. Wages actually declined in France, Germany, Italy and Spain (Italy, Spain and Portugal have now embraced the Belt and Road).
On the other side of the debate, a study released in September by AidData at the College of William and Mary on “Chinese Infrastructure Projects and the Diffusion of Economic Activity in Developing Countries,” concluded that, unlike the inequality resulting from many of the Western investment projects in the developing sector: “We find that Chinese development projects in general, and Chinese transportation projects in particular, reduce economic inequality within and between subnational localities,” and “produce economic spillovers that lead to a more equal distribution of economic activity.” The study was financed by the UN, the Singapore Ministry of Education, USAID, and foundations in the U.S. and Europe. Conferences promoting the Belt and Road are now taking place in Asia, Africa, Europe and Ibero-America at the pace of about a dozen every week.
So much for the chatter about Chinese “imperialism” and “debt traps.”
In France, the Yellow Vest protests are not slowing down despite President Emmanuel Macron’s capitulation on Monday to a few of their demands. More demonstrations are planned for the weekend. The left-wing parties in the National Assembly have tabled a call for a vote of no-confidence in the government, which will take place Thursday afternoon, Dec. 13. Although it is unlikely to pass, it will force the government to reveal their budget for next year, a budget which is expected to push spending far past the EU-dictated limit of 3% of GDP. The EU has already said that, unlike their open conflict with Italy over Italy’s refusal to cut their budget (at the expense of the population and the economy), the EU does not plan to criticize Macron for doing the same thing, to save his skin.
On the conservative side, Marine Le Pen, head of the French National Rally party, tweeted that Macron made a few concessions, but he “refuses to admit that his management model is being challenged. This model represents excessive globalization, unfair competition, widespread free trade, and massive immigration with all its social and cultural implications. In short, Macron just made a strategic retreat!”
The situation is similar in London, where Prime Minister Theresa May was subjected to a vote of no confidence within her own Tory party this evening. She survived the vote—200 to 117—but she had to pledge not to lead the party into the next scheduled national election in 2022. Many observers to the process warned that if as many as 100 Tories voted against her, it would be very difficult for her to stay in power. Having cancelled the scheduled Parliament vote on her fake-Brexit plan on Tuesday, admitting it would have been soundly defeated, she is far from safe in her position. Sources in the U.K. have told EIR that no one wants her job at this point, from any party, since there is no way out of the hole she has created for the country by keeping the Brexit process secret until the last minute.
At the same time, the scandal of the British government-financed subversion operation known as the Integrity Initiative, and its parent group, Institute for Statecraft, is exploding in the face of both the government and the British intelligence agencies. Set up to run covert operations in every country in Europe and the U.S., to poison any constructive relations with Russia, they have now been caught attacking the opposition Labour Party, including calling Jeremy Corbyn a “useful idiot” to the Russians—just as MI6 ran covert efforts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, falsely painting Trump as a Russian stooge. The hacked material is acknowledged to be accurate, but the Foreign Office has pathetically claimed that the leak was a Russian dirty trick—admitting, as usual, that there is no evidence, but it simply must be the Russians!
The choice is clear to all those who agree with Friedrich Schiller that we must all be “patriots of our nations and citizens of the world.” The dying power of Empire must be put out of its misery through a New Bretton Woods, Glass-Steagall legislation, and a return to scientific and industrial progress, while the geopolitics of Empire and war is replaced with the win-win policies characterized by the New Silk Road. Now is the time.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMICS
Young Jacobins Invade Congress, Demand Democrats Embrace ‘Green New Deal’ Fascism
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—On Dec. 10, more than 1,000 young people of the rabidly environmentalist “Sunrise Movement” descended on Capitol Hill, and staged sit-ins at the offices of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Steney Hoyer (D-MD), and Jim McGovern (D-MA), to demand that the Democratic leadership embrace the genocidal Green New Deal espoused by freshman New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to eliminate all fossil fuels in the U.S. in ten years.
Among the demands of what the “grassroots” Sunrise Movement calls its “rapid, massive wartime mobilization to combat climate change,” is the creation of a select Congressional committee before year’s end, empowered to draft a climate change bill by 2020 requiring 100% of electricity generation to come from renewable sources within the decade, the Washington Examiner reported today. Ocasio-Cortez is the ringleader and idol of this group and was in the middle of the sit-in at Pelosi’s office, as young people around her chanted, “We gonna rise up, rise up, ’til it’s won!” Police arrested 138 protesters.
The Sunrise Movement is backed by the 350.org organization, which has tax-exempt charity status, and a political committee, 350 Action, run by environmentalist wacko Bill McKibben. McKibben’s “350 Action” and Sunrise often deploy together. McKibben’s 350.org outfit is generously funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and various anonymous donors with deep pockets, who also appear to be supporting the Sunrise Movement. Its website has no information about its financing, aside from the fact that it began with a “small” grant from the Sierra Club. Sunrise appears modeled on the Resistance Movement, and takes credit for the fact that since its first sit-in last month, 22 Democrats have now endorsed the Green New Deal, the latest of whom is Jim McGovern who is slated to become the new chairman of the House Rules Committee.
Pelosi, Hoyer and McGovern all praised the “passion” of the young protesters, but made no firm commitments on reinstating the select committee. Sen. John Barroso (R-WY), head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee who also chairs the Environmental and Public Works Committee, issued a policy paper warning that the Green New Deal would be both technically impossible and very expensive. It would cost trillions, he said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Trump Willing To Intervene in Huawei Case, If It Would Benefit Trade Deal and National Security
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—In a Dec. 11 interview with Reuters, President Donald Trump indicated a willingness to intervene in the case of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou—detained in Canada at the request of the Justice Department—if he deemed it “good for this country” and if “I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing, what’s good for national security. I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”
From Canada it was reported yesterday that Meng has been granted bail in the amount of C$10 million (US$7.4 million)—this is what her lawyers had proposed—to also include electronic monitoring, remaining at her home between 11:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., and traveling with a security team, the cost of which she will cover.
At the time the President gave his interview to Reuters, bail had not yet been granted. On the matter of her possible extradition to the U.S., he replied that he’d want to speak to China, and see what Beijing requests, and stating that, of course, what Huawei allegedly did (violating U.S. sanctions on Iran) “wasn’t good.”
Trump was very upbeat on China trade talks, and reported that China has begun to purchase “tremendous amounts” of U.S. soybeans again. He continued that, more broadly, “we’ll probably have another meeting … maybe a meeting of the top people on both sides. If it’s necessary, I’ll have another meeting with President Xi, who I like a lot and get along with very well.”
China Warns Trump that ‘Making America Great Again’ Depends on Stopping Drug Abuse
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—China sent a wise message to Donald Trump today in the pages of Global Times, written by Ding Gang, a senior editor with People’s Daily, and a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University. America is suffering from a massive drug crisis, he writes, concluding: “President Donald Trump vowed to ‘make America great again.’ How to realize it depends on not only the revitalization of the manufacturing industry, the improvement of competitiveness and having an edge in technology, but also on how the social climate turns out to be. Drug abuse has posed a test.”
Ding points to the agreement reached between Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping in Argentina aimed at stopping the abuse of the strong opioid fentanyl, but states that nonetheless: “It is hard to find even one young person in the country who hasn’t tried drugs. The largest consumer of drugs, the U.S. uses 16,000 tons of marijuana, cocaine and heroin per year. According to U.S. government figures, the number of people who use at least one type of drug a year is approximately one-sixth of the country’s population.”
Ding acknowledges that China has its own drug problems, but “the government and the entire Chinese society have always had a zero-tolerance policy to drugs. The government, schools and parents have jointly formed an extremely vigilant control network to prevent young people from using narcotics.”
But not in the U.S.: “Danger lies not only in drugs flooding the market, but also in social tolerance of drug abuse,” he writes. “In the U.S., consuming marijuana is considered a private affair or even a manifestation of personality and taste. For instance, former President Barack Obama publicly admitted to smoking marijuana at an early age. More than that, many U.S. states have been making efforts to decriminalize the non-medical use of the narcotic.”
Take heed, America.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Asia Military Analyst Proves U.S. Deployment of INF in Asia Would Be a ‘Non-Starter’
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—If the Trump Administration’s target in threatening to withdraw from the INF Treaty is really China and not Russia, would the U.S. really gain anything from developing and deploying intermediate-range ground-based weapons in Asia? Richard A. Bitzinger, a Visiting Senior Fellow with the Military Transformations Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, argues that for the U.S. to take such a route would be a dangerous ploy and a waste of money.
In a Dec. 10 column in Asia Times, Bitzinger calls Washington’s threat to leave the treaty “a dangerous bluff,” despite neo-con support for it. “If Washington finds itself dissatisfied with Moscow’s responses and withdraws from the agreement, it simply leaves the field clear for Russia to quickly saturate its European territory with already available INF systems,” he writes.
On China, Bitzinger says the U.S. argues that it doesn’t have the capacity to meet the Chinese buildup because of the constraints imposed by the INF Treaty, constraints that don’t apply to China. Bitzinger says that this is wrong, however, because the U.S. has plenty of sea-launched and air-launched cruise missiles to counter the Chinese land-based missile threat and therefore, a few land-based missiles aren’t going to make much difference.
Then there’s the problem of where U.S. theater nuclear missiles would be based. Bitzinger rules out Japan because of its “baked in” nuclear pacificism, and South Korea because of its bad experience with the hosting of the U.S. THAAD system (China responded to the U.S. deployment in part by taking economic measures against South Korea). Bitzinger also rules out Australia, the Philippines and Singapore because for them the costs of hosting U.S. nuclear missiles aimed at China would be far greater than any strategic benefit. “In short, any kind of INF in Asia is a non-starter. The U.S. does not need INF to counter China or Russia, it has no place to put them in Asia, and it would force Washington to waste money on yet another misguided military program it can ill-afford,” Bitzinger concludes.
Labour Party Not Buying ‘Russians Did It’ Line from Foreign Office on Anti-Corbyn Smears
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—Britain’s Labour Party isn’t buying claims by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded Integrity Initiative (II), run by the Institute for Statecraft (IfS), that its Twitter and other smears of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were really the result of Russian cyber attacks, by which these institutions’ sensitive documents were hacked and their contents then published and supposedly “amplified” by Kremlin media.
Sky News reported Dec. 11 that Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon said, “this isn’t about Russia. This isn’t about anything other than our concern that the Conservative government in this country shouldn’t be using public funds or the state to undermine or attack the official opposition.” Labour is calling for a full and independent investigation, insisting “we can’t have a Conservative Party establishment cover up. We need to know the full facts.” Labour MP Chris Williamson is insisting on a “full public inquiry” into the activities of II and IfS. The FCO funded II to the tune of £2.25 million.
Following the Dec. 9 exposé in the Scottish Daily Record and its Sunday Mail of II’s role in disseminating anti-Corbyn tweets, depicting him as one of the Kremlin’s “useful idiots,” the II quickly issued an op-ed defending itself. Its carefully-worded statement described the Institute for Strategy as a “non-partisan charity,” which only focuses on combatting disinformation and “malign influences” that undermine “democratic societies, mostly from Russia.” It would never, ever engage in party political activity, it claimed.
In a separate statement, the Institute trumpeted that it had really been the victim of a disinformation campaign, because documents hacked a few weeks earlier had ended up in the hands of unscrupulous Kremlin news channels which “amplified” them. IfS Senior Fellow Stephen Dalziel told Sky News that Russia is likely behind the hack, given how quickly Russia’s RT jumped on the story. But then he hastily added, “we have no solid evidence at the moment.”
The Foreign Office apparently coordinated its own statement with the Institute’s, as it reiterated the Russian-hacking story, and harrumphed that “this is yet another example of Russian disinformation intended to confuse audiences and discredit an organization which is working independently to tackle the threat of disinformation.” Defensively, Dalziel suggested that perhaps the Sunday Mail was “being played by Russia, because certainly there are no ‘black ops’ from the Integrity Initiative. We are very open about what we do.” Its ties to British intelligence and various NATO-linked networks would certainly belie that.
ILO Reports, Wages Collapsing in the West, Rising in China, and Along Belt and Road
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—The latest International Labor Organization (ILO) Global Wage Report has pointed out that while the average nominal minimum wage in China nearly doubled between 2011 and 2018, and wages for workers in state-owned enterprises rose even faster. In the advanced G20 economies, however, average real wages grew by a mere 0.4% in 2017, compared to 1.7% growth in 2015. While real wages were up by 0.7% in the United States (versus 2.2% in 2015), they stagnated in Europe, where small increases in some countries were offset by declines in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
An op-ed by Jayati Ghosh highlighted these facts in the South China Morning Post today. Ghosh, an economics professor with the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, asked rhetorically: Given the global output recovery of recent years, why have conditions for workers in most parts of the world not improved commensurately? “Neither of the usual suspects, trade and technology, is entirely to blame. The real reason workers are getting a raw deal is not so much economic as institutional and political. From country to country, legislation and court judgments are increasingly trampling on long-recognized labor rights,” Ghosh wrote.
She said the “obsession with fiscal consolidation and austerity has prevented the kind of social spending that could expand public employment and improve workers’ conditions. And the current regulatory environment increasingly allows for large corporations to wield power without accountability, resulting in higher monopoly rents and greater bargaining power. In short, neo-liberalism’s intellectual capture of economic policymaking across a wide range of countries is resulting in the exclusion of most wage earners from the gains of economic growth. But this was not inevitable. China, after all, has achieved rapid wage growth, and the share of national income accruing to labor is rising, despite the country’s pursuit of trade and rapid labor-displacing technologies,” she concluded.
EU Commissioner Moscovici Insists France Is Not Italy, No Penalty for Breaking 3% Deficit
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—The French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe plans to announce the nation’s budget for 2019 on Dec. 13, before the National Assembly votes on the no-confidence motion brought up by the leftist parties. It is expected, based on the concessions issued by President Emmanuel Macron on Dec. 10, that the budget will take France far beyond the 3% deficit limit set by the EU, and which is the basis upon which the EU is punishing Italy.
But France is different, apparently, and should not be compelled to follow the rules, as the naughty Italian government must be, according to the EU bureaucrats.
Bloomberg writes today: “The potential budget slip may not draw the ire of Brussels after all, since EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said he believes that unlike Italy, France’s budget deficit breach could only be temporary.” “Comparing France and Italy is tempting but erroneous,” said the scoundrel, a former French Finance and Economy Minister, in an interview with Le Parisien today. “The situations are totally different. The [EU] Commission has had Italy under surveillance for years, we never had it for France.”
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Mexican Author Takes Up ‘Development Banner’ for World To Join China’s New Silk Road
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—On Nov. 15 in Beijing, Arturo Oropeza, vice president of the Mexican Institute for Industrial Development and Economic Growth (IDIC) presented the book entitled China BRI: Or the New Silk Road. In Mexico, IDIC is emphasizing the need to revive the country’s industry, and has appealed to new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to take up this issue as an urgent matter.
Oropeza, himself the author of 25 books relating to ties among Ibero-America, China and Asia, explained that this new book contains essays by Ibero-American, U.S., Chinese and Asian scholars who analyze the national, regional and global effects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China, Oropeza said, as reported by Xinhua Nov. 15, “has taken up the banner of economic development of the 21st century, and through the BRI invites the majority of the world’s population to become integrated in a new, fair and more reasonable development strategy.”
Most interesting were the remarks of Prof. Xu Shicheng, from the Latin America Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who explained that the BRI is not simply a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan implemented in Europe after World War II. The original Marshall Plan, said Professor Xu, served the “containment strategy applied by Harry S. Truman,” aimed at the Soviet Union. But the BRI today isn’t intended to counter any third party, but rather “invites countries to get on board the Express Economic Train to share the benefits of cooperation. It is more ancient but also younger than the Marshall Plan,” he underscored.
Note, too, that on Dec. 7, Prof. Fortunato Mallimaci presented his book, The Belt and Road: Chinese Initiative of Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean, at the National University of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina’s southernmost province. The book was a collaborative effort of Dr. Mallimaci, the University, several Argentine scientific institutes, the University of Shanghai and the Shanghai Academy of Sciences, among others. Among topics discussed was how Tierra del Fuego might become integrated to the rest of the world through the Belt and Road Initiative.
Roscosmos Director Rogozin Stresses Keeping U.S.-Russia Space Programs United
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin is quoted in today’s New York Times from an interview which is not identified as to time or place. But Rogozin’s comments are important and express the view of not only Russian leaders, but also the nation, itself.
The Russian- and American-piloted space programs should remain merged, Rogozin said, not be split up. His concern stems from the U.S. plan to end funding for the International Space Station (ISS), leaving it to the private sector to do something in low Earth orbit. Without the ISS, Russia will have no manned program with NASA, or at all, in low Earth orbit.
The U.S. plan for manned missions is the lunar Gateway project. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has invited Rogozin to the U.S. early next year, and undoubtedly their discussions will include the possibility of Russian participation in the Gateway. Rogozin has said Russia wants to carry out lunar exploration with NASA. And echoing the view of Bridenstine and every astronaut and cosmonaut, Rogozin said, “Politics ends where the opinion of a serious scientist begins.”
However, Soviet/Russian-U.S. joint manned missions—Apollo-Soyuz, Shuttle-Mir, and the ISS—were not merely cooperation, but partnerships of at least near-equals. Russia is unlikely to “join” another country’s project as a junior partner.
Rogozin said, “China is offering many initiatives for cooperation, is asking us to help them develop, though they have already achieved a good level of development. They are suggesting creating a joint station.” A joint station. So as much as Russia would rather continue its historic, equal partnership with NASA, the Chinese station, expected in 2022, may be the best option in the future.
Italy’s Finance Minister Tells Rome Conference, the Future of Europe Lies in Africa
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—Covering the Boao Forum’s Asia-Europe conference in Rome at the end of last week, the South Africa-based Mining Review quotes Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria’s conference speech: “Africa is a continent of great change and opportunities. However, Europe finds it difficult to understand that its future lies in the South and not in the North.”
Tria said the current European narrative about Africa is all wrong: “The continent has five distinctive advantages—a huge land mass of 30 million square km, huge resources, a fast-growing population, fewer conflicts and major developments in education, and an economy that has consistently expanded over the last 15 years, even though it still only accounts for 3% of global GDP.”
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said at the same event: “With a growing middle class and rapid urbanization, consumer demand from a burgeoning middle class will turn the continent into a prime collective investment opportunity that cannot be ignored…. This is proof positive of an Africa in the process of full transformation. Africa is the new international investment frontier.”
Mining Review writes that with $11.6 billion, Italy was the largest European investor on the continent in 2017, and the third largest after China and the United Arab Emirates.
The slogan that the future of Europe lies in the development of the real economy of Africa was already spread by the LaRouche movement 40 years ago —which even 10 years ago, many viewed as exotic. Now, with Tria, the concept has finally begun to enter the government level in Europe.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Chang’e-4 Is in Orbit Around the Moon
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)—After a four-day journey, Chang’e-4 has entered lunar orbit, the China Lunar Exploration Project has announced. Next on the agenda is to check out communications with the relay satellite, which is the only way Chang’e-4 can talk to mission control from the far side of the Moon. Andrew Jones reported for SpaceNews today on comments by planetary scientist James Head from Brown University, who explains that the penetrating radar on the rover, an improved version of Yutu, which is sitting on the other, near side, of the Moon, will reveal the structure of the lunar soil and any subsurface lava flows.
One of the characteristics of the far side is the lack of the maria, or “seas” formed from volcanic eruptions on the surface, which are prominent on the near side (such as the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 landed). Subsurface lava flows would be of great interest.