (the return of a strong state composed of both new and old elites), "Time of Troubles" (chaos and unprecedented decentralization inevitably leading to restrictive nationalism with overtones), and "Chudo" (the economic miracle, compared with both Germany during the 1950's and with Alice in Wonderland). Regardless of the path taken, the authors believe that the outcome will be the same: by 2010 "a capitalist Russia seems almost certain" (pg. 300).As I write this review, Russia is now six years further along its path than it was when the authors penned their book. Naturally, the material in this book is dated. The authors could have done a better job in making this book more accessible to a future audience -- especially that of a future in which none of these scenarios seem to be taking shape as expected. I would not rule out the possibility that some of the events discussed could still come to pass, but not within the timeframe proposed. For example, in one scenario, Yeltsin steps down in 1996 due to poor health. Looking back, he remained in power for another four years after that, despite heart surgery and repeated ailments. Could that particular scenario still be valid in the future? That depends on many other factors, of course.In their discussions on Russia's policy towards non-Russians (at home and in the Near Abroad), the authors overplayed the potential for problems with Ukrainians and underplayed the potential for problems with Chechens and other non-Russians to the south. The first Russo-Chechen conflict broke out at about the same time that this book was updated and revised. Yet even before that, one could have foreseen the potential for conflict in the Caucasus. The Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs featured an article by Samuel Huntington entitled, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Huntington's influential article proposed that armed conflicts tend to occur along fault lines between civilizations. A prime example of such a fault line is Yugoslavia, where Islamic, Western, and Slavic civilizations come together at one point. By this rationale, the Caucasus and Central Asia are also fault lines. Ukraine, however, is not a fault line. Despite Ukrainians' dislike of decades of rule by Moscow, Ukrainians and Russians have too much in common for a serious rift to occur. After all, America overcame its antipathy towards its former ruler to become England's greatest ally. Overall, I would recommend this book with a cautionary note to the reader that the book is not as useful n
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