Here Peggy Noonan outlines the theories of Stratfor’s George Friedman.
For a possible look into the future, the second book, “The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century” by George Friedman, founder of the private intelligence and forecasting firm Stratfor. The book was published four years ago, in January 2010. In one chapter he predicts Russia’s future.
“In geopolitics, major conflicts repeat themselves,” he writes. “Russia is the eastern portion of Europe and has clashed with the rest of Europe on multiple occasions.”
Europeans who have invaded Russia lived to regret it—if they were lucky. Russia in turn has sometimes pushed westward. “At other times, passive and ignored, Russia is taken advantage of. But, in due course, others pay for underestimating it.”
The Cold War didn’t settle the Russian question, which is: “Where will its frontiers lie and what will be the relationship between Russia and its neighbors?” In the years since 1989 American actions were “insufficient and unfocused.” They alerted the Russians to “potential danger from the United States and ensured they would respond to it.”
To Russia, “The farther west into Europe its borders extend, the farther conquerors have to travel to reach Moscow. Therefore Russia is always pressing westward,” just as Europe presses eastward.
“Russia had its guts carved out after the collapse of communism. St. Petersburg, its jewel, was about a thousand miles away from NATO troops in 1989. Now it is less than one hundred miles away. In 1989, Moscow was twelve hundred miles from the limits of Russian power. Now it is about two hundred miles.” Russia does not feel it has to “conquer the world,” but that it must “regain and hold its buffers—essentially the boundaries of the old Soviet Union.”
Sweeping demographic changes—a slowly growing or declining population, especially among ethnic Russians—would suggest the mid-2010s were the right time to move. Later might be too late.