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Infrastructure investments change the world

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 was the day the enemies agreed the guns would cease. It was called Armistice Day.

Having a day to celebrate the agreement to stop killing each other is a very useful holiday. It gives us a glimpse of what we could be doing if we were able to work things out with other countries. Travel, sports, concerts, festivals, dance, science the list of everything ordinary is endless and cheerful. It also gives us a chance to look around and ask ourselves. What other countries are seeking world domination and how are they going about it? Is everyone else using a purely military strategy too?

The Chinese have a goal of world domination through their computer network and through trade. They are building roads and installing their computer network all over Asia and the Middle East. They are building roads and networks across Africa. They want to build a canal in Central America to compete with the Panama Canal. They have a single unified Computer network where they have access to every business network, every personal computer, every laptop, and every phone at any time.

In the U.S. there are hundreds of networks each one independent of each other. The water department, for example, can’t access school records. The personal office at 3M is not supposed to be able to access IBM’s system. My laptop is not supposed to be available to anyone else. Privacy is something we value and something we have, mostly. The average Chinese person doesn’t have that option at all.

English is the international language of aviation because we were the first to develop commercial airplane routes all around the world not because we had the first biggest Air Force. It was economic power that secured our place. English is the language of computers because we developed them first. If we want to keep English in first place we have to invest in extending our own network into Mexico and South America. Giving away the first set of computers is a good investment because it automatically creates a market for the second set. We need countries to prosper so we can sell them things.

Another advantage to calling Nov. 11 “the day the shooting stopped” Armistice Day, is the opportunity it gives us to imagine another way of handling things. We are still in Iraq. What is our goal? What is our strategy? Is this strategy working? Should we reevaluate this strategy?

Think of two strategies we used during the Cold War. Our goal was to stop Communism. In Europe we tried a plan of economic development, the Marshall Plan. In Asia we stepped into the boots of the French Colonial government and got involved in Vietnam.

Beginning in 1948, the United States poured $13 billion into Europe. Our nation rebuilt the infrastructure, homes, churches and historic sites. It removed trade barriers, modernized their industries and adopted modern business practices. Europe is now stable and wealthy because we provided them with better tools and we didn’t try and run their government.

On Feb. 12, 1955, U.S. State Department officials and the French Minister of Overseas Affairs agreed all major military responsibilities in Vietnam would be transferred from the French to the U.S.

There were American’s who spoke out in 1955 against our involvement there. They wrote letters, circulated petitions and held vigils. What if that first wave of protest had been successful? What if the peace movement had been as strong in1955 as it was in 1975?

If some outspoken individuals had the ability to go back to 1955 what would he say to those people, those protestors? Would he tell them to work harder? Would he tell them to stop?

We have the same kind of choice right now. In the long run the Marshall Plan was less expensive than Vietnam and we came out of it better. Why not try another Marshall Plan now? Why not invest in roads and computer networks to the south of us? The more people we can get on our style of independent computer networks the safer the world will be from Chinese domination. They are not Communists anymore. They are a brutal dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent or difference of any kind and we should be worried.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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