| By Jonathan E. Hillman

China’s $1 trillion push to build infrastructure across Asia evokes romantic comparisons to the ancient Silk Road, but there is a more recent chapter of history that urges caution. More than a century and a half ago, the United States was a rising power racing westward, building transcontinental railways that delivered limited benefits and exacted a high cost from society. Today, China has taken on that role. The parallels are striking — and troubling.

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