When I was a graduate student at Yale I received a master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies. So, though I did not ultimately concentrate (my doctoral work) on what then was the Soviet bloc, I stayed with the subject. I continued to follow it closely, making it a point to be up on the latest Kremlinology.
Imagine my surprise, then, when virtually overnight, virtually without warning by even the most esteemed Soviet experts, the Soviet Union collapsed and communism in East Europe along with it. I was stunned at the time. And I remain stunned still that a series of events so momentous should have been so completely unforeseen.
In recent months have been two changes of cataclysmic importance, both of which fall into the same category. Both were wholly unanticipated, predicted by nearly no one.
The first is the rise of ISIS – ISIS, which scarcely anyone had even heard of as little as a year ago. The second is the drop in oil prices, which has been nothing short of vertiginous. But who knew six months ago? Who told us then what we know now: that the price of oil, which had been stable for over five years, would drop suddenly and precipitously, by over half in half a year?
Nobody – nobody told us. Why? Because nobody knows nothing.