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Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark
Extend the New Silk Road to the Middle East and Africa

April 18, 2016

Humanity at a Crossroads: Is Our Future With the New Silk Road, Or the Road to Thermonuclear Hell?
Keynote Address by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Founder, Schiller Institute

Conference Overview

Watch the video on YouTube

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, thank you very much for this kind introduction.

Dear Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: I would like to start my presentation with showing you a point of view which may be unusual to discuss the strategic situation, but I think it is quite adequate. This is a time-lapse video where you can actually have a view from space. This is the kind of view normally only astronauts, cosmonauts, taikonauts have. They all come back from their space travel with the idea that there is only one humanity, and that our planet, which is very beautiful and blue; however, it is very small in a very large solar system and an even larger galaxy, not to mention the billion galaxies out there in our universe.

With that view comes, naturally, the question of the future. Where should mankind be in 100 years from now, in a 1000 years, in 10,000 years? Well, you have to exercise your power of imagination. In 10,000 years, we probably are well beyond having colonized the Moon, we have completed very successful Mars missions, we will have a much, much better understanding about our solar system, our galaxy, and we will have gotten a much deeper understanding about the principle of our universe.

Just think, that it took 100 years before modern science could confirm that Einstein's conception about gravitational waves was correct. Ten thousand years of the past human history has brought tremendous progress. But just think that this growth can go on, exponentially. And since there is no limit to the creativity and perfectibility of the human species, in 10,000 years we can have a wonderful world.

So, let's look from that view, into the future, to the present, to have the right perspective.

Yesterday, the New York Times, in the Sunday edition, had an article saying "The Race Escalates for the Latest Class of Nuclear Arms," portraying in detail that the United States, and Russia, and China are developing new generations of smaller and less destructive nuclear weapons, which would make them more useable. They quote in the article James Clapper, the Director of the National Intelligence of the United States, that the world has now entered a new Cold War spiral, where, basically, totally different laws and rules govern, than it used to be the case with Mutual Assured Destruction.

The previous NATO doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction proceeded from the assumption that the destructive power of nuclear weapons is so horrible, because it will lead to the annihilation of the human race, that nobody in their right mind would ever use it. And therefore, it was a deterrence that these weapons would never be used.

This is now no longer valid. What they are now discussing, openly, on the front page of the New York Times, is that what we, for a very long time, only we and a few of military experts, have said, namely, that these modernized tactical nuclear weapons, like the B12-61, in combination with stealth bombers, with hypersonic missiles, can actually lead to the winning of a nuclear war.

Ted Postol and Hans Kristensen, very respected military analysts, have detailed at great lengths, why the idea of a limited nuclear war is completely ludicrous, and it is the nature of the difference between thermonuclear weapons and conventional weapons, that once you enter a nuclear exchange, that it is the logic of such a war that all weapons will be used, and that will be the end of mankind. We are closer to that possibility than most people dare to even consider, because if they would, they would not remain so passive as they are now.

This is why I want to make emphatically the point--and this is the purpose of conducting meetings like this seminar and many other conferences we are engaged in--that we have reached a point in human history where geopolitics must be superseded with a completely new paradigm. And that is why I started with the view from space. We need a new paradigm, basically saying goodbye to the very idea of geopolitics, which has caused two world wars in the 20th century. That new paradigm must be completely different than that which is governing the world today.

We have, right now, rising tensions in the South China Sea. Policymakers and the neighboring countries are extremely worried about what will happen in the period between now and the trial in The Hague. You have the largest maneuver around North and South Korea right now, where people in the region are extremely worried that the slightest provocation could lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons.

You have the NATO expansion up to the Russian border. Countries like Poland and Lithuania are asking to have these modernized nuclear weapons located on their territory, even that makes them prime targets.

The United States is continuing to build the anti-ballistic missile system which, supposedly, was against Iranian missiles, but after the P5+1 agreement has been reached, it is obvious this was always a pretext and the aim was always to take out the second strike capability of Russia.

Then you have the entire region of Southwest Asia, still being a terrible destruction and consequence of failed wars. North Africa is exploding. You have new incidents between NATO and Russia, all of a sudden in the Baltic Sea, which was, up to now, a calm region where there are no conflicts, or, there have been no conflicts.

In the Middle East briefing, discussing President Obama's trip to Riyadh on the 21st of this month, they say that this trip will open up a new page of NATO in the relationship to the Middle East, that what Obama will try to establish is a new relationship between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

So, we have a situation where the New York Times, also yesterday, and I'm quoting these papers to say that these are not some opinions of us, but this is now the public discussion, that what is really at stake in the South China Sea is not so much the fight around some uninhabited reefs and cliffs, or some tiny islands, but it is the American effort to halt China's rise. And not only China's rise, but that of Asia. China, Asia arising; the trans-Atlantic region is in decline.

Just now, we are heading towards a new financial crisis, and all signs are, that we are going into the same kind of crash like 2008. Already since the beginning of this year, $50 billion corporate defaults were taking place, which is on the same level like what happened in 2009.

What the United States is trying to assert under this conditions, where the trans-Atlantic world is in decline or marching towards collapse, to insist that nevertheless a unipolar world must be maintained. The problem is, that unipolar world, effectively, no longer exists. But still, what carries American policy to the present day, is the Project for the New American Century, the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine, which is a neocon idea which says that no country and no group of countries should ever be allowed to challenge the power position of the United States. In the age of thermonuclear weapons, the insistence to maintain a non-tenable world order could very quickly lead to the annihilation of civilization.

It is a fact: China has made an economic miracle in the last 30 years which is absolutely breathtaking. And it is continuing, despite all the media rumors about China's economic collapse. India has by now the largest growth rate in the world; it's above 7%. Many other Asian countries have explicitly formulated the goal for themselves to be developed countries in a few years. The Chinese economy right now is rebounding. They just announced that in the next five years China is going to import $10 trillion worth of imports. They will invest $600 billion worth of investments abroad. Every day 10,000 new firms are being created in China.

So, if you look at the development, especially since President Xi Jinping announced in September, 2013 in Kazakhstan, that the New Silk Road, the One Belt One Road, is put on the agenda. In the Two and a half years since that time, more than sixty nations have joined with China in this development. They have created the New Silk Road, the Maritime Silk Road; these nations have created a whole set of alternative economic-financial institutions, such as the AIIB, which, despite massive pressure from the United States not to do so, immediately was joined by sixty founding members. The New Development Bank also started just now its functioning. The New Silk Road Fund, the Maritime Silk Road Fund, the Shanghai Cooperation Bank, and many more. All of these were created because the IMF and the World Bank had not invested in the urgently required infrastructure.

These banks are now engaged in very, very impressive, large projects. For example: China invested $46 billion in the China-Pakistan corridor. When President Xi Jinping recently went to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran, consequently Iran, fool-heartedly, declared that they are now part of the One Belt One Road, New Silk Road development. Greece is now talking about that after China is investing in the Port of Piraeus, that Greece will be the bridge between China and Europe. The 16+1, that is the East and Central European countries, just declared that they absolutely want to participate in China helping to build a fast train system in these countries. Those projects which the EU has not bid, China is now building. Part of it is, for example, the Elbe-Oder-Danube Canal, which will connect the waterways of these countries. When President Xi recently was in the Czech Republic, President Zeman announced that the "Golden City" of Prague will be the gateway between the Silk Road and Europe. Also, Austria and Switzerland are now fully on board and see the benefits of their country's joining with the New Silk Road.

When President Xi Jinping at the APEC meeting in October 2014 offered to President Obama to cooperate in all of these projects in a "win-win" perspective, he not only proposed economic cooperation, but he put on the agenda a completely new model of international relations exactly designed to overcome geopolitics. The new model is supposed to be based on the respect for sovereignty, non-interference into the internal affairs of the other country, respect for the different social system the other country chooses to adopt. It would really be, in a certain sense, a fulfillment of the principles which are laid out in the UN Charter anyway.

How was the Western response? Very, very ambiguous. The United States in spite of this, never really responded to President Xi's offer. They keep insisting on an unipolar world. For example, in the TPP, like in the TTIP for Europe, it is said very, very clearly, the U.S. sets the rules of trade for Asia and not China. Recently, the American Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and also NATO commander General Breedlove, declared the enemies #1 of the United States are, first, Russia, second, China, third, Iran, fourth North Korea, and only fifth terrorism.

Now that is in spite of the fact that many other statesmen, such as United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Steinmeier, and many others, have recently also stated, that all crucial problems of the world cannot be solved without the cooperation of Russia, and China. For example, the P5+1 agreement with Iran, would never have come into being without a constructive role of both Russia and China . Without Putin's very intelligent intervention in the military situation in Syria, this situation could not have come to the potential of a political solution.

Also, apart from the military pressure, there is massive pressure on the new institutions such as the AIIB and the New Development Bank, to not be outside of the casino economy but to follow the "international standards."

Now, in these times of the Panama Papers, of the various LIBOR scandals, of the money laundering of many of these banks, it is a sort of laughable thing, what should be these "international standards" of the Western financial system.

Now, let's be realistic. At the IMF/ World Bank meeting which just concluded in Washington over the weekend, behind the scenes there was complete panic, but nobody dared to speak about it openly, behind the scenes people were talking, what former IMF boss Strauss-Kahn has said repeatedly, publicly, that we are heading towards the "perfect political storm." That if one of the too-big-to-fail banks collapses, it will lead to a crisis much, much worse than 2008.

At the recent Davos Economic Forum, the former chief economist of the BIS William White said that the world system is so utterly overindebted, that there are two roads only possible: Either you have an orderly writeoff of the debt, like in the religious Jubilee, so that you just say "these debts are not payable," and you write them off, or it will come to a disorderly collapse.

Now, the situation is all the more urgent, because unlike 2008 when everyone was talking about the "tools" of the central bank, like interest rate reduction, rescue packages, bailouts, all of these tools don't function any more. As a matter of fact, when the competition for more zero interest rate, or even negative interest rate, when into high gear in the last month, when, for example, the Bank of Japan or the central bank of Norway, or the ECB declared a zero interest rate policy, or even a negative interest rate policy, it boomeranged! It had the opposite effect: Rather than leading to more investment, in the real economy, it led to a deflationary escalation of the collapse.

When Mario Draghi, the chief of the ECB, recently announced, "yeah, yeah, we have a discussion about helicopter money." And Ben Bernanke echoed it and said, "yes, now we need helicopter money," meaning electronic printing of endless amounts of worthless money, virtual money, they de facto announced that the trans-Atlantic financial system is absolutely in the last phase. Because after helicopter money comes only evaporation.

But this is only the most obvious of the crises. Another one, which is in a different domain, but equally systemic is the refugee crisis in Europe. Now, I supported Chancellor Merkel when she initially said, we can manage that, we can give refuge to these people, and for the first time, I was saying "this woman is doing the right thing." I know there was a lot of international criticism, but she acted on the basis of the Geneva Convention on refugees, but it was the right thing to do. But the reactions from the other European countries, revealed an underlying, basic flaw of the EU, a flaw which was not caused by the refugees, but it was revealed by the first serious challenge, that in the EU, as it has been conceptualized in the Maastricht Treaty going up to the Lisbon Treaty, there is no unity, there is no solidarity; and with the collapse of the Schengen agreement which allows free travel within the internal borders of the EU, the closing of the so-called Balkan routes, to prevent refugees from coming, the basis for the European common currency is also gone, because without the Schengen agreement, the possibility to have the euro last is extremely dubious.

Now, with the recent response by the EU to basically have a deal with Turkey, I mean, this is beyond the bankruptcy of the whole EU policy if you can top it. At a point when the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, presented the UN Security Council with evidence that the Turkish government, is continuing up to the present day to supply ISIS with weapons and other logistical means, to then say, we pay Turkey EU6 billion, for what? To have them receive refugees; and Amnesty International has already said, there is no guarantee that these people will be protected, but rather that Turkey is sending them back to the war zones, like Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

So, if you look at the pictures of Idomeni, where the Macedonian police are using tear gas against refugees who are absolutely desperate; if you look at the fact that Greece is now, rather than having refugee camps which would somehow process these unfortunate human beings, they have, on pressure of the EU, been turned into detention centers. Pope Francis was just in Lesvos, together with the Greek Patriarch Bartholomew, and this Patriarch said, the present EU policy on the refugee crisis, is the completely bankruptcy of Europe. The Doctors Without Borders left their job in Greece, because they said they cannot be accomplices to the murderous policy of detention, where the police decide who is a patient and not doctors. Instead of protecting the people running away from wars and persecution, they are now being treated as criminals.

Immediately, days after this disgusting EU-Turkey deal, it turned out that it's a complete failure, the so-called "European values," human rights, humanism, well--they're all in the trashcan, because now the refugees, obviously still fleeing for their lives, go to Libya trying to get into small boats to Italy. And just yesterday the news came that another 400 people drowned in the Mediterranean. And this will keep going on. And it will haunt the people who are refusing to change their ways.

Now, there is a new element in the situation which may cause sudden surprises, and that is a program which was presented by CBS, a week ago Sunday, in the so-called "60 Minutes" program portraying the coverup, of the U.S. governments from Bush to Obama, of the famous 28 pages omitted in the publication of the official Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 by the U.S. Congress; and as many people have said, and was said in this program, this pertains to the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11. Yesterday, all the U.S. talk shows, and all the U.S. media, pointed their finger to the coverup of the Bush administration and even to the present day of the present government, that there is a coverup of criminal activity.

Now, the Saudi Arabian government reacted very unnerved, and this was again reported in the New York Times, that they would sell off $750 billion in U.S. Treasuries, if the U.S. would allow a bill that would allow Saudi Arabia to be held responsible in court, for their role in 9/11. Now, that's not exactly a sign of sovereignty, but of despair. There are several U.S. Senators, among them Mrs. Gillibrand from New York, who demand that this whole question of the Saudi Arabian role in 9/11 must be on the agenda when President Obama goes to Riyadh this week. Which in any case, may not happen, but it will not be the end of the story because the genie is now out of the bottle.

OK: How do we respond to these many, many crises? Well, there is a solution to all of these problems. The trans-Atlantic should just do exactly what Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1933, in reaction to the world financial crisis at the time. Implement the full banking separation -- Glass-Steagall -- and the whole offshore nightmare which is being revealed in the Panama Papers, and remember, that this firm Mossack Fonseca is only the fourth largest of such firms, and 11 million documents still need to be read through, and processed. But we have to go back to the kind of international credit system, as it existed in the Bretton Woods system, before Nixon ended the fixed exchange rate in 1971, opening the gate for floating exchange rates and especially the creation of offshore money markets for the unlimited creation of money and other illegal operations as it now is coming out.

Then we need a writeoff of the absolutely unpayable state debt, which has accumulated and ballooned after the bailouts of 2008 and afterwards. And we have to basically get rid of the toxic paper of the whole derivatives markets, because they are the burden which is eating up the chance for the investment in the real economy.

Then, we need a Marshall Plan Silk Road; and the only reason I'm talking about a Marshall Plan, despite the fact that China is emphatic that they do not want a Cold War connotation to the New Silk Road, it gives people in the United States and Europe a memory, that it is very possible to rebuild war-torn economies, as it happened in Europe after the Second World War.

Now, with the ceasefire which was negotiated between Foreign Ministers Kerry and Lavrov, you have now a still-fragile, but you have the potential for a peace development in Syria, and soon other countries in the region. But it is extremely urgent, that the peace dividend of this ceasefire is becoming visible for the people of the region, immediately. That is, there has to be a reconstruction and economic buildup, not only of the territory and the destroyed cities, but the entire region, has to be looked at as one: From Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, from the North Caucasus to the Persian Gulf. Because you cannot build infrastructure by building a bridge in one country. You have to have a complete plan for the transformation of this region, which mainly consists of desert.

Now, the idea is to have a comprehensive plan, greening the deserts, building infrastructure, creating new, fresh water from desalination of ocean water, of tapping into the water of the atmosphere through ionization, and various other means. And then build infrastructure corridors, new cities, and give hope to, especially, the young people of the region, so they have a reason not to join the jihad, but to become doctors, to become engineers, to care for their family and their future.

Now this is not just a program any more, because when President Xi Jinping visited Iran about two months ago, he put the Silk Road development on the agenda for this region. So, all you need to do, is extend the Silk Road, and the first train has already arrived in Tehran; you have to continue to build that road, from Iran, to Iraq, to Syria all the way to Egypt. Other routes should go from Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to India. From Central Asia to Turkey to Europe, and this obviously can only work because the problem is so big, that all the neighbors of the region, Russia, China, India, Iran, Egypt, but also the countries which are now torn apart by the refugee crisis such as Germany, Italy, Greece, France, and all other European countries must all commit themselves to work on such a Silk Road Marshall Plan for the reconstruction and economic buildup of the Middle East/Southwest Asia, and all of Africa, because the economic situation is equally dire in that continent.

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The United States must be convinced that it is in their best interest to cooperate in such a development, and stop thinking in terms of geopolitics. Now, the United States should only be encouraged to cooperate in the development of these regions, but the United States needs urgently a New Silk Road itself. Because if you look at the condition, not only of the financial sector in the United States, but especially the physical economy; if you look at the social effects of the economic collapse, like the rising suicide rates, in all age brackets of the white population, and especially rural women in the age between 20 and 40, the suicide rate is quadrupling and even beyond. This is a sign of a collapsing society.

Now, China has built as of last year, 20,000 km of fast train systems. Excellent, top-level technology fast-train systems; it wants to have 50,000 km by I think the year 2025. How many miles of fast train as the U.S. built? I don't any.

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But if the United States would join the New Silk Road and participate in the economic reconstruction, as Franklin D. Roosevelt did it with the Tennessee Valley Authority plan, with the Reconstruction Finance Corp. in the '30s, the United States could very, very quickly be a prosperous country, and could again be regarded by the whole world as "a beacon of liberty and a temple of freedom," which was the idea of America when it was founded.

So, the whole fate of the whole world will depend if we all succeed to get the United States to go back to its proud tradition of a republic, and stop thinking like an empire, because that cannot be maintained in any case; because all empires in the whole history of mankind always disintegrated when they became overstretched and collapsed. There is not one exception to this idea.

Now, therefore, let's go back to the idea from the beginning: Let's approach all problems in the present from the idea, where is the future of mankind? Where should mankind be? Do we exist, or will we destroy ourselves. And that requires a change in paradigm, which must be as fundamental and thorough, like the paradigm shift from the European Middle Ages to the modern times. And what caused that shift was such great figures as Nikolaus of Cusa, but also Brunelleschi, Jeanne d'Arc, and many others; but what they introduced was a rejection of the old paradigm--scholasticism, Aristotelianism, all the wrong ideas which led to the destruction of the 14th century, and they replaced with a completely new image of man, man as an imago viva Dei, which was a synonym for the unlimited creative potential and perfectability of the human being. It led to a new image of man which created a blossoming of science, of modern science, of the modern sovereign nation-state; it made possible the emergence of Classical arts.

And that is what we have to do today: We have to stop thinking in terms of geopolitics, and we have to focus on the common aims of mankind. Now, what are these "common aims of mankind"? It is, first of all scientific cooperation to eradicate hunger, poverty, to develop more and more cures for diseases, to increase the longevity of all people. We have to study much more fundamentally, what is the principle of life? Why does life exist? How does it function? What, really, is the deeper lawfulness of our universe? And that must define the identity of human beings, which is unique to the human species.

And I have an idea of the future, which will be full of joy. Because we will discover new principles in science and in classical art, and we will create a new Renaissance. As the Italian Renaissance superseded the Dark Age of the 14th century, what we have to do today, is we have to revive the best traditions of all great nations and cultures of the world; and make them known to the other one. Have a dialogue of the most advanced periods of Chinese, of European, Indian, African, other cultures, and revive--and that is being done in China, already--the great Confucian tradition, which is in absolute correspondence with the best neo-Platonic humanist ideas of Europe. We must revive the great Vedic tradition in India, the Gupta period; the Indian Renaissance of the late 19th to the 20th century. We must revive the Abbasid Dynasty of the Arab world; the Italian Renaissance; the Andalusian Spanish Renaissance, the Ecole Polytechnique in France, the great German Classical period. The great Italian method of singing in Verdi tuning and the bel canto method. And if all of these riches of all the different countries become the common good of all children of this planet, and everyone can learn universal history, other cultures as if it would be their own, I can already see how humanity can make a jump, and how we can create the most beautiful Renaissance of human history so far.

I think everybody who is thinking about these questions, has a deep understanding, that we are at the most important crossroad in human history. And it is not yet clear which way we will go, but it is clear to me, that we will only come out of this crisis if we mobilize the subjective emotional quality, which in the Chinese is called ren; and the European equivalent, you would call agapë, love. And we will only solve this problem if we are able to mobilize a tender, maybe even passionate love, for the human species. [applause]