Lake Chad Conference an Enormous Breakthrough: Time To Think ‘Big, Big, Big’
March 1 (EIRNS)—In her international webcast today, Schiller Institute Founder and President Helga Zepp-LaRouche characterized as “fantastic” the tremendous breakthrough that occurred at the International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria which officially adopted the Transaqua project which the Schiller Institute has been promoting for almost two decades as part of its World Land-Bridge project. “So, it’s really our work,” Zepp-LaRouche said, recalling an article in People’s Daily last year which identified the Schiller Institute’s critical role in bringing together the forces prepared to build this project.
The two EIR correspondents at the conference, Claudio Celani and Sébastien Périmony, figured prominently in the discussions, and the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Stefano Pontesilli proudly announced that the Italian government will cover half the cost of the feasibility study for the project, which proposes to fill Lake Chad with water from tributaries of the Congo River. Zepp-LaRouche pointed out that the participation of the Chinese firm PowerChina which built the Three Gorges Dam, the Italian firm Bonifica, and African countries can “be a model for the New Paradigm cooperation in the context of the New Silk Road, because you have China, you have a European country, Italy and the African nations working together on such a very far-reaching project…. I think this is fantastic, and I’m absolutely convinced this will function … this is really, really good!”
She pointed out that the companies and individuals involved in building this project are “completely passionate” about the idea. They agree that the Transaqua plan “is not an option but a necessity,” because the drying out of Lake Chad has vastly increased poverty in the region and intensified the refugee crisis. “If you don’t realize such a development program, you may as well hand over the whole territory to the Boko Haram,” Zepp-LaRouche said. Refilling the lake will provide plenty of water for irrigation of the Sahel zone, give water to all 12 participating countries, but more importantly, “build a modern infrastructure in the heart of Africa. It would create an inland waterway for these countries for shipping, and naturally, it would generate a lot of hydropower.”
The broader point is that the “Silk Road Spirit is really catching on,” Zepp-LaRouche emphasized. “Almost every day we have a new development and as a result, various Chinese professors commented [that] this is not just for China, but this is uplifting the whole world; this gives a model for the developing countries to improve their industrial chain, and all the neighbors of China will do so. And then another professor who has written several books on the New Silk Road, Prof. Yang Yiwei, said look, the reason why the West is so full of anxiety about the rise of China is because they lack a complete self-confidence about their own economic model and that is why they are so absolutely hysterical about it.”
As an example of the wonderful optimism of the Silk Road spirit, Zepp-LaRouche pointed to an interview with Su Quanke, the chief engineer of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which is now completed. Asked if he were optimistic that China could reach its development goals in 2020, 2035 and 2050, he said he was absolutely certain it could. The Hong Kong, Macao, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen region is probably “the powerhouse of the world economy by now,” Zepp-LaRouche observed. “It’s all modern cities, modern, relatively beautiful architecture … and it’s the powerhouse which attracts young, creative people in the high-tech areas. And I think this is just an example where you can see that with modern infrastructure you can make such developments a magnet, and then everything flourishes around it. … This is all very, very good, and there is absolute reason for optimism.”
Contrast this optimism, Zepp-LaRouche said, with the degradation and bestialization of Western culture, as reflected in mass school shootings in the United States. “As I have said many times, the New Paradigm is not just about economics, the New Silk Road is not just a question of transportation or infrastructure; it is also a question of developing a completely new conception of the human being, and the kind of bestialization, the absolute, terrible lack of dignity of the human person … is really the complete, 100% opposite of what is needed. We need an image of man which is beautiful, which is creative, which is truthful, which is developing all the potentials of each child in the fullest possible way.”
So, she concluded, “it’s one and the same discussion which we need—we need a New Paradigm, and we have to have an education system which emphasizes the beauty of Classical culture, which emphasizes the beauty of the character as a development goal…. This was an idea of Wilhelm von Humboldt, who … had the idea that the aim of education must be the beauty of the character…. Who talks about that these days? If you go to some of these kids who are hooked to these violent video games, or even workers who are looking in the internet at terrible material, using torture and such things, and getting really destroyed. I mean, their minds become absolutely destroyed!”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has called for a national debate on the culture of death being promoted in the U.S., and President Trump also wants to take up this issue. Zepp-LaRouche added, “I think we need such a debate, because, in my view, it’s an integral part of the United States joining with the New Paradigm and the New Silk Road, because we can’t have this continue. And the Schiller Institute has for many years proven that with Classical music, with Classical poetry, with Schiller, with Shakespeare, you can transform people and have an aesthetical education, and that is exactly what is needed right now.”
NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Putin Delivered a Forward-Looking State of the Nation Address
March 1 (EIRNS)—Russian President Putin delivered a very forward-looking State of the Nation address yesterday, speaking to a joint session of the Federal Assembly, the two houses of the national legislature. Putin covered the full range of economic, security and international issues, beginning with his economic policy which centers around improving the living conditions of the Russia population to allow it to achieve its full creative potential and thereby the potential of the Russian nation.
Among the many crucial points he made, Putin emphasized that “the state’s role and positions in the modern world are not determined only or predominantly by natural resources or production capacities; the decisive role is played by the people, as well as conditions for every individual’s development, self-assertion and creativity. Therefore, everything hinges on efforts to preserve the people of Russia and to guarantee the prosperity of our citizens. We must achieve a decisive breakthrough in this area … the next few years will prove decisive for the country’s future. I reiterate, these years will be decisive….”
He warned that a “technological lag and dependence translate into reduced security and economic opportunities of the country and, ultimately, the loss of its sovereignty…. As I have said, changes concern the entire civilization, and the sheer scale of these changes calls for an equally powerful response…. We are ready for a genuine breakthrough.” Otherwise, he continued, “there will be no future for us, our children or our country. It is not a question of someone conquering or devastating our land…. The main threat and our main enemy is the fact that we are falling behind. If we are unable to reverse this trend, we will fall even further behind…. We need to master creative power and boost development so that no obstacles prevent us from moving forward with confidence and independently. We must take ownership of our destiny.”
He called for halving the number of poor from 20 million to 10 million over the next six years by providing decent, well-paying jobs that unleash the creative potential of the population. This means improving the quality of life through increasing health care capacity, housing, raising pensions and guaranteeing a high quality of life for pensioners, and increasing life expectancy to 80-plus years.
A key to this, Putin said, is “launching a large-scale spatial development program in Russia,” including developing cities and other communities “by at least doubling spending in this area over the next six years.” He emphasized that the development of cities must become “the driving force for the whole country. Russia is a country with a vast territory, and its active, dynamic life cannot be concentrated in several metropolitan cities. Big cities must distribute their energy, and serve as a support for the balanced, harmonious spatial development of the whole of Russia.”
Putin offered details on an ambitious infrastructure development program over the next six years, as well as developing large Eurasian transport corridors, including a highway that will become part of the Europe-Asia Pacific corridor that is already under construction in cooperation with China and Kazakhstan. He also spoke extensively on developing Russia’s Far East. The full speech is posted in English on the Kremlin website. (http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/56957).
Conference on Lake Chad: Water Transfer Is Not an Option, It Is a Necessity
March 1 (EIRNS)—The official outcome of the Feb. 26-28 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria is an unequivocal statement of support for the Transaqua project, calling for the transfer of water from the Congo River basin to Lake Chad. It clearly states:
- There is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the Lake Chad Basin.
- That inter-basin water transfer is not an option, but a necessity.
- The Transaqua project, which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,400 km through a canal to the Chari River, is the preferred feasible option.
Furthermore, it was officially announced by Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Stefano Pontesilli, during the High-Level Session of Presidents of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, that Italy will contribute €1.5 million for the feasibility study of the Transaqua project, declaring that Italy was ready to partner with the proposed “Transaqua project” to see the success of the water transfer. The feasibility study is planned to be carried out by the Italian engineering firm Bonifica and construction company PowerChina.
Transaqua Would Create a Modern Infrastructure in the Heart of Africa, Says EIR’s Celani
March 1 (EIRNS)—Radio France International quoted EIR’s correspondent Claudio Celani in its coverage of the Feb. 26-28 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria. “Too ambitious, too risky, too expensive? The reasons to oppose it are not lacking, but the project to fill Lake Chad is back. On Tuesday, Feb. 27 in Abuja, Nigeria, the titanic ambition to transfer the waters of the Congo Basin was on everyone’s lips, as reported by the Italian analyst Claudio Celani:
“ ‘People here are very convinced that water transfer is the only way to revitalize Lake Chad. They see big things. They understand that they need a big project, Transaqua, the big project that is intended not only to move water from point A to point B, but also to build a real modern infrastructure in the heart of Africa,’ he explains.”
RFI continues: “Transaqua is being reborn from its ashes. The Italian company Bonifica at the origin of the project, is now associated with the Chinese company PowerChina. A joint feasibility study will be funded by the Chinese and Italian governments. PowerChina’s chief engineer is pleased with this collaboration: ‘I believe we are at the beginning of a new cooperation. We look forward to starting this cooperation.’ ”
The coverage from Agence France-Presse (AFP) underscored the two choices facing Lake Chad, either bringing more water to the lake or turning the region completely over to the terrorist Boko Haram Islamists.
“Around 40 million people live on or around Lake Chad—but the vital resource is shrinking fast under the impact of climate change and water mismanagement…. It sounds like something from Wakanda, the futuristic African kingdom of the hit movie ‘Black Panther.’ But ‘Transaqua’ is a very real proposal for a very real problem—how to replenish the shrinking waters of Lake Chad.
“The region’s worsening fragility has become a recruiting sergeant for Boko Haram. The jihadists have found it far easier to win over impoverished subsistence farmers and fishermen, and to base themselves on many of the lake’s islands….
“Experts met in Abuja for two days this week to discuss ways to stop Lake Chad from drying up—and Transaqua, although still in its infancy and facing many hurdles, attracted interest.”
AFP quotes Lake Chad Basin Commission Executive Secretary Sanusi Abdullahi: “Inter-basin water transfer is not an option but a necessity. We are faced with the possibility of Lake Chad disappearing, and that would be catastrophic to the entire African continent.”
Technical director Franco Bochetto of the Italian engineering firm Bonifica, which first designed the Transaqua project some 35 years ago, is quoted, “The vision of hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea” had spurred the Italian government to support the project. “In recent years the situation has rapidly changed, and what did not seem possible in the ’80s has become of interest.”
“We work here for projects and we want to take social responsibility,” said Ziping Huang, an engineer at PowerChina.
Belt and Road, Maritime Silk Road Hold the Key to Chile’s, Ibero-America’s Development
March 1 (EIRNS)—In an interview published today in The Banker, outgoing Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz emphasized that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road component “create opportunities amid challenges and changes, enhancing connectivity not only within Asia, and Asia and Europe, but between Asia and Latin America, adapting it to our current circumstances.”
Munoz and the Chilean government hosted the Jan. 22 conference of the China-CELAC Forum in Santiago, at which China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi invited all member nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to join the BRI. Munoz told The Banker that through the BRI, Chile “could become a platform to connect with the rest of Latin America…. Today Chile is more than prepared to participate in and join the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road; hence, looking toward aligning with One Belt, One Road goals, Chile is undergoing important processes with regards to connectivity, both domestically and within Latin America.”
He underscored that Chinese companies are very interested in the public tenders that Chile has put forward to increase connectivity through construction of tunnels and roads (bioceanic corridors) with Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. Moreover, he said, Chile’s membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will soon be finalized, which will allow AIIB “to finance projects that benefit integration with Asia, such as construction of airports, ports, highways, tunnels, fiber-optic cables (under the Pacific to connect with China) and other forms of cooperation.” Munoz concluded that the BRI offers “an opportunity to Latin American countries to be part of a process of global interconnection and cooperation.”
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Why All the British Squawking about China?
March 1 (EIRNS)—The British pretend that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal to end term limits for the Chinese President is the reason for their current outburst of rage against China—but not everything they say is always true. Is it true that all they really fear is only that Xi might stay in office longer than Tony Blair did (ten years)?
More to the point is that U.S. President Donald Trump is publicly praising his excellent relations with the Chinese President, and realistically hopes that all economic relations can be sorted out between the two of them, leading to a “great trading relationship,” between them.
This real fear of the Brits is exacerbated by the fact that Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor Liu He, just inducted into the Politburo last October, has been in Washington since Feb. 27 for unannounced high-level meetings, and will stay here through March 3. Liu is the author of a study which compared the crisis of the 1930s Great Depression with that of 2008-09 crash through the present, and concluded among other things that the finance-friendly policy of the past decade, prevented the sort of recovery which the U.S. had experienced under Franklin Roosevelt.
This is the way to read the London Economist’s cover story of today, “How the West Got China Wrong”: “It bet that China would head towards democracy and the market economy. The gamble has failed,” which absurdly proclaims that, “Last weekend China stepped from autocracy into dictatorship. … Mr. Xi has steered politics and economics towards repression, state control and confrontation.”
The Economist lies about the Belt and Road, which it says “is partly a scheme to develop China’s troubled west, but it also creates a Chinese-funded web of influence that includes pretty much any country willing to sign up….” In their conclusions, the anonymous authors argue that “China behaves as a regional superpower bent on driving America out of East Asia…. The pace of Chinese military modernization and investment is raising doubts about America’s long-run commitment to retain its dominance in the region…. Even as China’s challenge has become overt, America has been unwilling or unable to stop it.”
Now is the time to address China’s “abuses,” The Economist warns, because it will be “more dangerous” to challenge them later. “In every sphere, therefore, policy needs to be harder edged, even as the West cleaves to the values it claims are universal. To counter China’s sharp power, Western societies should seek to shed light on links between independent foundations, even student groups, and the Chinese state. To counter China’s misuse of economic power, the West should scrutinize investments by state-owned companies and, with sensitive technologies, by Chinese companies of any kind. It should bolster institutions that defend the order it is trying to preserve.
“Rivalry between the reigning and rising superpowers need not lead to war. But Mr. Xi’s thirst for power has raised the chance of devastating instability. He may one day try to claim glory by retaking Taiwan.” What nonsense!
U.S. ECONOMIC & POLITICAL
Economist Ellen Brown: U.S. Should Create Government Banks Like China’s To Fund Infrastructure
March 1 (EIRNS)—In a Feb. 28 article published on Global Research, the website for the Center for Research on Globalization, economist Ellen Brown, founder of the Pubic Banking Institute, argues that current proposals to fund President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure program aren’t viable. With only $200 billion in actual Federal money offered, and the rest supposed to come from depleted state, municipal and city coffers, or failed public-private partnerships or privatization schemes, Brown says it’s time to examine why the Chinese are “running circles” around the U.S. when it comes to financing their mega-infrastructure projects.
“Rather than regarding China as a national security threat, and putting our resources into rebuilding our military defenses,” Brown states it would be more useful to study China’s successful economic policies, “adapting them to rebuilding our own crumbling roads and bridges before it is too late.”
She points to the role of China’s state banks in financing its extensive high-speed rail network, for example. The country’s five largest banks are majority-owned by the central government, and they lend primarily to large, state-owned companies. In addition, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), uses an “innovative way of quantitative easing”—sometimes referred to as “qualitative easing”— in which “liquidity is directed, not at propping up the biggest banks, but at ‘surgical strikes’ into the most productive sectors of the economy,” that is, the mega-projects of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Why not set up a national infrastructure bank, Brown asks, “that lends just as China’s big public banks do, or the Federal Reserve could do qualitative easing for infrastructure as the PBOC does?”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Afghan President’s Peace Offer to the Taliban Welcomed
March 1 (EIRNS)—Speaking at the inauguration of a one-day international conference on Feb. 28, attended by 20 nations and aimed at creating a platform for peace talks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said a framework for peace negotiations should be created, with the Taliban recognized as a legitimate group, with their own political office to handle negotiations in Kabul or another agreed-upon location. In return for Ghani’s offer, the Taliban would have to recognize the Afghan government and respect the rule of law, including the rights of women, one of the priorities for Afghanistan’s international partners, Reuters reported. The Taliban have not responded yet.
It is evident that President Ghani, who is heavily dependent on Washington, came up with the proposal in consultation with the United States. Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, who also spoke at the conference, said: “We support the message that the Afghan government and civil society leaders are sending to the Taliban and other armed groups: the door to peace is open, but you must choose to walk through that door,” the U.S. State Department reported. In addition, on Feb. 27, The New Yorker carried an open letter to the Taliban from Barnett Rubin, who had long interactions with all Afghan parties. He had served as the Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the U.S. Department of State between April 2009 and October 2013. In this open letter, he urged the Taliban to accept a ceasefire and peace talks with the Afghan as well as the U.S. government.
Both the Indian and Pakistani government officials, who attended the conference, have welcomed President Ghani’s initiative. Lt. Gen. Nasser Khan Janjua, Pakistan’s national security advisor, conveyed a message to the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal: “Pakistan welcomed President Ghani’s offer of seeking peace through dialogue and we are ready to extend all possible support to bring peace in Afghanistan,” the Pakistan daily The Nation reported today.
India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, following his meeting with the Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, “welcomed the Afghan government’s call to armed groups to cease violence and join national peace and reconciliation process that would protect the rights of all Afghans, including the women, children and the minorities,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs statement said.
China Celebrates 120th Anniversary of Birth of Zhou Enlai
March 1 (EIRNS)— China is celebrating today the 120th anniversary of the birth of Premier Zhou Enlai (1898-1976). Zhou was among the early organizers of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the right-hand man of Mao Zedong during the revolution and the civil war. During World War II he was the main contact of the Dixie Mission, the group of American soldiers led by Col. David Barrett, who were assigned by Franklin Roosevelt to get in touch with the Communist rebels in the north of China in spite of the objections of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.
He was also the point-person for the secret 1971 visit of Henry Kissinger to China, which prepared the 1972 visit of President Richard Nixon. He was earlier instrumental in setting up the ping-pong diplomacy between the U.S. and China in 1971, which was, in fact, the first major contacts with the United States since the Second World War and helped lay the basis for the later visit of the U.S. President.
The CPC Central Committee held a symposium in Zhou’s honor today in the Great Hall of the People. President Xi gave a speech praising Zhou Enlai for laying the groundwork for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation that is occurring today. Xi praised Zhou’s faith in the future development of the country and his trust in the Communist Party to carry it forward. President Xi encouraged his listeners to follow the example of Premier Zhou in his zeal for building the party and his total commitment to the people’s happiness.
During the period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), Zhou was, in fact, a beacon for those who were being attacked and humiliated, and as it was winding down, he laid the intellectual basis for the reforms that would later be introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the “Reform and Opening Up” period. Zhou had set forth in 1963 the goals of the “four modernizations,” in industry, agriculture, national defense, and science and technology, which have become a lodestone for China’s present development. Zhou was in his training and outlook both a dedicated Communist and a Confucianist. While Confucius was denigrated during the Cultural Revolution, the figure of Zhou Enlai stood as a model of Confucian virtue.