With so much news today, it is often easy to let truly important world news slip through the cracks. There are so many 'big' stories in America — from the elections to the multiple shootings to immigration concerns — that we often 'see' news without fully processing it. With that in mind, I would like to bring into focus a very troubling series of events that the American population should put right at the top of the pile of things to worry about.
There is a new militarism in the world and the two main actors are Russia and China. Russia is flexing muscle in the Middle East, especially in Syria. To look closely, we see that Russia is interested in the money that is for the taking in Europe — especially in natural gas and crude oil that Russia has and that Europe needs. Russia is mostly a landlocked superpower. The only outlet to the Atlantic is through the Black Sea/Mediterranean Sea route. A major overland route goes through Georgia and the Caucasus Mountains into Turkey (Russia is Turkey's second largest trading partner). The other major route goes through ... Syria. Russia's giant natural gas producer, Gazprom, provides most of the gas to Western Europe, which gives Russia a lot of bargaining power. In short, Mr. Putin is using his macho image at home and his countries natural resources abroad to exert power without the use of force.
China has a very different agenda. China has a great and growing economy, and while there is a good deal of speculation as to the country's ability to maintain the current rate of growth, no one questions the amount of money they have available to become a much bigger player on the world stage. Unfortunately, much of this bellicose behavior is a result of America and the West. At a time when China was emerging out of it's self imposed isolation and seeking out acceptance in the West, Western powers tended to view this openness with suspicion. While it will never be known just how much, if at all, this reaction harmed current relationships, there is no doubt that China is seeking more respect in the world, especially in the Western Pacific.
How do the powers of the West react? America must begin rebuilding the Navy, build new relationships with the NATO and Pacific Rim allies, and seek to build honest and verifiable treaties with both China and Russia. We need these two world powers in the future as the rise of global terrorism endangers all countries in the world. The rise of the Muslim fundamentalist/terrorist in the world will be the next major world war — if is hasn't already started — and China, Russia, the United States and all of the world's countries will be in the bulls eye. Are these great powers willing to look past their differences to address the real threat — global Islamic fundamentalism, or will we be too hardheaded to seek out the many similarities and only see the differences? The answer to that question will determine the peace — or lack thereof — in the next 25 years.