- Here are America's main lucky breaks, shown in chronological
- Luck No 1: Respectively, North America, Mexico, and most
of South America, were colonies of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal.
(Florida and California were once Spain's colonies in North America.) With
the exception of Canada, which was a part of British Empire until 1945,
here is what happened after the colonies became independent:
- Former British colonies united into one country (United
States); and Former Spanish colonies did not unite into one country.
- Perhaps this contributed to the independence gained by
the former Spanish colonies. But this would also have made competition
with the former British colonies (i.e., United States) harder, because
they not only competed with the United States, but also with each other.
Also, the United States could exploit frictions between the politically
divided Latin American countries.
- An example of this division could be observed in the
destructive war between Paraguay, and a coalition of Argentina, Brazil,
and Uruguay. This conflict lasted from 1860 to 1870, and resulted in the
complete destruction of Paraguay. Equally, this prolonged war damaged the
economies of Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. It seems to me that it was
easier for the Latin Americans to call inhabitants of the United States
"gringos", than it was for them to unite into one country. With
the possible exception of Portuguese-speaking Brazil, the language issue
wouldn't have presented a problem for them. All the rest spoke Spanish.
In any case, the Portuguese language is closely related to Spanish.
- Luck No 2: Lasting from 1861 to 1865, the US Civil War
cost about one million lives, out of an approximate total of 60 million.
But, somewhat fortuitously for Americans, and for unknown reasons, the
most powerful countries of Europe -- (then) Great Britain, France, and
the Russian Empire --didn't seize the initiative. None of them used this
self-destructive war as an opportunity to try taking control over the United
States. By simply supporting both sides (North and South), this self-destructive
conflict could have been perpetuated, perhaps extending it as far as ten
years. After that, these three countries could easily have shared a severely
weakened United States between themselves.
- If someone doubts that the Civil War was destructive,
here are some numbers about the Russian Civil war of 1918-1921:
- 5 million dead of 180 million population. In other words,
if Russia's population were 60mn then there would be about 1.650 million
dead in this war (1/3). This is a number comparable to the dead count in
America's Civil War...
- Luck No 3: Right after the civil war, and seemingly like
a gift to America, the Russian Empire sold Alaska (1.5 million sq. km.)
to the US in 1867. Indeed, they sold Alaska to the US for a knock-down
price, approximately equal to just one week's US budget at the time. This
remarkable deal came complete with all towns and settlements that Russians
could build in Alaska.
- Luck No 4: Western European countries, the most powerful
economy rivals to the US, destroyed themselves in World War I (1914-1918).
Further to the carnage of the actual conflict, the post-war flu epidemic
killed approximately 36 million more Europeans. Russia, whose economy had
not been significantly worse than that of the United States prior to 1914,
had been turned into a slave country by the Communist regime that followed
the Bolshevik uprising of 1917. Indeed, the Soviet Union removed itself
from involvement in world economic competition.
- Luck No 5: West and East European countries "successfully"
continued destroying themselves in World War II (1939-1945), by the end
of which the United States had about 40% of the world's economy in its
own hands. As a matter of fact, the US controlled 40% of the world economy,
yet only had about 5% of the world's population. Great Britain lost almost
all of its fleet, drowned down by German submarines, and thus become unable
to control its dominions (Canada, Australia and what is now called India
and Pakistan). One of reasons why the Great Britain lost its fleet was
due to the fact that it stubbornly continued sending the ships to and from
its dominions, being well aware of dangers that the submarines presented.
Was it really possible to conduct military in such a foolish manner?
- Luck No 6: In 1991 the second super-state, mighty Soviet
Union, self- disbanded, its leaders willing to become "little kings"
in their "own regions". Some people think that the Soviet Union
crashed as a consequence of the Afghan War (1979-1988). But there had been
far harder times in the Soviet Union's history, yet they had not caused
it to crash.
- Luck No 7: The strange inabilities of one of America's
main rivals, namely the Russians. Here, I have listed only the principal
faults in the Russian system:
- Inability Number One: it seems Russians are incapable
of assimilating other peoples (but they claim themselves to be a very advanced
one; this is usually called "imperial thinking")
- 1) United States annexed California from Spain in 1848,
2) Russia annexed Ukraine from Poland back in 1648.
- The primary population of the United States was of Anglo-Saxon
origin, whilst California was primarily composed of Spaniards. The main
population of Russia is Russian, and the main population of Ukraine is
Ukrainian. Ukrainians are a Slavic people, somewhat closer to Russians
than Spaniards are to the Anglo-Saxons.
- However, during 150 years Anglo-Saxons assimilated California
to such a degree that almost nobody there can perceive that it was once
a province of Spain. During a period of 350 years, Russia, with its "imperial
thinking", half-feudal and half-capitalist formation, could not succeed
in assimilating the Ukraine. Unlike the assimilation of California into
the union, Russians regard the Ukraine as being no more than a "Minor
Russia" ("Malorossia" in Russian). This made for a relationship
that was so bad that Ukraine left the union as soon as an "opportunity"
arose, i.e. when the Soviet Union self-disbanded in 1991. (Finland, that
Russia captured from Sweden after the defeat of Napoleon, left Russia back
in 1918, after the infamous October revolution.)
- A similar situation applied to almost every other member
of the "former Soviet Union republics". Which ever case we care
to examine, we see the same situation. Byelorussia, for instance, (in Russian
this means, as strange as it may sound, "White Russia"). Its
the same situation for Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and so-on.
- Georgia, for example, was annexed by Russians, after
they provided help to Georgia against Turkey ("Ottoman Empire").
The Georgian king decided to discuss with Russians some details of how
they should be rewarded for their help. (Clearly, it would be better for
him if he hadn't decided to discuss this in the first place.) Then Russians
simply annexed Georgia and made it one of Russia's provinces.
- If Russians didn't have this problem with "imperial
thinking" they could yet annex and assimilate Bulgaria ("brothers
Slavs"), perhaps Serbia and some other Yugoslav republics. In addition,
they shouldn't have sold Alaska for one week United States budget. If they
hadn't sold Alaska, today's Russian territory would be about 26 million
square kilometres instead of pitiful 17 million, and a population of about
350 million instead of 145 million.
- Inability Number Two: slavery widespread in Russia before
so- called "cancellation of slavery" in 1861.
- At first sight, it seems that the United States had a
similar policy to Russia in this respect: they also had a slavery at that
time. But let us look at this a little more attentively, and we will see
- 1) In the United States, only "blacks" were
considered slaves, i.e. people captured in Africa, and those whom many
Anglo-Saxons (and other whites) considered to be alien to them at that
time. In Russia, however, even ethnic Russians could find themselves becoming
- 2) When, after a very risky war of 1861-1865 (why it
was risky, see Luck No 2), the United States liberated the blacks, they
were given money to be able to begin new life (about $40,000 for each family
in today's money). In Russia, however, white slaves were given freedom
without any bloodshed, or economic destruction. But these former white
slaves didn't receive anything even close to an equivalent of $40,000.
In this case, quite the opposite is true. These former slaves were obliged
to pay their former "owners", because, voyez vous, if a slave
owner (in Russian "pomEschik" or, for a female, "pomEschitsa")
didn't have slaves anymore, then his or her income decreased. This meant
that the slave owner needed money back from the former slaves.
- In comparison, a similar policy on slavery had existed
in European countries during, and prior to, the 18th century. But in almost
all of them, slavery had been abolished by the end of 18th, or at the beginning
of 19th century. This was some 60 years before Russia's "cancellation
- Inability Number Three: Russians often think that if
they were successful in the past, then they don't need to change anything
in the future. Examples of this include:
- 1) Russians brilliantly (and I mean brilliantly, without
any exaggeration) won the campaign against Napoleon's Europe in 1812- 1815.
For instance, at the end of 1812, and beginning of 1813, European troops
lost about 570 thousand, of the 600 thousand that had invaded Russia in
the summer of 1812. In stark comparison, the Russians lost barely 60 thousand
of their 400 thousand army. Yet, in this very same period, Russia had to
fight with Sweden in the North, and with Turkey ("the Ottoman Empire")
in the South.
- This war, at all three fronts, ended with a Russian victory:
they captured Poland from Napoleon's France, and imposed a French capitulation,
captured Finland from Sweden, and some Transcaucasian territories from
- What did Russians decide after such brilliant victories?
I give you three attempts to guess...They decided that their social formation
(half-capitalist relationships with Russian farmers under slavery) was
perfectly OK, since it was seemingly this arrangement that allowed them
to achieve such brilliant victories. Therefore, there was no need to change
anything -- to free the slaves, for example. This was done in 1861, only
after the loss of the Crimea War of 1854- 1855; above we have described
how it was done. It seems that, if the Russians had won the Crimean campaign,
then they would not have "cancelled" their slavery until about
- 2) In 1945, Russians won the World War Two, this time
without any brilliance. They had put over 20 million lives to the altar
of this victory. (United States, another winner in this war, lost about
500 thousand people). In the end of this war, the Russian army consisted
of about 10 million soldiers and officers, many of them were novices. They
were taken into the army, in order to replace the cannon fodder that Russian
butcher generals had expended in previous battles... well, not all of Russian
generals were butchers. Rokossovsky, for example, the best Russian general
in World War Two, was a very kind person and talented general (the Russian
army under his command suffered minimum losses). And, for example, Rokossovsky
was able to give all of his reward to an orphan-asylum. He did a similar
thing in Poland. Unfortunately for him, Rokossovsky was born Polish. As
Rokossovsky himself later told, he was "Polish in Russia and a Russian
in Poland", where he was the head of Soviet occupational command.
Truly, if there had been fewer butchers among Russian generals, then the
Russian army at the end of World War Two could have numbered some 20 million
experienced soldiers and officers, with almost no novices.
- What did Russians decide after such a hard victory? I
again give you three attempts to guess. They decided that nothing had to
be changed in their military planning (irrespective of the fact that this
had cost them over 20 million lives) because they had won the World War
Two. It seems that they still prepare for coming battles, using the "schemes"
of the Second, and sometimes even of the First world war (positional battles
and, maybe even frontal attacks against machine guns, mines, and mortars).
- Inability Number Four: Russia's capacity to find, and
involve, allies is very poor. When the United States started their operation
in Iraq in 2003, they had at least two reliable allies, whose contribution
to the war was not symbolic: Great Britain and Poland. An example of Russia's
ineptitude includes this abysmal failure:
- When the Soviet Union started its war in Afghanistan
in 1979, it fought it alone. It did so, even though it could have sought
the assistance of other countries within the Warsaw Treaty Organization
(which included the Soviet Union itself). It could have made use of communist
Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary etc. In other words, with a little persuasive
negotiation, Russia could have deployed Eastern European troops in Afghanistan.
- By now you should understand how luck and favourable
circumstances contributed to the success of the United States, and, therefore,
how it rose to become the world's most powerful state. We believe that
you should read Maurice Druon's novel about the crash of France in 14th
century, "Quand un roi perd la France". It describes how bad
rulers destroyed the most powerful European country of those times. European
rulers from 1914 to 1945 were no cleverer.
- ...Luck was a Lady for the United States.
- Could Lady Luck be running out?
- Der Voron is a freelance writer and the author of book
- He lives in Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota.