Time To End the Reign of Geopolitics!
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Is geopolitics the natural order in international relations, as many believe?
Schiller Institute president Helga Zepp-LaRouche roundly rejected that axiom of Western thinking in her weekly webcast today, as a mode of thinking and practice which must be uprooted if humanity is to survive.
The issue was posed sharply in the context of the immediate battle over how the future of mankind will be shaped. “The tide is turning already” on the drive to remove President Trump from office, in her evaluation, but she warned that the world is very far from being out of the danger zone, as exemplified by the National Security Strategy doctrine released on Monday by President Donald Trump. The President “has stretched out his hand to Russia and China,” and softened certain of its formulations in presenting the document, but the document looks at the world from the standpoint of geopolitics, and thus drew “extremely sharp reactions” from Russia and China. “It reflects the fact that the faction fight in the Trump administration is far from being over; that there is still the effort by the neo-cons and by leftovers of previous administrations, in various aspects of this administration, which expressed themselves in this report,” Zepp-LaRouche said.
Geopolitics is “the old British manipulation, ‘divide and conquer,’ play the weaker one against the stronger one and vice versa, and that way keep control. So it’s really a tool of the oligarchical and imperialists to keep to the old order,” she said, adding “but I don’t think it has any chance of success.”
She elaborated: “The only way to look at it is from the long arc of the evolution of the human species. In the beginning, when you still had tribal formations and little ethnic groupings, people would have various ways of settling conflicts, either diplomacy or negotiations, and if that didn’t work, conflict and war. And that obviously was a characteristic of human development for a very long time. But I think that that is not the true nature of mankind, because if you continue the idea that if all negotiations and diplomacy fail, you still can resort to war, in the age of thermonuclear weapons this would be the end of civilization.
“I see this idea of using war as a means of conflict resolution, that corresponds to the age of maybe four-year-old little boys who think it’s OK to kick the other one in the knee and vice versa; and I think humanity has the potential of becoming adult, that you can, indeed, through negotiation, and especially through the establishment of a higher order of collaboration in the interest of everybody, that you can establish a way for the human governance worldwide where war is no longer a method of solving conflict.
“I admit this thinking comes very much from the great thinker of the 15th century, Nikolaus of Cusa, who is the father of modern science, and who is also the father of the idea of the sovereign nation-state. And he developed a method of thinking which he called the coincidentia oppositorum, the coincidence of opposites: Where he said that because man is capable of creative reason, that you can think a higher order where conflicts on a lower order disappear; the argument that the One has a higher power than the Many, and that thinking has gone into the Peace of Westphalia, the idea that you can overcome conflict by establishing a common interest.”
Even if Nikolaus of Cusa is not very well known in China, “because of the Confucian tradition, the idea of the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative of Xi Jinping, reflects exactly that philosophical approach,” Zepp-LaRouche noted.
“So, if mankind becomes adult, we will not waste energy any more on stupid things like money chasing, stock market speculation, and other things which are really a waste of time; but that we will become adult and people will become creative and relate to the creativity of the other, and that not only because people, but also between nations. So I think that that is the right way to look at things, and not from the standpoint of eternal Aristotelian conflict between A and B, one geopolitical group against another. But that the Cusan view of the coincidence of opposites, the one humanity first, is the better way to look at it.”
The ensuing discussion in this must-watch webcast, of the continuing disintegration of Europe, the imminent meltdown of the financial system in which the bitcoin mania is reminiscent of the Tulip Bubble before it burst, the just-passed tax bill in the United States which will not solve anything, but could serve as “QE4,” culminated in Zepp-LaRouche’s provocative answer to the much-asked question: “What does Xi Jinping mean by ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’?
“Nobody can debate the incredible success of the Chinese model of economy,” she responded. People should ask themselves, why is the Chinese model more successful than the Western model? “The answer is very simple, that it is primarily devoted to the common good,” she said. Naturally this is criticized by the West as China suppressing freedom and human rights, but ask yourself, “is this complete mega-individualistic hedonism of the West, is that really a value which is so desirable? Values which have reached a point, where everything goes, everything is allowed. There are no more criteria for truth, or for the acceptance of the common good, every thing is the survival of the fittest, and those who are rich become more rich, and those who have misfortune to be poor become more poor—is that really so desirable?…
“ ‘With Chinese characteristics’ refers to the two and half thousand years of Confucian tradition in China,” she continued, a tradition which like German poet Friedrich Schiller has “an image of man, that man has the moral obligation to self-perfect his entire life or her entire life, in order to serve better and more efficiently to the common good.”
Zepp-LaRouche suggested people stop being so prejudiced, and instead investigate for themselves China’s incredibly interesting, rich 5,000 year-old culture, which has produced beautiful things in music, in poetry, in philosophy, and today has made China a vanguard country in science.
Editor’s Note: As usual, we will skip the EIR Daily Alert issues for Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Our next issue will be on Tuesday, Dec. 26.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Opioid Overdose Deaths Cause Drop in U.S. Life Expectancy for Second Year in a Row
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—The opioid addiction crisis is ravaging the United States—both its current and future generations if not dealt with. According to statistics just released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), life expectancy in the United States has declined for the second year in a row, dropping from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.6 in 2016. This is the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy.
National Public Radio (NPR) worries about the trend “because life expectancy is considered an important indicator of the general wellbeing of a nation.”
The NCHS reports that in 2016 the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. was more than three times that of 1999. In 2016, there were 63,600 overdose deaths, a 21% increase over the previous year. In 1999, age-adjusted overdose deaths stood at 6.1 per 100,000 standard population; that figure rose to 19.8 in 2016. On average, the overdose death rate increased by 10% per year from 1999 to 2006; 3% from 2006 to 2014; and 18% per year from 2014 to 2016. The rate of overdose deaths increased for all age groups between 1999 and 2016, but for 2016, rates were highest among ages 25-34 and 45-54 at 35 deaths per 100,000 people.
As the British daily Guardian pointed out today, five states topped even those numbers. West Virginia nearly tripled the national average—with 52 people per 100,000 dying of overdoses. Ohio, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania followed next, with some 38 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people.
Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at NCHS, told the Guardian that there is an occasional one-year dip in life expectancy statistics, but two consecutive years “is quite striking.” Preliminary figures for 2017 “don’t look any better” he said. Especially alarming, according to NCHS, is that the rate of deaths from synthetic opioids—fentanyl, or heroin laced with fentanyl—doubled, from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 to 6.2. Anderson commented that on deaths from synthetic opioids, “we’re talking about more than an exponential increase.”
“I’m not prone to dramatic statements,” Anderson told NPR, “but I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.”
Anna Lembke, an addiction expert from Stanford University warned, “we’ve got multiple generations of people that are already addicted, and it’s going to be a real struggle to help those people. This is going to take a good 10 to 20 years to really turn around.”
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Flunks House Intelligence Testimony
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—House investigators detailed yesterday to Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen, that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s Dec. 20 closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee contained numerous conflicts with the testimony of previous witnesses. It seems to have been a transparent sham.
“Investigators say McCabe recounted to the panel how hard the FBI had worked to verify the contents of the anti-Trump [Steele] dossier and stood by its credibility. But when pressed to identify what in the salacious document the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign advisor Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow.
“The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall—despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.”
McCabe was to testify again today in a closed, transcribed interview before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans’ Parallel Investigation
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Politico reported yesterday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and some of the other Republican members of the committee are conducting their own, private investigation into corruption and conspiracy at the top of the Department of Justice and the FBI. They haven’t informed Democrats of their plans, but they have consulted with the House’s general counsel.
At the center of their probe is that still, after all these months, the FBI and DOJ have continued to stonewall on the very serious question of whether the Bureau used the phony Steele dossier against Trump, to seek wiretap authority against him or his associates from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court or other courts. Politicosays “the group hopes to release a report by early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek Congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence.”
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
China May Shift Economic Policy under ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ to Quality, Rather than Quantity
Dec. 20 (EIRNS)—The three-day annual China Economic Work Conference ended today in Beijing, under the overall framework of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” President Xi attended the conference.
This new policy direction has taken shape, Xinhua reports, as the “theoretical crystallization” of the past five years of practice in pushing forward China’s economic development, and the “latest fruit” of socialist political economy, according to a statement released after the conference concluded. It also described President Xi’s thought as the “ ‘extremely precious spiritual wealth’ of the [Communist Party of China] CPC and the country. It must be adhered to for a long time and developed continuously.”
More details about the annual economic meeting are expected to be announced soon. But an article in People’s Daily as the conference began, said there will be a “major shifts in economic policy” over the next three years, stressing quality rather than simply quantity. “This is the first time that a specific growth target was not included in the report,” said government economic advisor Tian Yun, “and that says a lot.”
Liu Xuezhi, an analyst at Bank of Communications, said that a new set of economic indicators could focus more on the environment, people’s livelihood, and technological innovation. This could replace using monetary-based GDP as the metric of economic performance.
Leading up to the Economic Work Conference, officials have also been stressing high-quality growth over speed. Issues of fending off financial risk and further alleviating poverty “could be resolved by changing the government’s priority, especially on the local level, from speed of GDP growth to more high quality, green, and balanced growth.”
Chinese Committed To Post-War Reconstruction of Syria
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Qin Yong, vice-president of the China-Arab Exchange Association, reports rising interest among Chinese companies in projects of reconstruction in Syria. “We get phone inquiries every day…. They see huge business potential there, because the entire country needs to be rebuilt.” The enthusiasm is reciprocated by the Syrians, says Qin. “They’re like, don’t come tomorrow, come tonight!”
Qin’s association estimates there could be about $2 billion of investment at this stage. Qin says the companies he’s been escorting to Damascus, Homs and Tartus—including China National Heavy Duty Truck Company, whose Hong Kong-listed arm is Sinotruk— are eyeing projects to build roads, bridges, airports and hospitals and to restore electricity and communications.
Since the United States, the European Union, Saudis, and Arab Gulf States are withholding promised funds for reconstruction, using them to bargain for the demise of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in peace talks, China is moving constructively into the vacuum in Syrian reconstruction projects.
Spain Expands Its Role in Belt and Road Initiative on Two Fronts
Dec. 20 (EIRNS)—A forum held in Beijing on Dec. 19 on “Opportunities for Cooperation in Equipment, Engineering and Infrastructure” organized jointly by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Spain’s state trade promotion agency, ICEX Spain Trade and Investment, brought together representatives of some 30 Chinese and 20 Spanish companies to discuss strategies for joint work in third countries, as part of the New Silk Road.
José Luis Kaiser, Director General of Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade, told EFE that the aim of the seminar was to get Spanish and Chinese companies to work together, instead of competing with each other. “Spanish companies must not be left on the sidelines” of the opportunities represented by the New Silk Road, he insisted.
“We always have the idea that the large consortia of Chinese and Spanish companies compete for great infrastructure projects worldwide, but we think that they are complementary, both because of geographic specialization and because of technology, and therefore we are looking for them to work together,” Kaiser explained, giving the example that Spanish companies are not very active in Southeast and Central Asia, but they have a lot of experience and presence in Ibero-America, so each can provide needed regional “knowhow” to the other.
The day before the seminar, another Spanish region celebrated the success of months of travel between Spain and China to establish a direct hook-up to the New Silk Road, with the arrival of the first transcontinental container train from Zhengzhou, China to Zaragoza, the capital of the northeastern autonomous community of Aragon. The Mayor of Zaragoza and officials from Aragon’s government were on hand to receive the first container of a train run which foresees one train arriving daily along the 13,000 km route between the two cities. The Spanish officials present spoke of being “pioneers” with this connection, which “puts Aragon on the map” and takes advantage of its strategic location in the country. The trip now takes 26 days; operators expect that the time will become even shorter in the future.
COLLAPSING WESTERN SYSTEM
Poland May Quit the EU after 2020, as Eastern, Balkans Disaffection with Brussels Grows
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Now that the EU Commission has decided to invoke Art. 7 of the Lisbon EU Treaty and strip Poland of its voting rights, doubts are being voiced by many whether Brussels will be able to push that through, and when it would be done. The procedure formulated in Art. 7 is complicated, because it also grants the accused party the right to take legal action against the Commission—which may keep courts busy for several years.
But the EU Commission may not have the support of the 26 other governments it requires to take action against the 27th member government: Hungary supports Poland, and since the EU Commission is also beginning a fight with Romania over Bucharest’s judicial reform, the Romanians may soon join Hungary’s backing of Poland. The net result may be a decision in Warsaw to quit the EU, and more governments in the East and Southeast that are increasingly fed up with Brussels might follow the example of the Poles.
German media quote Renata Mienkowska, a leading political scientist of Poland, that “maybe the government has no interest in staying in the EU any longer after 2020, that is, after the next parliamentary election and the beginning of a new EU budget.” If the EU does not grant funds for the ambitious national infrastructure development policy of Poland, the Polish government may draw drastic conclusions: “I am sorry to say it, but an EU exit of Poland is absolutely possible.” New Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has also promised to re-Christianize Europe, Mienkowska offered: “Would someone like that still want to stay in the EU in three years from now? Not really.”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
U.S. Lethal Weapons Sale to Ukraine Will Lead to More Bloodshed, Russia Warns
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—The State Department has confirmed that U.S. manufacturers can obtain export licenses to sell lethal defense weapons to Ukraine, and that Congress was advised of this on Dec. 13, according to State spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that this decision may well motivate “loose cannons” to unleash additional bloodshed in Donbas. Perhaps the sale of lethal weapons “will once again motivate loose cannons among those nationalists who are solely seeking to switch over to a use-of-force method to settle the situation in Donbas—an absolutely dead-end technique, which would unleash bloodshed again,” Peskov warned.
In a briefing to reporters this week, Nauert emphasized that the U.S. government isn’t supplying weapons to Ukraine, but only allowing U.S. weapons manufacturers to do so. According to Voice of America, a commercial export license covers such weapons as semi-automatic and automatic firearms, and includes combat shotguns, silencers, military scopes, flash suppressors, and parts. The equipment approved for sale is valued at $41.5 million. As of now, the Washington Post reports, Ukrainian requests for heavier weapons have not been approved.
Saudis Open Yemeni Port of Hodeidah—for Now; U.S. Lawmakers Demand More Be Done
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Under international pressure, Saudi Arabia has announced they will reopen the Yemeni port of Hodeidah for a minimum of 30 days, to allow entry of food aid and commercial fuel for Yemenis. The port “will remain open for humanitarian and relief supplies and the entry of commercial vessels, including food and fuel vessels,” according to a statement from the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
On at least two occasions over the past month, President Donald Trump has publicly urged the Saudis to lift the blockade of Yemen’s ports, to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country. A British official told CNN today that President Trump became “fired up” while discussing Yemen’s humanitarian crisis during his phone call Dec. 19 with British Prime Minister Theresa May, “the most fired up that we’ve seen him since the chemical weapons attack in Syria” in April.
Last night, a group of U.S. lawmakers wrote to the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates urging them to “implement a humanitarian plan of action that will end the blockade of Yemen, provide for humanitarian and commercial access to all of Yemen’s seaports, airports, and land crossings—including Hodeidah port, Sana’a airport, and other points of entry not under the Hadi government’s authority.” The Saudis seek to restore their Hadi regime, currently based in Aden, to power in Sana’a.
The letter’s signers, Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Human Rights Commission co-chairmen Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL), said opening the Hodeidah port for 30 days was not good enough. “The size and pace of these gestures are not proportionate to the emergency on the ground,” they said, warning that millions of civilians are at risk of starvation and disease because of the rapidly-deteriorating humanitarian crisis. The letter is available on the House site of Representative Lieu.
In a briefing this afternoon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tim Lenderking reported that the U.S. would speak to the Saudis about possibly changing the 30-day timeframe, but demanded that, first, the U.S. wants to see ships moving in and goods and services reaching the Yemeni people, Voice of America reported.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported today that cholera cases in Yemen have now reached the million mark, Xinhua reported. The ICRC wrote on its Twitter page that more than 80% of the population lack food, fuel, clean water and access to healthcare. Moreover, in October, the country was hit by a diphtheria outbreak, and vaccines needed to prevent diphtheria are about to run out.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
China-Thailand High-Speed Railway Project Has Begun
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)— Construction of the first 3.5 km-stretch of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway has begun with the official launch of the project today. The stretch is the track between the stations of Klang Dong and Pang Asok. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha declared the start of work during a ceremony at Mor Lak Hin, where King Rama V observed construction of the first railway from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima on Dec. 21, 1868, reports the Bangkok Post.
The planned Thai-China railway stretches 867 km, from Nong Khai on the Thai-Lao border to Rayong in eastern Thailand. The initial phase, at 252 km long, runs between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. The route is expected to open for service in 2022. Once completed, the train will travel at up to 250 kmh and take 90 minutes for the complete one-way journey.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a congratulatory message, referring to it as a win-win project, and saying it will effectively enhance the infrastructure construction and inter-connectivity in Thailand and the region, facilitate the sustainable development of Thailand, drive the development and prosperity in the region and improve the people’s livelihood, reported Xinhua.
Li also said the railroad will facilitate trade and travel in the countries along the railway, and stressed that China attaches great importance to the development of the friendly relations between China and Thailand.
India’s First Indigenous Semi-High-Speed Train Will Be Ready by December 2018
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—Ravindra Gupta, a member of the Railway Board, told media today that India’s first indigenous train set will be ready and running on the tracks by December next year. The 16-coach train will run at a speed of 160 kmh. A train set is comprised of many coaches that are individually powered by a propulsion system, eliminating the need for a locomotive. The first train set will be put into service either in the Delhi-Lucknow or Delhi-Chandigarh sector, PTI reported.
India’s Integral Coach Factory (ICF) is now in the process of manufacturing the “first of its kind” semi-high-speed self-propelled train set. According to ICF, the train sets will allow for quicker acceleration and will be a technological leap for the coach factory. The train sets are currently in the design stage and will start manufacturing some time in 2018.
Former Argentine Foreign Minister Denounces Judge Who Has Made Him a ‘Political Prisoner’
Dec. 21 (EIRNS)—In a letter to the New York Times published Dec. 20 under the headline, “I am a Political Prisoner,” former Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman blasted corrupt Judge Claudio Bonadio—who sees himself as the Argentine version of London’s “Lava Jato” (Carwash) Judge Sergio Moro in Brazil—for fraudulently indicting him for treason related to the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Mutual Center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, and handing him a “death sentence” as well.
Because he is suffering from cancer, Timerman is under house arrest rather than in pretrial detention as Bonadio ordered; but he is prohibited from leaving his house for his daily cancer treatment, or from traveling to the United States where he was also being treated. “Preventing me from getting timely medical attention is like condemning me to death. Argentina’s Constitution does not permit the death penalty. But with a judge like this, that is little guarantee,” he wrote.
Bonadio, who is part of the judicial mafia that answers to President Mauricio Macri, charges that Timerman and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner covered up for Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing—a case whose investigation was botched from the beginning and is still unresolved 23 years later—and then asked Interpol to lift the “red notices” (arrest warrants) against the accused Iranians as part of a Memorandum signed with the Iranian government.
In a reckless flight forward, Bonadio named former Secretary-General of Interpol Ronald Noble in the indictment, charging him with colluding with Fernández and Timerman to lift the red notices. Noble has repeatedly denied the charge and provided evidence to disprove it. Noble is now asking to appear as a witness in the trial of Fernández and Timerman, which some analysts say could bring down the whole case.
On Dec. 19, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the indictment of Timerman and Fernández “far-fetched” with little evidence to substantiate charges of treason or to justify pretrial detention. Normally, pretrial detention is a means of last resort, HRW said, only when other means are insufficient to guarantee a person’s appearance at trial; “in the absence of adequate, individualized grounds to incarcerate the defendants pending trial, courts should immediately reverse the decision.”