For Americans watching the deepening economic crisis in Russia, the most important question is why it matters to us. Given modest levels of U.S. investment and trade and muffled impacts on American markets, Russia's crisis would be important, but no more so than earlier crises in Korea and Indonesia.
But Russia is not Indonesia. The reason why Russia's meltdown matters for Americans is much more specific and potentially catastrophic. As an economic crisis accelerates the disintegration of authority in Russia, history has left a superpower arsenal.