Early projections as to the outcome of this global contest, which bears such enormous stakes, are already beginning to arrive. For example, I recently traveled some 7,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and had the opportunity to visit—with the help of interpreters—with a broad spectrum of citizens of those remote regions. Russians, perhaps understandably pragmatic, are projecting the outcome of the world competitiveness race in the form of a joke that one repeatedly hears on the streets: “The optimists are studying English, the realists are studying Chinese, and the pessimists are buying Kalashnikovs.”

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