It was a year ago that Igor Panarin, a Russian academic and former KGB analyst, first drew widespread attention in the West, with a front page profile in the Wall Street Journal and a prominent link from Drudge.
His claim to fame?
Professor Panarin predicts that the U.S. will soon break apart. While descriptions of his dystopia vary, in most accounts, six new nations emerge from the rubble — The California Republic, consisting of the entire Pacific coast, under a Chinese sphere of influence; The Atlantic Republic, drawn from the East Coast down through the Carolinas, which would join the European Union; the South, which will fall under the influence of Mexico; the entire Midwest, which would join Canada; Alaska, which would be claimed by Russia; and Texas, with all its talk of secession, which would declare independence.
Panarin hosts a radio show and helps to train state diplomats in Russia, but as Mother Jones reports, Panarin is gaining plenty of new fans here in America:
In September, Chuck Baldwin, a perennial far-right presidential candidate on the Constitution Party ticket, observed that Panarin’s predictions of “some sort of break up of the United States in the near future” was a “very realistic probability.” (Columnist and MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan linked to Baldwin’s article on Panarin.) Joseph Farah, the founder of the arch-conservative website WorldNetDaily, which is famous for promoting “birther” allegations questioning Obama’s citizenship, wrote in December that he wasn’t “buying into Panarin’s entire prediction” but that “there’s something to it.” More than half of the nearly 3,000 WND readers who responded to a poll attached to Farah’s piece agreed that “the US is on course to break up soon, and another 18 percent said they thought the United States wouldn’t break up, but would ‘continue to lose sovereignty to the UN and other global entities.'”
This week, conservatives took their appreciation a step farther, when Panarin was flown in to give a presentation to a gathering of the Houston Tea Party Patriots at a Hilton Hotel in Texas. In promoting the event, organizers wrote that some called Panarin’s theory a “radical impossibility,” then asked, “But is it?”
When a movement, which claims to fight socialist fascism in the name of freedom, promotes the ideas of a former KGB agent as a way to offer some intellectual heft to its arguments, it becomes increasingly difficult to lend that movement any credibility whatsoever. But these are the same people who insist on comparing health care reform to the Holocaust, so perhaps credibility just isn’t what they’re going for.