Created February 2nd, 2021
Part of why Russia and China are perpetually mad at us is that we have continuously called them out for doing things we don’t approve of. We have identified the cause of what we see as their bad behavior as being the fact that they are not democracies in the sense of free speech, etc. There is of course a goodly degree of truth to that; however, even if they were to do their best to mimic our kind of democracy, their root cultures going back thousands of years might still interpret democracy in a more top-down way than our ideals ask for.
And of course, the envious nations we have lectured in the past revel in how we have been self-exposed to be just as low as they were when we criticized them!
Let’s look at Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping and put ourselves in their shoes. What would you do if you ran Russia or China? How would you play their hand? Leave aside what you have read or heard about the two people in those shoes, look at it only from the point of view of the position, of the responsibility you have.
At the end of WWII the USA had half the world market economically, was the only nation on Earth with atomic weapons, and was actively helping other nations to rebuild. Russia and China had been allies in that war but very soon after it was over it became clear that there was now a new strife, a war of ideologies. The USA was clear and outspoken in favor of democracy, liberty, equality, justice for all, and against Communism. America had been against Communism long before WWII. So on the gameboard of RISK the two largest Marxist nations and the US were on a collision course. That was 76 years ago.
Over those 76 years the US has shaken its right forefinger at those two proud nations and its leaders almost ever day of every year one way or another. It’s one of the ongoing themes covered by the news.
Then mirabile dictu! By some nasty miracle those damn Americans had been right all along about Capitalism. That sort of sets you up, if you are one of those two world leaders, to have a chip on your shoulder about those damn yankees, certain of whose main ways had been so proven to be right, one just had to eat humble pie, give up and join in with them as capitalists.
The background of emnity doesn’t have to always be that way. It’s understandable that it’s where we find ourselves now. But no need to continue in the same manner. We have options. All sorts of options. Let’s evaluate all of them. Meanwhile, back to the game: you are Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping. How do you play the hand you’ve been dealt?
Leaving aside the chip on the shoulder, even if you were to start with a fresh slate, you need to grow your nation economically and technologically and assure a better life for as many of your citizens as possible. While of course yourself continuing to enjoy all the things you like best.
You don’t necessarily want war. War even in a limited war zone scenario is terribly costly. It could nowadays all too easily go all the way. The Trump years demonstrated that civilization is a tenth of an inch veneer you could almost scratch off with a fingernail.
You definitely don’t want any more insults from the Americans or anyone else. You want to be respected.
It would be far more convenient from a security standpoint to be able to control the fringes of your empire, although this is looking like the thing that could set off the tinderbox.
During the past 76 years part of the game is to see what you can get away with, to test each new US president. As I allow the reader to take control of these two world leaders in this mind experiment, the testing process is taking place around the South China Sea especially Taiwan (predicted in my 2019 anticipatory novel PANDEMONIUM: LIVE TO ALL DEVICES).
In Russia’s case that would include places like the Ukraine etc. where there are recent reasons to be mad at the Americans.
If you are now temporarily living through Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping, you are thinking about how do you balance your objectives of economic growth and consolidating your empires? If you can convince yourself to live with the geographic borders as they are for this decade anyway, you could focus on economic growth. If America stops talking down to you maybe the trade deals could be worked out that would blow the doors off the Russian economy. Allow technological development at the highest levels ever conceived. Possibly the former USSR states would clamor back to the closest ties with Russia ever.
Same story for China. If focus on improving domestic economies and happiness is allowed, by retracting game pawns from the borders, China is already predicted to becoming the next USA in terms of largest economy. By trade benefits China could then bloodlessly get the consolidation feeling it wants. Just a matter of patience.
This would point to a 20s of world boom and peace. My recommendation is that the USA starts from this thinking in reapproaching the other world leaders.
There is no question about the need for firmness and straight-out honesty about no more cyber and psychological cold war mischief. That is table stakes.
Beyond that and other military testing adventures going away, the US can pledge to stop telling them how to behave, while the US focuses instead on returning to be a good role model in terms of its own behavior, which comes down to a pledge of that kind by each of us Americans individually.
We can work out what is a win/win/win for all of us, and make that boom a reality.
Once the engine is running, no one will want to throw a shoe in the machinery, so the ultrasecret bad stuff will even be shut down then. No Russian or Chinese person of importance will want to risk being cancelled for having been caught in the cookie jar. Same goes for us and every country. Once we are in happy boom mode, the impetus to do negative things will evaporate.
But first we’ve got to get there.
To be clear, I’m recommending that:
(a) Daily we remember to always put ourself in the other person’s shoes before speaking or writing about, or to him or her.
(b) Our State Department take on this mantle of explicitly and forthrightly reframing the 76-years-old-time-to-go mindspace in all talks and communiques with the foreign leaders. Showing them our win/win/win scenario and promising to uphold it without sneaky tricks for as long as they do. And of course keeping our promises.
This means giving up the idea that we are destined to force the whole world to adopt the American system of democracy. Let them devise their own ways of living in their own countries. Help wherever we can anyone whom we feel is being given a raw deal but do so within the rules of conduct among sovereign nations. Offer economic and technological incentives where the opportunity arises that result in a higher quality of life everywhere and for everyone on Earth, especially once our own citizens are in their own homes and able to survive without fear, balancing care at home and abroad based on majority voting. No longer project that we know best and are better than everyone else. As much fun as it has been especially in novels since the OSS and Otto Skorzeny co-invented the modern paramilitary, we hope that we keep ours strong and make it stronger, but don’t have to use it aggressively as much in the coming boom times of world equilibrium and American Unity.
“The past was about domination. The future is about liberation.”
—Harvey Kraft, Digitalism
“You better free your mind instead.”
—The Beatles, Revolution
We can do it.
All my best,