Great Potential, Great Instability; We Are Not Yet in Safe Waters
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Events of the hour show great potential—associated with the new paradigm of the new world Silk Road, but at the same time, great instabilities and dangers, associated with the persistence of monetarism, geopolitics and attempted imperial dominance.
Today President Donald Trump continued his stress on the significance of his Asia tour, in opening remarks to a meeting of his Cabinet. He spoke in terms of trade. “We just returned from an historic 12-day trip to Asia. Everywhere we went, the American delegation was greeted with tremendous hospitality and tremendous respect…. We brought back more than $300 billion worth of deals, which could reach well over a trillion dollars within a very near future. That means jobs for the United States at a very high level.”
Thereafter, Trump went on to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, amidst a number of situations posing great danger, and which cannot be resolved—except by the United States, and the Trans-Atlantic region joining the peace and development drive offered by the Belt and Road Initiative.
Saudi Arabia, in tandem with the United Kingdom, is beating the war drums for action against Iran and Hezbollah. On Sunday, at the Saudi behest, a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers was held in Cairo. After many speakers denounced Iran, the decision was announced to brief the UN Security Council on charges against Iran, and perhaps demand future action. Meantime, the atrocities perpetrated by Saudi Arabia, assisted by the U.S. and Britain, continue in Yemen.
This awful situation should be seen against the opposite dynamics in Asia. In the Syrian crisis, Russia, Turkey and Iran are collaborating to defeat ISIS in all its forms. On Nov. 22, Russian President Putin, Turkish President Erdogan, and Iranian President Rouhani will meet in Sochi, on how to further bring stability into Syria, and move toward the Russian-proposed Congress of National Dialogue. On Sunday, one of the last ISIS-held enclaves, the town of Abu Kamal, fell to the Syrian government.
In South Asia, new initiatives are underway toward resolving the desperate situation in which over 600,000 Rohingya refugees are now in Bangladesh, having fled continuing strife in Myanmar. Over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar leaders met, announcing redoubled efforts on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor of the Belt and Road Initiative, and discussing a three-part action plan, proposed by China, to deal with the emergency situation of the refugees: 1) a ceasefire; 2) terms to be determined by Bangladesh and Myanmar, for the refugees to go back home; and 3) poverty alleviation in Myanmar.
These two examples—Syria and Myanmar—show how major powers face crises, and confer to deliberately devise solutions. They mark an approach to reality, which is either lacking, or is deliberately opposed, by most elites in Europe and in the United States right now, who are entrenched in the old, dead geopolitical paradigm.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche today pointed to the ongoing government crisis in Germany. Last night, the talks on forming a coalition government broke down when the Free Democratic Party pulled out. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, after meeting with caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel, has called on all sides to re-think, saying, “We are faced with a situation which has not existed in the history of the Federal Republic … in almost 70 years.” Zepp-LaRouche, calling the situation, “Terrible, but not surprising,” pointed to the underlying problem: The leaders and party principals in Germany and Europe-wide have no vision for the future. How are they going to re-think? They are “void of any ideas.” They live in a domain, parallel to reality, so they have no impetus to reconsider and change their axioms and have a discourse on actions.
This opens the way wide for what we are doing, to support a new era of benefit for mankind, but, as Zepp LaRouche cautions, “We’re not in safe waters yet.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Trump Reimposes Highest Level of Sanctions on North Korea
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Before the start of a meeting with seated members of his Cabinet this morning, President Trump summarized results of his 12-day trip to Asia.
The President began his remarks with some broad statements about the inequities in international trade previous U.S. Presidents had allowed.
The President then announced that the United States was again designating North Korea “a state sponsor of terrorism,” a designation applied to North Korea in the past, which had been removed.
The President stated that North Korea had repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism and assassination on foreign soil. He pointed to the case of Otto Warmbier, a young American who was arrested for taking a poster souvenir while legally touring North Korea, imprisoned, and returned to the United States in a coma, where he died. “This designation will impose further sanctions over the next few weeks on North Korea. “The North Korean regime must be lawful, and it’s unlawful,” the President said, and added that the U.S. would impose additional hard-hitting sanctions on North Korea over the next two weeks.
The President also spoke to the Cabinet on trade, saying that he had concluded $300 billion worth of trade deals, and that figure could reach $1 trillion in the near future. Trump said that the United States “would be renegotiating” its trade deal with South Korea. “ Last year, we lost over $800 billion on trade deals with other countries. … That’s changing,” said Trump.
Trump spoke of “restoring America’s competitive edge, which has been declined over the last 40 years.”
He praised the House of Representatives for passage of his tax cut, and said that after taxes, he would address healthcare, infrastructure, and welfare reform. He did not mention China’s economic progress, or its Belt and Road.
The President also spoke of “the opioid epidemic that is ravaging so many American families and communities” across the country. He announced that he had appointed Alex Azar as Health and Human Services Secretary. Azar, who previously held a top position at drug manufacturer Eli Lilly, is known for his focus on the cost of all medical treatment.
Infrastructure Plan Coming? National Credit, Belt and Road Needed
Nov. 17 (EIRNS)—The Trump administration has begun, after much delay, to exchange memos with Republican Members of Congress about infrastructure legislation, with the primary discussions and feedback being with members and Highway/Transit subcommittee chairmen of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Congress is expecting a long infrastructure outline memo before the end of November.
On Nov. 17 Bloomberg News interviewed Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty Corp. in New York and board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, on the subject. Rechler said infrastructure in the New York area is “in a dire state, from decades of neglect.” Thinking within the confines of simple “funding” in a Congressional operating budget, rather than national credit. He called it wrong for the Congressional Republicans to have tried to enact tax reform rather than legislation to create new infrastructure.
“That really is an investment in our future,” Rechler said. “That $1.5 trillion in deficit space given to lower tax rates for corporations, could have been invested in infrastructure. That’s something that’s going to help us drive our economy.” Rechler went further: “If tax reform is passed, it’s very unlikely that there will be infrastructure legislation, because of the $1.5 trillion being used [for tax cuts], and that money overseas which was going to come back and go into infrastructure, that won’t happen.”
Thinking more broadly, David Firestein of the China Public Policy Center at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Government at the University of Texas in Austin put out yet another article, this one in Fortune Nov. 16, “Why America Can’t Rebuild Without China.” China capital, in the form of loans—not ownership of corporations—has to put American labor to work building the new infrastructure that Trump promised, Firestein says. He focuses particularly on Texas infrastructure needs exposed by Hurricane Harvey. Fortune includes a video clip from Trump’s Address to Congress in January, in which the President said: “I will be asking Congress to pass legislation that will create a $1 trillion infrastructure bank.”
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has opened in Houston as the first Chinese bank providing lending in the Southern United States, the Houston Chronicle reported Nov. 17. On the occasion, Chinese Consul-General Li Qiangmin, according to Xinhua, said “I hope China will work with the U.S. side to jointly promote greater progress in China-U.S. economic and trade relations and open up greater prospects for cooperation between the two countries.” Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner is leading a delegation to China at the beginning of December.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Chinese Envoy Wraps Up Four-Day Visit To North Korea
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Chinese envoy Song Tao returned home to China today from Pyongyang, where he “made a comprehensive notification on the main spirit and historical contribution of the 19th Communist Party of China’s National Congress held last month in Beijing,” reports Xinhua. “The two sides also exchanged views on relations between the two parties and the two countries, and on the Korean Peninsula issue and other issues of common concern.” Song Tao is head of the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department.
Putin, Rouhani, Erdogan To Push Astana Process Forward for Syria Ceasefire at Nov. 22 Sochi Meeting
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to meet in Sochi, Russia on Nov. 22 to push forward the Astana ceasefire process in Syria. Their foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov, Mohamed Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu, met in Antalya, Turkey yesterday, to prepare the ground for the summit. The three countries are the guarantors for the Astana ceasefire process.
“The ministers exchanged views on the package of issues related to a crisis settlement in Syria,” reports the Russian Foreign Ministry readout. “They reviewed the main trends in military-political developments in Syria in the context of an approaching final rout of the seat of international terrorism and the functioning of the de-escalation zones in the armed conflict created within the framework of the Astana Process.” According to the readout, they “called for continuing cooperative efforts within the Astana format, which contribute to the creation of conditions for stepping up the intra-Syrian talks under United Nations aegis in Geneva.”
Cavusoglu reported that high-ranking officials of the three governments also met in Tehran to prepare for the summit. “With the Astana process, we have come a long way with Russia, especially in terms of the establishment of peace on the field, and forming de-escalation zones. The situation on the field is much better compared to last year,” Cavusoglu said, reports Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency. When asked whether the Kurdish PKK/PYD terrorist organization was invited to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, Cavusoglu said the participation of the terrorist group would be unacceptable for Turkey. “Our sensitivity about [Syrian Kurdish] PYD/YPG is obvious,” he said.
For his part, Zarif said that Iran, Turkey and Russia are ready to establish means for lasting security, stability and peace in Syria. “The measures taken in Astana, Kazakhstan, over the past 11 months have dramatically minimized conflicts in Syria,” he said.
In addition to the Russian Foreign Ministry statement, Lavrov reported that the defense chiefs of the three countries will meet ahead of the Sochi summit. According to Lavrov, the military of the three countries had been in contact on the functioning of all four de-escalation zones in Syria, and also continue working on organization of the fifth zone, TASS said.
NEW WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER
China-Panamanian Relations Will Benefit All Panama’s Neighbors
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—In an insightful comment published Nov. 19 in Global Times, author Liu Lulu makes the point that the establishment of diplomatic ties between Panama and China is in the interest of all nations in Panama’s “neighborhood,” including the United States. It will “bring peace and prosperity to the whole region, and the U.S. will also benefit”—a point Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has also made.
The West would do well to stop putting a geopolitical spin on these events, the author recommends, or trying to portray China as moving against the United States in its own backyard. “This is a zero-sum mentality,” Liu warns.
Look at the fact that the Western world “is increasingly divided” about Brexit; about “the European debt crisis, and Trump’s election,” Liu points out. It was, therefore, completely in Panama’s self-interest to abandon this “ideological mentality” and establish ties with China. As a developing nation, it is inevitable that China would seek to strengthen its relations with the nations of Ibero-America and the Caribbean. “This has nothing to do with a Cold War,” the author asserts, but rather pursuing “joint development.” Cooperation between China and Latin American countries “conforms to the interests of both the region and China,” he concludes.
Ibero-America Will Copy ‘Model’ of Sino-Panamanian Ties, To Join Belt and Road, Says President Varela
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—In a press conference in Beijing today, as he prepared to depart for Shanghai, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela spoke warmly of his meeting with President Xi Jinping, saying that “President Xi and I share many views … all efforts in public life must be oriented to the search for the welfare and development of the people, because the wealth of our nations belongs to our people.”
Varela also reported that he has presented “an important proposal” related to Chinese financing for connectivity projects throughout the region, as well as in Panama, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and went on to list the many advantages which membership in the BRI will offer his nation, stemming, among other things, from its advantageous geographical position and the role of the Panama Canal. He also reiterated what he had said over the weekend, that Panama’s strategic association with the United States is “totally compatible” with Panama’s strengthening its ties with China.
Clearly indicating that there is an unstoppable process now underway in the region, Varela pointed out that what Panama has experienced over the past five months of consolidating its relations with China, “is a model that other nations” (which still have ties with Taiwan) “are going to follow.” Be prepared!
The Panamanian President stated that the two governments had established “12 pillars” of cooperation, which form the basis for the 19 agreements signed Nov. 17, and again said that Panama can serve as an entry point for China to the Caribbean, Central and South America in such areas as investment, transportation, logistics and tourism. “No doubt there will be much [Chinese] investment in the region,” he said, although he stressed it will be up to each country to create favorable conditions to attract it.
Varela pointed out that building railroads contributes to the main objective of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is to connect and integrate nations. He was scheduled to travel by high-speed train to Shanghai with his delegation today, and according to Spain’s EFE news service, wants to experience this technology first hand, in hopes of applying it to the proposed passenger and freight rail line from Panama City to the border with Costa Rica, for which an agreement to conduct a feasibility study was signed with China.
Myanmar To Speed Up Economic Corridor with China; Beijing Proposes Action Plan for Refugees
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Following his meeting with the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, today, Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw said Myanmar appreciates the proposal of building a China-Myanmar economic corridor, and intends to actively integrate with the Chinese over the project, Xinhua reported.
In this context, China’s proposal has been well received in Myanmar for a three-phase plan of action, so that Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh can return home. Its planks are:
1) “a ceasefire on the ground” so people are no longer forced to flee, which “with the hard work of all sides, at present the first phase’s aim has already basically been achieved; and the key is to prevent a flare-up.” Sides should wait for a ceasefire to be working, and then proceed to the next phase.
2) Myanmar and Bangladesh should agree on terms for the return of Rohingya refugees.
3) “The final phase should be to work toward a long-term solution based on poverty alleviation.”
The International Organization for Migrations says more than 610,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
Speaking of the China-Myanmar economic corridor, Wang pointed out that China regards Myanmar as an important cooperative partner on the joint implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and is willing to discuss the building of China-Myanmar economic corridor based on Myanmar’s development guidelines and practical needs, so as to promote common development of the two countries. Wang further said, that China “believes the Myanmar government has the wisdom and capability of pushing forward its domestic peace process, and China will continue to offer support at Myanmar’s request,” according to Xinhua’s report.
On Nov. 19, at a press conference with Myanmar’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi following their talks, Wang, reiterating China’s proposal to build the economic corridor, had stressed that the two countries have a great potential for cooperation, as their economies are highly complementary. “The economic corridor, which would help Myanmar’s development plan and needs, will start in China’s Yunnan Province, extend to the central Myanmar city of Mandalay, and then east to Yangon and west to the Kyaukpyu special economic zone, forming a three-pillar giant cooperation pattern,” Wang said, reported Global Times.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Australian Senate Weighs Glass-Steagall vs. ‘Bail-in’ Approach
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—A campaign of the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC) in the Australian fight to restore a global Glass-Steagall standard for international financial institutions is bearing fruit. An article in the Australian Financial Review this morning highlights the fact that, at the CEC’s request, a Senate committee is now looking into whether a bill expanding the powers of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) financial regulator, “may allow it to commandeer customer deposits,” in other words, enable a “bail-in” of the banks.
The Senate Economics Committee said it would look into the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment Crisis Resolution Powers, and take comments until Dec. 18. The Australian Financial Reviewreports: “Before MPs vote on this bill they must demand to know if its broad language empowers APRA to bail-in deposits,” said Robert Barwick, research director of the Citizens Electoral Council, which has around 2,000 members and is influenced by the ideas of U.S. political activist Lyndon LaRouche.
“Mr. Barwick said if the government ‘thinks APRA should have powers to bail-in deposits, they should be open about it, so we can have a public debate about bail-in versus the alternative approach of Glass-Steagall, which would ensure financial stability and protect deposits by separating [depositors’] accounts from investment banking and all other financial services.’ ”
Will Germany’s Election Stalemate Return It to Nuclear Power?
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—The biggest conflict between the Germany’s Free Democratic Party and the Green Party which led to the collapse of the coalition talks in Berlin yesterday was, according to FDP party manager Nicola Beer, the “ideological position of the Greens which would have led to the total deindustrialization of Germany.” A good statement, but what do the Free Democrats offer as an alternative?
All they have gone public with so far, has been fake alternatives within the Energiewende (energy transformation), which most importantly takes down Germany’s nuclear power use. The FDP proposals so far involve reducing or ending the state support for renewables, to relieve taxpayers. This involves keeping coal and gas for the time being, maybe new construction of power plants in these sectors. High-cost and inefficient solar and wind power would be thrown onto the free market, where without the former state support they would hardly survive, therefore driving energy prices up, at the expense of industry and household consumers.
The real solution lies neither in solar and wind, nor in coal or gas, but in developing and building new nuclear power facilities, and otherwise to press ahead with developing thermonuclear fusion power.
So far, the FDP has not shown it would be willing to discuss a return to nuclear power, or even just a modification of the exit in order to extend the lifetime of the eight still existing nuclear power plants. The Free Democrats have their chance now, if they scrap the orientation to the illusory “success” of the Energiewende.
Israeli Authorities Question Netanyahu a Sixth Time on Corruption
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned for more than four hours by the Lahav 433 National Crime Unit at his official residence Nov. 19, in an investigation that began eight months ago.
This time, the police focused their questions mainly on Case 1000, “the gifts affair,” an investigation of whether Netanyahu received gifts from Israeli businessmen. Netanyahu is also being probed in Case 2000, which, the Jerusalem Post reported, involves possible influence-peddling directed toward the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s largest newspaper.
Sunday’s interrogation is the sixth time Netanyahu has been questioned, and occurred just 10 days after the previous round of police questioning, indicating that the investigation has recently speeded up.
International movie mogul Arnon Milchan, who reportedly gave large quantities of cigars and champagne to Netanyahu and his wife, was questioned in London in September, and is a central figure in Case 1000.
The police are reportedly looking into several instances where Netanyahu might have done something to benefit Milchan. The first, say newspaper reports, was taking an initiative nine years ago to establish a free-trade zone near the Jordanian border. It is suspected Milchan asked Netanyahu to back it in consultation with Indian billionaire Ratan Tata, who was also recently questioned by police, the Jerusalem Post says. Another helpful act Netanyahu performed for Milchan is to secure a U.S. visa. Netanyahu told the newspaper that Milchan is a long-time friend who has contributed to the State of Israel.
Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow, who was considered a confidant, became a state’s witness in August. Reports are that he gave information about Cases 1000 and 2000, with which investigators confronted Netanyahu on Nov. 19. The police now appear to be accelerating the questioning of Netanyahu, as eight months passed between Netanyahu’s fourth and fifth interrogations.
Zanu-PF Party Initiates Impeachment Proceedings against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—Impeachment proceedings against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe are being initiated by the parliamentary faction of the ruling Zanu-PF. This follows the decision by the party’s Central Committee to recall President Mugabe as the party’s First Secretary and replace him with former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom the Zanu-PF also reinstated in the Central Committee.
Mugabe refused to resign by midday today, as the Central Committee had demanded on Nov. 19. Zanu-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters the party’s members of parliament would meet on Monday, Nov. 20, to start mapping out Mugabe’s impeachment. According to the Constitution, the impeachment can simply be approved by a vote of parliament, which is expected to get the support of both the Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democracy.
Liberation war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa that his organization, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, will go to the courts to demand Mugabe’s impeachment, and university students are boycotting final examinations while demanding Mugabe’s resignation.
Coalition Talks Fail: New Elections in Germany, or Protracted Undead Government?
Nov. 20 (EIRNS)—At 6 p.m. Sunday, the Free Democrats walked out of the government coalition talks, as their party leader Christian Lindner declared that “having no government is better than having a bad government.” Since there had been signs that the Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union and Greens were making secret deals without properly informing the Free Democratic Party, the FDP ended the talks. Caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) reported the situation to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at noon today. At this point, Merkel is not even a lame duck, she is a zombie, the undead head of a non-government by the grace of others, including her adversaries in her own party.
Since these four parties, CDU-CSU, FDP and Greens, are not coming together, and since the Social Democrats (SPD) reiterated this afternoon that it has no intention of entering a new Grand Coalition, new elections are actually the only way out. However, CDU-CSU, Greens, and SPD lost heavily in the Sept. 24 national election, and they therefore have little interest in new elections. The FDP, the Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) and Die Linke have no fear of new elections, in which they expect to gain votes.
Steinmeier, after meeting with Merkel, said that “we are faced with a situation which has not existed in the history of the Federal Republic, that is, in almost 70 years.” He, therefore, preferred to call on all parties to again rethink their views and come to an agreement on a coalition, rather than approving new elections. Steinmeier wants to confer with leaders of the CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens, and also with “other parties” (SPD, AfD, Linke) now. Thus, Germany is faced with a gray zone, between an undead and an unborn government, probably for the next few weeks.