Sunday, June 26, 2016

Illarionov on ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’ as a Way of Avoiding It

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 26 – Most of the time people think that tomorrow will be much like today, a reasonable assumption much of the time but one that blinds them to radical changes that do in fact happen.  Thus, as Andrey Illarionov points out, experts sometimes engage in “brainstorming sessions” in which they engage in “thinking about the unthinkable.”

            Such efforts are especially common when something previously “unthinkable” already has, in this case the British vote for leaving the European Union; and they may be particularly useful by calling attention to underlying trends that have been ignored or neglected and prompting actions to prevent the “unthinkable” from becoming the inevitable.

            In the wake of the Brexit vote, the Russian economist says, it is thus important “to continue to reflect about what may be possible tomorrow that even a short time ago seemed almost or completely unreal.” To that end, he offers a series of possible future developments that many will dismiss as “unreal” (

            Before doing so, Illarionov offers the following “four disclaimers.” He doesn’t dispute the right of the British people to vote as they see fit. He isn’t too worried about the common future of England and Wales. His ideas about the future have no precise timetable. And what he is offering, he specifies, is “not a prediction but rather an irresponsible presentation of an unreal variant of one of the impossible scenarios of the fantastic development of a completely unthinkable and absolutely unpredictable future.”

            Illarionov’s “impossible scenario” contains the following elements:

·         Britain leaves the EU and Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibralter leave Great Britain in order to join the EU as “new independent states.”

·         Scotland declares itself “a nuclear free zone” and talks begin on dividing up the military assets of Great Britain between the new states and Britain, which now includes “only England and Wales.”

·         United Russia wins the parliamentary elections, and Sergey Ivanov becomes prime minister, with Dmitry Medvedev taking Ivanov’s old job as head of the Presidential Administration.

·         Donald Trump wins the presidential elections in the US and declares that the US is pulling back from its international commitments and expects its allies to pay for their own defense.

·         The Netherlands votes to leave the EU. Catalonia votes to leave Spain and join the EU. Belgium dissolves into two new states, Flanders and Wallonia, with the formation of “a common European District of Brussels.”

·         The “’renewed European Union’” as a result includes 31 states and one special district – the current 28 minus Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium “plus Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibralter, Flanders, Wallonia, Catalonia, and the District of Brussels.”

·         “The external border of the renewed European Union begins to recall the borders of the territory controlled by the forces of the Anti-Comintern Pact as of November 25, 1941” except for those on the frontline in the USSR.  “Evil tongues in London papers begin to call the renewed European Union ‘the Fourth Reich.’”

·         Washington ends its participation in NATO and brings home its forces from around the world, given that it is focusing on “the construction of a Great Wall between the US and Mexico and the problems of financing it out of the Mexican budget.”

·         President Trump meets his Russian counterpart Putin in Minsk and agree to Minsk-3, in which the US says it will end assistance to Ukraine and calls on Ukraine and Russia to resolve their differences.

·         Trump agrees to a Russian plan for the resolution of the Syrian conflict.

·         Germany elects a new chancellor, Zigmar Gabriel, who becomes “the informal leader of the renewed European Union.”

·         The EU and the US lift sanctions on Russia.

·         In Austria, the Freedom Party wins and declares that “Austrians are one of the inalienable parts of the German people.” Given the absence of Britain in the EU, the paralysis of NATP, and the disinterest of the US, “the process of uniting Germany and Austria into a single federal state” begins.

·         “Anglo-Saxon influence in Europe weakens,” and “old” Europe is no longer that interested in what its “new” members in the east want, preferring instead to make deals with Russia.

·         Vladimir Putin wins re-election as president with 56 percent of the vote. “Foreign observers note that the elections took place without significant violations and therefore can be recognized as confirmation of progress” toward democracy.

·         The budgetary balance shifts from the members of the EU to the EU itself, and German and French replace English as the working language of EU institutions.

·         The German leader of “the renewed EU” and the Russian leader of “renewed Russia” agree to a strategic partnership on the basis of “the noble traditions of preceding agreements achieved at one time in Yalta and Potsdam.”

·         Not only do these leaders commit to recognizing German-Austrian unification, but they recognize “the inalienable right of the peoples of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Transdniestria, Abkhazia, South Osetia, the LDNR, the Narva Peoples Republic, the Latgale Peoples Republic, and the Peoples Republic of Semireche” to unite for “the flourishing of their peoples.”

·         At a press conference after these accords are reached, the leaders of Europe and Russia “with regret note that the Anglo-Saxon countries of Britain and the US … by their own actions have excluded themselves from participation in Eurasian affairs.”

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