No Bipartisan ‘Bridge’ on Infrastructure Bill Unless We Know How To Build Bridges!
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—EIR magazine editorializes this week, “The American People Want an Economy”: “A first look at the election results shows that what was most important was not the shift in control of the House, which had been prediscounted, but that Americans demand a full-fledged economic recovery and growth policy…. This also indicates that voters insist that Democratic legislators stick to their duty of governing the country alongside the elected President, rather than devoting all their time to press leaks against him. From all indications, President Trump will push the same point, making himself wide-open to collaboration with Democrats on issues where they agree—largely economic issues.”
President Trump made clear the day after the election, and likely Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed it: The key to bipartisan cooperation is legislation to fund and build new, basic economic infrastructure. Most Americans support it, demand it. Democratic “radicals” who want only to impeach or endlessly investigate the President are saboteurs. Republican “radicals” who oppose funding any government credit should be sidelined, exactly as Trump on Nov. 7 described doing that.
But to build that bipartisan bridge for legislative action, the United States needs to get in the practice of building real, new bridges—and high-speed railroads, and new power plants and power technologies, and new waterways and ports, and new heavy-lift space-launch rockets….
In a column this week Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, one of the Democrats with a bill for an infrastructure bank, was agog about China’s new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao sea bridge-tunnel, nearly 35 miles long across the Pearl River Estuary and built for 120 years’ life! “And we’re not building anything!” Delaney cried.
He was right. We can’t get subway or metro trains to cross a city or a river without breaking down or derailing. We have no high-speed trains. We can’t build nuclear power plants and each American now gets less electric power every year. We can’t send astronauts into Earth orbit and bring them back safely; NASA doesn’t even have an active plan any more, to build launchers to put Americans back on the surface of the Moon.
This is not because the United States hasn’t had good engineers or scientists; but because since the Vietnam War, and the British destruction of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Bretton Woods monetary system, American elected officials have not provided the credit for any big infrastructure or industrial ticket, unless it was for an aircraft carrier, fighter-bomber or a new tank.
Today the most serious Democrats, the most committed to what Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) calls “real funding for real infrastructure,” are far short of even the American Society of Civil Engineers $4-5 trillion price tag just to maintain and replace the basic infrastructure we’ve got in coming years. They are talking about funding molehills, compared to the mountainous new frontiers of high-technology infrastructure being mastered by China, Japan, Russia—in nuclear power—and India—in space technology.
The United States needs to be building the most advanced and critical projects in the world—the Kra Canal to link the Pacific and Indian Oceans; the Transaqua Project to restore Lake Chad and to save Sub-Saharan Africa from becoming a desert; nuclear desalination to stop desertification of our own West; the Bering Strait bridge-tunnel to link North American transportation to Eurasia. Where on the globe we build them makes no difference; they will rebuild the U.S. economy’s industrial and technological muscles.
This can be done, but only by cooperating with the other industry- and infrastructure-champion countries. Lyndon LaRouche has outlined it since the turn of this century. A New Bretton Woods—a four-power agreement with China, Russia and India, open to other industrial powers like Japan, to create credit on the scale of many trillions, for infrastructure projects that will transform economies, human productivity and living standards. Because of the informal but international reserve status of the U.S. dollar, this New Bretton Woods credit system requires United States participation above all.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Trump and Pelosi Can Get Things Done on Infrastructure
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former House Speaker when Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives, touted the bipartisan potential for passing infrastructure development legislation at her press conference Nov. 7, The Hill reported. Pelosi, who is expected to seek that position again, mentioned that she had spoken to President Trump Tuesday night, after it became clear that the Democrats were going to take back the House, saying, “Last night I had a conversation with President Trump about how we could work together. One of the issues that came up was … building infrastructure for America, and I hope that we can achieve that.”
She continued, “He talked about it during his campaign, and really didn’t come through with it in his first two years in office. But that issue has not been a partisan issue in the Congress of the United States.”
Rep. Pelosi highlighted the potential jobs that could be created in “surface transportation, water systems … broadband… schools, housing, and the rest… Those initiatives will create good-paying jobs, and will also generate other economic growth in their regions. Hopefully, we can work in a bipartisan way,” she said.
Pence Goes on an ‘Indo-Pacific’ Trip, Pushes the BUILD Act
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on the eve of leading a U.S. delegation to the ASEAN-U.S. Summit and the East Asia Summit in Singapore (Nov. 13-16), and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders meeting in Papua New Guinea (Nov. 18), wrote an op-ed “U.S. Seeks Collaboration, not Control, in Indo-Pacific,” for the Washington Post this morning. “Representing President Trump,” as he claimed, Pence primarily waxed eloquent about the “Indo-Pacific” region, a recent neo-con concept which is supposed to bring together the United States, Japan, Australia and India in a sort of partnership. Pence did not mention by name the intended target of such a much-discussed partnership, which is China. Cooperative economic relations between Japan and China have improved during 2018 and become focused on China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and those between India and China have become much more stable.
Of more interest is that Pence placed emphasis on President Trump’s having signed the BUILD Act on Oct. 5, “which expands U.S. development finance capacity to $60 billion. Our nation is committed to helping the region build world-class ports and airports, roads and railways, and pipelines and data lines.” And “businesses, not bureaucrats, will drive our efforts, because governments and state-owned enterprises are incapable of building lasting prosperity.” He said further about the three Asia meetings, “We will announce new deals and initiatives, many with significant financial backing from U.S. taxpayers and our business community.”
Thus far, BUILD Act target projects discussed for Africa and Ibero-America have been all about oil and gas recovery, refining and transshipment. This could change during Pence’s visits. But the Nikkei Asian Review in Tokyo reported Nov. 11: “Government finance agencies from the U.S., Japan and Australia will agree Monday on providing joint financing for infrastructure in Asia, part of three-way national cooperation on projects in the Indo-Pacific Region. America’s Overseas Private Investment Corp., the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and Australia’s Export Finance and Insurance Corp. will work together to support such energy projects as liquefied natural gas terminals, as well as infrastructure like undersea cables that has national security implications.” Nothing about ports, roads, rails, etc.
Democrat Rep. John Garamendi Wants Cooperation on Infrastructure
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), a former rancher who represents a district between San Francisco and Sacramento, was interviewed by Bloomberg Nov. 9 on the potential for cooperation between the House and President Donald Trump in the new Congress. Despite being one of the more extreme anti-Trump members of Congress, Garamendi said that House Democrats would present an immigration bill early in the term which he thinks could get Trump’s support and pass the Senate. On infrastructure, he said that we “must get a deal.” He said that beside the enormous need to restore our roads and rail and ports, that expanding broadband to the rural areas is an absolute necessity. Farmers in his district, he stated, depend on broadband connections to satellite data for every aspect of farming, but many do not have such access.
Garamendi said that Trump’s original proposals for infrastructure, depending on local governments for 80% of the required funds, simply cannot work. He stated that the U.S. rail system was built almost entirely with federal funds. “Yes, we have to find the funds,” he said, but had no proposal on how that would be done. The necessity of restoring the nation to a Hamiltonian credit system was obvious, but he made no such proposal. This is the key to any successful cooperation in the new Congress.
Trump Attacks Florida Vote Fraud; DNC Fusion GPS Lawyer on Scene
Nov. 9 (EIRNS)—Florida is again the scene of an election characterized by chaos and patterns of vote fraud, where election returns have been delayed and leads of Republican candidates suddenly evaporated. Briefed on this today, while en route to Paris, President Donald Trump tweeted, “You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia—but the election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”
Republican U.S. Senate candidate, and current Florida Gov. Rick Scott accused Democrats of “massive fraud,” when his lead, since Tuesday, over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson fell from about 45,000 votes to only 15,000 within 48 hours after the polls closed in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), and in Palm Beach County.
Marc Elias, of the Washington office of the Democratic National Committee’s law firm Perkins Coie, has flown to Florida. It was Elias’s firm that hired Fusion GPS, which hired “former” MI6 agent Christopher Steele, to invent the Russiagate dossier against Donald Trump while representing the DNC in 2016.
Broward County is still counting votes, although Florida rules say counting is supposed to be done 30 minutes after the polls close. Broward County Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes, who presided over the destroyed ballots in previous elections, is still Supervisor of Elections in Broward, where counting continues. On Nov. 6, Tuesday night, when voting closed, Broward County reported 634,000 votes cast; by Thursday night, Nov. 8, the number increased to 712,840.
In neighboring Palm Beach County, after polls closed, 15,000 new votes were “found.” Both Broward and Palm Beach Counties have failed in their duty to follow Florida law which requires that votes by mail and absentee ballots be counted within 30 minutes of the polls closing. Palm Beach County, as of midday Nov. 9, is reported to have failed to update the Florida Department of State since 10 a.m. Nov. 8, whereas Florida law requires updated reports every 45 minutes until results are completed and reported.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
China-Haiti-Dominican Republic Cooperation Could Develop the Island of Hispaniola
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—In the aftermath of the Dominican Republic’s breaking with Taiwan on May 1, but before President Danilo Medina’s Nov. 1-6 state visit to Beijing, economist Juan Lladó discussed how tripartite cooperation among China, Haiti and the Dominican Republic could develop the island of Hispaniola, shared by the two Caribbean nations, in the context of China’s New Silk Road initiative. This is one of several proposals that have surfaced publicly after May 1.
In an article published Sept. 10, in the Dominican news agency Almomento.net, Lladó points out that such a tripartite development perspective is the best way to deal with the problem of Haitian migration to the D.R., for years a source of bilateral tensions, offering the “promising potential of transforming [existing] suspicion and reticence into mutual cooperation.” With some irony, he adds that, of course, if the U.S. opposes China’s involvement in these plans (as seen in its response to Panama, the D.R. and El Salvador breaking with Taiwan), “our countries could suggest that the U.S. replace China”— and provide the same sums of money.
But, he writes, “our proposal assumes that both Haiti and the D.R. are sovereign states which can choose their trade and development partners without hindrance” from other nations. Dominican President Medina and Haitian President Jovenel Moïse should travel together to Beijing, he proposes, to discuss these tripartite plans.
After noting China’s investment/infrastructure ventures in other Caribbean nations, Lladó details several projects for Haiti and the D.R., including: 1) developing the D.R. port of Manzanilla; 2) set up free trade zones on the border; 3) mining development in the swath extending from the western Dominican city of Juan de la Maguana to Cap Haitien, on Haiti’s northeastern coast; 4) building a railroad between the Dominican city of Nagun on the northeastern coast to Cap Haitien; 5) a maglev train from Punta Cana, on the D.R.’s east coast to Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince on the southwestern coast, and several others.
Lladó estimates a total $25 billion price tag for this plan, and suggests several ways in which it could be managed. Among other things, should offer a concessionary interest rate and a five-year grace period, in exchange for which Haiti and the D.R. could offer special tax exemptions for export-oriented Chinese firms, providing them facilities (including through the Central American Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA) by which these firms’ products can access the large U.S. market, via Haiti, and also that of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations.
Hungary’s Orbán Tells 16+1 Central Bankers, Drop Your Prejudices and Come Work with China
Nov. 10 (EIRNS)—Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán yesterday attended a Nov. 9-10 Budapest meeting of central bank governors and top management of China and the 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In his address to this first meeting of the 16+1 central bankers, the prime minister advocated boosting ties between China and the CEEC.
Speaking of the emergence of “a new world order” with “several power centers,” Orbán argued that China was “fixed star” while the CEEC—most of whose members are in the EU or applying for membership—would become the “engine” driving Europe’s economy in the next 5-10 years. Orbán urged that the CEE countries should not approach China with any ideological prejudices. “It should be accepted that we are different and manage our countries differently,” he said, and that the intention is “not to pass judgment but promote mutual interests,” according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office today.
The host prime minister said that China would be a dominant factor of the world economy over the long term. “We must be prepared that the dollar could lose its exclusive control over world trade,” he said.
The Hungarian government will continue issuing state bonds in yuan in the future, Orbán said, and is considering plans to use the yuan as the currency of bilateral trade with China. This option, he said, would be “more of an opportunity than a risk.”
The release also mentioned that Orbán warned of the possibility of another international economic crisis. He told his guests that every government must therefore have a contingency plan for such an eventuality.
Nigeria’s President Buhari on the Urgency Restoring Lake Chad
Nov. 10 (EIRNS)—In a meeting with the head of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke again on the urgency of the inter-basin water-transfer project for Lake Chad. As The Vanguard reported today, Buhari said: “The problem of climate change is real. The desert encroachment is aggravating it.” The drying up of Lake Chad is serious for Nigeria. Among the Lake Chad Basin countries, Nigeria is greatly affected because fishing, animal husbandry, and farming are very seriously harmed. “We are trying to prick the conscience of developed countries to quickly execute the interbasin transfer from Congo Basin to Chad Basin.”
As Nigerian sources told EIR, everybody is waiting for the result of the feasibility study for the Transaqua plan, which the Italian government has ensured with initial financing, but which has not started yet because of bureaucratic procedures. Hopefully, the funds will be released after a meeting of the joint Lake Chad Basin Commission-Italy committee next January.
India-Based Market Intelligence Agency Produces Extensive Report on Thailand’s Kra Canal
Nov. 10 (EIRNS)—The Delhi-based Strategic News International (SNI) published a long, careful study of the Kra Canal on Nov. 8, following an extensive investigation in Thailand, visiting the site and interviewing several of the retired military officers who have given weight to the long-term effort headed by EIR’s friend Pakdee Tanapura to build the canal.
Titled “A 341-Year-Old Idea Whose Time Has Come?” journalists Amitabh P. Revi and Prateek Suri report on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s recent change of heart, ordering the National Security Council and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to look seriously into the canal. Prayut has previously refused to act on the Canal, leaving it to future governments.
“SNI visited both entry-exit points in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand,” they write, “travelling along the so-called 9A route. Detailed video reports and interviews of the top supporters, detractors, fisher-folk, villagers along the route, analysts and naval experts are coming soon on SNI.”
They report on interviews with retired generals who are now in the Thai Canal Association. (Thai Canal is another name for Kra Canal.) Gen. Pongthep Thesprateep said: “The canal will open the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. It may belong to Thailand by geography, but many countries, the world will benefit.”
They quote Master Mariner Capt. Bundit Sripa: “The Malacca [Strait] has shallow water—the draft is 20.5 meters. The Thai-Kra Canal will be dredged deeper than that. We’ll dredge about 30 meters. So we can accommodate the biggest vessels in the world. If you can’t pass through the Malacca, then you have to go through Lombok. That will take you about three days more. It will cost too much. One of the biggest benefitters will be Indian exports of ore to China.”
Adm. Soopakorn Booranadiloak responded to recent attacks on the canal alleging it is a Chinese trick to allow rapid military access to the Indian Ocean. “One will have to show passage with innocent intentions,” he said. “It will be used for navigation only. It cannot be used as a military threat to any country.” On the so-called Chinese “debt-trap,” they quote a former editor of the Bangkok Post, Umesh Pandey, saying: “It’s best if a consortium of countries invests so as not to give a particular country the upper hand. I have talked to many ambassadors. Everybody says they’re willing to participate.”
SNI concludes: “Although he is still to be coroneted, whether the new monarch King Rama X, Maha Vajiralongkorn, chooses the Thai-Kra Canal to be his legacy project is what will be answered in the days, weeks and months to come. It’s an answer that can change not only global maritime routes but also world history.”
Suez Canal and China Revitalize Mediterranean Region
Nov. 9 (EIRNS)—Three factors have put the Mediterranean back at the center of worldwide shipping routes, according to a report presented in Brussels by Intesa Sanpaolo Bank and the Center for Mezzogiorno Studies (SRM), in southern Italy. The report said these factors are the expansion of the Suez Canal, the evolution of the shipbuilding industry, and the growing role of China.
The Suez Canal has experienced record growth, closing 2017 with 909 million tons transported and more than 17,000 ships, an 11% growth on 2016 figures. Another determining factor has been the ability to create increasingly larger ships, which, in order to be economically viable need routes such as the Mediterranean, where there are various points for loading and offloading cargo.
China’s role is also essential, especially the New Silk Road, with Beijing’s investments in Mediterranean terminals and ports totaling €4.5 billion.
This allows Europe to hold its leadership in the maritime sector, with European shipbuilding companies controlling 40% of the world’s mercantile fleet. Italian ports are growing and surpassed a half-billion tons in cargo transport in 2017. The international component of Italy’s sea trade last year increased by 12.4% compared to 2016.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Russia’s Zakharova Warns ‘Limited Nuclear War’ Is ‘Playing with the Devil’
Nov. 9 (EIRNS)—In the wake of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, released early in 2018, there has been a growing drumbeat among a certain faction within the national security establishment for increasing the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. geopolitical strategy towards Russia and China. This view was stated in an article for the November/December issue of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Foreign Affairs by Elbridge Colby (son of the late former CIA Director William Colby), who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development over 2017-2018. In “If You Want Peace, Prepare for Nuclear War: A Strategy for the New Great-Power Rivalry,” Elbridge Colby writes that the U.S. needs to be ready to carry out “limited nuclear operations.” The lead package of the issue is “Do Nuclear Weapons Really Matter?” which includes Colby’s article, plus John Mueller, “Nuclear Weapons Don’t Matter, but Nuclear Hysteria Does”; Nina Tannenbaum, “The Vanishing Nuclear Taboo? How Disarmament Fell Apart”; and Scott Sagan, “Armed and Dangerous: When Dictators Get the Bomb.”
Yesterday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to Colby’s piece in connection with the U.S. intention to withdraw from the Intermedia-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, as demonstrating a dangerous trend. “Voices have been getting louder in the United States that seek to increase the role of nuclear weapons and expand the possibilities of the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” TASS quoted her as saying during her regular press briefing. She denounced this line, stating that it is explained by the “mythical Russian threat.” Further, Zakharova demanded, with respect to his call for the U.S. to be prepared to carry out “limited nuclear operations”: “I want a clarification: Where would these limited operations be carried out? On what continent would this strategy be fulfilled, if it were fulfilled?”
Zakharova remarked that a similar thesis is “enshrined” in the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. “Judging by this, U.S. analysts have started seriously considering the concept of a limited nuclear war and apparently, some of them have thought this over and assessed that the U.S. and its allies would be able to gain a victory in it….
“We are firmly convinced that there can be no victors in a nuclear war and it should never be waged. Using nuclear weapons in pinpoint attacks is tantamount to playing with the devil,” Zakharova concluded.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Bridenstine Strengthens U.S.-Russia Space Cooperation
Nov. 11 (EIRNS)—NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine succeeded in getting a temporary waiver from the White House to allow Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin to visit the U.S. next year, Bridenstine told TASS during his visit to Moscow on Oct. 19. It was only grudgingly acknowledged by the Washington Post on Nov. 9. During his visit to the Baikonur launch complex and Moscow in October, Bridenstine and Rogozin met face-to-face for the first time. In addition to inviting Rogozin to meet in Houston at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Bridenstine invited Rogozin to talk to students at Rice University, his alma mater.
According to TASS, on Nov. 9, Bridenstine met with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov in Washington. “I was pleased to host Russian Federation Ambassador Anatoly Antonov today for a courtesy meeting here at NASA Headquarters to discuss the important space cooperation between our two countries,” Bridenstine said in Twitter. The Embassy confirmed the meeting in a statement quoted by TASS: “During the conversation, prospects for Russian-American space interaction were discussed. Both sides emphasized the mutually beneficial nature of the cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos.”
Panamanian Book Promotes All Americas Joining the New Silk Road
Nov. 9 (EIRNS)—Eddie Tapiero, the lead economist for the Panama Canal Authority, who is currently on loan to the Ministry of Commerce as an advisor to the China-Panama Free Trade Agreement, presented his new book, The New Silk Road and Panama: A Prospective Strategic Scenario between America and China, at the National Library in Panama City on Nov. 7, with an impassioned call for Panama, its Ibero-American neighbors, and the United States to jointly recognize the great potential offered by participating in the Belt and Road Initiative sponsored by China.
The New Silk Road is not just a question of commerce, but a new path for the world as a whole, he told the full room of intellectuals, political leaders, diplomats and business leaders who came for the presentation, which was also broadcast live through the book’s Facebook page. More integration means less war. At the same time, participation “can help Latin American countries improve their standards of living,” and pull their people out of poverty, as China is doing.
Also speaking at the event in support of the book’s purpose, were Acting Vice Foreign Minister Amira Barsallo, who was representing Foreign Minister and Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo; China’s Ambassador to Panama Wei Qiang; and former Executive VP at the Panama Canal Authority Rodolfo Sabonge. Representatives of the U.S. Embassy were invited to the event.
Tapiero titled his press release on the book release, “The New World Order To Be Decided by U.S.-China Relations in the Latin American Region.” He argues that Panama, given its strategic geographical position and global logistical capabilities “could become the critical point for the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, helping to unite countries in Latin America.” Both he and Sabonge raised the need for Panama to finally establish a link with South America through the Darién Gap. The benefits of physical integration with a continent that will become a powerhouse in the future outweighs environmentalist concerns, he argued. The proposal is provocative in Panama, but it has long been advocated by the international Schiller Institute, as well.
“Greater engagement from the U.S. and its integration in the initiative can offer win-win results for all: governments, business, and most importantly, to the world. U.S. firms, such as GE and Johnson Controls already sell significant amounts of equipment for projects in Asia, and they can do the same in Latin America. Moreover, they have significant experience working in the region, and could become strategic partners to Chinese firms in many projects,” Tapiero argued.