Letter to a Russian friend : Nostalgic feelings about an Eurasian Silkroad and the Bering Strait/ Intercontinental Railway project
exhausting and frustrating times at the moment. The deep divide between Russia/China and the USA/EU is getting bigger and bigger all the time and deeper and deeper every day ,even if some hope for a ceasefire. I remember the time when there were projects and visions to unite them. I also had the idea to build and promote an Eurasian infrastructure connenction starting with an European New Silkroad Marco Polo 2.0 to lay the basis, the core and foundation for further connections-with Russia and China in the future,because the neoliberalist ideology of the Wall Street and the City of London which Blair and Schröder implemented in their Social democratic parties as „The Third Way“ killed the Delor plan, the expansion of the European railway system and the formation of a integrated traffic system by neoliberal privatization. Even the Economist, the voice of the City of London now thinks that the privatization of the British railway and the European railway sytsems, their half destruction was „one of the biggest errors in history“. But first the EU had to unite forces to build the core for it. It has become now Global Gateway as EU project. But it is unclear which direction it will take and there are different factions in the EU countries. Some want to focus on the EU an are more exclusive, also think that there should be an Iron curtain around Russia and China and see it only as a counter project against China’s BRI which is blocked on the continental road due to the Ukraine war and Meloni Italy has blocked the BRI for EU access. Therefore the CCP focuses at the moment to enlarge the BRI in Central Asia (Xi´s meeting with CAS without Putin), West Asia-MENA corridor, the Balkans and in Asia and LA, shift more to the expansion of the maritime Silkroad and the building of air cargo facilities in Xinjiang at the moment.
Some Europeans want to focus the Global Gateway more on Africa and the MENA Region (some German nostalgic tradionalists even think back to the old German Baghdad Railway and see the Siemens/ DB railway project in Egypt as a starter), but the East Europeans are not that interested in such projects and others fear some sort of refugee pull effect. However he lack of an European minimal compromise and therefore consensus on Global Gateway and the revival of neoliberal ideology could kill Global Gatesway like the Delor plan before. Today there was the news on the German TV sation ntv that the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union wanted to smash the German Railway company Deutsche Bahn. Till now it is unknown if they want to smash the global logistic company and get rid of all services and branches which are not part of the core railway system as the Green politican Anton Hofreither demands or if they want push a further privatization.
As long as the world is so instable there won’t be big progress however. Even Frijthof´s and the Club of Rome´s Desert Tech project was canceled even before the Ukraine war because of the political instability of the hoped- for sunbelt region, mainly because of the spread of Islamism. The world was in turmoil all the years before, but with the catalysts of China´s WTO membership, the Iraq war, the financial crisis 2008 , the populist nationalistic backlash due to neoliberalist ideology, the Ukraine war and the escalating sinoamerican conflict, crisis and war were not limited to the periphery and proxy wars in the Third World/ Global South/Periphery, but hit the metropols/great power centers themselves.
While the Chinese are spreading their propaganda image and metamessage of peaceful and soft Chinese globalization and China as a world peace power ( in contrast to the military and war power and troublemaker USA) which brings „stability, properity, development of the common global goods“ as benign hegemon who rejects (American and Western) hegemonism and is communicating their BRI Project very offensive and active in their media and propaganda worldwide and within the strategic framework of the Xi Jinping thoughts and the triad of the Global Security Initiative, Global Development Initiative and Global Civilizational Initiative ,the EU and the USA are very passive about Global Gateway and B3W.Most Europeans and Americans don’t even know that these projects exist or never have heard them. If you look on the EU’s Global Gateway-website there is no real information or Strategic Vision, but only uncoordinated pieces. Also no reports about Global Gateway or B3W in our media or the international media while the Chinese New Silkroad ist well known worldwide and the Chinese promote it on a daily basis .Sometimes you have the impression that the USA and the EU want to hide their own projects ,that they seems to have no real Strategic Vision, enthusiasm and that even the politicians don’t take them serious themselves or maybe most politicians haven´t heard of Global Gateway yet. Therefore I have some nostalgic feelings about the time when there were also Eurasian visions of connecting the continent while not excluding the USA and maybe in a distant future there will be a chance again. However, this evening I. saw a report on German regional TV MDR about the Intercontinental Railway Project of George, Victor and the younger Scott which wanted to build the Bering Strait Tunnel and Inter- Continental Railway.. However, they had no success. First the Jakutian Railway chief and gouverneur only wanted to develop their own region ,especially around Lena and to forget about the rest .After George wanted to retreat they brought the project to the Duma and the Siberian Railway got involved. However the. hoped for support by Putin and Trump didn’t materialize and they hoped for. The younger generation to carry on the torch as the Siberian gouverneur brought this project in the Siberian school books. However with the Special Operation and nationalsm on the rise the Intercontinental Railway is dead at the moment, George retired, while Scott became an adviser to Biden and pushed the US-Canada Railway Project. Hard to say If he has given up the Project or wants to wait for s better future and then will be the torchbearer for George’s idea again ,but at the moment the USA seems to build their infrastructure and Railway Projects mainly in NAFTA. I also asked Dr. Ellis about the idea about an Panamerican Silkroad or Railway, but he thinks that is unrealistic at the moment Some last questions:
Did Yakunin as Chief of the Russian Railway support the vision of a Intercontinental Railway across the Bering crossing to Alaska or Canada? In his memoirs he didn’t mention it with one word. Are the La Rouchies still involved or will they vanish If Helga dies after Lyndon already did? Did Karaganov ever support the idea of the Intercontinental Railroad? It doesn’t look like a happy ending like 1989 in this polycrisis and increasingly multipolar world, even if there was a ceasefire in Ukraine. The struggle between the USA which wants to remain the world power and even enlarge the Pax Americana, China and Russia which want to become new world and great powers beyond all the struggle between all the new and emerging regional powers will continue for a long time until they are exhausted and come to a new world order or a new balance of power and deterence or eliquibrium. Therefore at the moment there are only some nostalgic feelings left and the hope for a better future after the Katharsis.
Independent whatever happens, I want to find out if there are remaining visionaires,thinkers and people who could conserve these projects and revive it one day, if we have another constellation.It’s not up to me or you to influence this, but it would be a historical error to say the Russians can never again belong to Europe again.
Best wishes from Munich Germany Europe Eurasia and your and your family and Friends happy Orthodox Easter
Bering Strait Tunnel and Inter-Continental Railway Proposed as Steps Toward Peace
Written by Dr. William Selig, director of communications, UPF International
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Yekaterinburg, Russia—UPF International co-sponsored a webinar about a railway project that promises to become the Panama Canal of the 21st century.
The online event on June 17, 2021, held jointly with proponents of the Inter-Continental Railway, featured a preview of “The Strait Guys—a Documentary on the Proposed Bering Strait Tunnel.”
The theme proved particularly popular. Between UPF International and UPF-Russia livestreaming the event with translation, more than 8,000 viewers watched it on social media in more than 40 countries.
UPF International Chair Dr. Thomas G. Walsh introduced filmmaker Rick Minnich, who has spent the past eleven years documenting the efforts of the “Strait Guys” to gain support for the Inter-Continental Railway. The film is scheduled for release in autumn 2021. UPF has been a longtime advocate for a Bering Strait tunnel as part of an intercontinental “Peace Road” proposed by UPF founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon in 1981.
Rick Minnich, an American who has spent many years in Germany, showed a 4-minute clip from the film (https://vimeo.com/181050918). The 5,500-mile long Inter-Continental Railway would link the existing systems that are in North America through Canada into Alaska, then pass through a 70-mile long tunnel under the Bering Strait into Russia, and then connect with existing rail systems to China, Europe, Mexico, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan.
Interviewed in the film, George Koumal, a Czech-born mining engineer and founder of the Inter-Continental Railway Project, emphasized the goodwill that could be generated. “I hope to see that we are actually friends, not enemies; that we have much more in common than what separates us. It’s important that Russia and the U.S. join each other and maintain the peace in the world. And if anybody thinks how crazy an idea it is, please consider it was first mentioned and agreed upon by President Lincoln.”
From an engineering perspective the project is doable, according to Mr. Koumal. The challenges are more political, he said. “I believe if our presidents will make a decision about the project, we can build it very fast. The main problem is to reach a political decision.”
Mr. Minnich introduced the international team involved in the filming, including units in the United States, Russia and Germany. Their immediate goal is to get in touch with individuals and organizations who would be willing to host a viewing. Already partners have been lined up in Germany, Finland and Canada. The film will come out sometime in 2022 on video, online and on Blu-ray.
(Tax-deductible donations are welcome. Send to: From the Heart Productions, 6934 Harmon Dr., Ventura CA 93003 or donate online: https://tinyurl.com/52yk5s72.)
The second speaker, Scott R. Spencer, the chief project advisor of the Inter-Continental Railway, also highlighted the goodwill that would be generated: “This project is another way of uniting the world. … It will be a game-changer in terms of global cooperation, global economic activity and provide a foundation for peace.”
The cost of the railway is estimated at $100 billion. A comparable project is the International Space Station, Mr. Spencer explained, where nations have been working together for the world’s common good. However, while the space station is a temporary infrastructure and will be deorbited later this decade, the railway can serve for at least a hundred years. From that perspective, “it’s a remarkable bargain,” he said.
The focus is to secure financing and to get the project on the agenda for a U.S.-Russia summit. Mr. Spencer was an intern for President Biden many years ago, and he is working through channels to make sure the president is aware of the project’s value both politically and economically. He is also in touch with contacts in the U.S. State Department.
The third speaker was Victor Razbegin, one of the leading rail industry consultants in the Russian Federation and co-founder of the Inter-Continental Railway Project. He has been involved with this project for more than a quarter of a century. When he first heard the idea presented at a conference in Washington, D.C., organized by Mr. Koumal, he thought it was “fantasy,” but after a careful study of the plans and studies his opinion changed and he accepted the project’s great potential.
Mr. Razbegin said he’s pleased with the film. “Rick’s film is a good step in the right direction for the promotion of the project. The main idea underlining this project is that it’s not just a railroad project which links point A to point B. This project will join the people and the economies not only of Russia and United States, but people around the world through the railway systems.”
Maria Nazarova, the president of UPF-Russia, served as moderator for the discussion and question-and-answer session. The first questioner congratulated the organizers for hosting the event, particularly during a time of tension between the United States and Russia. His question dealt with tolls and the cost to use the Inter-Continental Railway. Mr. Razbegin said the price would be comparable to, if not less than, the cost of shipping by sea or air and that the project is expected to pay for itself within 15 years.
Another person asked, “Does the Inter-Continental Railway include Africa?” Mr. Razbegin explained that after the railway is built, all railway systems around the world will be connected.
Dr. Walsh added that the African Union has a committee dedicated to transport and communications and has been working on pan-African transportation systems for a long time. Dr. Walsh said that recently he was in Cape Town, South Africa, with Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of Reverend Moon. Dr. Moon went to Cape Town because, in the vision that they have advocated going back to 1981, Cape Town is a central point for extending this international system. Dr. Walsh emphasized that within the UPF vision and Peace Road, Africa plays a central role. The railway has the potential to transform Africa and open those markets dramatically, he said.
Mr. Spencer pointed out that “the Inter-Continental Railway is the backbone that is setting up a network that can unite the world.” Once the central railway is created, extensions will be constructed to Africa, Central and South America, and the Korean Peninsula.
Another question dealt with the role of partner organizations not directly connected to the Bering Strait or Peace Road projects. The project, according to Dr. Walsh, is not only the Bering Strait project but also part of a global vision and an infrastructure for global harmony and interconnectivity. The Inter-Continental Railway is in line with UPF’s core principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values, he said.
Mr. Minnich responded to a question regarding the languages into which the film will be translated and plans about the film’s distribution. The film will be translated into many languages, he said. They will work with a professional sales company for worldwide distribution. He said that one of the benefits of the pandemic is that it has become possible to do events and reach a lot of people in a very direct way that is not possible if participants have to fly, which costs a lot of money and negatively affects the environment.
In reflecting on his motivation for making the film, Mr. Minnich choked up when he described his time living in Russia and interacting with the people. “It was a real eye-opening and heartwarming experience. I felt very much at home.” He repeated the example of the International Space Station, and said that the Inter-Continental Railway project would be like an “International Space Station on the ground, and a very tangible demonstration of international cooperation and goodwill.”
For more information:
Film trailer (4 min.): https://vimeo.com/181050918
Host a screening: https://tinyurl.com/3fdwfj5b
Make a tax-deductible donation: https://tinyurl.com/52yk5s72
Film website: https://www.rickfilms.de/film/the-strait-guys/
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InterContinental Railway website: https://www.intercontinentalrailway.com
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