Sakset/Fra hofta

Det er noe Rasputin-aktig over Igor Panarin. Han er tidligere KGB-analytiker og har fortsatt en fot innenfor sikkerhetsapparatet. Han har i ti år spådd at USA kommer til å gå nedenom og falle fra hverandre. Nå står russiske medier i kø for å intervjue ham. Panarin spår at USA bryter sammen i juni 2010!

Det Rasputin-aktige består ikke bare i det overnaturlige ved en slik spådom, som Panarin kom frem til for ti år siden, men at han er blitt enda sikrere på et tidspunkt hvor det er Russland som faller som et stjerneskudd. Panarin-fenomenet har et innslag av irrasjonalitet som minner om tsar-Russland i nedgangstider.

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it’s his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin’s views also fit neatly with the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

A polite and cheerful man with a buzz cut, Mr. Panarin insists he does not dislike Americans. But he warns that the outlook for them is dire.

«There’s a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur,» he says. «One could rejoice in that process,» he adds, poker-faced. «But if we’re talking reasonably, it’s not the best scenario — for Russia.» Though Russia would become more powerful on the global stage, he says, its economy would suffer because it currently depends heavily on the dollar and on trade with the U.S.

Hva er det som forårsaker et slikt sammenbrudd? Innvandring, demografiske endringer og økonomisk depresjon. Panarin mener USA vil falle fra hverandre i fire deler: California blir senter i en vestlig del. En nordlig del slår seg sammen med Canada, Texas blir senter i en sørlig stat, og statene på østkysten utgjør en enhet. Oppløsningen blir en stor bonus for Russland, som får tilbake Alaska.

Det sier noe om russisk statsvitenskap at Panarin kunne utarbeide disse prognosene for ti år siden – at han oppdaget trender alle andre hadde oversett! – innenfor russiske institusjoner. Idag blir han tatt på alvor som aldri før. Det sier noe om den politistaten Vladimir Putin har bygget opp. Den har klare irrasjonelle trekk. Det er KGB under innflytelse av Rasputin, en ikke særlig betryggende kombinasjon. Det gamle KGB var hensynsløse, men hadde noen rasjonelle røde linjer. Finnes disse hos dagens ledere? Man begynner å lure.

In addition to increasing coverage in state media, which are tightly controlled by the Kremlin, Mr. Panarin’s ideas are now being widely discussed among local experts. He presented his theory at a recent roundtable discussion at the Foreign Ministry. The country’s top international relations school has hosted him as a keynote speaker. During an appearance on the state TV channel Rossiya, the station cut between his comments and TV footage of lines at soup kitchens and crowds of homeless people in the U.S. The professor has also been featured on the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel, Russia Today.

Mr. Panarin’s apocalyptic vision «reflects a very pronounced degree of anti-Americanism in Russia today,» says Vladimir Pozner, a prominent TV journalist in Russia. «It’s much stronger than it was in the Soviet Union.»

Mr. Pozner and other Russian commentators and experts on the U.S. dismiss Mr. Panarin’s predictions. «Crazy ideas are not usually discussed by serious people,» says Sergei Rogov, director of the government-run Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, who thinks Mr. Panarin’s theories don’t hold water.

Man kan tenke seg hvordan erkjennelsen et slikt fenomen innvirker på akademikere som ønsker å overholde kvalitetskrav og hva slags klima det skaper.

Panarin er ingen freak, han er et barn av KGB-kulturen:

Mr. Panarin’s résumé includes many years in the Soviet KGB, an experience shared by other top Russian officials. His office, in downtown Moscow, shows his national pride, with pennants on the wall bearing the emblem of the FSB, the KGB’s successor agency. It is also full of statuettes of eagles; a double-headed eagle was the symbol of czarist Russia.

The professor says he began his career in the KGB in 1976. In post-Soviet Russia, he got a doctorate in political science, studied U.S. economics, and worked for FAPSI, then the Russian equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency. He says he did strategy forecasts for then-President Boris Yeltsin, adding that the details are «classified.»

In September 1998, he attended a conference in Linz, Austria, devoted to information warfare, the use of data to get an edge over a rival. It was there, in front of 400 fellow delegates, that he first presented his theory about the collapse of the U.S. in 2010.

«When I pushed the button on my computer and the map of the United States disintegrated, hundreds of people cried out in surprise,» he remembers. He says most in the audience were skeptical. «They didn’t believe me.»

Det er selvsagt finanskrisen som har gitt Panarins fantasier større overbevisningskraft, for dem som ønsker å tro at USA vil gå under.

Oppmerksomheten rundt hans person har også nådd Amerika, og under en pressekonferanse i Det hvite hus i desember ble det stilt spørsmål om hva presidenten syntes. Pressetalskvinne Dana Perino avslo å svare, og spørsmålet utlyste latter.

Kanskje man i den amerikanske administrasjonen tar Panarin-fenomenet som et tegn på oppløsning i Russland.


As if Things Weren’t Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

In Moscow, Igor Panarin’s Forecasts Are All the Rage; America ‘Disintegrates’ in 2010