U.S. lags, China leads

The United States enters 2018 preparing for two unnecessary wars, against Iran and North Korea. In 2017 the U.S. threatened to repudiate a nuclear arms control agreement and stands accused of smuggling arms illegally to Syria. We are aiding in the bombing of Yemen.

In 2017, three wise men from the East come bearing gifts of peace instead of war. They offer mutual economic development without subservience. They are offering the world a new paridigm of economic development called “One Belt, One Road.” It could connect the world with modern transportation infrastructure, bringing prosperity to all willing to join.

The Christian rulers of the U.S. had the chance to be wise men in 1990, when the evil empire they had fought for over 40 years collapsed. They could have mothballed battleships, reduced our nukes, offered friendship and respect. After all, it had been done before. After the first Great War, Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover not only slashed the military but signed a treaty to outlaw war. They cut both taxes and spending. They gave the U.S. a peace dividend, which led to a decade of prosperity and invention.

Our subsequent leaders instead hardened their hearts to the prince of peace. They gave us credit card wars instead of prosperity.

American media portrays the Eastern wise men as evil plotters and schemers, terrorists, aggressors, adversaries, hackers. They threaten us, or our way of life, or simply our interests. They don’t share our values. President Trump in a Dec. 18 speech unveiling his new national security plan proclaimed them rivals, competitors and, oddly, revisionist nations.

President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died this year, saw himself as a grand chessmaster. He decided to create chaos in Eurasia. He aimed to cripple Russia by sowing discord in Afghanistan. The American foreign policy of causing and profiting from war has continued since then. All for the greater good, of course.

Americans are not conditioned to connect the dots. We have too many toys to play with. Because we are wealthy and isolated from invasion, we do not understand how events can change entire nations and ethnicities. We like to see ourselves as people who go along minding our own business until suddenly someone attacks us. Then we strike back with overwhelming force. That the same scenario seems to happen time and time again does not bother most Americans, certainly not enough to question the basic narrative.

The leaders of Russia, China and Iran are not spreading terror, or disinformation, or stealing elections. These countries are far from perfect, but they are also not the horrible pariahs our government and media portray. President Trump claims to want peace and democracy, and he says we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone. Our clients and allies join us in the hopes of securing good trade deals and, in turn, buy our weapons and receive our foreign aid. Everything must be paid for in U.S. dollars. You are either with us or against us.

The new proposal from the East is for nations to come together simply for mutual economic development. It means trading in other currencies besides the dollar. Even the U.S. could join, as a partner, not a hegemon. It means democracy between nations, not necessarily within nations. Political beliefs are inconsequential so long as you are responsible and trustworthy in business. One Belt, One Road could unite the East and West from the Bering Sea to Cape Horn.

Nevada and the nation could have had a peace dividend when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, and it looks like we are missing out on another one now.