EIR Daily Alert Service, December 26, 2018


Volume 5, Number 256

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390

Israelis Launch New Air Strikes In Syria

Russian Officials Remark on Trump’s Withdrawal from Syria, and U.S. Relations

Backers of Trump’s Troop Pull-Out from Syria Refute the Warhawks’ Lies

Rep. Jimmy Duncan Salutes Trump’s Syria Decision

Since Last January, 16 Ibero-American and Caribbean Nations Have Joined the Belt and Road

López Obrador Presents Tehuantepec Isthmus Project

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EIR Daily Alert
EDITORIALThe Big ‘If…’Dec. 25 (EIRNS)’—After the Christmas holiday, we find ourselves in the full swing of a worldwide crisis which offers the greatest prospects for a fundamental breakthrough for the human species since at latest Franklin Roosevelt’s efforts of three-quarters of a century ago. This unique, unprecedented moment probably offers even greater opportunities than those that Douglas MacArthur hailed at the end of World War II—before Churchill and Truman destroyed them. While it is true that terrible dangers threaten us, yet Lyndon LaRouche’s methods can provide the inspiration, through decisive and far-seeing leadership, to enable nations to overcome them.To pursue one example to try to illustrate this point: President Trump’s decisive action in withdrawing from Syria and then, presumably, from Afghanistan, has of course reminded the American people of the reasons that they elected him President. After the desolation of the Bush and Obama years, it has rekindled their vision of what the country could be.But it has done more, as the reports below begin to indicate. The U.S. rejection of the “forever wars” foisted on us by the British empire, is simultaneously triggering an incipient process of negotiation between the Four Powers of the U.S., Russia, China and India—along with others such as Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan—on an emerging peace order for South and Southwest Asia.  Not only does this mesh perfectly with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but it brings us closer to negotiations for a New Bretton Woods system—if we force those to happen.At the same time, China’s Chang’e-4, now orbiting the Moon, will soon make the first-ever soft landing on its far side—perhaps as soon as the first week in January.  Just as we are now entering an unprecedented moment of all human history—so also, everything the Chinese lander finds there will be a new discovery; no one has ever been there before, and so nothing is really known.Although the fake-news media is studiously ignoring Chang’e-4 now, this will soon be impossible even for them, and the news of this great space mission for mankind will break wide open into the midst of the ongoing mass-strike process. LaRouche PAC Texas leader Kesha Rogers has asked whether there will be a “Chang’e-4 shock” like the Sputnik shock of October 4, 1957—a fair question. Sputnik, man’s first step into space, changed the world forever. Indeed, America under the Second Eisenhower Administration changed as if overnight.  The revival of the country and the New Deal spirit which we associate with the Kennedy years, actually began under Eisenhower with the “beep-beep” of Sputnik.Along with Chang’e-4, we have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission in which humans first orbited the Moon. This was the first time that human beings had ever left the influence of the Earth’s gravitation to enter that of another heavenly body.  Decades earlier, Russian space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky had called it “breaking the chains of slavery to gravity.”Apollo 8 was not only a triumph of humanity and of science—it was also a triumph of leadership.  Three astronauts had been killed in 1967, and the U.S. Moon program was in trouble. Then, in August of 1968, a mere 16 weeks before Apollo 8 came to be launched, a middle-level NASA leader in Houston called two peers into a secret meeting, to propose to repurpose what would have been a redundant Earth-orbiting mission into the first manned mission into Lunar orbit. After Houston had secretly determined that the mission was indeed doable, they telephoned NASA Administrator Jim Webb in Europe for the go-ahead. Webb was furious at them, but he had to agree—and the rest is history. Science, history, leadership—they’re all ultimately the same thing.In his Y2000 autobiography Failure Is Not an Option, pioneering flight controller Gene Kranz wrote, “To keep this mission clearly separated from the current plans, I designated Apollo 8 as the X mission.  Until the mission was approved, we had to keep all mission data for the originally planned E mission.  The X mission was now joining the ranks of the Gemini 4 spacewalk, the Gemini 76 rendezvous, and [George] Mueller’s all-up Saturn test concept, as examples of the high-risk, high-gain leadership we had in the 1960s.  The decision to go to the Moon with Apollo 8 was made before we had ever flown a manned Apollo spacecraft.”U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMICMattis Resignation Pushed Up to Dec. 31Dec. 24 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump is clearly highly displeased with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s very public resignation letter, which attacked the Syria pullout, Trump’s intention that the U.S. befriend Russia and China, and his refusal to bow down to the British Empire (euphemistically called “our allies”). Trump has now forced Mattis to make his departure on Dec. 31, rather than waiting until Feb. 28, 2019, as Mattis had intended. This means that Mattis will not be around for the next NATO defense ministers meeting in the middle of February, during which he would be clearly articulating a policy at odds with that of his President.A White House official had told the Associated Press that Trump decided Mattis should leave the administration earlier than planned, to avoid a drawn-out transition without someone on hand whom they consider a qualified deputy capable of running the Pentagon in an acting capacity. That qualified official is Patrick Shanahan, the current Deputy Secretary of Defense. A spokesman for Shanahan confirmed to AP that he would be taking the job as acting secretary on Jan. 1.Susan Rice Demands Permanent War, Dump TrumpDec. 25 (EIRNS)—Perhaps the most rabid of the hysterical reactions to Trump’s move to end U.S. colonialist wars on behalf of the British Empire was that of Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor and Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. In a New York Times op-ed on Dec. 23, called “The Threat in the White House,” Rice literally begged for more wars, including especially against Iran, but by implication also on Turkey, Russia and China. Trump, she writes, “does more to undermine American national security than any foreign adversary.”She perversely states: “American troops should not remain indefinitely in Syria or Afghanistan.” Is 17 years not yet “indefinitely?” Perhaps 30 years would be good? Or 50? And after regime change in Syria, must we then go on to Iran? She writes: “We are leaving Israel alone to confront Iran and Hezbollah’s hostility, while relinquishing our remaining influence over the future of a fractured Syria.”“Cutting and running from Syria,” as she calls ending the illegal and genocidal war she started on behalf of London, “benefits only militants, Turkey, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Russia and Iran. We are abandoning our Kurdish partners, leaving them vulnerable to Turkey’s offensive, after they did the hard work of undermining the Islamic State.” So we should go to war with Turkey as well?But, of course, her greatest concern is Trump’s disregard for her boss: “We are walking away from our British and French allies,” she whines.U.S. Elite Must Give Up Geopolitical Delusions on Russia, Urges LavrovDec. 24 (EIRNS)—Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Sputnik today in an exclusive interview, that for the sake of humanity, it is time that “decades” of “selective interaction” between the United States and Russia be replaced by “a normal, predictable dialogue … based on the principles of mutual understanding and respect for interests.”“The potential for constructive bilateral interaction is enormous,” but that has been blocked for “many decades,” he emphasized. The difficulties are not merely related to electoral cycles where candidates may play the “Russia card.” “If we speak in a broader, if you like, in a philosophical sense, the main problem in our relations is that the United States has never considered them as valuable. Russia for the American political establishment is an object,” he said.“We are demonized in order to keep Europe in check and to strengthen the trans-Atlantic bond. Or, for example, they are now seriously discussing how to use Russia against China in their favor. Yes, and attempts to inspire a change of power in our country or a change in Russian policy—and many in Washington suffer from such an illusion—are dictated by the desire to make us a tool to serve U.S. interests.”But while that has worked with some other countries, but it will never work with Russia, he said. “Until the ‘objectification’ of Russia, which apparently is a legacy of the Cold War, disappears from the consciousness of the American elite and this practice stops, the relationship will not change. ‘Selective interaction’ is flawed. It does not ensure the consolidation of positive trends and a predictable future.”Lavrov reiterated once again the stakes that are involved:“An armed conflict involving the two leading nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, will have disastrous consequences for humanity. There is no doubt that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it should never be unleashed.” But the obsession with geopolitical ambitions by Washington and its allies has led to exacerbated confrontational pressure and frozen channels of dialogue, such that “a situation may well arise when the price of an error or misunderstanding becomes fatal.”Global Times Backs Trump’s Move Against the ‘Establishment’Dec. 24 (EIRNS)—The editorial today in the Communist Party of China’s Global Times daily provides an insightful profile of President Donald Trump’s actions against “the establishment” in the U.S. They write of Trump’s tweet on the Syria pullout: “It should not be the job of America to replace regimes around the world,” and the Washington Post response (“rogue presidency”) and that of the New York Times(Trump is “spinning out of control”).The editorial then says: “The U.S. seems to be getting caught in a profound and chaotic adjustment in which its traditional political values are collapsing while new values are taking shape through competition. Dissatisfaction among ordinary people cannot be eased through traditional political measures. They turned into a voting power that attempts to break the status quo. This made President Trump confront the establishment and make shocking decisions.”The daily also states that “traditional logic” can not explain Trump’s actions: “Does he only want to boost the U.S. economy and pay no attention to geopolitics?… Does he no longer rely on the American alliance system?” They don’t claim to know the answer to these crucial questions, since policies in the Administration are often contradictory.”It continues: “Trump’s sharp personality has won him strong public support as well as strong resistance from the establishment. In the following two years, conflicts between Trump and the U.S. system may be further intensified and anything can happen.”They conclude that China should act “moderately” in relations with Trump, and “should expand instead of further shrink the space of sound China-U.S. bilateral relations.”Some Progressive Democrats Back Syrian Troop Pull-OutDec. 24 (EIRNS)—President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria is being supported by sane Democrats in Congress, with key leaders of the Progressive Caucus stepping forward to slam the war-mongers’ response.Hawaii Democrat and combat veteran Tulsi Gabbard tweeted on Dec. 21 that “the hysterical reaction to the decision to withdraw troops from Syria is astonishing & shows just how attached to war some are. Lindsey Graham & others want us to continue our regime change war in Syria and to go to war with Iran. That’s why they’re so upset.”She continued in a second tweet: “Lindsey Graham and other neocons/neolibs who say our troops must remain in Syria are wrong. We need to get out of Syria ASAP in a responsible manner (it shouldn’t take long)….”Rep. Ro Khanna, Vice Chair of the Progressive Caucus and a member of the Armed Services Committee, has been outspoken. He titled his Dec. 22 op-ed in the Washington Post “Trump Was Right To Pull Out of Syria and Afghanistan. This Is What He Should Do Next.”Congressional Democrats “should not pile on” the criticism of the President for these decisions, Khanna wrote. “We should applaud the President’s desire to put an end to these interventions, but should challenge him to assemble a team that does so with better planning and diplomacy. We should articulate a foreign policy doctrine of responsible withdrawal that prioritizes restraint and human rights,” he wrote.Trump’s “decision is in compliance with U.S. and international law,” he continued. “The presence of U.S. troops in the Syrian civil war was never authorized by Congress. We are also violating international law by invading Syria without the approval of the United Nations.”Khanna went on: “Trump also deserves credit for standing up to the war hawks within his own administration who started inventing rationales for remaining in the country: countering Iran and seeing an end to the Assad regime. That is the definition of mission creep.”On Afghanistan, Khanna said that Trump’s “instincts as a candidate of ending the war and bringing our troops home were spot-on…. There should be a short timeline for bringing home our troops to allow for a smooth transition.” He backed direct talks with the Taliban and for bringing in regional actors such as Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China, and India to seek a negotiated settlement.Khanna reported that he had spoken with Trump a few days ago, during the signing of a law. He told him, “Mr. President, China has not been in a war since 1979. If we want to win the race against them, we should not get bogged down in war.” Trump “nodded and then observed that they have enriched themselves without firing a shot,” Khanna observed.“I am not pollyanna-ish about the deep partisan battles that divide us,” Khanna concluded, “but when it comes to ensuring that America remains the global leader, with all that implies for freedom and democracy, let us take inspiration from [John Quincy] Adams and find common ground in a foreign policy of greater restraint, one that would entail responsibly extricating ourselves from bad wars. Let us focus on developing our capabilities and talents here at home to be a model for the world.”Rand Paul Rips Lindsey Graham’s Love of WarDec. 24 (EIRNS)—Rand Paul issued a devastating ridicule of Lindsey Graham’s hysterical attack on Trump’s decision to pullout of Syria. “My friend Lindsey Graham,” Paul tweeted, “is a bit mad right now. You see, he’s never seen a war end before. He’s going to have to console himself with the fact that we still are in about 8 more. I have to tell you; I haven’t seen a Senator who loves war this much since the Star Wars Prequels,” he stated, with a picture of the character Senator Palpatine.For those unfamiliar with current U.S. “cultural” references, Wikipedia tells us that Senator Palpatine is the core of true evil in the Stars Wars movies, worse even than Darth Vader.Graham isn’t the only hysteric, of course. A few choice bipartisan examples should suffice:Liz Cheney, who undoubtedly learned everything she needs to know about foreign policy on her daddy’s knee, called Trump’s decisions to pull out of Syria and reduce troops in Afghanistan disastrous. “They would really in many ways hand victories to our enemies.  It’s a very dangerous path to go down, and we shouldn’t be going down it,” she said.For the Democrats, Chris Coons of Connecticut claimed that Trump is “handing a great big Christmas gift” to Russia and Iran by withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. “And it’s a pretty clear guide post for me, when there’s a foreign policy decision that’s cheered by Vladimir Putin and Rand Paul, that’s a pretty good sign it’s a terrible idea,” Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added.STRATEGIC WAR DANGERLondon Times Finally Covers the Integrity Initiative—Russia Did It!Dec. 24 (EIRNS)—RT today runs two stories on the Integrity Initiative (II). They first write that the major Western press had not run a single article on the exposure of the II, which, they write, has been shown to be doing exactly what the Brits have accused Russia of doing (with no evidence), and yet there is now voluminous evidence of II’s interventions in governments and elections and appointments across Europe and the U.S., to subvert Russia and its relations with other nations.The second article, however, points out that, finally, the major newspaper in the U.K., The Times, had published a piece on II—but only to say that “it’s the Russians”! RT adds that, even for the Times, this is “a new Russia-bashing low, publishing a hit piece on the Moscow-funded outlet Sputnik. The name-and-shame article lists eight employees of Sputnik, complete with their photos and full names.”The Times writes that Sputnik was among the first to report details of the hack of Integrity Initiative, and therefore: “It has fueled suspicion that Russia was behind the hack and used its media outlets to amplify its impact.”British journalist Neil Clark, who writes for the Guardian and others, told RT that posting the pictures and names of Sputnik journalists in the U.K. is “tantamount to almost incitement, it might put those people’s lives in danger.”For the First Time, U.S. Tells Taliban Its Troops Will Leave Afghanistan, If…Dec. 25 (EIRNS)—In an exclusive interview on Dec. 20 with the leading Afghan news agency, TOLONews, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said that he had told the two groups of Taliban represented at the Dec. 17-18 meeting in the U.A.E., that the United States will have no permanent military base in Afghanistan and would withdraw its troops “if Afghanistan becomes peaceful and terrorism from Afghanistan is not a danger to the world.” He said under such an agreement, the United States will withdraw and will have a new relationship with the government of Afghanistan.Khalilzad said the Taliban had told him “we cannot defeat you, so we should first sit with you, which means the U.S., then with Afghans, and resolve the issues through political means.” Khalilzad stated the Afghan government says it is unconditionally prepared to sit and talk about peace with the Taliban, taking into account that the Afghan people in general are tired of war and want to live in a secure environment, which is understandable, TOLO reported.In addition, TOLO reported that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now leaning on the Taliban. The report said, “Saudis and Emiratis have proposed that all sides negotiate all matters within a three-month timeline and that the ceasefire should be declared during this period.” Saudi and U.A.E. involvement in the process is important, since it will put pressure on Pakistan not to perpetuate the conflict any longer on behalf of some factions of the Taliban.ECONOMYChina’s Imports Hit New HighDec. 24 (EIRNS)—Xinhua reports today that China’s 2018 imports hit a new high, surpassing $2 trillion for the first time. They write that China is the world’s largest exporter, and is catching up with the U.S. as the world’s largest importer. The import total was a huge, 14.6% increase, year on year, as of the end of November.They add that “nearly 100,000 square meters of exhibition area have been booked for the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) next year.” They state that China this year has “lowered tariffs on an array of products, ranging from medicines to vehicles, bringing down the general duty level from 9.8% to 7.5%.”Oettinger Demands France Be Treated Like ItalyDec. 24 (EIRNS)—EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said he disagrees with fellow Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, and believes that an excessive deficit proceeding should be opened against France. Economic and Monetary Commissioner Moscovici, a French Socialist and former Finance Minister, had ruled that France’s decision to have a 3.2% deficit-to-GDP ratio next year (above the EU limit of 3%) as a consequence of Macron’s concessions to the Yellow Vest protests, was acceptable, because the violation was “transitory.”Oettinger disagreed. “The extra money that Mr. Macron has promised now, are not just one-time Christmas gifts, but they are permanent structural expenses,” he said, and that France had violated the debt rule “for the eleventh year in a row.”Moscovici was furious. “I am in total disagreement with my colleague. You cannot liquidate France so easily.”Oettinger’s statements were noticed with interest by the Italian Parliament. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alberto Bagnai stated during the budget debate on Dec. 22, that, had the Italian government waited a bit before taking the Commission head-on, the “French-German” conflict would have overshadowed the “Italian-French” one.Are U.S. Banks Already in a Liquidity Crisis?Dec. 24 (EIRNS)—U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stunned the complacent on Sunday, by calling up the CEOs of the six largest U.S. banks to check their liquidity status, and then reporting publicly that he had done so, and that he would convene a conference call of the “Plunge Protection Team” on Christmas Eve, “to discuss coordination efforts to assure normal market operations.”Media hysteria ensued, over why Mnuchin raised the specter of a liquidity crisis on Dec. 23, since this is a problem which “no one” knows whether it exists. Most coverage sought to dismiss it as an inter-Trump administration fight, a mistaken attempt to calm the markets, and the like. One CNBC Squawk Box “analyst” did nervously comment, however, that he believed that the last time any such “liquidity” statement was issued was by Alan Greenspan, right after the Lehman crisis.The official release issued by Treasury’s Office of Public Affairs on Mnuchin’s Sunday calls was direct that the bank liquidity was the issue. Headlined “Secretary Mnuchin Convened Individual Calls with the CEOs of the Nation’s Six Largest Banks,” with the kicker, so no one could miss it: “The banks all confirmed ample liquidity is available for lending to consumer and business markets.”Mnuchin on Sunday called the CEO’s of Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.“The CEOs confirmed that they have ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations. He also confirmed that they have not experienced any clearance or margin issues and that the markets continue to function properly,” Treasury drily reported.Mnuchin today held a conference call with the “Plunge Protection Team” (officially known as the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets) which includes the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Mnuchin “also invited the office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to participate as well,” Treasury reported. No release was issued following this crisis call. Instead, midday, as the New York Stock Exchange headed towards a nearly 3% drop at its early 1:00 p.m. close for Christmas Eve, Bloomberg News put out a wire which was reproduced widely, reporting that participating regulators had “assured Mnuchin … that they are seeing nothing out of the ordinary in the markets.” Bloomberg’s source was the usual anonymous “person with knowledge of the discussion” who was not authorized to speak publicly. The source added that participants had briefed Mnuchin—who is vacationing in the resort town of Cabo San Lucas at the lower tip of Baja California, Mexico—on their plans for monitoring markets during the government shutdown.THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDERIndia and Japan Have Begun Identifying Joint Projects in AfricaDec. 25 (EIRNS)—Citing a top Indian diplomatic source, The Statesman of Kolkata reported that India and Japan have started the process of identifying projects they propose to undertake together under the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), an economic cooperation initiative of the two countries. “The two countries are in constant touch. The idea is to first launch infrastructure projects in African countries which will be beneficial for the people,” the source told the newspaper.The source played down the general impression that the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) was aimed at countering China. He told The Statesman that “the vision of the India-Japan initiative was based on four pillars: development and cooperation on projects; quality Infrastructure and institutional connectivity; enhancing capacities and skills; and people-to-people partnerships.”Based on the success of the AAGC initiative in Africa, the two countries would undertake joint projects in Asia, the source said. Japan is also investing in connectivity and infrastructure project in India’s Northeastern region.“We would naturally like the initiative (Asia-Africa Growth Corridor) to be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, the rule of law, openness, transparency, and equality,” said the source. 
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