The world is abuzz with Russian professor Igor Panarin's prediction that the US would end in 2010, even though its something that he has been saying for the past 10 years or more.
While most turned a deaf ear to his arguments for the better part of the decade that he's been repeating his warning, Panarin says that an economic and moral collapse would trigger a civil war within the US and would result in its breakup. Now, with the media having picked up on his views, he has a much wider audience for his theory.
The 50-year old former KGB analyst is dean of the Russian foreign ministry's academy for future diplomats, and is well connected across the Kremlin, besides being a lecturer to students, author, and an "expert" on US-Russian relations.
The Wall Street Journal carried a report that said Panarin's theory fits well with the Kremlin's narrative about Russia returning to its "rightful place" on the world stage after its own weak period during the 1990s, during which similar theories of it breaking up into separate territories were abound.
"There's a 55: 45 per cent chance right now that disintegration will occur," he was quoted as saying.
"One could rejoice in that process, but if we're talking reasonably, it's not the best scenario - for Russia."
Panarin says that though Russia would become more powerful in the global arena, its dollar and US trade-dependent economy would suffer. He says that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation would trigger a civil war by around next fall, and that the dollar would collapse.
In an end-November interview to the respected daily Izvestia, Panarin was quoted as saying that the dollar was not "secured by anything". He said foreign debt of the US has grown "like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt". Panarin said that around 1998, when he made his first prediction, US debt exceeded $2 trillion, and is presently over $11 trillion. "This is a pyramid that can only collapse", he was reported as saying.
Panarin initially made his prediction at an international conference around a decade ago, when the US economy appeared strong. However, the way 2008 has played out, the retrospective view of the year gone by seems to support his theory.
In September 1998, at a conference on information warfare held at Linz, Austria, Panarin talked about the use of data to edge out a rival, and more importantly, presented his theory to 400 fellow delegates. "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 sceptical. "They didn't believe me," The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.
Panarin, according to paper, based his theory on classified data supplied to him by Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAPSI) analysts. In his theory, he says that economic, financial and demographic trends will create a political and social crisis in the US, and when push comes to shove, the wealthier states would withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union.
Thereafter, a social unrest would precede a civil war, that would cause the US to split along ethnic lines, with foreign powers moving in. Panarin says that the US economy is on its way to a collapse, which is evident from the fact that three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street no longer exist, and two are "barely surviving".
"Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator", the Drudge Report quoted him as saying.
So, who would replace the US as a regulator of world markets? Panarin says two nations – China, on account of its vast reserves, and Russia as a regulator of Eurasia.
Panarin thinks that around the end of June 2010, or some time in early July, the US will break into six pieces, with Alaska coming back to Russia. Why six? "A whole range of reasons", he was quoted as saying.
"Firstly, the financial problems in the US will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal centre. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles", Panarin was quoted as saying.
The six parts he sees the US in include the Pacific coast, which has a growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, "where independence movements are on the rise"; the Atlantic coast that already has a distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states being "under the influence" of Canada.
California will apparently form the nucleus of what Panarin calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence.
Texas he says would be the heart of "The Texas Republic," which would be made up of a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence.
Washington DC and New York would be part of an "Atlantic America" that may become part of the European Union.
Canada would grab most of the Northern states that Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic."
Hawaii would be an associated state of Japan or China, and of course Alaska, will revert to Russia. "It would be reasonable for Russia to lay claim to Alaska; it was part of the Russian Empire for a long time."
The article in Izvestia apparently prompted a question about the White House's reaction to Panarin's forecast at a news conference earlier this month, to which spokeswoman Dana Perino reportedly replied, "I'll have to decline to comment," amid much laughter.
Panarin is unfazed by Perino's response, calling it significant since "the way the answer was phrased" was an indication that his views are being heard "very carefully". Moreover, he says similar forecast cataclysms have been right earlier, citing French political scientist Emmanuel Todd as an example.
Todd famously accurately forecast the demise of the Soviet Union 15 years before it actually happened.
"When he forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1976, people laughed at him," Panarin was quoted as saying.