What Victory Requires
April 6 (EIRNS)—The events of today and the coming days—the summit between Presidents Trump and Xi which is proceeding as we write this, to be followed in less than a week by Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip to Moscow to meet President Putin—embody the potential for a true transformation of human history. The potential is offered for humanity to enter a new epoch, unlike anything ever before seen, compared with the darkness of the 20th Century and the 21st Century to date.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche illustrated exactly this quality in her interview with Radio Sputnik on Wednesday, when asked what she expected from the Xi-Putin Summit:
“If they put on the table the idea that China would invest in the infrastructure in the United States, Trump himself has announced the need to have a $1 trillion program to reconstruct the American infrastructure…. The way to reduce the trade deficit is if there would be direct Chinese investment in infrastructure, maybe not immediately, but indirectly; maybe one would have an infrastructure bank, where China could put its investments in, or some solution like that. But I’m convinced that they will absolutely come out of this summit with results beneficial to both countries.”
Questioned by the Sputnik reporter where such an idea of an: “investment bank” had come from, Zepp-LaRouche responded:
“Well, Trump has recently mentioned several times that he wants to go back to the American System of economy, the system of Alexander Hamilton, of Lincoln, of Henry Clay, and it is actually that system which made the United States great following the War of Independence. And that was a highly protectionist system. Alexander Hamilton created the United States by creating a National Bank, a credit system, and for example, the German economist Friedrich List pointed to the difference between the American System of economy and the British System of economy, meaning that the American System which was created by Hamilton basically says the only source of wealth is the creativity and productivity of the labor force; as compared to the British System which says you have to buy cheap and sell expensive, and control trade, and keep labor costs as little as possible.
“So, if you actually look at what China has been doing with the Chinese economic miracle of the last 30 years, it is much closer to the philosophy of Alexander Hamilton, than it would be to the system of globalization and so-called ‘free trade.’… What America has to do, what President Trump has to do—and I think that’s what he intends to do—is to reconstruct the American economy on the highest productive level. The infrastructure is only the precondition, but then there will be other areas, like in the nuclear fission, but especially the development of fusion technology, space cooperation with other countries, so there are many areas where you can leapfrog into the most productive areas in the economy, and I think that’s what Trump intends to do.”
Amidst the tawdriness and lies of the New York Times today, China’s official news agency Xinhua took out a full-page advertisement which was probably the only actual news in the paper, under the headline, “First Xi-Trump Meeting Vitally Important in Every Way.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Mattis Refuses To Attribute Alleged Chemical Attack to Assad
April 6 (EIRNS)—According to pool reports sent out by the Pentagon press office yesterday, Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis was asked twice on April 5 about the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. The first time was before a meeting with Ng Eng Hen, the Defense Minister of Singapore. All Mattis would say is, “It was a heinous act and will be treated as such.” He did not elaborate. The second time came when Mattis hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. According to the pool report, a reporter asked el-Sisi if he believed Syrian President Bashar al Assad was responsible for the supposed chemical attack. “Sisi responded by smiling, shaking his head and looking to Mattis….” Mattis, when asked who was responsible for the attack, called it again a “heinous act.” When asked again whether Assad was responsible, he only said “We’ll sort it out.”
Editor Robert Parry, writing in Consortiumnews yesterday, reported that according to his sources, alternative explanations, including that a Syrian air strike may have hit a jihadi stockpile of chemical weapons, or that the whole incident may have been staged, are being seriously examined by U.S. intelligence. One source, Parry reports, cited the possibility that Turkey had supplied the rebels with the poison gas (its exact type is still not determined) for potential use against Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria near the Turkish border, or for a terror attack in a government-controlled city like the capital, Damascus.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
‘Many Are Losing Sleep over the Potential Trump-Putin Alliance’
April 6 (EIRNS)—The most followed Italian online defense magazine Difesa Online published a commentary by editor Giampiero Venturi April 5, exposing the media campaign on the chemical weapons “attack” in Syria as an attempt to sabotage the Trump-Putin collaboration.
The “media attack” has two aims, Venturi wrote: “Obscuring the Islamist attack in St. Petersburg, which is off the front pages after only 24 hours; and damaging the image of the Assad government, which is winning the war in Syria.”
But the two aims are connected. “Insisting on civilian deaths in Syria is like talking about speeding up in Formula 1 racing: it has no sense technically, especially if there is no evidence…. There is a large media campaign going on, aimed at sowing discord between Washington and the Kremlin. Many are losing sleep over the potential Trump-Putin axis.”
Russia’s UN Deputy Envoy Slams Obama Policy over Syria Chemical Attack
April 6 (EIRNS)—Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov slammed the Obama Administration’s policy for the chemical attack provocations in Syria, placing the real blame for the hoked-up crisis where it should be. “The former U.S. administration’s so-called red lines, which should have triggered a military interference in the internal Syrian conflict if crossed, marked a watershed in the history of toxic chemicals in Syria and followed by full-blown poisonous substances,” Safronkov said. “That decision became a pivot for further provocations by terrorist and extremist bodies, with the use of chemical weapons.”
The West’s interest in incidents with chemical weapons “unfortunately has a well-defined ideological slant,” he added. “We can say that it is inextricably interwoven with the fabric of anti-Damascus campaign that is still dragging its feet towards the dustbin of history it deserves.”
“At the time, our Western partners preferred to keep silent, including over the request from Damascus submitted in March 2013 to investigate the use by militants of the sarin nerve agent in an attack on Aleppo’s outskirts,” Safronkov said. “We are hopeful it will not be repeated this time.”
Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement on April 6 said that accusations against the Syrian government are being made with insufficient and unreliable evidence, and he warned of possible provocation.
“No doubt, forces exist that are pushing for de-legitimization of the lawful leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic. And there exist the forces of terrorism and those who support terrorists,” Peskov replied to a question about who, in his opinion, stood to gain from exploiting the situation. “This was a dangerous and monstrous crime, but it would be incorrect to hang labels” to identify those who did it, Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
Peskov said evidence about the incident provided by the White Helmets civil defense group could not be considered reliable, saying: “We do not agree with these conclusions.”
“Immediately after the tragedy no one had access to this region… any data which the U.S. side or our colleagues from other countries might have had access to could not have been based on objective facts,” Peskov told reporters.
“The main idea is to refrain from hasty conclusions,” Peskov told journalists. “We need information exchange, to verify the facts and to draw conclusions only after that, but not before. Any conclusion drawn before such exchange of information would be certainly viewed as a conclusion which does not reflect the reality.”
Peskov also said that the disagreement was unlikely to change the nature of ties between Russia and the United States.
Jordan’s King Urges West To Deal with Russia on Crimea, Syria, Ukraine Simultaneously
April 6 (EIRNS)—In a free-wheeling interview with the Washington Post on April 5, prior to his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, addressing the issue of how the Americans and Europeans should engage in dialogue with Russia, said: “From the Russian point of view, they play what I describe as a three-dimensional chess game. To them, Crimea is important, Syria is important, Ukraine, and we see them in Libya. The Americans and Europeans must deal with the Russians on all these issues simultaneously.”
Abdullah was of the view that, for the Russians, the most important thing is Crimea, and the Americans and Europeans need to come to an understanding on that with Russia, first.
“If you come to an understanding on Crimea, I think you will see much more flexibility on Syria, and I think Ukraine then becomes the least problematic. From Putin’s point of view, he has a major challenge with terrorism. ISIS international is heading towards Moscow. I think [the subway attack in] St. Petersburg is the start of foreign fighters moving to another battleground. Putin has to find a political solution sooner rather than later in Syria. If European countries have problems with foreign fighters, the Russians have ten times more problems. They have all the terrorists from the Caucasus and have had two wars in Chechnya,” Abdullah said, explaining how he sees resolving issues with Russia.
A Russian-American dialogue will help, he said. “Otherwise, the Americans and Russians will fight it out in Syria and Libya. If you keep this tension going, the next problem will be in Moldova…. The Russians are going to continue to shake the tree, unless we come to a meeting of minds.” On the other hand, Abdullah noted: “If we can solve Syria and come to a common understanding that is fair for the Syrian people,” then it will be a good solution for the West. “Crimea is Putin’s No. 1 issue, and I think that you say, ‘Let’s discuss Crimea, but when it comes to Syria, you have to move.’ ”
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Trump Advisor Gary Cohn Supports Glass-Steagall
April 6 (EIRNS)—Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor and director of the National Economic Council, reportedly said he supports Glass-Steagall-style separation of commercial and investment banking. Cohn made the comments during a private meeting with lawmakers, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg reported that Cohn said, “he supports a policy that could radically reshape Wall Street’s biggest firms by separating their consumer-lending businesses from their investment banks, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
“Cohn, the ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who is now advising President Donald Trump, said he generally favors banking going back to how it was when firms like Goldman focused on trading and underwriting securities, and companies such as Citigroup Inc. primarily issued loans, according to the people, who heard his comments.”
The comments were made in answer to a question by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, although the article gave no actual quotes. After Cohn answered, Sen. Robert Corker (R-TN) pressed him to clarify his views.
Glass-Steagall Is in Senate; Senators Push White House on Support
April 6 (EIRNS)—Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act” in the 115th Congressional Session late Thursday, taking White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn’s remarks yesterday as endorsement in their press release.
Warren’s Twitter feed announced the move at 5:20 p.m., and then followed with a second tweet, “Glass-Steagall has bipartisan support: from @SenSanders to @realDonaldTrump; both @TheDemocrats & @RNC platforms. Lets get this done.”
In a press release quoting all four Senators, the sponsors said, “Reinstating Glass-Steagall has broad bipartisan support from the public and policymakers, including from President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. Both the 2016 Democratic and Republican Party platforms supported reinstating Glass-Steagall.”
Senator Cantwell said, “It has been clear for 60 years that separating commercial and investment banking would protect consumers from having to pay for the debts of bad financial practices of Wall Street. We need to reinstate this sharp bright line.”
Warren was quoted as saying, “The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act will re-establish the wall between commercial and investment banking and make our financial system more stable and secure. Reinstating Glass-Steagall has broad bipartisan support, and it’s time to get it done.”
The bill does not yet have a number.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Premier Hariri Seeks China’s Help for 1.5 Million Displaced Syrians in Lebanon
April 6 (EIRNS)—Opening the Silk Road Conference in Beirut today, Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri invited China and other countries to invest in Lebanon as a preparation for the tremendous job of reconstruction of Syria, as he called for “joint efforts by private and public sectors between the two countries in that regard,” Naharnet reported today.
Hariri was quoted as saying, “Our ancestors traced the Silk Road, knowing its economic and social importance. Today, this importance has doubled to push economic growth and combat poverty and unemployment. This is the only way to combat extremism, bigotry, racism and isolation. In other words, it is the only way to preserve world stability and peace.” Turning to the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Hariri said: “My government has adopted a new approach to dealing with the challenge of hosting over 1.5 million displaced Syrians.” However, he said, Lebanon does not have the infrastructure and public services designed to tackle this mass influx of displaced people, and that “I am sure the Chinese government and private companies will understand how important this is, especially that investing in Lebanon today is preparing for the massive reconstruction of Syria when a political solution is reached, we hope sooner than later.”
In conclusion, Hariri said, “Our choice is to travel down the road of hope, stabilization and development. And that’s just where the ‘silk road’ might lead us all.”
Hun Sen: Cambodia’s ‘Main Goal Is To Focus on Infrastructure Development’
April 6 (EIRNS)—Inaugurating a China-funded road on the eastern outskirts of Phnom Penh today, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen said, “[O]ur main goal is to focus on infrastructure development.” Acknowledging the potential contribution of the Belt and Road Initiative, Hun Sen said that his “country would focus on connectivity infrastructure development during a Belt and Road Forum in Beijing next month,” Xinhua reported today. He reckoned that Cambodia needs $500-700 million a year for development of roads, bridges, electric power, and irrigation systems.
The premier continued: “I will attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China in May. At the same time, I will also pay an official visit to China.” Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo, who was present at the inauguration ceremony, said the Cambodian Prime Minister’s forthcoming trip to China would definitely elevate the Sino-Cambodian relationship to a new high.
While Hun Sen made clear his intent to rely on China for Cambodia’s infrastructure development, “the Royal Government of Cambodia notified the Embassy of its decision to postpone indefinitely the Seabees program,” in late March, wrote the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh on April 3. “The U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalion, or Seabees, has provided humanitarian assistance throughout the country for almost a decade. The decision to kick the Seabees out of Cambodia cancels 20 planned projects ranging from building maternity wards to school bathrooms,” said the U.S. Embassy statement on its Facebook page.
China, Indonesia Consortium Signs Contract for Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railroad
April 6 (EIRNS)—On April 4, in the presence of China’s Ambassador to Indonesia Xie Feng, the contract for the $5.5 billion high-speed railroad between Jakarta and Bandung was signed between a consortium of Chinese and local Indonesian companies, at a ceremony held at the headquarters of state-owned engineering group Wijaya Karya, Railway Gazette reported.
The contract was awarded to the Kereta Cepat Indonesia-China joint venture by High Speed Railway Contract Consortium. The two companies agreed in March 2016 to a 50-year concession to design, build, maintain, operate, and planning approvals, construction permits, a franchise agreement, and design of the route have now been completed, International Railway Journal reported.
The project will be 75% financed by China Development Bank, and the joint venture will organize the remaining 25%. Scheduled to be in operation in 2019, this high-speed railroad will reduce the travel-time between Jakarta and Bandung to around 40 minutes, compared with around three hours on the existing 173 km 1067 mm-gauge (meter-gauge) line.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
President Zuma Launches First Locomotive Designed, Engineered, Built in South Africa
April 6 (EIRNS)—President Jacob Zuma unveiled the first locomotive entirely designed, engineered, and built in South Africa on April 4, calling it an African solution for an African problem, specifically developed with African conditions in mind.
The locomotive, called the “Trans-Africa,” was built by Transnet, the state-owned company for freight rails and management of ports and pipelines. The company is contracted to build 1,067 units of this model. Transnet has built locomotives before, but has never taken full responsibility for design, engineering, and construction.
The new locomotive is a necessary interim step—not a great leap into the New Silk Road—to enable old and moribund rail lines to be brought back into service, thus to facilitate the next steps toward the building of New Silk Road infrastructure in Africa.
Transnet Group CEO Siyabonga Gama, at the unveiling in Pretoria, emphasized the dual significance of the achievement:
First, “The locomotive is evidence of the strides we are making in transforming Transnet Engineering into an original equipment manufacturer for locomotives, a move designed to restore our position as a catalyst for African innovation, industrialization, and critically, intra-African trade.”
Second, he said, “The Trans-Africa Locomotive is appropriate for aged railway lines that operate on the Cape Gauge system, offering a cost-effective solution for the majority of the continent’s railway lines that are currently unused.”
The Cape Gauge (1,067 mm) is in use in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states and parts of East Africa. But the future lies with the Standard Gauge (1,435 mm), which is—at least unofficially—the gauge of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and is the gauge of South Africa’s Gautrain, the high-speed passenger train, completed in 2012, which connects Pretoria and Johannesburg—operating at 99 mph with trains every 20 minutes, and at peak times every 12 minutes. There are plans to extend it to other cities, and an extension to Durban has been mentioned.
The Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda system now being built also uses Standard Gauge, connecting Mombasa, Kampala, and Kigali (“MoKaKi”).