Forward on the High Ground: The LaRouchePAC 2018 Platform—Campaign To Win the Future
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—We are pushed from all sides in the U.S. and trans-Atlantic, to sink down to the low ground, in terms of economics, culture, and morality. Under assault from the City of London/Wall Street defenders of the dying monetarist system, we are pressured to fixate on mind-trap questions and “issues:” “What did Trump say, or not? What did someone else say, or not?” When all the while, reality is clear. We need the New Silk Road impetus for development. The U.S. must get on board. The new LaRouchePAC 2018 Platform, “The Campaign To Win the Future,” was released yesterday, to mobilize the power to make this happen.
A new statement is now in preparation, on bringing the New Silk Road to the Americas. Look at the scale of crisis in the Caribbean and Central America! Child malnutrition, for example, is over 17% in the Caribbean. In Haiti, 47% of children are malnourished; 80% live in poverty. Parts of Central America are the same. These are hellholes in our hemisphere.
There is no way to “solve” the apparent U.S. “issues” of the day—e.g., the dope epidemic, “migrants,” border security, jobs lost, imports, etc.—without empowering the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, too; and all the Americas.
The same is true in Africa, Southwest Asia, and Europe. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is 22% malnourishment. Medical care is a rarity. The strife induced from the evil “regime-change” policy has dislocated millions from North Africa and Southwest Asia, in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen. Well over 1 million people have sought refuge in Europe since 2015. In 2017, more than 3,000 drowned while trying to get there across the Mediterranean Sea.
Now see what China is doing in collaboration with nations in Africa. For example, so far, 6,200 km of modern rail are done or in the works, along with power stations, dams, and other projects. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has just finished a four-nation tour in Africa, planning more projects. AIIB President Jin Liqun stated this week, on the second anniversary of the bank, that it will expand lending to Africa, and also to South America. (See the Schiller Institute Special Report: “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa: A Vision of an Economic Renaissance,” by Hussein Askary and Jason Ross.)
Now look at the Americas, and what China is doing. On Jan. 19-22, Wang Yi will be in Chile for the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), discussing development plans and raising strategic cooperation between the two regions “to a higher level,” after which he will make state visits to Chile and Uruguay, both enthusiastic supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Picture a development corridor “spine” running from the southernmost part of South America, northward through the Darién Gap, and Central America, still farther northward across the High Plains of the U.S. and Canada, into Alaska and the Bering Strait tunnel link into Asia and Europe. In the United States, this new corridor creates the way to “repopulate” (new cities, industry, and agriculture) the central farm state counties, which in recent years, have suffered the highest rates of population exodus, drug abuse, and suicide, in the nation.
Bringing this scale of development into being cannot be done simply “from the bottom up,” but requires priority R&D projects and sites, to lift up productivity for a leapfrog effect. Among the important centers are the two space launch sites in Equatorial northeast South America. In Puerto Rico—now still stricken from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and the lack of rebuilding—there is the opportunity for a “Port of the Americas” on the island’s south coast at Ponce, to feature on the Maritime Silk Road.
This sweeping perspective for the Americas was described today by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, making the point that we must take the high ground. From an economic perspective, from a moral perspective: Take the high ground.
NEW WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER
Xi and Trump Speak on Momentum on the Korean Peninsula and Greater China-U.S. Cooperation
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping spoke by phone today, where they discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and more cooperation between their own nations, including on trade and economic affairs. No read-out was provided yet by the White House, but China Daily reported on the substance on the call.
On the positive developments of the two Koreas holding talks, Xi said that the momentum is hard-won, and, as reported, “It is vital for the international community to stay united over the issue.” Xi said that China stands ready to continue working with the U.S. on this, towards a proper solution. Trump responded with appreciation of China’s significant role in resolving the Korean Peninsula problem, and expressed his willingness to strengthen coordination with China on the matter.
This point, and the timing of the Trump-Xi call is especially significant, given the meeting today of the “Vancouver Group” on the Korean Peninsula, which conspicuously excludes China and Russia.
In his other points on the phone call, reported by China Daily, Xi said that there should be economic and trade cooperation towards, “making the cake of cooperation bigger.”
On relations with the U.S., Xi expounded on their significance and how they should be expanded. CCTV quoted Xi as saying, “China and the U.S. should keep their exchanges at all levels, fully utilize the four high-level dialogue mechanisms and hold second-round talks when appropriate.”
Xi identified certain sectors important for advancing relations between the two nations. According to China Daily, these are: “cooperation between the two militaries, in law-enforcement, drug control, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation on local levels, as well as close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues.”
Trump affirmed that the U.S. holds its relations with China in great importance, and is willing to “enhance bilateral exchanges at all levels, expand pragmatic cooperation, and properly handle problems in bilateral trade, so as to achieve even greater results in bilateral relations.”
Overall, Xi said that China-U.S. relations have been stable, and achieved significant progress in 2017. He did single out contingencies, including that, “The two sides need to meet each other halfway…[and] respect each other’s core interests.”
China-CELAC Forum To Meet Jan. 19-22; China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi To Attend
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—The ministerial-level meeting of the China-CELAC Forum (CELAC is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) will meet in Santiago, Chile on Jan. 19-22, the second such meeting to be held since the initial January 2015 meeting in Beijing. China’s Foreign Ministry announced today that Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend, and will also make a state visit to Chile and Uruguay. Both nations are enthusiastic supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang emphasized that China views this event as extremely important, and the hope is to raise strategic cooperation between China and the regional bloc “to a higher level,” as well as produce an action plan for the next three years. China is interested in “promoting projects of interest,” Lu said, and stating that there has been significant cooperation in areas such as “production capacity and infrastructure building.” According to Spain’s EFE news service, Wang also intends to hold “in-depth discussions on international and regional matters of common interest.”
In comments to Xinhua, Chile’s former Ambassador to China Fernando Reyes Matta stressed that the ministerial forum is particularly important because of the role China is playing in the world, in Ibero-America, and in “global reordering” generally. Stressing that the BRI “opens new possibilities that will improve relations with Ibero-America,” Reyes nonetheless urged Ibero-America to work on its own integration, so that it can serve as a better interlocutor with China. Long-term planning is essential, he emphasized.
In Its Third Year, AIIB Will Expand Lending to African and South American Nations
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—As the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) enters its third year of operations, its President Jin Liqun explained in an interview with the South China Morning Post that in the coming year, it intends to expand lending and operations to South American and African nations, as well as further into the Middle East as soon as that is possible.
Jin observed that with “quite a number” of South American nations joining the bank, it will be a good idea to finance some middle-income projects in South America to “bring South America and Asia together,” and reduce transaction and shipping costs.
But, he stated, “I would also pay attention to supporting African member countries. Asia is developing quickly, but it cannot sustain itself well without collaborating closely with African countries.” Jin emphasized that the geographical scope of the bank’s activities makes clear its role “in pushing broader-based social and economic development in the member countries in which we invest.”
Responding to the allegations from some quarters that the bank is merely an instrument of China, Jin said quite the contrary is true. China “is committed to building the bank into a multilateral development institution with 21st Century governance.” The AIIB is separate from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said, but it is inescapable that some projects in which the AIIB is involved would be connected to the BRI, simply because of its scale of as a global development project, which covers 60 countries across multiple overland and maritime corridors.
Jin Liqun was emphatic that China strictly adheres to the bank’s principle of multilateralism and internationalism. “There has never been any interference by the Chinese government in the decision-making process,” said Jin.
AIIB Plans Loan Expansion, Emphasizing South America and Africa, Railroads Are Key for Africa
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) celebrated its second anniversary today, and it is planning a considerable expansion of loans beyond the rather modest $4 billion it has so far handed out. One focus of new activities during 2018 will be Africa, as the bank’s President Jin Liqun said.
Whereas the AIIB in the beginning met a lot of skepticism internationally and unfounded concerns that it would just be another tool of Chinese geo-economic policies, many critics have become convinced that this is not the case. The main objective of the AIIB is to promote the economic and social development of the regions in Africa and elsewhere, with projects such as railway development, Jin said.
China is engaged in Africa, as Xinhua reported today, in railway construction projects of 6,200 km so far, some of these are already completed such as the line between Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa and Djibouti. More projects are coming up, in which one may rather see Chinese becoming involved than Europeans, the latest such project being the Kigali-Dar es Salaam route on which the Presidents of Rwanda and Tanzania just signed an agreement. Rwanda also was the first stop on Jan. 14 on Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Jan. 12-16 tour of four African states— Rwanda, Angola, Gabon, and São Tomé and Principe.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
China-Alaska $43 Billion Gas Pipeline, Export Deal Brings ‘Hope’
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—Things have been moving ahead on the Nov. 9, 2017 deal signed in Beijing between the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp., Sinopec, the Bank of China and the Chinese Investment Corp. (CIC). The centerpiece of the $43 billion package is for an 800-mile gas pipeline from the North Slope, south to the Kenai Peninsula, for shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) abroad. Alaskans are speaking of “hope” from the mega-deal, just as did West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, when he praised his state’s plans for gas and manufacturing development with China.
Alaska House Speaker Rep. Bryce Edgmon, quoted by the Peninsular Clarion in late December, said: “A pipeline project will bring jobs, investment and, perhaps most importantly, a renewed sense of hope that Alaska’s best days are ahead of us, not behind.”
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker hosted China President Xi Jinping last spring, when Xi stopped in Anchorage on his way home from visiting President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Walker, who has been promoting his new pipeline and related projects, was the only governor travelling in Trump’s delegation to China last November.
The timeframe for the project, is that by December 2018, the contracts, loans, and related arrangements will be finished, so construction can start in mid-2019. The deal is expected to work out so that 75% of the ultimate LNG exports will go to China, and the remaining 25% to other Alaska customers, such as South Korea and Vietnam. The planned Alaska LNG terminal will add to the list of five already under construction in the U.S., in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana. The Alaska location is favorable for Asian customers.
On Dec. 22, 2017, the state of Alaska also approved ExxonMobil’s plan to expand oil production on the North Slope at Point Thomson. Gov. Bill Walker issued a statement at that time, saying, “Our approval of the Point Thomson to Prudhoe Bay pipeline plan adds to the momentum of the Alaska LNG Project and demonstrates the commitment of the Point Thomson working interest owners to move gas from Point Thomson into the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s 800-mile project.”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
At NATO Meeting, Turkish Defense Chief Challenges U.S. Creating Kurdish Army in Syria
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—Gen. Hulsi Akar, Turkish Chief of the General Staff, told a meeting of NATO defense chiefs in Brussels today, that Turkey will not allow the arming of the Kurdish PYD/YPG in Syria, as Turkey regards the PYD/YPG as an extension of the terrorist PKK inside Turkey. “We cannot and will not allow the terrorist organization, YPG, which has been proven as an extension of the PKK, to be supported and armed under the guise of it being an ‘operational partner,’ ” he said, reports the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
Akar’s remarks followed the announcement from the U.S. military command in Baghdad over the weekend, that the U.S. is going to organize and train a “Border Security Force” in northeastern Syria. About half of the projected 30,000-strong force is to come from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated force that the U.S. organized to fight ISIS. “We expect [them] to reverse the mistake as soon as possible,” Akar said. He added that NATO should not “discriminate” among terrorist organizations in the fight against terrorism.
In Washington, the U.S. has recognized Turkey’s concerns. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Anadolu today, “We acknowledge Turkey’s concerns regarding these [Border] Security Forces being trained. We have regular close communication with our NATO ally Turkey.”
Akar was expected to meet with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford on the sidelines of the defense chiefs meeting. Turkish media expect Akar to raise the issue.
Prior to Akar’s arrival in Brussels, top Turkish government officials were essentially vowing to destroy the border force, despite the fact that it is backed by the U.S., said Ankara Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu yesterday: “The U.S. must clarify which side it is on, whether it chooses to be with its allies or terror groups?” He warned that “We will take our own measures [against terror groups]. Regardless of who backs them; whether it is the U.S. or other countries, it doesn’t matter to us.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was even more blunt. He said, “America has acknowledged it is in the process of creating a terror army on our border. What we have to do is nip this terror army in the bud,” reported Anadolu. He warned Turkey’s allies against helping what he called terrorists in Syria, and saying, “We won’t be responsible for the consequences.” Reuters quoted him as saying (probably from the same speech): “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders,” Erdogan said of the United States. “What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”
Low Intensity NATO-Russia Confrontation Continues
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—There have been no new developments along the NATO-Russia frontier, but a series of small incidents in recent days point out that the continuing friction associated with the forward basing of NATO forces. A dozen U.S. F-16 fighters from the Ohio National Guard arrived in Estonia yesterday, for military exercises. Two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers were intercepted yesterday in the Baltic. The jets flew down the coast of Norway to the North Sea and were intercepted by RAF Typhoon fighters as they turned around to head back to Murmansk. At about the same time or shortly thereafter, a U.S. Navy P-8 patrol aircraft left Sigonella, Sicily to fly over the Black Sea. It circled off of Novorossiysk before turning for the coastline of Crimea.
Denmark Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced yesterday that his government plans to increase the Danish defense budget by 20% over the next five years, all because of “Russian aggression.”
State of Emergency Declared in Libya
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—The Tripoli government declared a state of emergency after a jihadist militia assaulted the Tripoli airport with the intention of freeing ISIS and Al Qaeda militants. Flights to and from the Mitiga Airport (Tripoli) have been suspended. The Mitiga airport is also a military base and a prison.
The episode shows how fragile the UN-recognized government in Tripoli is, which is backed by conflicting tribes/militias, including jihadists. In fact, according to NOVA agency and other sources, the attack was conducted by the 33rd Brigade led by Bashir Khal Falah (“The Cow”), and was repulsed by the defense forces (RADA). The Tripoli Ministry for Defense has announced the dissolution of the 33rd Brigade.
The episode should also be seen in a pattern of attempted destabilizations in North Africa and Southwest Asia, which includes the recent disorders in Tunisia and Iran.
Russian President Putin and Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni Discuss Libya and Ukraine
Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni discussed the Libya situation with Vladimir Putin in a phone call yesterday. According to Il Giornale Online, “Italy and Russia will try to find a political solution to stabilize the region. The Italian Prime Minister appreciates the Russian role in the UN Security Council.”
Russia has backed the Tripolitania-based faction led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar in Libya, but has also held dialogue with the Tripoli-based Fayez Sarraj government. Negotiations between the two sides are being sabotaged by jihadists.
Gentiloni and Putin also discussed the Ukrainian situation, where Italy could play a role as current chairman of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Europeans have been divided on the Ukrainian crisis, “but now actors have changed. Barack Obama and François Hollande are no longer there. Angela Merkel is in a crisis. Donald Trump, despite public statements and weapon supplies to the government, could try to find a solution with Moscow,” Il Giornale writes.