Hot or Cold?
Past, Present, and Future
At this critical time on Earth, the world's future is more than ever colored by its past.
I have studied both languages (Russian and Mandarin) and have studied both the Russian and the Chinese histories. I have experienced the Vietnam War, and I am knowledgeable of World War II, the Korean War, and the conflicts since then. I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior, and I encourage others to do so, too. My wife experienced World War II and the brutal Imperial Japanese Army, as well as the French Indochina War and other Asian conflicts. We have both seen terrorism first hand.
We like to think we bring a wealth of experience to a discussion of what America faces in world politics and modern-day military challenges, not the least of which are an aggressive Russia, an expansionist China, and a terrorist religious fervor rooted in the Middle East and spreading.
Manolie and Demas
Sharing World Responsibilities
There are certainly other "great powers" in this 21st Century, but far and away the United States of America, Russia, and China are militarily and economically what some call "super powers."
During the Cold War the former Soviet Union and the USA, and to an only slightly lesser extent the People's Republic of China, contested for world dominance. Each espoused the merits of their own political systems. Russia and China claimed rights to communist systems. The USA claimed a proud heritage of republican democracy and private enterprise.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the emerging Russian governments dabbled in less strident political and economic systems, while at the same time yearning for their former, national prominence on the world stage. Russia's loss to independent status of many of its former republics, and its simultaneous loss of tight controls over the politics and economies of Eastern European satellite countries, led Russians to look for reassurance from a leadership with renewed dictatorial powers.
With the abrupt collapse of Russia's communist system, China launched an unprecedented economic surge seeking overseas markets and natural resources to bolster an urbanization and industrialization that included modernization of its military arsenal. China's changes were to become as dramatic as had been the dramatic decline of the former Soviet Union.
Both today's Russia and China anchor their aspirations on their past. Russia compares its current power with that which it had in the Soviet Union days. China looks to its name and yearns to be the once powerful and renowned Imperial China but under the flag and continuing structure of Mao's revolutionary China.
In both nations the "old guard" is gone. New leaders prevail, and their people have changed with them. Today's Russian leadership focused first on regaining domestic power. The Chinese leadership focused on maintaining power while working to fulfill its people's expectations of domestic advances.
The result has been that Russia is weaker than the former Soviet Union before its collapse. It is living under international economic sanctions resulting from its annexation of Crimea and hostility to Ukraine. Putin's military actions in Syria have been brutal and expensive, as have been his military posturing toward Poland and the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Putin himself is acting like a Cold War warrior from his former KGB days. His distrust of America and his yearning to achieve what was denied to him and his Soviet system, does much to explain his driving forces and outlook.
The USA has some shared cultural heritage with the Russian people but none with the Russian political systems past or present. Americans have seen what happens when the USA allows Putin to act on his own instincts without strong American resistance.
The USA has only limited cultural ties to communist China, and fought the Chinese and the North Koreans to preserve South Korea's independence as the major part of that United Nations one-of-a-kind effort which led to the hostile truce that remains today. [It is important to realize that the ongoing truce only happened because the USA's President Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons to end the Korean War. This is the root cause of North Korea's determination to have effective nuclear weapons of its own, while continuing its resolve to unite the two Koreas.]
America's economic links to China are multiples of any similar links with Russia, and both the USA and China need those economic relations to remain strong for their national economies to remain strong. Economic stresses in the USA, or in China, would affect the world economy and have a direct impact on their own national economies.
Symbols of Peace
Today there is another pressing problem which confronts Russia, China, and the USA. All three nations are in some way threatened by radical Islamic terrorists.
To deal with those threats there has to be some interaction and cooperation. China seems able to deal with their domestic Islamic concerns, and is more likely to be concerned about the effects of global terrorism on the world economy. Russia has an internal Islamic terrorist element it continues to struggle to control, and Russia is pledged to assist in the global anti-terrorism campaign. The USA remains the ultimate target of Islamic terrorism and has sought to build coalitions to deal with the global threat, while courting Russia as a major partner in those efforts.
Ideally the USA wants solid relationships with both Russia and China, each of whom have national interests and ambitions which will conflict at times with American interests.
Americans remain frustrated that the veto powers of Russia and China often make the United Nations ineffective as a force on the world stage, most recently in Syria. At the same time the USA cannot afford to leave the United Nations and thereby lose its own veto power in the UN's Security Council where it has often been used to defend Israel and protect other American interests.
The USA finds itself needing to strengthen its own national defenses without Russia or China feeling directly threatened. At the same time, the USA needs to strengthen its alliances with its strategic partners and with other countries with whom a goodwill relationship can be nurtured and maintained.
At a time when a new and inexperienced American president will soon have to deal with these relationships, all Americans can pray that their country never has to choose between workable relationships with Russia and such relationships with China.
That day could come. If it ever does, our direct relations with the leaders of those two centrally controlled "super powers" will determine how such an undesirable choice would ever be made.
Perspycacious on December 28, 2016:
teaches12345 - I hope we never have to make such a choice, but other alliances are key to our flexibility.
teaches12345 on December 28, 2016:
I do hope and pray the New Year will usher in a better way to deal with these countries. Both nations are important to our economy but we must build our strengths within as well.
Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 19, 2016:
We must hope for the best. Thanks for your reply.
Demas W Jasper (author) from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 18, 2016:
Nellieanna - Sound advice you have given here, and thanks for your opening appraisal. President-elect Trump is certainly a one-of-a-kind in American history. He will almost inevitably have failures and successes as president, the balance and effects of which remain to be seen against the background you have described. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 18, 2016:
Dear Demas, if I may so address you. I find your perspective well thought-out, informative and quite above political motives.
I've been around nearly 85 years, and lived through many economic stresses, Presidents, wars, and rumors of wars. Herbert Hoover was still president when I was born, and when FDR seceded him when I was a year old, he remained in office till I was 13 and he was beginning a 4th term then, but died before I'd have been almost grown when it ended! In the meantime, there had been the Great Depression, the German Reich abroad, Pearl Harbor & our involvement in WWII.
There are features which occur in all eras which are repetitive and features which seem to burst forth from who-knows-where - or why. As individuals, we need to keep our own heads about us & protect the sanctity of our own hearts, because when despots arise, as they do and will, their first goal is to usurp our hearts, minds & souls in ways we think are voluntary and are being effective, but which are strategized to mostly serve the despots' self-serving agendas.
In times like these, with unrest in every far-corner of the globe, it's even more vital to remain 'whole'. Part of it is remaining informed, and not only in a narrow scope, but in the full pictures, not from a party-perspective, but from an integral one.
There are, of course, factors in existence which affect our country's positions, many of which are the accumulation over time, - if not throughout human history. People have motives both wise and self-serving and they frequently struggle for precedence, but in the case of despots, there is most often the self-serving which rule and characterize their stances.
Being fully aware and as open-minded as possible to the true facts are especially vital in these times. One thing I've learned is that 'the truth will always out' - eventually. We should hope it's in time to keep our equilibrium. So far, so good.
I enjoyed seeing the pictures of you and your lovely wife and your overview of history and now.
Demas W Jasper (author) from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 17, 2016:
Thanks for expressing your views. Let's hope every American at least has one, and the better informed it is, the better.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 17, 2016:
It is very interesting on this but I disagreed with much of your appraisal. I run along the lines of the notion that unlike the Reagan years we are looking outside for approval and empowerment as a nation. Our need to be "governed" by international groups that can be vetoed or manipulated by other nations is folly for us.
Your seeming concern over having someone in office that is not already "trained" by politics seems to miss the point of what Americans have voted that they want.
China and Russia and Mexico. Do not need to be attacked. They need to be manipulated by threat of cessation of doing business with them at all. Too danged bad for Walmart, and US corporations that are doing huge business with Ahole regimes. If we stopped buying products made in these countries our national debt would be gone in months not years. Our need for their garbage born of horrible working conditions and slipshod quality control and massive greenhouse gases is just a desire to get things cheap not quality.
Sorry it will be a little hard on folks who work in our retail selling garbage and for mom who foregoes safety in order to get toys cheap.