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Comment Re:Bad choice (Score 1) 156

Now to proceed with my answer, have you probably read "Guns, germs and steel" by Jared Diamond? In that book the author asks a question why different civilizations have developed differently by the time the world became global, and his answer is that very basically it boils down to geographic factors.


In a similar manner it can be argued that for the foreseeable future Russia won't be a lucrative place to live for a young aspiring adult, because it is cheaper to produce new fantastic gadgets in the South Asia and it's more profitable to design them in the U.S. Russia falls in between, with the climate which increases the costs of production and the economy which does not allow for serious levels of irrecoverable costs (i.e. engineering labor). This pretty much means that the economy of Russia won't boom, and as a boomerang effect its middle class won't rise economically and aspire to claim political leadership.

Your analysis ignores the existence of states in similar, if not worse, predominant climatic conditions, that fare much better in terms of economy and (arguably, more importantly) quality of life. Canada, Finland, Sweden, Iceland... which of these have a problem with outflow of skilled labor?

Then again, the harshness of climate in Russia is also often overstated for effect. A good chunk of European Russia (basically, the lower 2/3 or so) has very reasonable climate. There are plenty of geographic benefits, too, such as a vast network of large rivers that can be readily used for transportation, significant number of natural resources (even in the European part), forests, and quality soil. In fact, the latter could easily enable homesteading, if you're keen to follow the American example.

IMO, for the past few centuries at least, the constraints on development in Russia (or lack thereof, which has been a rare occasion indeed) largely originate from poor governance rather than climatic conditions or that elusive "national mentality". It has everything that is needed to be a very successful, strong country economically - indeed, this shows up in some of the successes that USSR has enjoyed despite everything - but it either squanders those opportunities outright, or when they're actually used for something good, the wealth thus produced goes right past the majority of the populace, in a manner that is more blunt and unfair than even the most income-unequal liberal democratic capitalist countries (such as US).

Comment Re:Bad choice (Score 1) 156

As it happens, I'm also a Russian, and my current whereabouts are close to Seattle... ~

And yes, I'm pretty sure that the US economy can accommodate us all - or at least the kind of people that you have listed. We have valuable skill sets, and we actually produce wealth - and we pay more in taxes off our income than most natural-born citizens, not to mention all the spending that also creates jobs. Furthermore, we integrate readily: we often marry locals, our kids usually speak English better than they speak Russian (esp. with American moms!), and their kids often don't speak Russian at all; and our cultures are close enough that 1-2 generations is sufficient to get thoroughly Americanized without any conscious efforts effort.

So the bottom line of your cautionary tale is really more of a caution to your country: if it's so easy to convince so many that their country is shit, not just to the point where they nod, but to the point where they pack up their belongings and leave on an expensive and uncertain one-way trip, perhaps there's readily observable truth to the accusation? Should you, perhaps, be doing something to remedy that (and by remedy I mean fix the issues that make people leave, as opposed to, say, closing down the border and instituting exit visas, which seems to be the way the wind is blowing currently - we all know how it ends)?

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 594

Asia Minor was the Ancient Greek term for it. I don't think it's actively used these days, other than in historical accounts; at least not in English. Anatolia is the more common word for that region.

Ural mountains are the eastern boundary of Europe, not the northern one (they stretch from north to south). The northern boundary is the Arctic ocean. Black Sea is the southern boundary, along with the straights, and further east it's Caucasus mountains and then Caspian sea.

However, this boundary is not only arbitrary, it's relatively (as in, only a couple of centuries) new. There were other definitions before, with various major rivers used as the eastern boundary (e.g. Don or Dnieper). This is because there really isn't any good geographic definition, nor is there a particular need for one - the continent is a single one, Eurasia. Historically, Europe has been more of a political division than geographic (geography played into it only to the extent of defining easy to protect natural boundaries, like rivers and mountains, which then tend to become state boundaries.).

Afghans are actually not Arabs at all (and Arabs are themselves Semitic people). The majority of Afghans are Pashtun, which is an Iranian sub-ethnicity, and the language that they mostly speak is Pashto, an Indo-Iranian language closely related to Persian; the second most popular language is Dari, which is a dialect of Persian. The second largest group are Tajiks, which are also an Iranian sub-ethnicity and speak an Indo-Iranian language very close to Persian. Then come Hazara, who speak Dari and are also Indo-Iranian; Uzbeks, which speak a Turkic language; and Balochi, who are again Indo-Iranian. So none of these are Arabic or Semitic in any way. Arabs and Arab-speakers are a tiny minority in Afghanistan (which kinda makes sense when you realize that it's basically all former territories of Persian Empire dating all the way back to Achaemenids, so ethnically and linguistically it's rooted in Iranian culture.

Also, just FYI, in contemporary American usage, "Oriental" is seen at best an archaism deliberately used to evoke the atmosphere of the times when it was heavily used, and at worst is actually considered derogatory (or culturally alienating; either way, carrying a distinctive implication of racism).

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 594

I'm well aware of that. But OP's point wasn't that Israel is as bad in that regard as some Muslim countries - it's certainly not - but rather that it is a theocratic state. I disagree with that as a broad categorization, but it certainly isn't a secular state in a sense most Western countries are, and it has some pretty heavy-handed policies rooted in religion, marriage laws being one of them. I mean, when the state basically gives a monopoly by law, not even to a single religion, but to a single denomination of that religion, to conduct all marriages (with specific exclusions for a couple other recognized religions, but no provisions whatsoever for other denominations or for non-religious people), and their policy on it is restrictive enough in practice that many people have to travel abroad to marry, that's pretty messed up as far as I'm concerned. And it's not the only such thing there, just one that came to mind first. Unfortunately, a lot of that crap dates back to compromises made when the country was founded, and demographics ensure that the Orthodox minority is an important enough voting block that they get away with it.

Comment Re:Bad choice (Score 1) 156

And looking at its direction in the past couple of years, it seems that it's falling back into its old ways (or rather an incoherent mix of old and even older, from Soviet and Imperial times both), which makes me question just where the problem has really been all this time.

Comment Re:This is why ISIS wins (Score 1) 594

The surviving Russian pilot stated that they had zero warnings and zero indications that anything is going wrong right up until the point a missile blew off their tail.

(Of course, this may well be cooked to corroborate the whole "there was no warning" take that has been the official Russian position on this so far.)

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.