Helga Zepp-LaRouche made an impassioned appeal to viewers of her weekly webcast to use this Christmas period to join with us to mobilize for a New Paradigm. She compared "the commitment to brinksmanship" of Trans-Atlantic war hawks to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, describing this as"extremely worrisome," as it comes from a belief that Russia and China will back down in the face of threats from the U.S. and NATO.
The Russians continue to deny an intent to invade Ukraine, and have submitted draft proposals, which they insist cover their minimum national security interests. That western leaders instead repeat their demand for Russian submission to planned NATO expansion which puts us on a course towards war.
Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche then turned her attention to what she described as the "heart-breaking, upsetting" story of the refusal of western nations to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which is the result of the geopolitical wars fought in that country. While the OIC has made a proposal to set up a fund and coordinate international aid, western nations are continuing sanctions and refusing to release funds, even though it is clear this threatens millions of lives. The role of the U.S. and NATO in continuing this travesty is destroying "the credibility of the West." She spoke of her commitment to Project Ibn Sina for Afghanistan, as part of a broader battle to provide a world health system for every country. She ended the dialogue with an appeal to viewers to use the next days of Christmas to reflect on the moral responsibility of citizens to act at this moment of deepening crisis.
The Brinkmanship of Trans-Atlantic Cannot Be Tolerated
Weekly Strategic Webcast with Helga Zepp-LaRouche,
Wednesday December 22, 2021
HARLEY SCHLANGER: Hello I’m Harley Schlanger. Welcome to our weekly dialogue with Schiller Institute founder and Chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche. It’s Dec. 22, 2021.
And Helga, as we’ve been reporting over the recent weeks, the drumbeat for war continues coming from trans-Atlantic powers. The Russians are making proposals to try and address it. They seem to be getting little or no response from the West. What’s the latest that you have on this?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, it is extremely worrisome, because it seems there are people committed to make a brinksmanship. Obviously, they hope that Russia, and China for that matter, will back down, but I don’t think that that’s in the cards. So two weeks ago, we spoke about this unbelievable statement by Sen. Roger Wicker, that he doesn’t want to take the first use of nuclear weapons off the table.
Now, in the meantime, the whole thing has escalated. There was a CNN report, with an unnamed U.S. high-ranking official, the suspicion was that it was National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said we only have a window of four weeks left before we have to get a breakthrough, and somehow referring to a possible plan of Russia to invade Ukraine. Which Russia has denied many times, emphatically. But if you look at the chronologically of the last several weeks—it started much earlier—but let’s take the visit of the Director of the Office of National Intelligence of the United States Avril Haines to Brussels, where she briefed the NATO ambassadors about so-called hard evidence intelligence that Russia would plan and invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022.
As I said, it was denied by Russia. Then there are obviously troops being gathered at the Russian side of the Ukrainian border, which has been commented on many times by Russia, that it’s their good right to do on their territory whatever they want. According to Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry, there are at least 10,000 troops from NATO in Ukraine, 4,000 from the U.S. and 6,000 from other countries; and in the middle of all of that—I mean, there was the discussion between Putin and Biden on Dec. 7 on videoconference—which again looked as if this would move forward. But then, immediately, the people around Biden went back to their bellicose statements, so one never knows exactly what the U.S. policy is exactly.
And then Putin proposed two treaties, to the U.S. and to NATO. Now, these are not proposals for negotiations but ready-made treaties, one for the United States to sign, that they will basically not insist that Ukraine be in NATO, and the other one for NATO to sign, that NATO will not move any farther eastward. And the Russians, Putin, they said this is not negotiable; this pertains to the very national security interests of Russia, and they insist that these treaties be signed.
Now the reaction from the West, from [NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg, from Lambrecht, the new German defense minister, various other people, they said, they will not let Russia dictate what to do, and so forth, but there was no serious response so far. And various Russian spokesmen, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Grushko, Lavrov, and various other people, they all said that this is very serious. If there is no response from the West, and if there is any more move to either move weapons into Ukraine, or to expand NATO in any way more eastward, there will be a military answer coming from Russia. And the bottom line has been reached, the red line has been reached.
So we are sort of in a countdown, where it’s very clear that whoever is pulling the strings in NATO in the end, and sometimes one is not quite clear if it’s Biden or not, or rather not, they’re obviously set that this policy of encirclement against Russia and China continue. And Russia has said, the red line has been reached.
Now, this is very, very dangerous, because —
Oh yeah, then I think it was also Sullivan, said that if there is any move from Russia in respect to Ukraine, that they will punish the economy of Russia so terribly that it—anyway, so there are all these threats in the air.
And there is now a very interesting statement by Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, a former Greek ambassador, who commented on all of that, by basically saying the West should not be so hypocritical (I’m now using my own words), but that the West should recognize that all Russia is demanding, in written, legal terms, is what was promised in 1990 to them by the United States, by NATO, in the negotiations concerning the German reunification. And this is actually a matter of record: There are now documents which everybody can look up, that on Feb. 9, 1990, Secretary of State James Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward,” and this was also the content of the famous speech by then German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in his speech in Tutzing, where he basically said the same thing. Naturally, everybody knows these promises, which unfortunately were not made in written form, but just verbally, they were broken almost immediately and altogether 14 countries of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact were integrated into NATO; and recently, and many times earlier, Russia has made the point that to have Ukraine and Georgia in NATO is unacceptable for the very simple reason that if you look at the border between Ukraine and Russia, it leaves only a few minutes, maybe as little as 5 minutes for a missile system to reach Moscow, which obviously is much too short a time to have an effective defense.
So, Russia makes the point that its national security interest is absolutely threatened by these moves by NATO. So we are on a countdown. And we should just keep in mind, if it comes to any war between Russia and Ukraine, which would involve any kind of—even without Western involvement—and this would escalate, Germany would immediately be the target. And if you have such statements like that of Senator Wicker, that the first use of nuclear weapons cannot be taken off the table, people should be aware of the fact, that if it comes to this, Germany ceases to exist!
So, this is one of the reasons why I have been saying NATO is no longer a security pact which is in the self-interest of Germany, because if in the case of any military conflict, Germany ceases to exist, obviously, this is not a good defense strategy.
So, I think, first of all people must make themselves familiar with this danger. According to the reports, we are in a four-week countdown, and I think it is absolute, urgent necessity that NATO and the United States and European countries do agree to sign such legally binding agreements with Russia, even if Putin, in a just-conducted meeting with some of his top military people said that even a legally binding, signed document does not give full security, because the United States has now a very long record that they pull out of treaties without any problem, overnight. But there must be a recognition that we are on a terribly dangerous road, and people must voice their opposition to this policy, loud and clear, before it is too late.
SCHLANGER: There have been some voices speaking out in the West, but not nearly enough, and then, instead, they’re drowned out by people like Sullivan, who said Russia must deescalate, when the escalation is coming from the West. And the U.S. has not even responded yet to this request for these treaties to be negotiated.
Now, unless you have something more on that, I think we need to move on to the situation in Afghanistan, where there have been some developments with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation meeting over the weekend, a potential for possible motion on unfreezing the funds. I think 46 congress members have written a letter to Biden. What’s your sense? Is there some momentum building on this, especially given the reports of the danger to millions of people, including children, of starvation and freezing this winter?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes, this is the second, absolutely heartbreaking and extremely upsetting story. You know, the West talks about moral values, value-based order, human rights, democracy, all of these beautiful words, but the reality is quite ugly. Because the World Food Program representatives, I think, the head Beasley and Mary-Ellen McGroarty in Afghanistan, visiting Kabul and Kandahar in the last several days, and they come back and say that 98% of the Afghanistan population is in dire poverty, more than 90% are food insecure, without medical supplies: 24 million people are in danger of dying this winter, 3 million children, babies are dying already—and this is the 21st century and the whole world should know about it, but if you look at the Western media, after the Taliban took over in August, there was a short period when Afghanistan was in the news, but since several months you hardly hear anything about it.
Now, there was a very important conference over Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Islamabad, Pakistan, of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); this is with 57 states, the second largest international organization after the United Nations, and they had a meeting which was addressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. I listened to his speech and I was—not that everything was new what he said, but he said it very distinctly. He said, when the Taliban took over and the West withdrew, everybody knew that 75% of the budget of Afghanistan came from international aid, and since that aid was immediately cut—the donor countries cut the aid right away, because the Taliban had taken over—everybody knew that the entire budget of Afghanistan was all of a sudden practically nonexistent. Then you had the freezing of the funds by the U.S. Treasury, by European banks, so there was a complete cash crisis: People could not import anything, they could not pay salaries, the whole thing broke down, and this has been going on for four months, with the result I just mentioned before.
But this is not the Taliban: When you hear the Western media, if they report anything at all, they say, “Oh yeah, the economy is now terrible, because of the Taliban.” It is not because of the Taliban! Because if you have, after 20 years of NATO war, NATO leaves, and the United States forces leave in a sudden fashion, the country in which they conducted war for 20 years: They leave the country, nothing has been built, no economy, no infrastructure, nothing is functioning, and then, they cut off the international lifeline, the donor monies, which make up 75% of the Afghanistan budget, they cut this off, they freeze the central bank’s funds, and then naturally a catastrophe erupts which nobody, not the Taliban or anybody else, can handle, because you have sanctions, and have a complete freeze of everything! And the West knows that! And they don’t react!
I mean, this is unbelievable! If you look at the Afghanistan situation, this is the end of any credibility of the West, and just to think that because the Western media are not reporting that, people should not think that it goes unnoticed. For example, the 57 OIC nations noticed; all the neighbors of Afghanistan noticed; all the third world noticed. So I think if this is not reversed very, very quickly, this will be of a lasting impact of a demise of the West. This is why I have said that the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are much more closely linked than most people are willing to think through.
I find this absolutely horrendous.
What the OIC conference decided: they will set up a fund, I don’t know exactly the amounts that will be available, but they will set up an office in Kabul, and the OIC has offered to coordinate international aid. So something is being done, for sure, but the problem is so gigantic that it really requires all the neighbors of Afghanistan to cooperate, and I think that the United States and the European countries—I mean, they were for 20 years in this country, and then they walk away. This is from the standpoint of international law, completely unacceptable. So Europe and the United States have an absolute moral obligation to reverse that and cooperate with the neighbors of Afghanistan and not only have immediate humanitarian aid, to alleviate the hunger, the lack of medical supplies, but then, participate in the economic buildup of the country, which can only occur by integrating Afghanistan into the Belt and Road Initiative projects—you know, the CPEC corridor from Pakistan to Kabul to Uzbekistan; the building of the Khyber Pass, and other well-defined projects which would immediately start building up the economy.
So that is what needs to be done. There are 39 congressmen who made an appeal to Biden to unfreeze the funds which are held by the Treasury: I think this is important. Obviously, this must immediately happen because the winter is already there.
SCHLANGER: And toward that end of accelerated humanitarian aid, you made the proposal which you call “Operation Ibn Sina,” that is, while specific to Afghanistan, actually reflects the need for the whole world in the midst of the COVID crisis, the economic breakdown, which is the necessity for a world health system, as the front end of a massive infrastructure investment program, which could include the Belt and Road Initiative and so on. How does that look as a prospect from your standpoint?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Operation Ibn Sina, because one has to start with Afghanistan, and Ibn Sina comes from a place nearby Bukhara which is Uzbekistan, but his father was born in Balk, which is Afghanistan, and people are very proud of him. He’s probably the greatest doctor who ever lived, so there is no better name to give this effort to build a modern health system in Afghanistan, than to call it after Ibn Sina. And there already has been great interest in this idea coming from several places in the region.
But more largely, we have now a new wave of the COVID-19, the Omicron variant, and, again, there is such an unwillingness by the establishment of the Western system to recognize that we have been on the wrong track, and I said in the very beginning, when it was clear this was a pandemic, in March 2020, I said we need a world health system or else this pandemic will not go away. Since then we’ve had all these mutations, and now we have Omicron, and there is no guarantee there will not be new mutations. And it’s also clear that the idea that the rich countries are producing and hoarding vaccines, and leaving the developing countries without is not helping anybody, because if you leave entire continents without vaccinations and without modern health equipment, then this virus will mutate, as it has done so far, and it will come back and may even make the existing vaccines obsolete.
So, either we go in earnest, and say that the fact that billions of people do not have modern hospitals is unacceptable, don’t have clear water, don’t have enough electricity, this is something which could be done; there is no reason why we could not immediately start to build modern infrastructure, like we have it in Germany—it may be rotting, but it’s still there because previous generations were a little bit smarter than the present crop of politicians—but there is no reason in the world why not technically, why not technologically, we could not start building hospitals: We need about 30,000 new hospitals around the world. That would be easy! We could even make these hospitals prefabricated, in the United States, in Europe, and then ship the modules to the respective countries. The Chinese proved in Wuhan that you can build a modern hospital in two weeks. It could be done this way.
We could start a crash training program for medical personnel. I have called for the youth, the young people in the world to be trained to help build such an effort, like it was done by Franklin D. Roosevelt with the CCC program in the New Deal. You can train young people on the job, give them a vision and a mission in life.
And I think this is really something—you know, we cannot continue this way! The idea that every time something happens, the rich countries only take care of themselves, and the developing countries are left in the dark, that has to stop and we have to start to really think in terms of a new paradigm if humanity is supposed to come out of this crisis. And given the fact that we have now the Christmas period, the holiday season, people have some days to think. And rather than just going about your business as usual—I mean, this is a breaking point of civilization: Either we really can shape up as a human species, or it may not look so great for our perspective.
SCHLANGER: I think your last point, that in the spirit of Christmas, of generosity and love of mankind, peace and good will toward men, this would be the time to move ahead with the shift to the new paradigm.
Helga, thanks for joining us today, and I know you wish all your viewers a merry Christmas, as do I, and we’ll see you again next week.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Yes. I wish you a Merry Christmas, and the first topic we discussed, I really want you to think about, because what we face in Europe between Russia, Ukraine, and Europe and NATO, is like a reverse Cuban Missile Crisis. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy pointed to the fact that an island which is only 160 miles from the coast of Florida, the idea that you could deploy nuclear missiles in such a close vicinity, obviously could not be tolerated. But nuclear missiles in NATO, in the Baltic, missile defense system in Poland, in Romania, and the idea to move lethal weapons into Ukraine, from the standpoint of the Russians, this is exactly like the Cuban Missile Crisis.
So, I really want you to use this Christmas period to really work with the Schiller Institute, and help us to stop something which could really be fatal for all of humanity. And at the same time, there are all the resources, there are so many beautiful contributions to civilizations, Beethoven’s music, all the great poets, the great philosophers—read these things over these days and rethink how we should go about it, because we definitely need to change course urgently.