Andrei Martyanov’s warning of U.S. weakness

DISINTEGRATION: Indications of the Coming American Collapse by Andrei Martyanov (2021)

Andrei Martyanov, an immigrant from Russia, is a writer and blogger on military affairs who for years has been warning the citizens of his adopted country of American military weakness.

In Disintegration, his latest book, he connects U.S. military failures to an an overall decline in American society – economically, politically and morally – which he fears may be irreversible.  

Born in 1963 in Baku,  he  is a graduate of the  Kirov Naval Red Banner Academy and served as an officer in Soviet Coast Guard through 1990.  He moved to the United States in the mid-1990s and worked for a time as laboratory director for a military aerospace group.  He lives in Washington state.

He said that as he traveled in the early 1990s, he always felt relief at landing in the USA, a safe haven from crime-ridden Russia.  He would stop at an airport bar and enjoy a plate of chicken wings, a beer and a cigarette.  The sitcom Cheers was usually on TV, and, to him, it symbolized the values of a peaceful, welcoming nation.

Since then, he says, his new country has been in decline, and his old country has risen from the ashes.  The United States is attempting to project power worldwide that it no longer has.  

I won’t attempt to summarize the book, but I’ll hit a few high points.

He presents evidence that, even though the United States has the world’s most expensive military, its military technology is qualitatively inferior to Russia’s and China’s.

Russia’s hypersonic missiles have changed warfare forever, he said.  They are not interruptible by existing U.S. anti-missile systems.  He said the U.S. lag behind Russias in air-defense systems is massive.  None of this can be changed anytime soon.

Although U.S. power projection defends on its Navy and Air Force, American shipbuilding and aircraft industries lag behind Chinese competitors and are being overtaken by Russians.

In 2018, 90 percent of the world’s ships were built in China, Japan and South Korea.  Russia also surpasses the USA in commercial shipbuilding.  Many tankers and other commercial ships built by these four countries are bigger than U.S. aircraft carriers.

Boeing aircraft have had disastrous crashes in the past few years, due to failures in the manufacturing process.  Martyanov says Russia’s new MC-21 plane is competitive with Boeing or any other of the world’s aircraft.  

The U.S. responded to the MC-21 by blocking exports of carbon fiber, a necessary component.  Russia proceeded to develop its own carbon fiber industry.

Advanced technologies require well-trained engineers, technicians and craft workers.

In 2016, the USA had 568,000 graduates with degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  But,according to Martyanov, 37 percent of them were foreigners, including 25 percent Chinese, all of them taking their skills back to their own countries.

Surveys indicate that manufacturing is ranks lowest in job preferences for young adults, and manufacturing employers say they have a hard time finding workers willing and able to do demanding jobs such as CNC operator, mechanic, electrician or laboratory technician.  This is despite the decline in manufacturing employment.

The great attraction of the American way of life for people in the old Soviet Union was the USA’s material abundance and appealing popular culture.  The food selections in a typical American supermarket were a wonder of the world.

Nowadays supermarkets in Russia, China, India or even Vietnam are the equal of the USA’s, Martyanov wrote.  Meanwhile in the USA, many Americans can’t afford to shot in supermarkets.

He noted that 41 percent of American mothers with children under 12 have reported food insecurity since the start of the Covid pandemic.  That is, they didn’t think their children were getting enough to eat or they worried about being able to buy enough food.

Martyanov said U.S. policy is led by an elite lacking in situational awareness or accountability.  Since the dawn of the 21st century, the United States has failed to win any of its wars, yet none of the policymakers responsible for those wars has been held accountable.  

The same is true of U.S. economic decline.  U.S. politics has become infantilized

Much of the world regards the USA as an aging, loud-mouthed bully, who is no longer able to inspire fear.

The great strength of the Russian people is their pride and sense of unity in being Russian, Martyanov wrote.  He said this was what enabled them to survive their society’s collapse and rise again as a strong nation.

The ruling American elite (with exceptions, of course) lack patriotism, he wrote.  The economic elite care nothing for the welfare of their fellow citizens.  The intellectual and media elite are actively hostile to American traditions and patriotic symbols.

I don’t go along with Martyanov in every respect.  I take the Covid pandemic and catastrophic climate change more seriously than he does, and I take a less rosy view than he does of Russia, a land wracked by corruption, organized crime, economic oligarchy and racism against minorities.

But the fact that Russia so far has been able to stand up against the full might of the Western alliance, both in the ground war in Ukraine and the global economic sanctions war, shows something about both the underlying strength of Russia and the underlying weakness of the United States and the Western alliance as a whole.

Martyanov’s book reminds me of a book I read years ago – The Collapse of British Power by Corelli Barnett (1972).   Barnett said that Great Britain in the 1930s seemed to be the world’s dominant nation, ruler of a quarter of the world’s population and the world’s dominant economic power.  But this was an illusion.

The Second World War showed that British power was a hollow shell.  Notwithstanding the valor of the British servicemen, the British survived only because they were propped up by the United States and served American purposes.

Barnett said that British weaknesses were due to (1) imperial overstretch, the need to maintain an empire that contributed nothing to British strength, (2) deindustrialization and financialization and (3) an elite humanistic and classical education that neglected scientific, technical and management training, as well as the realities of military, political and economic power.

Martyanov tells basically the same story about the United States, except that the humanities now consist of gender and ethnic studies rather than the old-time classics.  But, unlike Barnett, he is telling the story before the fact of collapse, while there is still time to change course.

LINKS

Reminiscences of the Future, Andrei Martyanov’s blog.

Disintegration: Indicators of the Coming American Collapse, the whole book in PDF format.

How Russia Views America by Philip Pilkington for American Affairs.

The Disintegrated States of America by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

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7 Responses to “Andrei Martyanov’s warning of U.S. weakness”

  1. Gerry Dunphy Says:

    I agree with Martyanov’s view of the deterioration of many aspects of American society, but, having had similar conversations with Russian immigrants who were coworkers, many aspects of the same cultural,deteriorization are at work in Russia as well

    Liked by 1 person

  2. williambearcat Says:

    Reads like a propaganda piece from
    Russia

    Like

  3. Gerry Dunphy Says:

    Phil,
    Just an anecdotal note. My two colleagues , one from Belorussia and the other from Uzbekistan, both physicians who immigrated to the US 25 to 30 years ago , make interesting comments regarding the subject of Martyanov’s book. They both comment that to them, Americans are “soft” and “weak” in terms of being able to tolerate stress and challenges.

    So what to think about these comments? To me, it seems to point to Americans sense of “ entitlement” regarding political rights and American hegemony on the world stage. Are we( Americans) so politically divided we can’t come together for common causes?

    Like

    • philebersole Says:

      Gerry, these are difficult questions. There are a lot of statistics about increases in obesity, other health problems, mental health problems, Internet addiction, drug addiction, pornography addiction, etc.

      The U.S. Army is unable to meet its recruiting goals partly because so much of the draft-age population is mentally and physically unfit.

      A college professor friend of mine tells me that half or more of her students are either taking psychiatric drugs or under the care of therapists.

      A recently-retired high school English teacher friend of mine says it has been decades since students were required to read entire books.

      Martyanov pointed out how West Point is lowering its academic standards in order to push through a sufficient number of graduates.

      Speaking for myself, I would say I am soft and weak compared to my parents and grandparents. I am less resilient and self-reliant, and have fewer survival skills.

      But then the whole purpose of a consumer society and welfare state is to make life easier and more forgiving.

      The question of national unity is a separate one. We are a very divided nation, but I don’t know that the divisions are greater now than in the past. (Of course, our past includes a bloody civil war, so that’s not necessarily reassuring.)

      I think the power elite, or ruling class, or whatever you want to call them are trying to forge national unity around commitment to war and “national greatness” measured in terms of power.

      This is typical of empires in decline, and gives rise to revolutions and stab-in-the-back claims.

      Like

    • philebersole Says:

      Here’s what Andrei Martyanov has to say about the American people:

      The majority of regular Americans are very nice folks, who do not necessarily bother themselves with matters of the global balance of power or international relations, and indeed just go about their everyday business, trying to earn a living. Most only get more or less excited about politics around election time. They are generally patriotic, and very many have common sense and a good sense of humor.

      He goes on to say this is not true of members of the elite classes.

      Like

  4. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    The demise of America is much overstated. ` The rise of Russia didn’t even happen – and they have now very thoroughly shot themselves in the foot. China’s ascendancy is very much in doubt.

    I have to differ on one thing. Russia has not had to stand up to the full might of the western alliance. They are getting their butt kicked by a country a third their population who are being supplied in a minor way by the western alliance. Most Ukrainian soldiers still fight with Soviet Cold War era gear.

    Liked by 1 person

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