It would be an understatement to say US-Russian relations have hit a low point. Not a Cuban Missile Crisis or even a 1980 Olympic Boycott sort of low point. More like a US bombing of Belgrade or Russian sleeper spies discovered in America sort of low point.
I could list off the many current, contentious issues. Yet as anyone who has fulfilled the venerable task of caring for small children knows, you don't stop bickering by listing their crimes and offenses. Mediation, time-outs and reset buttons are also paltry solutions.
No, the best way to stop children (or nations) from bickering is to refocus their attention on a larger, shared threat or problem.
An alien or zombie invasion would do the trick, but, thankfully, both are rather unlikely. Yet there are many larger problems we could ask our children - sorry, leaders – to focus on, so as to distract them from pesky issues like spies, leakers, homosexuals and human rights.
Therefore, be it resolved that a Bilateral Anti-Bickering Commission be established to pursue the following:
1. Mission to Mars. NASA and the Russian Space Agency have an excellent collaborative relationship and that should be broadened. Let's put our scientific A-teams together and design a multi-year project to send a Russian-American team to our sister planet by 2020.
2. Clean Nukes. While we are at it, let's assemble another team of top scientists and engineers. This one will design, develop and deploy an open-source, fourth generation nuclear plant that creates no nuclear waste and is absolutely safe. And let's do it under the aegis of a global non-profit corporation that donates all its proceeds from sales and installation of the power plants to useful, planet-sustaining endeavors like purifying water and planting forests.
3. Pick One. Let's pick one difficult global issue that truly impacts millions of average people's lives (land mines, animal poaching, human trafficking, malaria, AIDS) and set up a team to devote political, economic, public relations, and of course financial resources to really making a difference in the course of one year. Better yet, let's pick one issue per year for five years and work together to mobilize international resources and mindspace.
4. Fresh Water, Abundant Seas. Over the next 50 years fresh water is likely to become a commodity over which wars will be fought, while our oceans are in danger of becoming fish-free. Our planet's water issues are solvable, but only if they get attention now, not later. We should put a team in charge of ensuring (through the UN, international organizations, coercion of intransigent politicians, etc.) that, by 2050, world sea harvests are managed sustainably and every human on Earth has reliable access to potable drinking water.
Yes, these are some huge challenges. But why should we shrink from them, just because they are big?
To quote the great philosopher Yoda: "Do or no do, there is no try."
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