Change is a feature of the modern world. This has practically become a cliche. We have become used to technological change, though we’re still not certain how to deal with it. But there is political change as well, and transportation and communications together tend to speed political change. Newsweek calls attention to one aspect of change in an article titled Putin’s China Problem.
To political analysts, this development was probably not a surprise. After all, it would be extremely surprising if Russia, formerly a superpower in at least equal partnership (or enmity) in dealing with international issues, would passively allow all of its power to slip away. There are relatively few options for Russia in seeking power in the world, and China was the obvious option. It’s not certain that the China relationship will be a plus. As things stand, Russia could wind up a junior partner in a Chinese sphere of influence.
In the same way, Bush’s India trip was certain a likely, if not necessary move, providing the United States with alternative partners in the region. One wonders when Vietnam will be given consideration for a similar detente? China’s dominance can hardly be palatable to them.
But I’m not really an analyst of international affairs. The reason this story caught my eye was simply the increased complexity of world affairs. At the same time American voters are generally uninterested in international affairs, and also generally not that well educated. International affairs commonly rate very low in importance on various polls, except for counter-terrorism activities (see, for example, this Fox News Poll).
Changes are likely to come even faster in the future, and to be more international in character. It’s no longer going to be adequate to know only the home issues. Which brings me to my favorite topic: Education. We are struggling with an educational system that has a very hard time keeping up with these changes, particularly in technology, which costs money. Knowledge of the world is still extremely limited amongst most of our voters. If we don’t improve and update our educational system, we will very quickly find ourselves losing the title of the world’s last superpower.
I would like to suggest a complete review of our educational process in America. Right now we are training people for a world situation that doesn’t exist. Everything in the educational system needs to be examined with the question of whether it contributes to making a student a good citizen and whether it prepares that student for life and work. Then we need to put the right resources into the right place.
And it will be critical to think bigger than the local community. Things happening in Siberia and China will have an impact on our lives, and that impact will come sooner rather than later. Let’s not let it be a surprise.