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Assessing Russia's Decline Trends and Implications for the United States and the US Air Force

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What challenges does todays Russia pose for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. military as a whole Certainly Russia cannot present even a fraction of the threat the Soviet monolith posed and for which the United States prepared for decades. Yet, if certain negative trends continue, they may create a new set of dangers that can in some ways prove even more real, and therefore more frightening, than the far-off specter of Russian attack ever was. As a weak state, Russia shares some attributes with failed or failing states, which the academic literature agrees increase the likelihood of internal and interstate conflict and upheaval. Tracing through the specifics of these processes in Russia reveals a great many additional dangers, both humanitarian and strategic. Moscows efforts to reassert central control show that much control is already lost, perhaps irretrievably. This is manifested both in center-periphery relations and in the increasing failure of law and order throughout the country, most clearly seen in the increasing institutionalization of corruption and crime. Although Russias weakened armed forces are unlikely, by temperament and history, to carry out a coup, real concerns exist that the forces may grow less inclined to go along with aspects of government policy, particularly if they are increasingly used as instruments of Internal control as in Chechnya. Moreover, the fact that the Russian military is unlikely to attempt to take power does not mean that it will not seek to increase its influence over policymaking and policy-makers. The uncertainties of military command and control threaten the possibility of accidental or intentional nuclear weapon use, while deterioration in the civilian nuclear sector increases the risk of a tragic accident.

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  • Government and Political Science

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