CIA warns of unrest as Russia population dips
Russia’s declining population will require Moscow to import foreign workers, increasing racial and religious tensions in the former superpower that still has thousands of nuclear weapons, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said.
Mr. Hayden, an Air Force general, also said in a speech in Manhattan, Kan. April 30 that differences between the U.S. and European governments over the Iraq war and the war on terrorism could divide the traditionally strong trans-Atlantic alliance system.
China’s national goals and its military buildup also pose challenges for the U.S. in coming years, and China will turn “adversarial” unless Beijing plays a more constructive role in world affairs, Mr. Hayden said at Kansas State University.
On Russia, Mr. Hayden warned that Russia is facing “demographic stress” with a population that will decline by 32 million in the next 40 years, almost one-fourth its current population of 141 million.
“To sustain its economy, Russia increasingly will have to look elsewhere for workers,” he said, noting that world demographic trends — most future population growth will occur in poor and Muslim countries — means these workers will increase ethnic conflict.
Some immigrants will be Russians from the former Soviet states. But others will be Chinese and non-Russians from the Caucasus, Central Asia and elsewhere, potentially aggravating Russia’s already uneasy racial and reli-
gious tensions,” he said.
U.S. intelligence officials called Russia’s long-term demographic outlook “bleak,” with the combination of an increasing death rate and falling birth rate causing the population to decline by an expected 10 million people by 2020.
“The working age-group will be hit particularly hard,” one U.S. official said.
Russian men die on average by age 58 and about 62 percent of men smoke, while the average Russian man consumes 15 liters of pure alcohol annually. About 20 percent of the mortality rate for men is due to unnatural causes such as alcohol poisoning, suicide, homicide and transportation accidents, the officials said.
Women average 1.2 abortions per one birth in Russia, and for every 10 marriages, six end in divorce. Since the 1990s, only about one-third of Russian children are born healthy and 13 percent of live births die by age five.
Russia is facing an increase in racially motivated crimes against those considered non-Russians. Nationalist and neo-Nazi groups have been blamed for killings of Uzbeks and other workers from former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The human rights group Sova Center said 53 people were killed and 160 wounded in hate crimes in Russia this year. By contrast, 17 such killings were recorded in the first four months of 2007.
Critics say the extremist sentiments are the result of Moscow’s turn away from democracy and toward authoritarian rule, under Russian President Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev.
The security of Russia’s nuclear arsenal and the prospect of weapons falling into the hands of Muslim terrorists in the event of a major ethnic conflagration or breakdown of Kremlin authority has been a major Western security concern since the end of the Cold War.
On Europe, Mr. Hayden said in his speech that a “trans-Atlantic divide” could emerge over disagreements between Europe and the U.S., which he called “only symptoms of an underlying shift brought about by the end of the Cold War.”
He cited the differences between the U.S. and Europe on terrorism and related matters of intelligence and law-enforcement systems — subjects on which the U.S. and Europe share a common liberal democratic tradition.
“The truth is, nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, America and Europe still are grappling with how best to manage the security risks of the post-Cold War world,” he said. “So, for example, while we share the view that terrorism is an urgent danger, we disagree on how best to confront it.”
“The United States believes it is a nation at war — a war that is global in scope, and requires, as a precondition for winning, that we take the fight to the enemy, wherever he may be,” Mr. Hayden said.
In contrast, most of Europe views terrorism as an internal problem with solutions to be narrow matters on domestic security.
“When there is a direct threat to their people or interests, European governments work with each other and their allies, including the United States, to disrupt it,” he said. “But they tend not to view ter- rorism as we do — as an overwhelming international challenge. Or if they do, we often differ on what would be effective and appropriate to counter it.”
Divergent views on threats and tactics will likely impact U.S.-Europe relations for the rest of the century, Mr. Hayden said.
“Managing the disagreements and tensions that arise in the absence of a unified vision will complicate what has traditionally been America’s easiest relationship,” he said.
On China, Mr. Hayden said that while differing views exist on China’s direction and motivations, he views China as a competitor not an “inevitable enemy.”
“There are good policy choices available to both Washington and Beijing that can keep us on the largely peaceful, constructive path we’ve been on for almost 40 years now,” he said.
China’s rapid and large-scale military buildup is based on Beijing’s understanding of U.S. military action in both Persian Gulf wars, and the development of advanced weaponry, he said.
“While it’s true that these new capabilities could pose a risk to U.S. forces and interests in the re- gion, the military modernization is as much about projecting strength as anything else,” he said, noting that China is “determined to flex its muscle” through military power.
The buildup is “troubling,” he said, “because it reinforces longheld concerns about Chinese intentions toward Taiwan.”
China’s global behavior is “focused almost exclusively on narrowly defined Chinese objectives,” Mr. Hayden said.
“We saw that in the country’s dealings with Sudan, where protection of its oil interests was paramount,” he said.
During a question-and-answer session after the speech, Mr. Hayden accused Iran’s government of facilitating the killing of U.S. troops in Iraq by its covert supply of arms and explosives to insurgents.
He also said Islamic terrorists continue plotting attacks against the United States from safe havens in northern Pakistan, including the possible use of nuclear devices. He added that a primitive bomb that disperses radioactive material, the so-called “dirty bomb,” is “more within the technical reach” of terrorists than a conventional nuclear blast.
White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolton, center, joined a national commemoration conducted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on May 1.