(STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A Wake Up Call
This Sputnik Moment

As authoritarian states like China double down on strategic investments and project their “sharp power” abroad, the United States may finally be reaching a new Sputnik moment.

Published on: December 15, 2017
Larry Diamond is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He coordinates the democracy program of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) within the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).
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  • Suzy Dixon

    “or are we entering a world in which we conspire in our own eclipse?” Already been going on for decades. Not new. Corporate capture is real, and it captures democracies, not autocracies like China. The corporation itself is a-moral and a-political. Just a money making, cost-cutting machine. Letting corporations and their interest determine US policy, for example, which has been the case for decades is a fast track to the bottom.

    • AnonymoussSoldier

      Yeah, I’d say the moment was over 20 years ago. Failures Nixon and Kissinger were one thing. Horrid Carter officially recognizing the CCP and partially abrogating the Taiwan treaty was another. But Corrupt, pervert Clinton really did the most damage.
      1994, “delinked” CCP human rights record from its ability to hold US MFN status. Disaster.
      1998, even upgraded that to PNTR. Bigger disaster.
      1995-January 2001, he spent time convincing Europeans to let Beijing join the new WTO. It happens, thanks to his work, in December 2001. Unmitigated disaster for the 2.7 million net jobs lost, and that’s only for the first 10 years of 2001 to 2011.

      Of course Clinton also deregulated the telecom industry so the MSM is owned by like 5 corporations. Disaster. Got rid of glass-steagall setting the stage for 2008. If you cared about marriage equality he signed DOMA. Really just a terrible, horrible president. Facilitated the destruction of millions of jobs, exploded the trade deficit, and deregulated banks.

      • Suzy Dixon

        Absolutely right. Then, more recently, there’s the bought US govt green lighting the 2013 sale of Smithfield Foods so that 1 in 4 pigs in the US are now owned by China. Try to go buy into Chinese food chains and production. Then the even more recent green lighting of the sale of Syngenta-US and all of the patented tech and GMO seeds the communist party has longed for. They couldn’t very well develop competition to syngenta, so they just used America’s deficit dollars to buy it.

        • Gary Hemminger

          oh my lord. China owns 1 in 4 pigs. We are all doomed.;.doomed I say. Better stock up on pork before it is too late. Are these people serious who are writing these comments?

          • AbleArcher

            It’s a pretty big deal, and potential problem. There’s the issue of fairness and reciprocity -you can’t do the same there. Then the potential for problems is there with China being a strategic competitor and possibly future foe.

      • SeaAyeA

        Bill Clinton was owned by China. A. He was owned by pro-communist party corporate interests in the US. Did a lot of that at their request. Even set up meetings for guys like Bill Gates. And B. Clinton came in talking tough in 1992. Said HW went too easy on them for Tiannanmen. By 94 totally flip flopped…seems reasonable to suspect that with Bills sexual indiscretions that he was blackmailed as well

    • Gary Hemminger

      I bet you anything Suzy drives around in a car made by corporations, using a cell phone made by corporations, wears clothes made by more of these evil corporations, eats food delivered and made by corporations, and uses energy produced by these corporations. I am sure she never worked for one of these corporations or she might realize they are just a bunch of people. People have interests. People in companies have interests. Just because I have an interest as a corporate employee or owner, this doesn’t completely override my interest as an individual person. Your analysis is child like and something someone from the Soviet Union would have said 30 years ago.

      • SeaAyeA

        difference is that Wall Street used to be more closely tied to Main Street. Not today. The divergence between wages, manufacturing jobs, the growth in the trade deficit, and growth in corporate profits is pretty ugly. Suzy isn’t to blame. Soulless corporations aren’t to blame either. They are just zombies after money as opposed to going after brains. The US government is to blame for allowing corporations to so easily outsource, hide money, and outsource to a non-ally like China no less. Those were specific policy decisions made less than 30 years ago.

        • Jim__L

          China’s MFN status, according to Wikipedia…

          “In the 1990s, continued “most favoured nation” status
          for the People’s Republic of China by the United States created
          controversy because of its sales of sensitive military technology and
          China’s serious and continuous persecution of human rights. China’s MFN
          status was made permanent on December 27, 2001.”

          • SeaAyeA

            PNTR was in 98. Yeah it was May 26, 1994, that Bill Clinton flip-flopped due to blackmail and/or general corruption to “delink” The annual review and status from human rights record the previous year. What else do you do when they can’t meet your desires, change your desires move the goalpost. Classic Clinton.
            And then despite the growing deficit and job loss he did upgrade it to the PNTR in 98.
            December 01 was when they were finally allowed to join the WTO. What a terrible day that was for millions of Americans.

  • Gary Hemminger

    1 in 3 Americans is a hater of our own country. It seems like it is going to be a challenge to keep up our position in the world when 33% of Americans don’t even like their own culture, country, or institutions. And if you don’t believe me, read some of the comments below. The lack of sensibility of the folks below is staggering. One saying that all corporations are evil. Another saying Clinton was owned by the Chinese. I mean there are some pretty whacko people out there with not a shred of moderate thought amongst them.

    • D4x

      You need to make that 2 out of 5, because there is another group who believes Americans are implicitly biased, and need more government regulation to control every pronoun, word, wink of an eye. I see them as the real haters of America, and they scream too much. The data suggests 20% with unchangeable beliefs on each extreme. The other 60% are either too busy, or just ignoring the ideologues.

    • Dusty Thompson

      The ctrl-left hates America because they are indoctrinated and ignorant. They will be the ones screaming loudest when our Chicom overlords decide they have waited long enough for the “useful idiots” to tear down American Liberty.

    • Jim__L

      Hollywood has been training Americans to think of corporations as evil for a couple of generations now.

      Look who their villains are. It’s caught on, amongst the sheep.

  • D4x

    “The American public” was only “stunned” on October 4, 1957
    because the successful Sputnik satellite launch shattered the belief of American military and technological superiority over the Cold War Soviet Union. President Eisenhower was certainly not stunned. Since at least 1952, he had known about International Geophysical Year (IGY), July 1957-December 1958. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/79f4ff409bcdd53856c8755dabaef56e92b91c9c126463f758fc740f26c9dc7d.jpg
    Between 1952-1954, Collier’s ran a groundbreaking series of science-based articles speculating on space flight, Man Will Conquer Space Soon!, […] https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf02c90d2e43a2100ba1fb4d18abaedcbe0bedc0df14ef414f5fd66af44fa6e9.png the percentage of Americans who believed a manned lunar trip could happen within 50 years changed from 15% to 38% by 1955.
    The series was published by Viking Press in 1952 as “Across the Space Frontier” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93a0d1f3c8047cf03f4194860822d6144c2f0d7a4e658f27ad7852e33faa3189.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f808e1bc29709dafefbd77ce737e01dce39ae5038f6e8121fc31e0d7a6ac53d.png

    This was so much fun researching again: read these two fascinating journal articles, and the most recent history from NASA’s archive:
    The Genesis of the International Geophysical Year: The International Geophysical Year of 1957–58 grew out of scientific interests, but also out of national interests , Fae L. Korsmo [fascinating read, concluding […] Representation based on science rather than nationality was a revolution in scientific governance. In many developing countries, official geophysical programs were in the hands of the military.
    The success of the IGY structure of governance convinced more than one military organization to leave science to the scientists.

    Perhaps the most amazing meeting of CSAGI was the last, held in Moscow in 1958 (see figure 6). Political tensions that had not been
    resolved rose to the surface. First, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to disagree on what satellite data would be exchanged.

    Second, the Chinese delegation from Taiwan apparently did not receive their visas, and the US State Department urged the American scientists to walk out. Several years before the launch of the IGY, the State Department had encouraged the participation of Taiwan and discouraged the participation of mainland China.

    General Eisenhower of World War II certainly had a keen interest in the Weather Officers to support the U.S. Army,
    especially it’s Army Air Force, and the inadequacies of collecting meteorological data with instrumentation attached to balloons, which had to be found and retrieved after they fell back to earth. In 1940, there were fewer than 350 American meteorologists,
    mostly employed by the U.S. Weather Service and young Army Air Force. WWII required far more than ten times that
    number – and the leading meteorologists were from Norway: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/97EO00366/epdf
    Norwegians Led the Way in Training Wartime Weather Officers by Sheldon Levin

    https://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/siddiqi.html […]Embellished by speculation and fueled by Soviet secrecy, the story behind
    Sputnik has assumed the form of a parable, cobbled together from rumors and mythology

    My point? The ‘Sputnik moment’ call for alarm is based on a false narrative. Why do I care? If you read all three of these citations, and the ToC of “Across the Space Frontier”, one name is in all four: Dr. Joseph Kaplan, geophysicist, awarded the Hodgkins Medal and Prize
    from the Smithsonian Institution in 1965, which, at some point in the past ten years, decided to ‘disappear’ him, from the National Air and Space Museum, which is totally inexplicable. He envisioned GPS and plate tectonics if only there was a way to launch a satellite data–collection instrument into an orbit arounf the earth.
    The Russians cheated by using a military rocket in 1957.
    ‘Sputnik Moment’ is just an old piece of Fake News.
    https://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/bio.html Biographies:
    […] Joseph Kaplan was born on September 8, 1902, in Tapolcza, Austria-Hungary. When he was eight years old, […]

    My great-uncle Joe was a great human, teacher, geophysicist, and merits being remembered by more than me. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7489486a868019c2abdc2b9120f808428306c3e99ee0a34bfa17a0c1b5d0e77d.jpg
    Smithsonian Institution Hodgkins Medal: For the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men

    July 30, 1955: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c88cc692bc9b59087dcf2341320ced0248fa2a87960193611513a60e690ab135.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/caa60296c1dc49bdb0f2ab54c2fea974c5eca934e1c07f9f8a3072e10b0b4363.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d64595dad55ea37df916d047c9578034c8849aaf29942e6750254f4e7ff73772.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8f393f772f39c55e0a2cee82e4789120fe28d9234efd69bc6f8fa22127aadcfa.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a824c62359d7ca1d1c85f5f4178956ad52152bac0418a6b71352039dca0d9fb9.jpg
    1959 film, fear https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2676c664295f623ff8a205ea2978facf57512aeb320ddac72c13e529519d18d7.jpg

  • Dusty Thompson

    The champions of any form of collectivism, whether communism, socialism or fascism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty for anyone not pledged to the cult Liberalism. They call themselves Democrats, yet they yearn for a dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent in every way imaginable.. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden yet the results are simply more unsustainable debt that will eventually enslave our progeny. They plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office, every man but one a subordinate clerk in a giant bureau. Modern ctrl-left Progressive Liberalism is a serious and dangerous mental disorder.

  • Europa

    Our space race began with both the Soviets and Americans rushing to grab German Scientists by the end of World War 2. We called our mission “Operation Paperclip”. We got to them first and brought back 1,000 German Scientists and their families. Among them was Wernher Von Braun. He was the father of modern day rocketry and developed the V2 Rockets for Germany. His Russian counterpart was Sergei Pavlovich Korolev.
    Russia beat us in putting a man in space but under the leadership of Von Braun we put a man on the moon. Wernher Von Braun and the other German Scientists never faced the Nuremberg trials. Von Braun became the head of NASA and remained in that position till the mid 60’s

    • Jim__L

      Wernher von Braun specifically wanted to be captured by the Americans, in spite of the fact that our allies (the English) wanted to try him for the V2 program. Operation Paperclip was initiated by von Braun himself, despite many American decision-makers.

      “We knew that we had created a new means of warfare, and the question as
      to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust
      this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We
      wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had
      just been through, and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon
      to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the
      world be best secured.”

      – Wernher von Braun

      • Marathon-Youth

        Him and 1000 other Scientists from Germany. It was not just him alone. As for World War 2 I am not sure if the right side won that war. Remember Communism was one of the victors.

      • Marathon-Youth

        Braun had a few choices. Join Russia or join America or go into hiding. (if not kill himself). Both the Soviets and America were looking for these Scientists. We just happen to get to most of them first.

        • Jim__L

          Braun actively took the choice to go over to the American side — he specifically reached out to the Americans as we rolled into Germany.

          He’s one of those interesting historical figures that deserves both great credit and great blame for his actions.

          • Marathon-Youth

            I agree. Who wants to end up with the Soviets? Sergei Pavlovich Korolev was in a prison or a gulag before he became the Soviets chief in their Space program. Communism loves cruelty.

          • Jim__L

            One of my friends at work pointed out that for all its faults, life in a Soviet system gave you some experience negotiating corporate politics.

            It’s all too true sometimes, but it’s one of those things that makes you realize there are times you need to swim against the current to make the world a liveable place.

    • Trajan Fanzine

      and your point is……?

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