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  • Author: Samuel W. Bodman, James D. Wolfensohn, Julia E. Sweig
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Brazil has transcended its status as the largest and most resource-rich country in Latin America to now be counted among the world's pivotal powers. Brazil is not a conventional military power, it does not rival China or India in population or economic size, and it cannot match the geopolitical history of Russia. Still, how Brazil defines and projects its interests, a still-evolving process, is critical to understanding the character of the new multipolar and unpredictable global order.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: December marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Soviet dictatorship and the beginning of Russia's postcommunist transition. For Russians, the intervening years have been full of elation and promise but also unexpected trouble and disappointment. Perhaps of all the painful developments in Russian society since the Soviet collapse, the most surprising -- and dismaying -- is the country's demographic decline. Over the past two decades, Russia has been caught in the grip of a devastating and highly anomalous peacetime population crisis. The country's population has been shrinking, its mortality levels are nothing short of catastrophic, and its human resources appear to be dangerously eroding. Indeed, the troubles caused by Russia's population trends -- in health, education, family formation, and other spheres -- represent a previously unprecedented phenomenon for an urbanized, literate society not at war. Such demographic problems are far outside the norm for both developed and less developed countries today; what is more, their causes are not entirely understood. There is also little evidence that Russia's political leadership has been able to enact policies that have any long-term hope of correcting this slide. This peacetime population crisis threatens Russia's economic outlook, its ambitions to modernize and develop, and quite possibly its security. In other words, Russia's demographic travails have terrible and outsized implications, both for those inside the country's borders and for those beyond. The humanitarian toll has already been immense, and the continuing economic cost threatens to be huge; no less important, Russia's demographic decline portends ominously for the external behavior of the Kremlin, which will have to confront a far less favorable power balance than it had been banking on.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Robert D. Kaplan
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The English geographer Sir Halford Mackinder ended his famous 1904 article, "The Geographical Pivot of History," with a disturbing reference to China. After explaining why Eurasia was the geostrategic fulcrum of world power, he posited that the Chinese, should they expand their power well beyond their borders, "might constitute the yellow peril to the world's freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent, an advantage as yet denied to the Russian tenant of the pivot region." Leaving aside the sentiment's racism, which was common for the era, as well as the hysterics sparked by the rise of a non-Western power at any time, Mackinder had a point: whereas Russia, that other Eurasian giant, basically was, and is still, a land power with an oceanic front blocked by ice, China, owing to a 9,000-mile temperate coastline with many good natural harbors, is both a land power and a sea power. (Mackinder actually feared that China might one day conquer Russia.) China's virtual reach extends from Central Asia, with all its mineral and hydrocarbon wealth, to the main shipping lanes of the Pacific Ocean. Later, in Democratic Ideals and Reality, Mackinder predicted that along with the United States and the United Kingdom, China would eventually guide the world by "building for a quarter of humanity a new civilization, neither quite Eastern nor quite Western."
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia
  • Author: Nina Khrushcheva
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: One goal of Russia's economic reforms during the last ten years has been to establish a new class of businessmen and owners of private property—people who could form the foundation for a new model post-Soviet citizen. However, the experience of this post-communist economic “revolution” has turned out to be very different from the original expectations. For as people became disillusioned with communism due to its broken promises, the words “democracy” and “reform” quickly became equally as unbearable to large sectors of the Russian public after 1991. Such disillusion was achieved in less than ten years—a record revolutionary burnout that would be the envy of any anti-Bolshevik.
  • Topic: Communism, Democratization, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union