The World Is Moving in Two Directions: The Defining ‘Issue’? To Serve the Common Good
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—The world is moving in two directions. The New Silk Road development paradigm is gathering force. Meanwhile, the Old Paradigm of monetarism and geopolitics, though expiring, continues to pose dangerous threats. An expression of the latter is the release today of the unfortunate “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” from the Trump Administration. Its Wall Street provenance is evident throughout the document’s 53 pages, despite President Donald Trump’s reiteration in his cover letter, that he wants to provide modern, “upgraded infrastructure,” because, “Our nation’s infrastructure is in an unacceptable state of disrepair….”
The document’s contents are dismal. Its 80-to-20 financing mechanism (Federal to state, local and private funding, with a goal of $1.5 trillion over 10 years) is a non-starter; and the bright ideas proposed, include such losers as a list of recommended “Divestitures,” i.e., selling off Reagan and Dulles Airports; the Tennessee Valley Authority’s transmission grid, and other high-value assets, to financial sharks, etc. It favors putting tolls and user’s fees everywhere, to induce investment.
There is no reason to think this evil grab-bag will pass Congress and come into being. The danger comes in, from the fact that the elected President of the United States is not in control of domestic policy, nor foreign policy, because of the coup operation thrown against him and U.S. government institutions, conducted directly through British subversion. That is the treasonous scandal of “interference in the U.S. elections”—not Russia; and in U.S. policy to the present moment.
On the foreign relations front, the U.S. has been manipulated to try to oppose the Belt and Road Initiative. Look at this in Ibero-America, as seen in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s anti-China comments made on his recent South American and Caribbean tour. His remarks have been roundly criticized by Ibero-American leaders. This week Tillerson is travelling in Southwest Asia (Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey,) where already, leading figures are criticizing the U.S. role in the region, and saying outright, that they now look to China, and also Russia, because the U.S. is so misguided. China reiterated this week, that it will provide reconstruction aid to Syria and Iraq.
All this points to the necessity to bust up the coup operation shackling the U.S. Presidency. Trump has repeatedly stated his intention of U.S. friendship with China and Russia—anathema to the British. On the front of countering the Russiagate/Trumpgate slanders, there are no new, dramatic pieces of evidence today, but the finger is pointing to new revelations to come soon, amounting to “Phase Three” against the British networks. In Phase One, it was exposed that FISA spying was authorized based on anti-Trump lies from “ex”-British spy Christopher Steele, paid for by Hillary Clinton Democrats. Then “Phase Two” revealed State Department complicity, by such figures as former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the operative for the 2013-2014 Nazi coup in Ukraine. Now there are rumblings that “Phase Three” will expose complicity of such diplomats as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former intelligence directors, and of Barack Obama himself, who acted on behalf of British geopolitics.
The big void to fill in the U.S., across the Trans-Atlantic and in a few other hold-outs from the New Paradigm, is the lack of understanding of the science of economics. The Trump infrastructure program issued today, simply highlights the necessity of getting out widely the understanding of the LaRouche Four Laws, and the principles involved. In the U.S., this is going out into the 2018 midterm elections arena, as the LaRouchePAC “Campaign for the Future.”
Internationally, the new class series on “The End of Geopolitics: What Is the Global New Paradigm,” is exactly what can pivot people into action. The kick-off speaker Feb. 10, Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche, said today that what is at “issue” in government policy, is the question of the “common good” for the future. Is the government acting to uplift the condition of the people? Look around. “Who is alleviating or who is accelerating poverty?”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
White House Infrastructure Plan Has Virtue of Clarity: Won’t Build America, Won’t Pass
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—The White House infrastructure policy “rolled out” by President Trump today is certainly a great disappointment to Americans committed to build a new economic infrastructure for the nation. But even its real creators, at Goldman Sachs bank, immediately advised it has “virtually no chance of becoming law.” Therefore those Americans who are so committed, including elected officials, should be galvanized into action to bring forward the four legislative actions proposed by EIR Founding Editor Lyndon LaRouche, and save the situation from disaster.
The White House outline was released around a meeting of the President with about 40 state and local officials, and paradoxically defines remaking the nation’s infrastructure as a state responsibility. Decades of Federal “80-20” grants would be replaced by “20-80 incentives” to states. In the new budget proposal issued simultaneously by the White House, Federal infrastructure grants and loans for FY2019 total just $21 billion, and this is achieved by cuts in other areas of domestic spending including transportation. That is provoking some GOP members of Congress for the first time cautiously to discuss increasing the Federal gas tax—not really to fund new infrastructure, but to replace those cuts!
The roll-out was described by one person experienced in the White House deliberations as “a mind-boggling concoction of financial wizards from Wall Street. It’s a thinly-veiled effort to force states to enter into public-private partnerships (PPPs) and privatizations; a disaster.” He further stated, “important infrastructure is not the responsibility of the states. They should have first created a national infrastructure bank, and let the bank’s board create the plan.” Indeed, one of the ironic features of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn’s plan is that it commits some Federal dollars to supporting creation of state infrastructure banks.
Details of the contraption aside, President Trump has capitulated to Cohn, et al.: There is no new Federal credit for infrastructure here at all, just new rules—focused on PPPs and new state taxes and fees—for existing levels of funding. Drops in a bucket, which leaks badly to Wall Street funds.
If Americans were to notice any immediate impact from such a scheme, it would be the states using new-found authority to impose tolls all over the interstate highways, making driving more expensive and slower.
The burden is now clearly on Congress to come up with something better, as midterm election campaigning heats up. This only highlights LaRouchePAC’s mobilization for LaRouche’s “Four Laws.”
Nunes To Investigate Ex-CIA Chief Brennan for Perjury, in ‘Phase Three’ of Revelations
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Paul Sperry, a Washington-based investigative journalist and Hoover Institution media fellow, who has broken a number of national stories on the war on terrorism, reports today in RealClearInvestigations that House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) plans to investigate the role that former CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting the unverified “Steele dossier” on President Trump, including whether Brennan perjured himself in public testimony about it.
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on May 28, 2017, Brennan emphatically denied that the Steele dossier was a factor in the intelligence community’s publicly released conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election “to help Trump’s chances of victory.”
Sperry reports that Brennan also swore that he did not know who had commissioned the anti-Trump research document, even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department (DOJ) knew in 2016 that the Hillary Clinton campaign had funded the dossier.
On Feb. 2, Representative Nunes released a declassified memo exposing surveillance “abuses” by the FBI and Obama DOJ in their investigation of alleged Trump ties to Russia, and their heavy reliance on intelligence from an opposition memo funded by Clinton allies—a material fact they concealed from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judges in four separate applications, Sperry writes.
Sperry further reports that Nunes plans to release a separate report soon, detailing the Obama State Department’s role in creating and disseminating the dossier, and that the report will identify Obama-appointed diplomats who worked with partisan operatives close to Hillary Clinton to help British ex-spy Christopher Steele compile the dossier.
The aide, who spoke only on condition of remaining anonymous, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as Leon Panetta, Obama’s first CIA director, and former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power, previously a National Security Advisor. The article also identifies former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in a letter berated then-FBI director Comey for sitting on evidence about Trump’s coordination with the Russian government, Sperry reported.
Vice President Pence Speaks of Talks with North Korea, Both ‘Engagement’ and Pressure
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Vice President Mike Pence, who took a public hard line against North Korea the entire time he was traveling in Tokyo and South Korea, was reported yesterday as changing his tune, and as saying that besides “pressure” on North Korea, there should be “engagement.” This account was given by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, who spoke with Pence on their flight back to the U.S. from Seoul. Rogin is known as a strategic “leaker,” but not for his veracity. His article, “Pence: We’re Ready To Talk with North Korea,” received wide attention.
Rogin reported that Pence told him that in his two substantive conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his trip, the United States and South Korea agreed on terms for further engagement with North Korea, first by the South Koreans and potentially with the United States soon thereafter. The U.S. would still maintain the maximum pressure campaign, but now talking doesn’t have to wait until Kim Jong-un surrenders on denuclearization.
“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said. “So, the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”
Pence told Rogin that this was all worked out by Pence’s bilateral summit with Moon on Feb. 10, but clearly President Donald Trump was deeply involved, as Pence “conferred” with him every day he was in Asia. Rogin states that this new approach could still be torpedoed, such as by the new sanctions that Pence said in Tokyo would be announced soon. Kim could respond with new missile tests, sinking any hopes for renewed diplomacy.
“Moon is working hard to prevent that from happening,” Rogin writes, and that Moon is entertaining Pyongyang’s invitation to visit and is urging the North to talk to the U.S.
“The White House’s endorsement of the concept of initial talks without preconditions is hugely significant,” Rogin concludes. “It provides a real fix to the break between Washington and Seoul. It also increases the chances the United States and North Korea will soon begin a process that represents the best hope of preventing a devastating international conflict.”
NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Beijing Plans More Reconstruction Aid for Syria
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin told Xinhua that China plans to get more reconstruction aid for Syria.
“I think it’s about time to focus all efforts on the development and reconstruction of Syria, and I think China will play a bigger role in this process by providing more aid to the Syrian people and the Syrian government,” the ambassador said Feb. 11.
Qi Qianjin was visiting the emergency department at Muwasat University Hospital in Damascus, which benefitted from Chinese aid. Esam Ameen, the head of the Muwasat University Hospital, thanked China for the help “on the practical level.”
In a Sputnik interview, the Syrian Minister of Transport said that, after fixing the Syrian transport network, the construction of a railway line to China might be possible.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
China’s Undeniable Success Throws Free Market Ideologues Into Crisis
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—In the January 29 issue of Bloomberg Businessweekmagazine, an article entitled “What if China Really Is Exempt from the Laws of Economics?” very aptly captures the consternation/constipation imposed on the intellectually impoverished proponents of standard academic economics by the astounding development of China. Author Michael Schulman gets far more points for candor than he does for historic insight. He seems totally oblivious to the simple fact that the U.S. industrial base was built entirely by economic dirigism, never mentioning Alexander Hamilton. He also devotes zero attention to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
However, what he does say would be hilarious, if the consequences of his outlook were not so dire: “But recently, my faith in the corpus of collective wisdom has been shattered. By China.” He elaborates: “The more I apply my rules of economics to China, the more they seem to go awry. China should be mired in meager growth, even gripped by financial crisis, according to my maxims. But obviously, it’s not. In fact, much of what’s going on right now in that country runs counter to what we know—or think we know—about economics. Simply, if Beijing’s policymakers are right, then a lot of basic economic thinking is wrong—especially our certainty in the power of free markets, our ingrained bias against state intervention, and our ideas about fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Schulman bemoans the fact that the role of the CPC in the Chinese economy is more central than ever, but, even worse (for his ilk), that no disaster, but only sustained real growth has resulted from that top-down intervention. He inserts some politically-correct caveats and qualifiers to the effect that maybe some catastrophe is lurking off stage, but pretty much admits that he can’t discern it.
Federal Energy Regulators Warn That 1,700 Hydropower Dams Need Monitoring for Hazard
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal agency with oversight for hydropower, sent a letter to the owner-operators of the entire U.S. inventory of 1,700 hydropower dams, calling on them to inspect and monitor their structures. On Jan. 5, 2018, FERC’s Independent Forensics Team had issued a finding that the February 2017 failure of the Oroville Dam Spillway was mostly the fault of the owner-operator, the California Department of Water Resources, for not properly monitoring and correcting conditions with the dam.
The FERC stated that, “flaws in the Oroville Dam Spillway existed since construction that were missed by the owner [since original construction in 1968], regulators, and consultants. It is very clear that just because a project has operated successfully for a long period of time does not guarantee that it will continue to do so.”
In effect, the FERC is urging the operators to police themselves, in an ineffectual effort to avoid disaster. Many of the owners or operators do not have the resources to see to all the safety work required. Some of the structures are past their engineering life, and need major overhaul. It is part of the national infrastructure deficit.
Repair of the Oroville Dam spillway has cost nearly $870 million. Failure of the spillway, which released an uncontrolled torrent of water causing erosion of the surrounding bedrock, so threatened the substructure of the dam—the nation’s tallest, at 770 feet—that it forced the emergency evacuation of nearly 200,000 people from the immediate area downstream last year, during February 2017.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Israel Looks to Russia, not U.S., for Leadership To Deescalate Syrian Conflict
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—One of the messages coming out of Israel in the aftermath of Israeli air raids into Syria on Feb. 10 is that it’s Moscow to which Israeli leaders are looking to help de-escalate tensions, not the U.S. Furthermore today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in Moscow for consultations.
Jerusalem Post reporter Michael Wilner wrote, “In a serious military and diplomatic crisis between powerful nation-states, where the international community would in past years look to the U.S. for leadership, all eyes are on Moscow for direction.” Posted today, Wilner’s analysis, including demonizing Iran, continued, “it is a consequence of six years of Syria policy in which Washington chose to disengage from the war there and allow Russia and Iran to run free.”
While in past crises, Israelis might have turned to the U.S. for leadership, “it is unclear what diplomatic or military options the administration has at its disposal to help in this case or in any future crises to come,” Wilner goes on. “This administration has no channel of communication with Tehran, unlike its predecessor; it does not have relations with the Assad government. And if conflict were to erupt, Washington’s priority would be to avoid a confrontation between its own military forces and Russian forces before anything else.”
Michael Oren, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy, told Bloomberg that he believed that Israel is looking more to Moscow than to the U.S. to deescalate things.
“The American part of the equation is to back us up,” but the U.S. currently “has almost no leverage on the ground,” he said. “America did not ante up in Syria. It’s not in the game.” Bloomberg reports that Oren’s criticism reflects Israel’s view that Washington isn’t doing enough to curb Iran’s military ambitions in southern Syria, which borders the Israeli-held Golan Heights, as seven years of fighting wind down and actors consolidate gains.
Not mentioned explicitly in either analysis, but likely obvious to anybody involved in the region, is that Russia is the only power that’s actually talking to sides in the conflict. Russia views Iran as a strategic partner in Syria, while at the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in a regular dialogue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tillerson on Five-Nation Tour of Southwest Asia
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on a five-nation tour of Egypt and Southwest Asia this week, amid high tensions, and the readiness of some leaders to turn to Russia or China. Tillerson arrived in Cairo on Feb. 11 and met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry this morning and then with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi later in the day. Discussions focused on bilateral relations, Libya, and Syria.
Tillerson is also scheduled to visit Jordan to meet King Abdullah II and Lebanon to meet President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. His plans include a visit to Turkey for meetings concerning the tense relations between the Washington and Ankara.
In the matter of Israel-Palestinian relations, there are many points of tension. Today, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Moscow, meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Reportedly, Abbas is asking for a new mediation mechanism for peace talks, and for aid, given that the U.S. has announced aid cuts to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Abbas and allies are furious at the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also been in frequent talks with Putin.
The U.S. aid cuts to UNRWA affect Jordan very seriously, given the large numbers of Palestinians refugees that have been there going into fourth and fifth generations; and also now that Jordan has accommodated many displaced Syrians.
On Feb. 15, Jordan’s King Abdullah will likewise go to Moscow for consultations.
In Kuwait, where Tillerson will attend a meeting this week of the Global Coalition against Daesh (74 nations, formed in 2014,) he will also lead a delegation of 100 businessmen to the Iraq Reconstruction Conference, which expects 2,300 people to attend. The U.S. government will make no reconstruction aid announcements at the conference, a State Department Agency for International Development (USAID) official said Feb. 8. The stress will be on U.S. private-sector corporate initiative.
In contrast, last October, China offered to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq, and to work out aid arrangements at the Kuwait conference this week.
Tillerson will also discuss on his trip, the months-long trade embargo that several Arab Gulf countries have imposed on Qatar, which Kuwait is trying to mediate.
SCIENCE & INFRASTRUCTURE
Proposed NASA Budget Is a Hodge-Podge, Not a National Mission
Feb. 12 (EIRNS)—The White House’s NASA budget proposal for FY19 was released today, with an emphasis on focusing the space agency on exploration systems development. This includes an early 2020s manned orbit of the Moon, and plans for robotic lunar landers “in the next few years.” But the new initiatives depend upon reduced Federal support, betting instead on commercial capabilities and public-private partnerships. The budget proposes to create a robotic Lunar Discovery and Exploration program “that supports commercial partnerships” to achieve human exploration and science goals. It is proposing that the cost of new missions be shared with the private sector and international partners, so as to be “sustainable,” meaning, to avoid having to increase the NASA budget. The FY 2019 budget request for the agency is for $19.6 billion, which is a $500 million increase from 2018, and $61 million decrease from the FY 2017 funding level. NASA’s buying power is not keeping up with inflation.
The budget supports the upcoming Solar System missions, such as the 2020 Mars rover, and a study of retrieving Mars samples in the future, but cancels projects that are well along, and valuable, but over budget, relying on the “cost effectiveness” of science projects.
Under the budget document heading: “Cost savings by phasing out government programs and replacing them with commercial or public-private operations,” the budget proposes to end support for the International Space Station in 2025, “after which NASA would rely on commercial partners” for low Earth orbit research. To provide an incentive to commercial interests in this ill-conceived and unrealistic idea, the proposed budget takes $150 million out of the agency’s funding for seed money to support commercial “partners.” This fantastic proposal has been opposed by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz chairs the Commerce Committee subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, and Democrat Nelson is the ranking member.
The NASA budget, instead of proposing programs that are organized under a national mission, such as President Kennedy’s Apollo program, which then subsumes individual projects, is a hodge-podge of separate programs and goals, which will not accomplish what either the NASA scientists or the President intend.