Michael Barone

 Russia, writes American Enterprise Institute demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, "is at the brink of a steep demographic decline -- a peacetime population hemorrhage framed by a collapse and a catastrophic surge, respectively, in the birth and death rates." Russia, which had 13 million young men in the 1990s, will at current rates have only 6 million by 2025. Russia is disappearing.

 Germany isn't, but its problems are serious enough. The fertility rate there is 1.4, higher than some other European countries but far below the replacement rate. Germany's population is now 83 million, just slightly more than in 1940, but 8 percent of those are Turkish and other immigrants and guest workers, many not eligible for citizenship until recently. With its population declining and aging, Germany is going to find it impossible to maintain its generous welfare and retirement benefits without devastating its private sector economy, which is scarcely growing at all today. Immigration could help compensate, but Germany, like other continental states, has not been able to assimilate immigrants as well as the United States.

 The world will not be better off with a shrinking Germany and a disappearing Russia. Behind these developments one senses a demoralization, a delayed reaction to the horrifying events of 1941-45 and the totalitarian regimes that battled to the death. Earlier this month, Americans celebrated the D-Day landings, the largest amphibious landing in history, and the sacrifices that Americans made in that great war. But the Germans and Russians and the peoples locked into war with them made numerically much greater sacrifices, sacrifices that still are scarring their countries today, and leading them toward decline and disappearance.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM