British Imperial Geopolitics Collapsing; Theresa May Desperately Tries To Control Trump
March 13 (EIRNS)—British Prime Minister Theresa May has put on a “Churchillian” show over the apparent poisoning of a Russian double agent in London. She and Foreign Secretary Boris “Col. Blimp” Johnson have issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Russia and demanded NATO support for a U.K. confrontation against Russia and possible attack on Syria. Tuesday afternoon May was pursuing President Donald Trump by phone to try to rope him into attacking Russia.
Unfortunately for her, Churchill himself was an eager user of poison weapons on the battlefield, “extermination bombing”—as he put it—and poison gas attacks on civilians from “inferior races.” Many around the world remember the history of British Empire, and are aware of its present arming and direction of the Saudi war of genocide against Yemen.
And the U.K. itself possesses the rare chemical nerve agent May claims was used by Russians in London.
But May’s desperation really comes from the fact that the geopolitical doctrine conjured by Britain over centuries is at its fag end. It is being defeated by a new policy known as the New Silk Road and named by China’s President the “common destiny of humanity.”
China has brought a new, productive global infrastructure-building boom into the world and along with it, an idea of great power relations based on respect and mutual development aid for other nations. President Trump has chosen repeatedly to emphasize his excellent relation of mutual respect with China’s President Xi Jinping, and their collaboration may even stabilize the Korean Peninsula.
The British intelligence-spawned “Russiagate” scandals in the United States, aimed at either forcing Trump into confrontation with Russia or forcing him out of office, continue to collapse—now with the House Intelligence Committee ending its investigations and declaring, “nothing there.”
President Vladimir Putin’s March 1 speech declared obsolete and dead, the NATO policy of surrounding Russia with NATO strategic first-strike capability. It cannot be ignored. The U.S. Defense Department itself has now acknowledged that U.S. ABM systems will not work against Russia’s strategic weapons. As President Putin said, negotiation based on mutual respect is the best policy for both countries.
May herself could be about to be replaced as Prime Minister by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who actually has mass support in the British public, in part for rejecting war confrontations with Russia.
Whether the British PM can get President Trump to say “Russia did it” today, or not, her problem is deeper. As Helga Zepp-LaRouche commented today, the establishment May represents is alreadydefeated and in a rear-guard battle—fighting for British imperial geopolitics to the bitter end. The new paradigm of great power relations pioneered by China is pushing the long-dominant British geopolitical doctrine off the stage of history.
The United States under Trump can avoid the “Thucydides Trap” and collaborate, to the mutual benefit of all nations.
But can it revive its industry, productivity, its spacefaring greatness, its scientific prowess—or even the life expectancy of its citizens? Can it generate credit to replace its broken-down economic infrastructure?
There, both Trump and the Congress are foundering. And that is what participating in the New Silk Road means.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Sputnik Cites Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Surveys Questions on Skripal Case
March 13 (EIRNS)—In its survey March 13, “Russian Ex-Spy’s Poisoning Seems Like Ploy To Derail U.K.-Russia Ties—Analysts,” Sputnik International starts by quoting Helga Zepp-LaRouche. After reporting British Prime Minister Theresa May’s claim that the Russian government must have done it, Sputnik turns to Zepp-LaRouche: “However, the assassination attempt might in reality be ‘dirty tricks’ by the U.K. intelligence agencies aimed at discrediting Russia, the leader of the German Civil Rights Movement Solidarity party said. According to Helga Zepp-LaRouche, this incident seemed like the intelligence service’s ‘fabricating another Litvinenko case as a pretext for another anti-Russia escalation.’ ”
The news service then quotes other analysts exposing unanswered questions about May’s hasty conclusion. One is Marcello Ferrada de Noli, founder of The Indicter magazine, published by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights. “ ‘British spy Skripal has been exposed, already pardoned, allowed to go abroad, and he did not pose any danger—not any longer—to Russian national security,’ de Noli explained. … ‘Even considering—only for argumentation’s sake—Prime Minister May’s assumption that Russia would have wished to get rid of British spy Skripal, it appears absurd that Russia would have preferred to send a hit squad to England and risk a major international incident, instead of punishing him quietly while he was under custody in Russian territory.’ ”
Nations do not seek to kill former spies after exchanging them, when they are no longer useful as spies.
And although one leader of Britain’s UKIP party accepts that Russia must have made the attempted kill, another, Nigel Sussman, asks: “If we know anything about the Russian state, [it] is that it is not stupid. So why would it commit a completely stupid act, on the eve of the Russian presidential election and the World Cup, in such a manner?”
De Noli is quoted again on the nerve agents called Novichok. “However, this kind of nerve agent was originally produced not in Russia, but in the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, de Noli pointed out. ‘After its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been working together with the United States to sanitize the locations where Novichok was produced and tested. The possibility of smuggling of the nerve agent out of Uzbekistan cannot be ruled out,’ the expert said.”
Furthermore, the U.K. itself possesses Novichok. RT quoted Nikolai Kovalev, former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), who told RIA Novosti: “It looks like British secret services are complicit in it. [Defectors] are fully under surveillance…. The secret services are monitoring them, they know their whereabouts and schedules. And then you have such strange events [a series of assassination attempts] happen in a row.”
China and Russia Cooperate To Finish Key Border Bridge
March 13 (EIRNS)—Global Times on March 12 reported that increasing China-Russia cooperation on the Belt and Road was epitomized by the completion in just three years of the Tongjiang Rail Bridge across a border river which is frozen solid five months of the year. The bridge which connects Tongjiang city in Heilongjiang Province to Nizhneleninskoye in Russia is 2.3 km long, and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group built 1.9 km of it in temperatures frequently down to −20@°C (−68°F). “The bridge is expected to trigger a commercial and infrastructure development boom in the cross-border economic corridor, along with a larger flow of cargo and people,” Global Times said. “It is one of the most important infrastructure projects to promote the implementation of the ‘plan for building the China-Russia-Mongolia Economic Corridors.’ ”
The paper stated that “In the past two years, the Russia Far East Area has absorbed $9 billion in foreign investment, of which 80% comes from China, which is how Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced RFE [Russian Far East] at the Eastern Economic Forum in 2017.” The work of the Chinese teams on the bridge “deeply impressed Russian governors,” it said. There are 28 joint infrastructure projects which have been agreed.
While China-Russia cooperation is intensifying, there is also competition. Li Yonghui, a researcher at the Russian studies center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Global Times: “Russia is in fact preventing China’s investment from becoming an oligarchy across the RFE region by reserving more opportunities for other Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, and weighing the potential of China and Japan for serving Russian interests, in order to maximize its profit from competition.”
The amount of funds actually invested in new projects in the Russian Far East was not large, but Japan’s was the largest, reported Global Times.
OECD Lawmakers Meet in Azerbaijan, Votes Up ‘Baku Declaration’ for New Silk Road
March 13 (EIRNS)—An international conference of lawmakers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member countries is convening in the Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan today, to discuss connectivity prospects offered by the New Silk Road development. Indicative are panel sessions, which include “Strengthening of Mutually Beneficial Cooperation and Trade Relations”; “Simplification of Transport and Logistics Procedures”; and “Building Confidence, Promoting Cultural Exchange and Dialogue.” China’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Wei Jinghua will deliver lectures at the conference, and a “Baku Declaration” will be passed at the event’s conclusion.
Azeri Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov opened the conference, saying “We are renewing the Silk Road with new instruments,” and that his country is investing a lot already to become a hub for trade between Asia and Europe. The upgrading of the Azeri port of Baku serves that broader design, he said.
China Is Winning Its War against Air Pollution, Expanding Life Expectancy
March 13 (EIRNS)—China is winning the battle against its notorious smog, and raising life expectancy in the process, according to a study by the University of Chicago, Channel NewsAsia reported today. Released March 12, the study shows that while China has far to go to reach national and international air quality standards, the results suggest the country is progressing on both counts.
China has found that cities have cut levels of PM 2.5—the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health—by an average of 32% in just four years. If this rate of reduction were sustained, it would increase the life expectancy of the average Chinese citizen by 2.4 years relative to 2013. PM 2.5 can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and lung sicknesses such as emphysema and cancer. Another 2017 study published found that air pollution in northern China had cut life expectancy by three years, compared with the south of China.
Michael Greenstone, the economist and director of the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute told AFP, “We don’t have a historical example of a country achieving such rapid reductions in pollution.” It took the U.S. 12 years and a severe recession after it enacted the 1970 Clean Air Act to reach similar air quality improvements. He commented that China’s improvements demonstrate that “things can change, and can change rapidly.”
In 2013, after public discontent increased, China’s Communist Party launched an action plan to cut PM 2.5 levels in key regions such as Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin area and the Yangtze Delta by up to 25% and in 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared “war” on pollution. Beijing cut PM 2.5 levels by 35% between 2013 and 2017, creating “no coal zones” that pushed more than 3 million households to switch to gas or electric heating, and tolerate some delays between removal of old equipment and replacement by new. The result was a lifespan increase of its 20 million residents by 3.3 years, the study found. China’s most polluted city of 2015, Baoding, surpassed that goal for clean air, and cut pollution by 38%, adding 4.5 years of life for residents.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
New Report: U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for the Second Year
March 13 (EIRNS)—Life expectancy in the United States dropped for the second year in a row, David Bishai reports in a Jan. 16 article in The Conversation, reprinted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. While gross domestic product in the U.S. is at an all-time high, U.S. life expectancy is not, Bishai, a Johns Hopkins Professor of Health Economics, reports. Life expectancy in the United States has fallen for the second time in two years—from a high of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2016. It fell across the board—for men and women, whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The statistics show that thousands were preventable, premature deaths.
Life expectancy is not supposed to fall in “countries that are this rich, spend this much on health, and pride themselves in taking care of each other. As a demographer working in a school of public health, I am astounded by the complacency at the loss of so many Americans in the prime of life,” he writes.
The latest data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that deaths for Americans under 65 rose by 20,566 between 2015 and 2016. Based on population growth alone, only 6,131 additional deaths would have been expected; therefore, the other 14,435 Americans died prematurely of causes that could have been prevented. These younger people died in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and their death certificates list mostly opioid overdose, cirrhosis, suicide and homicide. Bishai reports, “Diseases of despair, like suicide and addiction, come from the failure of social solidarity and inclusion.”
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced a new “blueprint” showing how public health workers could address the crisis, called “Public Health 3.0.” It asks pharmacists and health professionals to train providers on diversion, forgery, and better pain management to address the “growing despair” that has afflicted our minds and bodies, says Bishai.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
House Intelligence Committee Finds There Was No Trump-Russia Collusion
March 13 (EIRNS)—House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced yesterday that the Committee had finished its investigation into alleged Russian collusion to elect Trump, and found no evidence of collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. “After more than a year, the Committee has finished its Russia investigation and will now work on completing our report,” said Committee Chairman Nunes in a press release.
In a one-page summary of a draft report of more than 150 pages, the committee said it agreed with the intelligence community’s prior judgments, “except with respect to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.”
The Hill reported Committee member Chris Stewart (R-UT) gave a kind of preview of the report’s findings on the intelligence agencies: “I have spent a couple days out to the CIA actually reading the raw intelligence; actually reading what we were basing this on,” Stewart told CNN. “And when we release this report, we’re going to be able to show … the CIA just got it wrong. The CIA is not perfect. They often—or at least from time to time—will make mistakes, as do I, as do you, as does any agency. And we’re just going to have to show people they were wrong on this. They just misinterpreted some very key intelligence and drew the wrong conclusion.”
President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia, held up the Republican-led committee’s findings as vindication. Last night the President tweeted: “THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION” [emphasis in original].
President Trump Fires Tillerson as Secretary of State, Taps Pompeo To Replace Him
March 13 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump today announced the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a brief press conference as he was boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base to fly to California.
Trump said that Tillerson was “a good man,” but “we disagreed on things.” Trump cited the Iran deal. “I wanted to break it,” Trump said. Trump said that he and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom he named as Tillerson’s replacement, “have a very similar thought process.”
Trump said, “I made the decision” to meet with North Korea, perhaps signalling that Tillerson did not agree with it.
Trump also said on the Skripal alleged poisoning, that it “Sounds like it would be Russian,” and said that Theresa May would be calling him later today. Trump said, “They [the British] believe that it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.”
Trump said that he and Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, “are always on the same wavelength…. I am getting close to having the Cabinet I want.”
Multiple press reports say that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Tillerson Saturday morning, and told him that President Trump would fire him. Tillerson then immediately cut his trip in Africa short, and returned to Washington today.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
South Africa’s Space Agency Pushes To Broaden Cooperation
March 13 (EIRNS)—South African National Space Agency (SANSA) head Dr. Val Munsami described for South Africa’s Engineering News Online yesterday, initiatives SANSA is taking to broaden its international cooperation in space technology and exploration. South Africa has made important investments in its space program, which it sees as a science and technology driver for its economy, and for education.
Munsami said that “some discussions are already taking place” with the European Space Agency for expanding cooperation, and that “there is a good chance that South African experiments could, within the next few years, be mounted on interplanetary probes from major space agencies.” He explained that “such a development would stimulate science locally and make space more attractive for South Africans, as well as making South Africa an even more attractive partner in space projects.”
South Africa has always had a focus on bringing more African nations into participation in space science and technology projects. It has bilateral memorandums of understanding already with Gabon and Nigeria, and has an agreement with Algeria to be renewed this month; an agreement with Egypt is under discussion.
Munsami is now proposing a continent-wide Committee of African Space Institutions, which he hopes will be created in June. The CASI would oversee already agreed-upon projects, such as an African Resources Management satellite constellation, as well as future programs.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Haley Threatens U.S. Military Action in Syria, Gets Sharp Retort from Gerasimov
March 13 (EIRNS)—U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued a warning, yesterday, which is being taken as a threat of military action against the Syrian government. The United States is “prepared to act if we must” to stop alleged indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Syria, she declared at the UN Security Council, as she was circulating a new draft ceasefire resolution which, she claims, will eliminate the “loophole” that allows Syrian and Russian forces to go after terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta. According to the Washington Post, Haley compared the situation today to last year when the United States launched airstrikes against a Syrian military base after the alleged sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. “When the international community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action,” Haley said.
In response, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the Russian General Staff, warned this morning that the Russian Armed Forces will respond if the lives of its servicemen in Syria are threatened, including in the event of a missile strike on Damascus. “According to reports … the U.S. plans to accuse the Syrian government troops of using chemical weapons, and to provide the world community with the so-called ‘evidence’ of the alleged mass death of civilians at the hands of the Syrian government and ‘Russia supporting it,’ ” he said. In retaliation, Washington, according to Gerasimov, “plans to launch a missile strike on the government-held districts of Damascus.”
At the same time in Damascus, in the offices and facilities of the Ministry of Defense of Syria, there are now Russian military advisors, representatives of the Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties and military police, Gerasimov stressed, and “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”
Mattis in Kabul To Seek ‘Political Reconciliation’ between Taliban and Afghan Government
March 13 (EIRNS)—Arriving unannounced in Kabul today, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States is picking up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with the government of Afghanistan in order to end the more than 16-year-old war. AP quoted him, “We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan,” continuing, “Not a military victory—the victory will be a political reconciliation” with the Taliban. Incidentally, Mattis’ proposal, although a long way from making any headway, matches that of both Iran and Russia, which have been promoting participation of the Taliban in administering the country.
Washington’s apparent policy shift after 16 years, from a military victory to a political reconciliation with the Taliban, came two weeks after President Ashraf Ghani, in an international conference in Kabul on Feb. 28, had offered the Taliban a similar proposal that called for a “ceasefire,” the recognition of the Taliban as a political party, confidence-building measures, and free and fair elections. Officially, the Taliban have not responded to that proposal and violent incidents continue.
Nonetheless, there are reasons why Ghani and Mattis have made public this new policy. To begin with, ground conditions suggest that the Taliban cannot be defeated but, at the same time, the Taliban are too fragmented to have control of all of Afghanistan, particularly the urban centers. And one of the major Taliban factions which controls the Helmand-Kandahar region (that includes opium/heroin as well) and identified as the Mansour faction, has virtually broken away from the Taliban leader Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada.
Of equal importance is the increasing evidence that small groups operating under disgruntled former Taliban field commanders have begun to join the Afghan ISIS (called the Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP). It is feared that as the inability of achieve a total Taliban victory becomes clearer, many of the Taliban fighters will join the ISKP bringing in international jihadis for a takeover of Afghanistan.