Posted June 01, 2021
By Byron King
Book Review: “Disintegration" by Andrei Martyanov
I hope you had a good Memorial Day holiday, or “long weekend” as Vice President Kamala Harris characterized the designated time of remembrance toward our country’s war dead.
If you somehow missed the news, Lady Eminence — number two in the national chain of command — sent out an execrable tweet that included a mug shot of herself as opposed to… oh, I dunno… maybe a sea of flags in a national cemetery. I won’t dignify the disgrace by linking to it. Look it up if you’re interested.
But I mention this because Harris’s (likely intentional) slight to our esteemed and departed old Soldiers and Sailors embodies the abysmally low ethical and intellectual quality of many people who somehow have achieved powers of governance in this once noble Republic.
This problem is not a Democrat or Republican thing either. Indeed, our country’s pervasive levels of foolishness are beyond political. We’re looking at a profoundly cultural problem with deep roots in the country’s broken, dysfunctional educational system. Or to paraphrase Forrest Gump, miseducated is as miseducated does.
The end result is bipartisan, pig-headed, radical-imbecile ignorance which abounds in Washington D.C., as well as many state capitols. And in a nuclear-armed country, that’s a bad problem, especially one whose economy has devolved into little more than a continental-scale big box store.
It’s not inaccurate to say that the nation’s decrepit, intellectually bankrupt governing class is by now a feature, not a bug.
And yet, I don’t like to point out problems without offering some hint of a solution. Which prompts me to recommend a fabulous new book about what ails America, written by a former naval officer of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Or in other words, a Russian guy.
Here’s the point. Sometimes you really are sick and you truly need a second opinion from that gruff, no-nonsense doctor whose office is down at the far end of the hospital.
In this case, the man’s name is Andrei Martyanov, who recently published his third book (in three years, no less!) on the global correlation of forces and how they no longer favor the U.S.
The title is “Disintegration: Indicators of the Coming American Collapse” from Clarity Press, available from the publisher (recommended) or Amazon, etc., at the risk of low inventory and frustrating delays in delivery.
One way or another, whether you buy it or borrow… read this book!
But wait. Perhaps you’re already thinking, “Oh, another of those America-Is-Doomed books,” which are a dime a dozen and under which many a bookshelf already groans.
Well, no. Because while America may very well be doomed, some books on the subject are distinctly better than others. And also, consider the source.
Martyanov is not some aspiring politician or policymaker-wannabe who wrote a campaign book about how you should vote for him and save the country.
Nor is he a political science major who went into pay-per-click journalism; or a talking head who hosts a blah-blah radio show and you should listen to him daily for three hours to save the country.
He’s definitely not a stockbroker with a portfolio to sell, with the promise of how investing properly (and in his picks) can save the country.
Nor is the man a frustrated college professor who whose tenuous prospects for tenure hinge on writing a massive, heavily-footnoted, best-selling book about saving the country.
No, Martyanov is a classically educated Russian, which means very well educated. He speaks and writes fluent English, better than many native speakers in the U.S. I’d opine.
Martyanov can discuss Tolstoy or Gogol as well as Marx and Lenin. And he can cite and utterly deconstruct a broad spectrum of American and British foreign and military policy writers who never saw a problem overseas that could not be solved by sending U.S. jets to bomb the place.
Long ago in the Soviet era, Martyanov graduated from a five-year, six day per week academic program at a rigorous naval academy (but I repeat myself because all Soviet military schools were rigorous). Among other things, he studied lots of math and physics, military history and operations theory.
Post-graduation, Martyanov served in a variety of assignments as a cadre officer in the Soviet navy of the 1980s, through the demise of the USSR in 1991.
As fate would have it, Soviet collapse left Martyanov in Azerbaijan where, as an ethnic Russian, he became in a legal sense a stateless person. Meanwhile, post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s fast transformed into an economic and social wreck, a dangerous place run by ruthless oligarchs.
In the 1990s, Martyanov emigrated to the U.S. where, for a few years, he taught math and physics to American students, many of whom went on to impressive universities. Eventually he went to work for an aerospace contractor in the Puget Sound region. In 2014 Martyanov began a website called “Reminiscence of the Future.”
In his blog, Martyanov offers brass-knuckle contrarian opinions, definitely contrary to the U.S. mainstream. He explains the state of the world via thoughtful, Russian oriented perspective (make that Russian military perspective…). It’s no-nonsense thinking from one who is clearly conversant with the math-based, analytical approach of a highly competent, superpower-level general staff.
In other words, what Martyanov puts out contrasts sharply with the thin gruel and anemic pabulum served up in the U.S./Western media.
Over the past seven years, Martyanov has provided a sophisticated Russian view of, among other things, the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars, as well as the Bolshevik Revolution, World War II and the Cold War. Indeed, he takes these seemingly long-ago events and uses them to frame current issues. It’s eye opening if your eyes can open that wide.
With respect to recent events, Martyanov has explained the historical and strategic importance of the Western coup that captured Ukraine; Russia retaking Crimea; Putin’s 20-year reconstruction of the Russian economy, from farming and health care to the broad, stunning evolution of Russian weapon systems.
From ground combat to outer space, over time Martyanov has carefully explained the strategic, operational and even tactical logic of Russian actions in Syria and across the Middle East and North Africa. That, and he’s explained the growing strategic, military, energy and industrial partnerships between Russia and China, as well as similar matters concerning Russia and Iran.
In certain ways, Martyanov is what one might call a “Putin whisperer,” in essence explaining to an English-speaking audience what Putin actually means, particularly when the Russian leader is either mis-translated or foolishly misconstrued (or shamefully ignored) by knuckleheads in the Western media and politics who truly do not have a clue.
It’s much the same when Martyanov deciphers comments by other key names within the Russian hierarchy, such as Foreign Minister Lavrov or Defense Minister Shoigu. Worth reading…
Based on both web traffic and the comments section of his posts, it’s more than apparent that people in intelligence services across the world read what Martyanov has to say.
Which brings us to “Disintegration,” in which Martyanov examines the American economy and points out innumerable myths, or at best weak foundations, upon which the entire edifice is constructed. Indeed, he’s kind enough to point out much that is perfectly obvious, thus avoiding toxic-fact-shock to the chronically misinformed. Yet he ruthlessly, bluntly connects many dots in ways that Western media generally fail to see.
Martyanov begins with something basic, namely the U.S. food supply coupled with widespread food insecurity for much of the population. He contrasts this with the so-called “affluenza” that afflicts the country. That is, the disparity between poverty and wealth in an economy built on and around a vast-spending welfare state that supports endless consumption paid for in soon-to-be hyperinflating dollars.
There’s a profound disconnect between the American way of life that most of the population (and politicians) take for granted, versus the hard realities of geoeconomics, meaning the study of political and temporal aspects of economies, and particularly access to and use of resources. In this sense, the U.S. is nowhere near self-sustaining. In fact, it’s beyond decline and has entered free-fall as you may have noticed.
Consider American energy patterns; meaning production, consumption and import. Because really, without energy, hardly anything else really matters. The lights go out and it’s all over.
Martyanov takes a hard look at U.S. oil and gas production, with a solid analysis of the awful economics of fracking. That is, America had its decade-long run of high-priced oil output under Presidents Obama and Trump. Meanwhile, in 2020 Russia used its clout to revise the overall global pricing structure for oil; did you even notice? Well, in essence the party is now over for American energy.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has fallen a generation behind in harnessing nuclear power, while the solar and wind approach verges on sheer industrial fantasy if not lunacy.
Along these last lines, Martyanov is beyond scathing towards current Western “climate science,” and the economically suicidal policies coming out of them. It is, he writes, “nothing more than white board-created models operating on (principles of) garbage-in-garbage-out, delivered according to ideological trends.” And yes, he explains that comment.
Martyanov performs a similar dissection of the U.S. economy in terms of critical industries like steel, shipbuilding, autos and aerospace.
American commercial shipbuilding is a disaster, turning out few ships in the best of years. By comparison, China, Japan and South Korea dominate the commercial waves, while Russia too is making a massive comeback.
American auto companies remain internally competitive within the U.S./Canadian market, but much of that flag-waving “Made in USA” label is a blithe way to present final assembly of mostly foreign parts.
Martyanov also tackles the Boeing disaster of the past three years to illustrate how even a global leader can grossly mismanage itself and fall into worldwide disrepute.
The takeaway is that the American power-structure, and the country’s endless, expeditionary power projection by aggrandizing politicians, is in no ways justified or further supportable. Not, at least, by the underlying monetary system, economics and/or industrial base.
Real economies make real things, as we’ve oft noted here in Whiskey. And America makes few real things anymore if all those cargo ships anchored offshore are any indication.
For all the criticism, Martyanov is quite sympathetic to America’s plight. Indeed, it takes a former Soviet citizen, one who went through the crash of Russia in the 1990s, to understand what’s happening now in the lower half of North America, and to recognize the scope of our evolving disaster.
Martyanov has kind words about the American people proper. He feels the pain of farmers and truck drivers, steelworkers and machine tool operators, medical doctors and math teachers.
But Martyanov rains the proverbial Russian artillery fire onto the heads of America’s so-called “elite,” those snotty, arrogant, over-credentialed, ill-educated know-it-alls who have sold a once-great industrial and wealth-creating culture down the river.
He devotes long segments to the infantilism and total, comic book level of unreality that has prevailed amongst America’s high and mighty over many decades. These influential names range from Henry Kissinger (“vastly overrated”) to Tom Clancy (“an insurance agent who never served a day in uniform”) and many in between.
Indeed, in both text and footnotes the attentive reader will recognize a long list of familiar academic and policymaking names. These are the guilty, the people who globalized America’s economy, financialized it, asset-stripped and deindustrialized the place, sold it out to foreign interests and set the nation on a course to economic, political, social and cultural disaster.
Martyanov quotes Karl von Clausewitz, a well-regarded strategic thinker and a Prussian officer who served the Tsar during Napoleon’s invasion. “It is legitimate to judge events by their outcome,” he said.
And for the U.S., the outcome of many decades of horrid governance by cadres of destructive elite has brought the nation to the verge of breakup. Obviously, the future is grim absent a massive revival of spirit, and new concept of national interests.
Then again, as any alcoholic can tell you, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
Read the book: “Disintegration.”
On that note, I rest my case.
That’s all for now… Thank you for subscribing and reading.
Managing Editor, Rich Retirement Letter
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