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Video: End the cycle of violence – Save the children of Gaza!

The Children of Gaza

Inspired by “SONG OF SONGS”

Iakovos Kambanellis
Mikis Theodorakis

Vocalist: Jen Pearl
Pianist: Malene Robinson

The horrors perpetrated in Gaza place all humanity on trial. Urgently, the voice of innocents beckons us to muster the moral fitness to bring the bloodletting to an  immediate halt. Mobilize for a Ceasefire, Now!Support the mobilization for Implementing a Global Approach To Ending the Cycle of Violence in Southwest Asia

Petition: International Call to Lift Sanctions Against Cultural Heritage Cooperation

 Following the international conference, organized by the Ibn-e-Sina Research & Development Center’s in Kabul in early November, on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a group of researchers launched the following petition:

We, the undersigned, researchers and experts in the domains of the history of civilizations, cultural heritage, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and many other fields, and other enlightened citizens of the world, in Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, China, and many other countries, launch the following call.

1) We regret profoundly that the “Collective West”, while weeping crocodile tears over destruction of the world’s cultural heritage, has imposed a selective ban of scientific cooperation on nations mistakenly considered as “opposed to their rules and values.” The complete freeze of all cooperation in the field of archaeology between France and both Syria and Afghanistan, is just one example of this tragedy.

2) We request particular attention to the case of Afghanistan. Its neighboring countries, national and international institutions, and countries involved in international conventions for the protection of cultural and natural heritage are committed to cooperation in the field of guarding cultural heritage sites and artifacts and preventing their smuggling and destruction. Therefore, it is expected, that in the current situation, they will fully play their role in the protection of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage in accordance with international laws and conventions. However, the dramatic neglect of international cultural institutions and donors to Afghanistan, the lack of sufficient funds in the field of cultural heritage protection, and the political treatment of international cultural heritage institutions have seriously endangered Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, the non-recognition of the Afghan government has dimmed the attention of cultural institutions. Considering the above, we expect these international institutions to renew their full support to protect both the tangible and the intangible cultural heritage of Afghanistan.

3) We regret that UNESCO, which should raise its voice against any new form of “cultural and scientific apartheid,” has repeatedly worsened the situation by politicizing issues beyond its prerogatives.

4) Therefore, we call on the international community, to end immediately this form of “collective punishment,” which creates suffering and injustice, promotes ignorance, and endangers humanity’s capacity for mutual respect and understanding.

The progress of scientific knowledge, in a positive climate permitting all to share it, is by its very nature beneficial to each and to all and to the very foundation of a true peace.

Afghanistan: Mes Aynak Copper Mine Will Open, But Buddhist Archeological Site Will be Fully Preserved

On November 10, in Kabul, an eminent Afghan archaeologist gave us some excellent news, disavowing what we read in the mainstream press in the West.

Having been involved for a decade in the excavations at Mes Aynak, where an archaeological site on the surface is complicating the opening of a huge copper mine, this expert knows what he’s talking about and today he is pleased to be able to announce that the dossier has reached an extremely favorable conclusion.

The richness of its subsoil makes Mes Aynak (literally “little mine”), 35 km south of Kabul, the second largest copper deposit in the world. At a time when China and the other BRICS countries need this precious metal for their industrial development, exploitation of the mine could provide a substantial windfall that Afghanistan, a country devastated by 40 years of war and looting, urgently needs to finance its reconstruction.

In 2008, an initial contract was signed between the Afghan government and the Chinese state-owned company Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC). However, following security incidents, the project was suspended.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, archaeologists, who suspected the site’s archaeological wealth, were able to excavate the site and uncover a vast Buddhist complex (3rd-7th century), already considered a major Buddhist site. The site includes monasteries, stupas (temples), fortresses, administrative buildings, dwellings, sculptures and frescoes.

It’s true that the 2008 contract envisaged conserving only a small part of the site and transforming the rest into an open-pit mine.

However, according to our interlocutor, who attended the latest discussions between all the various parties involved in the project at the end of October, things have changed radically: the Chinese company MCC now agrees to mine the whole site, not just a small part, exclusively by the use of underground mining methods. As a result, not a small part but all of the historic remains on the surface will be preserved.

Whereas in 2001, the world was shocked by the destruction of the two giant Buddhas in the Bamiyan Valley, this happy agreement marks a real turning point. Both Afghanistan and China take their responsibility in the defense of the cultural heritage of mankind, while confirming their commitment to bring prosperity to all through economic and industrial development.

In Kabul, Karel Vereycken

Webcast: World Citizens Unite Against the City of London and Wall Street!

Join the live broadcast Wednesday, November 15 at 11am EDT/5pm CET! 

Please submit your questions ahead of time to 

Or you can write them live in the YouTube chat

The facts speak for themselves. The British and American governments are deliberately and knowingly allowing Netanyahu’s Israel to commit war crimes in full view of the entire planet, crimes so heinous they are a moral blot on all humanity, and lead us to cry out: What ever happened to “Never Again!”? They are doing this “in full technicolor,” as used to be said, to send a simple message to the entire world: “Anybody else want to rebel against the City of London and Wall Street?”

In recent days, the situation in Southwest Asia has deteriorated dramatically. Israeli forces have expanded their operations and are bombing innocent Palestinian children and civilians, covered by the US and the entire West. At the same time, fighting between Israel and Hezbollah is intensifying with Israeli airstrikes deeper into southern Lebanon and counter-attacks by Hezbollah, while the US flew a third airstrike on suspected Iranian-backed militia bases in Syria. If the conflict spills over into Iran, it will be too late to talk of a ceasefire, and perhaps even too late to prevent a world war.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche summarized the situation in a dialogue with associates on Nov. 13: “The situation is rapidly, very rapidly worsening, and I think it looks extremely, extremely dangerous. Because right now we are on a course of complete escalation into a regional war. And the whole situation is so much on the edge that my absolute horror vision is that, once you are in a regional war, that it will not remain there. Because if it involves Iran, I have said this many times, that is the tripwire to world war. That is where we are at.”

The expansion of the BRICS grouping to the BRICS-11 on Jan. 1, 2024, has generated an international momentum towards creating a new international security and development architecture that the global financial Establishment fears more than anything else. It is a new architecture that is being built by different nations and civilizations around a common concept of Man: as a creative, moral being—made, in that sense, in the image of his Creator. (I changed the beginning of the paragraph to mach the other text)

The (bankrupt) City of London and Wall Street financial Establishment disagrees. They view Man as a beast whose numbers must be limited, Malthus style, and they would wipe out all worldviews—emphatically including the three great monotheistic religions—that believe otherwise. Induced religious warfare—Jew against Muslim; Christian against both; each against all—is their historic stock in trade.

Zepp-LaRouche concluded her dialogue with associates as follows: “To a very large extent—not entirely, but to a large extent—it is up to us to give people the inner strength to act in such a way that the influence they put on the situation means there is hope for the future of humanity. Given that the U.S. is the most crucial battlefield—not the only one, but the most crucial one—you should give people that sense. The world looks to you: Are you condoning what is going on, or not? We have an enormous moment, and we are in an absolutely revolutionary period and a better coalition of nations may soon be on top.”

Join Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute in the fight for a new just world economic order, the new paradigm. As a creative species, mankind is born for that which is better than being driven into subjugation and World War 3 by the bankrupt financial establishment.

Zepp-LaRouche to Peruvian Economists: Your Role in the Emerging New World Economic Architecture

Helga Zepp-LaRouche delivered a pre-recorded 24-minute address to the closing session of the 29th National Congress of Economists of Peru, on the topic: “The Economist’s Role, Facing the Current World Crisis and the Emerging New World Economic Architecture.”

Zepp-LaRouche had last addressed Peru’s Economists Association in a keynote address back in November 2016, which is remembered to this day. This year’s annual meeting was held in the University of Huamanga in the city of Ayacucho—which ironically is where the Shining Path narco-terorrist group was founded back in 1969, and once reigned supreme.

Webcast: Peace Through Development! Ideas Change History, not Slogans

The bloodbath and deaths in Palestine continue unabated, with over 10,000 people, including over 4,000 children, already dead. UN Secretary-General António Guterres once again called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, lamenting that “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children”.

Millions of people around the world protested against the bloodshed last weekend and many more actions are already planned, which more and more people will join — despite all the bans and attempts at intimidation.

Now is the time for solutions like the ones the Schiller Institute and the LaRouche movement have been working on for decades, because ideas have power, mere slogans not.

Proof that ideas can change the universe can be seen in the conference currently taking place and organized the Ibn Sina Research and Development Center in the Afghan capital Kabul, which is being attended by a seven-member international delegation from the Schiller Institute.

The reconstruction plan ‘Operation Ibn Sina: The Coming Economic Miracle in Afghanistan’, drafted by experts from the Schiller Institute and Afghanistan, will be presented and discussed in various panels.

The motto “Peace through Development” can and must become the driver in all regions of the world.
Join Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute and support the implementation of the ideas and projects of the international LaRouche Movement.

Schiller Institute Participates in Conference on Afghanistan’s Economic Development

A groundbreaking conference is taking place this week in Kabul, Afghanistan, that is aiming to help Afghanistan be among the new paradigm of nations seeking a beautiful future of collaboration and economic development. Titled: “Creating the Afghan Economic Miracle,” the conference runs from Nov. 6-8 and has attracted scholars and guests from across Afghanistan as well as from other parts of the world. It is being hosted by the Ibn Sina Research and Development Center. The conference’s stated aim is: “to present a comprehensive plan for the economic reconstruction of the entire country, with the goal to turn Afghanistan into a middle level-income country in the foreseeable future.”

Reports from the first day of the conference are that some 500 guests were in attendance in the auditorium, with another 100 spilling out into the hallways. Xinhua reports that Afghanistan’s acting Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai kicked off the event, and called upon Afghan and foreign companies to invest in the war-ravaged country, and for Afghans living abroad “to return home and rebuild their country.”

One of the top organizers said that a common comment that he got from participants was that they now have a real sense of hope for the future of the country and its development. Participation was at a high level, including numerous government officials, such as deputy ministers and the Deputy Prime Minister. One participant said of the first days’ proceedings: “It’s been amazingly informative to speak with everyone. A real sense that Afghanistan is taking charge of its own future. No funding for this conference came from outside the country.”

A Schiller Institute delegation is among those in attendance, and will be making presentations during Tuesday’s proceedings on Nov. 7, focused on various topics of the economic reconstruction of the country.

The Ibn Sina Research and Development Centre’s Nov. 6 press release explained:

“Obviously, the alleviation and subsequent elimination of the humanitarian crisis must be a priority. But that is sustainable only if there is a nationwide program of basic infrastructure like transport, energy, water management, communications, education and health care. Only if these basics are built in the entire country can productive agriculture and industry be developed.

“For this goal, the Conference will present the economic plan called, ‘Operation Ibn Sina: The Coming Economic Miracle in Afghanistan,’ which has been worked out by the volunteer economists of the Schiller Institute, and provided to Afghan experts living abroad and in Afghanistan, to analyze and prioritize its goals.

“The transformation of Afghanistan into a stable, prosperous country is also in the interests of all of the country’s neighbors, since the geographic location of Afghanistan makes it an organic hub for much of the transport and trade between Central Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia. The integration of Afghanistan into the corridors and infrastructure projects of the Belt and Road Initiative is in the interest of all Eurasia, as well as of Afghanistan.

“This program and outlook is in the tradition of one of the greatest sons of Afghanistan, Ibn Sina, whose father was born in Balkh, in the north of the country, and who is one of the greatest physicians and universal thinkers of all time. What an excellent metaphor for a rich and beautiful future for Afghanistan!”

Interview: The Last Gaullist in England — Prof. Richard Sakwa

Prof. Richard Sakwa – “The Last Gaullist in England”

Mike Billington:  Thank you for this second interview with EIR. Since the March 2023 interview, you’ve published a new book: “The Lost Peace — The Second Cold War and the Making of a New Global Conflict.”  

Prof. Sakwa: It’s due to be published in the United Kingdom on the 25th of October, and it’s due to come out in the United States in November. The title has slightly changed, zhelayushchiy ili ne zhelayushchiy as they say in Russian, “willing or unwilling.” It’s now called “The Lost Peace– How the West Failed to Prevent a Second Cold War.’ It’s out with Yale University Press. It’s available on Amazon, I think for pre-order.

Mike Billington: You also spoke at the Valdai Club. I watched some of that event, and we followed President Putin’s speech very closely in EIR. I noticed that you also participated in the press conference and had a question for President Putin, which I’ll bring up later on. You’ve generally been emphasizing the need to stop the rush to war before it gets out of control. Are there other things that you wish to mention about your current activities?

Prof. Sakwa: I’ve got another book coming out, with Edward Elgar Publishers. It’s called “An Advanced Introduction to Russian Politics.” It’s a short book, 60,000 words. And of course, it’s a bit of an ambitious or fool’s journey, to try to do this at a moment of huge flux. But it’s an attempt to establish some of the frameworks in which we can understand Russian politics today. Of course, in this incredibly polarized intellectual atmosphere, any attempt to deal with Russia or China today, and a whole stack of other countries in a dispassionate, objective manner, is condemned even in terms of methodology, quite apart from the content. The actual act of doing so is often condemned, even before people get to the substance of what the book actually says. As I think the Schiller Institute and others have argued for so long, we simply must have dialogue and we must have debate. You mentioned the Valdai Club, even my attendance there itself has provoked a certain degree of criticism. But I insist that dialogue, debate, open channels are absolutely essential, in fact more essential today than possibly at any other time, because the dangers of war and conflict are so high. So just to talk to people, not just in the formal sessions, but the informal discussions. People from across the world, good friends from China, from India, South Africa, so many other countries. I must say, the Valdai Club is always a very stimulating intellectual environment because the discussions are always measured, informed, reasonable, with a positive view on things. Never does it descend into simple attacks, denunciations, let alone personal ad hominem attacks.

Mike Billington: I listened to one of your presentations at the Valdai Club. You noted that there is a  growing momentum towards shifting the unipolar world to a multipolar world, which you noted was very important, but you also warned that such a multipolar world must not simply change one hierarchy, with some country in charge, for another. And you noted that the Westphalia Peace of 1648, which ended the 30 Years War, established the principle of sovereignty, but that a “Westphalia-Plus” — that was your term — was required. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, as I’m sure you know, has emphasized that the Westphalian principle of the “interests of the other” being more important, or at least equally important, as the self-interest of each nation. What do you mean by Westphalia-Plus?

Prof. Sakwa: I think it’s precisely the formulation of “sovereign internationalism.” Sovereignty, yes, that’s the core principle of Westphalia. But Westphalia left the content of what is within the states, as it were, and the model of relations between states, open. Westphalia didn’t put an end to religious wars. In fact, in some ways it may have facilitated it. We know that bloc politics continued. What we mean by Westphalia-Plus today means two things: First, a genuine and substantive positive mode of internationalism, which, based on the framework established by the United Nations and its subsequent protocols, charters, etcetera, of 1945. So that’s one of the Plus elements, which is just simply a substantive internationalism, which doesn’t deny some of the US led bodies, but it also suggests that  in some ways they have not served the cause of humanity, but they’ve often been rather more narrowly focused on maintaining the power of the previous or the hegemonic powers. Today I think that the Plus is going to say that multipolarity too often is seen as an empty slogan, whereas it has many facets. One of them is the maturation of the post-war state system. There are now 200 states in the world, 193 in the United Nations. Many, including the post-colonial states, have now matured.

Obviously, India is number one amongst them because when the United Nations was formed, it was not an independent state. Today, it’s a state, the third largest economy in the world, demanding that its voice be heard, quite rightly. And similarly, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, so many others, South Africa. But also the Plus sign means that there is still a normative dimension. Too often it’s simply reduced to the question of human rights. Obviously, human rights are important. Who would deny it? But human rights are within the whole framework of development, of unleashing potential. So the internationalism takes both an institutional form and a normative form. I think that when we’re talking about groups like BRICs or Shanghai Cooperation Organization, we should also remember that the UN system isn’t just a question of sovereign internationalism. It’s also a question of — I hesitate to use such a word as “values,” because it’s so often been cheapened and used as an instrument in geopolitical contestation. That doesn’t, though, ultimately mean that those values which are — and I’m talking about UN values, not those put forwards by a particular bloc — are genuinely human values. Rights are human. That includes, of course, social and other economic rights, which includes the right to life, clean water and development. So the Westphalia-Plus for me does quite a lot of work.

Mike Billington: You said that the UN charter was essentially intended as a solution to that issue of sovereign internationalism, but that the Charter is now under great threat due to the former colonial powers who have been  — and this is your quote, which I appreciate, “locked into a stupid, pointless, savage and tragic war.” We now have a new savage war in Gaza. So what must be done?

Prof. Sakwa: If I knew that, —  I think that it’s obvious that change begins with ourselves, with us, and we just simply have to do what we feel is right. Obviously, we must simply insist that without the UN system, without the charter, without that international system and its genuinely universal principles, then we are literally in unchartered waters. There’s a lot of condemnation of the UN, including calls for Russia, even China, to lose their veto powers and to be taken out, expelled from the Security Council. I think that’s madness. Of course, it’s impossible to achieve without the destruction of the system itself. The reason why I say that, the charter system, the 1945 system, is undoubtedly far from perfect and it needs reform. We need India, we need Brazil. We need a representative or two from Africa as permanent members of the Security Council. But even as it is, without it, we really will be in a totally anarchic jungle world. So I think the defense of the charter system is the number one. And then, of course, advancing its principles: peace, development, negotiated settlements, negotiation, diplomacy, all of those elements, because we certainly cannot slip back to a situation which held during the First and Second World Wars. But of course, we are very much in danger of slipping inexorably, unavoidably into a possibility of the foothills of the Third World War.

Mike Billington: You just mentioned the rising powers who should be part of the UN. Putin also said that — in fact, it was in response to your question, which I watched. You asked about the emergence of these post-colonial states, and that they’re coming together in new institutions like the BRICs and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. His response was that the 1945 framework no longer functions, and without a new framework, there will be chaos, which is pretty much what you just said as well. He called for new developed major powers like India, Brazil and South Africa, to be added to the UN Security Council. But is that enough, or are you implying in your last statement that it’s really not enough?

Prof. Sakwa: I must say that Putin did go on to say that the UN needs reform in a way we’ve just outlined, changing and expanding the membership of the UN Security Council. But he also said, however flawed the UN system is, there’s nothing waiting in the wings to replace it. And that is the absolutely crucial point. There is nothing in the wings. As I’ve suggested earlier, international politics takes place within the framework of this international system. But at the second level, if you like, international politics, leaving aside international political economy, transnational civil society, but at the second level of international politics, we’re seeing a reorganisation and a shakeup, the likes of which, to quote Xi Jinping and Putin in their meeting in March, the likes of which we’ve not seen since 1945. You mentioned the emergence of, let’s call them “post Western political alignments,” because they are characterized by a number of things: one, it’s absolutely mistaken to consider them anti-Western —  they’re “post-western.” They’re going beyond it. The goal is not to replicate the pattern of politics of what I call the Political West, but to transcend that bloc politics, the competitive dynamic, the attempt to defend hegemony. So these are counter-hegemonic alliances — not alliances, but alignments — not just simply to balance the existing system, but to transcend it. And thus they take some energy or certainly some intellectual affiliation with the type of politics outlined by Gorbachev in the late 1980s during perestroika, when he was launching reforms in the Soviet Union. The goal was not simply to make the Soviet Union like the West. It was to make the Soviet Union, along with the West, in more close alignment to those fundamental principles outlined in 1945. It is on this basis that he talked about there being no winners or losers at the end of the Cold War, everyone was a winner, and that is the similar language used by Putin and above all, Xi Jinping — win-win situations and so on. These aren’t empty slogans, but a substantive vision of how international politics should be conducted.

Mike Billington: We’re dealing with this continuing surrogate war in Ukraine against Russia. You’ve written extensively on the war, pointing to the fact that the 2014 coup against the elected government in Kiev, which was sponsored by the US, not only put a proto-nazi regime in power in Ukraine, but also collapsed the entire European security system. You said this marked the failure of the Western world after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to create what you called an “inclusive, comprehensive peace order.” I think you know that Helga has referred to that period as the “lost opportunity.” And your new book is titled “The Lost Peace.” What is the theme of that book?  

Prof. Sakwa: A number of themes, but the main one is the assertion and the argument and hopefully substantiated, that there was an opportunity for a new pattern to international politics after the end of the Cold War, based within the framework of sovereign internationalism and the charter international system. Unfortunately, the political West, which is an entity — the European Union is part of it, but above all, NATO. It’s also the dynamic based on US primacy, leadership, call it what you will. The political West, instead of recognizing this opportunity to reset international politics, only intensified the logic and the pattern that had prevailed during the first Cold War, and thus that moment of opportunity — this isn’t an abstract, it was genuine, and a lot of people recognized it at the time — that there was an ability to transcend bloc politics, to make the charter system work better, to have in Europe a genuine, enduring peace. One of those elements would have had to have been a genuine pan-continental vision of security, instead of which we saw the intensification of the Atlantic power system, which by definition excluded Russia. So we have a dynamic which — and many other books have put it — Thomas Graham, I think is one of the most perceptive, has just argued similarly in his book, which just come out, called “Getting Russia Right” — the fundamental point is that we had an opportunity to establish a positive peace. And a positive peace is more than a negative peace, which is just simply the absence of war, but a positive peace, which would include developmental and other indices in it. Until his death last year, Gorbachev  stuck to that vision, surprisingly enough, because his vision was a powerful one. My book is rooted in how the first Cold War ended, creating the framework for the continuation of Cold War, if not intensification, without some of the guardrails, because after 1989, the political West radicalized itself. This is why the second Cold War is so much more intense and more dangerous than the first. Quite apart from the fact that it’s now focused in the first instance on Europe. In the first Cold War, Europe was relatively static and the Cold War was fought elsewhere, above all Korea, Vietnam, Africa. But this second Cold War, its epicenter, has come home to roost in Europe. And that’s something I’ve been warning against for 30 years. And of course, it’s utterly tragic for all of Europe and above all, for the Ukrainian people and indeed the Russian people.

Mike Billington: As you’ve just referenced, your histories of modern Russia portray glasnost and perestroika as efforts by Gorbachev in particular, and others, to create a “genuinely transformative program of change” — that’s one of your terms — but that the West rejected that, as you’ve just explained. What was Putin’s role in that dichotomy in Russia and internationally? And what is it today?

Prof. Sakwa: It’s important to understand that Putin’s thinking has evolved over the years. Certain base concepts which he stuck to all throughout — Russia as a great power and a statist inflection, things which we can criticize because of the failure, perhaps, to really envisage an independent public sphere. But in terms of international politics, he came to power as perhaps the most pro-European leader Russia has ever had. But because of the context, the structural context, which was this radicalization of the political West, ultimately there was no space to maneuver. We can chart the landmarks, the signposts: which include the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in June 2002; the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003; the installation of anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe; Libya in 2011; then the events in Ukraine 2013-14. Ultimately in Russia, it isn’t just Putin — the elite, the Russian elite, or certainly the political-military security elite felt that the room for maneuver was becoming smaller and smaller.  That is, of course, quite clear because there was no transformation of the European security order after 1989. NATO was effectively an instrument of collective defense. What we failed to do was establish a pan- European institution of collective “security.” The United States quite clearly vetoed any substantive attempts to transform the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE, to move in that direction. So we ended up in the impasse in which we find ourselves now. As to the implication of your question about maintaining the power of the colonial powers — you call them that, I call it the political West, but it’s the same thing — they insisted on maintaining their powers. But what we see today, of course, is the intellectual exhaustion of the political west. There are no ideas coming from them. They had no idea of how to deal with the problems of Southwest Asia, as we nowadays call it — I noticed that you’ve been calling the Middle East “Southwest Asia” quite consistently. I think that’s right, actually. I’ve been doing so for some time as well.

Mike Billington: You’ve referred regularly in various publications to Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History,” which has been used as sort of a meme to justify the unipolar world, the neoliberal order. You may know that Fukuyama is being promoted again by the Council on Foreign Relations in an article published in their journal Foreign Affairs called “China’s Road to Ruin — The Real Toll of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative” a classic assault on the Belt and Road. How do you read these neoconservative efforts to demonize both Russia and China?

Prof. Sakwa: It’s a continuation of what we’ve seen over the last 30 years. There are two major streams which feed into this. There’s the neocon one, Fukuyama’s line. And of course, on the other side, we have this “liberal interventionism,” which have become fused effectively in the politics — there’s almost nothing to distinguish between them over the last few years, their interventionism, their lack of respect for Soviet internationalism. Instead of the principle being sovereign internationalism, it becomes “democratic internationalism” for the liberal interventionists. For the neocons, they couldn’t care less about the values and normative side — its power which they’re concerned about. But it’s a very substantive coalition from those two interventionists and activist traditions. Of course, in the United States, we have other traditions. We have the Pat Buchanan line. The Paleoconservatives, which, of course, in the best sense, I think the Schiller Institute finds itself in that, talking about a traditional American foreign policy based on conservative, small c conservative, engagement with the world, but without a sense of American exceptionalism and a messianic vision and need to lead.  These neocon and liberal interventionist ideas are, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, they have been catastrophic. All they do in their thinking — I read Foreign Affairs Journal, you mentioned where Fukuyama’s article is published, some of the stuff is interesting. But one has to say that it’s a sign of intellectual exhaustion. To be honest, there is no positive vision of how to transcend the logic of conflict and how to move into a world which could allow genuine human development to take place. And this is all the more tragic, not only because the challenges that we face, given the challenges facing humanity, but also the enormous potential. I think this is what the Schiller Institute constantly stresses: the technological advances by humanity allow the possibility of so much positive good, a positive peace. And yet, what they call the foreign policy blob in the United States is still intent on relitigating the first Cold War today. And of course, one of the major tragedies of our time is the failure of Europe to devise and pursue an independent policy of its own. At Valdai, I met and had a really marvelous talk with Philip de Gaulle, the grandson of Charles de Gaulle, and was very keen to meet him because, as I introduced myself to him, I’m probably the last Gaullist in England today — there’s a few elsewhere. By Gaullist, I mean, not necessarily domestic politics, but that vision of pan-continental European unity, not against the United States, but as an autonomous and independent force sometimes guiding our American friends, but working, if there’s a positive agenda, on positive goals.

Mike Billington: In your 2022 essay called the “End of Endemism,” which also was referring to Fukuyama’s “End of History,” you referred to the “march of neoliberalism” in the late 20th century, which you defined as “neo-Hegelianism.”  I need to ask you to explain what you were referring to.

Prof. Sakwa: Let me explain it this way. The Hegelian logic is based on a dialectical approach to history, not just even thesis, antithesis and synthesis, but the dialectical approach suggests a certain ineluctable spirit of history, marching forwards, usually in the form of a state or constellation of states. I’ve long been highly critical of this determinism, this historicism, the idea that we can know the meaning and purpose of history and guide it on its way. I think that we have to understand international politics through the lens of tragedy, that a lot of human endeavors don’t achieve its lofty goals, and the loftier the goals, often the more disastrous the outcome. But above all, compared to the neo-Hegelian or the dialectical view of history I’ve been putting forward for a number of years a “dialogical” approach. The political dialogism obviously draws from people like Mikhail Bakhtin, but the key point is dialogue, diplomacy, openness to the experience of others, learning from others, and of course, political dialogism is a term which Bakhtin himself never actually used. But political dialogism draws on him. as in a novel of Dostoyevsky, where people talk and then talk some more and then talk yet more, and another 500 pages have passed, and they’re still talking, as in The Brothers Karamazov. But at the end they all change. That is dialogism political dialogism, and that absolutely repudiates Hegelian or neo-Hegelian thinking of dialectics of the Fukuyama sort, because Fukuyama is very much a neo-Hegelian, as filtered via Alexandre Kojève.   

 Bakhtin is a very, very important thinker. He developed an art and literary cultural criticism, the idea of dialogism. I’m pushing it a little bit further by talking about “political dialogism,” which could be the foundational basis for a more sustained vision of diplomacy today, and how we can get out of this mess through only dialogue and diplomacy. And that is one reason why I attended the Valdai meeting, because that’s what we do. We talk, open ended talk. And it really is genuinely why I’m talking with you today. And how to do these things? Because I don’t for a second pretend to have all the answers. But I certainly think that we just simply have to keep channels of dialogue open everywhere, and precisely where we have the deepest political differences. That is when perhaps it’s most important to return to diplomacy. And of course, that applies to the war in Ukraine as well.

Mike Billington: And the Mideast.

Prof. Sakwa:  And Middle East, of course. And Southwest Asia.

Mike Billington: This is clearly the view of the nations that formed the BRICs, that idea of bringing all nations of different continents, of different political outlooks and so forth, but to bring them together around the concept of mutual development.  They’ve now expanded with six new members, unless it gets sabotaged. In Argentina yesterday, the current government candidate won — there’s going to have to be a runoff election, but nonetheless, the people who were openly peddling that Argentina should not go into the BRICs, that they should break relations with China and so on, were defeated. But there’ll be a runoff. Clearly the BRICs is committed to that principle with the new countries that came in. They include Iran and Saudi Arabia, which of course, China played this amazing role in bringing these two fierce enemies together. And now they’re both part of the BRICs, if that proceeds. The BRICs meeting in South Africa, the G20 meeting in India, the Far Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok just this month — all featured discussions of the end of colonialism, that colonialism is essentially finished. The new system hasn’t really come into place, or at least it’s only there as a potential through the BRICs and the expanded BRICs-Plus. But there were also extensive discussions about establishing a new international financial system, which I think you know that  Mr. LaRouche and our organization have been deeply involved in this for many years. The Russian economist Sergei Glazyev, whom you certainly know, has promoted a concept which Lyndon LaRouche promoted in his 2000 article called “On a Basket of Hard Commodities — Trade without Currency,” breaking out from under the dollar hegemony and establishing a basis for international trade that is based upon the values of production rather than the values established by the speculation on currencies. Where does this discussion stand at this point, and do you expect that there will be a new policy in place in time for the 2024 BRICs summit, which is going to be held in Kazan?

Prof. Sakwa: Yes, Russia takes over the chair of BRICS-Plus on the 1st of January. So it’ll be up to it to devise policies. Can I add one more institutional organization to the list you mentioned and that is ASEAN, the ten countries (of Southeast Asia). For many years there’s been this concept of the ASEAN method, which is one precisely of focusing on development, focusing on trade, not trying to interfere in internal political matters. An ASEAN-Plus meeting also took place not long ago. It’s very important. So all of that, what you’ve just said, is absolutely right, the BRICs-Plus with the six new members. There were 17 others who were really keen to join, Algeria, for example, Indonesia’s membership was offered, but they have elections coming up as well and they thought they would be best to postpone it.

Can I just go back to Argentina. It’s fascinating that Argentina figured so heavily in the initial San Francisco conference, when the United Nations was established in 1945, and the question was then whether to invite Argentina or not. So there’s a certain pattern, and history seems to be emerging because Argentina clearly is faceing a fundamentally important runoff election in mid November between the populist Javier Milei and the incumbent Sergio Massa, from the incumbent party.

Mike Billington: “Populist” is a very polite term for Milei.

Prof. Sakwa: Yes indeed. Libertarian crazy guy. Yes, yes indeed.

Mike Billington: I might mention — In what you were saying about various things earlier, that LaRouche many, many years ago referred to some of the circles around the Rockefeller family as “fascism with a democratic face.” And I think that’s what you were getting at with the issue of, not the neocons, per se, but the so-called “liberal interventionists,” that this is a fascist ideology, but it’s portrayed as a democratic intervention.

Prof. Sakwa: I would avoid personally using the f word, fascism, but clearly it’s there. Some people do indeed characterize it. And I avoid the word fascism because one has to be very careful in delineating exactly what we mean. But the point stands.

As for the currency and economic change, I think that Jeffrey Sachs addressed the Valdai meeting online, but he gave a very powerful overview of this issue, precisely. And I agree. He didn’t say this as such, but there’s two things involved at the moment. The first step will be to de-dollarize and to conduct trade in a basket of currencies, including an alternative financial architecture to facilitate this. The actual development of an alternative currency is a far more challenging prospect. It took the euro at least two decades, if not more, to develop, and even then we can see its downsides. I think Putin, in one of his interviews recently said —  in fact, it was at Valdai — he said the alternative currency, a reserve currency, or a BRICs currency, as such, a new currency, is not on the agenda at the moment. What is on the agenda is the more effective utilization of the yuan, the ruble, the rupee, and facilitating mechanisms for trade.

It may come to it, but it’s an alternative. Financial architecture is clearly something that is happening. We can see it in the data. The percentage of global trade which is bypassing the dollar, is going up very fast. It’s remarkable how fast people are de-dollarizing because of the brutality with which the dollar has been weaponized recently. I just saw some figures today about the Chinese divesting themselves of US debt. Obviously, they’ve still got vast stocks, and this is going to take a long time. But it’s certainly happening. And this is, as we say, a shift in international politics and international political economy with huge consequences, because it will mean that the United States will not have that exorbitant privilege of the dollar being the unique reserve currency, which allows it to run what is now $32 trillion debt and of course, extensive trade deficits for year upon year. So clearly, De-dollarization is going to force the United States to get its own finances in order. And we just hope that they will be able to find the leadership to do that.

Mike Billington: A separate subject. A lot of discussion, including at the Valdai Club in part, in a back and forth with President Putin, about the issue of nuclear weapons. A lot of the Western press is claiming that Russia is threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And Putin responded to the proposal by one of the leading Russians who was essentially arguing that they should put the use of nuclear weapons back on the agenda as a way of reinforcing the fact that the West has, as you mentioned, canceled all of the treaty agreements to limit nuclear weapons and to limit tests and so forth. But Putin responded very strongly that that’s not on the table, at least not now, because there’s no threat to the existence of the Russian Federation, nor a threat of a nuclear attack on the Russian Federation, which are the only two bases on which there would be the use, by Russia, of nuclear weapons. But there are also people in the West who are pushing for the destruction of Russia and China. They make it very clear, and especially in the Ukraine case, they openly state their intention is to drastically weaken Russia so that they can never do the “nefarious things” that they do. That kind of talk, which means that especially with, essentially, the loss of the war in Ukraine and the failure of the counteroffensive and so forth, that they’re pushing towards open confrontation with Russia, which could very likely end up being nuclear. So what is your view on that?

Prof. Sakwa: The first thing is the ideas put forward by Sergey Karaganov about nuclear weapons. It’s a more nuanced and complex position than sometimes presented in the Western media. Sergei Alexandrovich, as we call him, Karaganov, has done 2 or 3 versions of it, including an extended version in “Russia in Global Affairs,” in which he is basically not calling for the use of nuclear weapons, but he is calling for is the return of healthy deterrence to avoid the use of nuclear weapons. He’s arguing that it is the West, as you’ve just suggested, which has lost a fear of nuclear weapons and indeed discounts the dangers of sliding into some sort of nuclear escalation. What Sergei is trying to do is to up the ante, in other words, so that the ante doesn’t have to be upped all the way. It’s a complex position, but I think it’s an important one. Putin of course, as you said, said that he understood that position, but he rejected it. And that is absolutely, fundamentally important. And he reiterated the two points that, as you’ve said, there’s only two Russian nuclear doctrine circumstances in which nuclear weapons are used, in response to another attack, a second strike and indeed, if the country’s existence was existentially challenged. That’s the standard nuclear doctrine. 

Of course, the United States has not signed the “no first use” declarations, which is interesting. So that means that everybody has to be constantly on the alert. And of course, the danger of accidental nuclear conflict is therefore always ever present. But you’re right that the political West seems to be on a trajectory with almost no limits. It’s been driven, of course, by the extremists in Ukraine, who for them there is no limit. They’ve always wanted to negate Russia. This is western Ukraine. As far as they are concerned, Russia, even the very name is illegitimate. Zelensky not long ago, and his adviser, said we should use the word Muscovy instead of Russia! This sort of attempt to cancel Russia, negate it, is clearly one of those issues in the political West today. Of course it won’t work. Russia is a nuclear power, and it’s actually expecting over 2% economic growth this year. It has survived the challenges of sanctions so far. Clearly it has difficulties. The economy has suffered, no question about it. But it won’t be going anywhere soon. And indeed, this is a point which a lot of. commentators make, including Thomas Graham, that even without Putin himself, the views of the Russian elite and a large section of the population maintain the position that Russia has to maintain itself as an independent great power.

The policy manifestations may be debated, but the fundamental principle is one shared by the elite and the population. Putin is now supported by, still, over 80% of the population. Well, you may say, how do you measure these things in war time? Clearly there’s methodological issues, but nevertheless Russia is not going anywhere soon, and neither is China. One is almost left — and I think that’s the logic of your question — is that we appear to have two trains on the same track heading inexorably towards each other. Before the time that the two collide, there are a number of junctions or sidings. Of course, the US presidential elections next year are one of those big events. The difficulties in Congress today is another one of those. There are also elections elsewhere in the world, in the UK next year. But that’s hardly of any significance to most people apart from us. So, nothing. Is inevitable, yet the dangers are unprecedentedly high.

Mike Billington:  You’ve written books and a great deal of material on the Ukraine war and the Ukraine situation. What’s your forecast at this point for what’s going to take place in Ukraine?

Prof. Sakwa: Well, in some ways this also depends what’s going to happen in Southwest Asia, because what we’re now seeing is a genuine global crisis, or certainly in Southwest Asia and in Eastern Europe.  

It’s very difficult talking now, because I’ve actually argued that certainly as far as Israel-Palestine is concerned, the next couple of weeks will be crucial. In some ways, depending on how that goes, this will affect the conduct of the war in Ukraine. As for Ukraine, obviously I just want the killing to stop, the war to stop. There has to be some sort of negotiated element. There’s no sign of that at the moment. My feeling is that in the next few months, Russia may move on to a more active offensive position. This is certainly the position, the view of some generals. It is not clear whether Russia actually has the military muscle power. For example, the fighting over Avdiyivka has been going on for several weeks. Of course, the Ukrainians have dug themselves in very, very deeply there, the coke plant and so on. And we thought that Russia was just about to take over. And yet it hasn’t even managed to close the access to the city. And of course, it’s from Avdiyivka that the Ukrainians were shelling Donetsk for the last seven or eight years. Now, how is it going to go? I think that we’re in for a long, dark period, and only in about 2025 will we begin to see the lineaments, the outline of some sort of post-conflict solutions.

Mike Billington:  If it doesn’t explode beyond those borders

 Prof. Sakwa: And it may do because this Southwest Asia crisis has got huge explosive potential. At the moment it’s all being kept in. But as developments in Gaza develop, then clearly it may draw in other actors. And thus we have an escalatory dynamic which may become unstoppable.

Mike Billington: We have a map of North Africa and the Middle East in EIR this week, which shows this very small country of Israel on the far eastern coast of the Mediterranean, surrounded by five huge countries that we have in bright gold, all of whom have just become members of the BRICs: Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, UAE. It makes you wonder what those two US aircraft carriers, now under Central Command control, are they just there as a warning regarding Israel, or are they there preparing for a war against the BRICs? This is the thing unfortunately, you have to consider at a time of such vast instability in the world today.

Prof. Sakwa: And also, Putin announced the other day that Russian planes will be on patrol in the Black Sea with the kinzhal hypersonic weapon, which, of course, you know, if utilized.

 Mike Billington: Can reach the Mediterranean.  

Prof. Sakwa: Yes. As Colonel MacGregor said, an aircraft carrier today is, is basically a target. And that’s really what it is. 

Mike Billington: Okay. Do you have any final thoughts for our readership?

Prof. Sakwa: Well, as I say, keep up the good work. I think that I quite like the new format of the EIR Bulletin (Daily Alert). And I must say it’s phenomenally informative and always a pleasure to read, for what’s to learn and the tone, the positive tone of peace and development. It’s in short supply nowadays, so keep up the good work.

Mike Billington: Good. And thank you very much. And I hope we can continue this process. 

Interview with Jeffrey Sachs: China Model For Africa — IMF Model’s Failure

Mike Billington: I watched an interview with you this morning. It was very interesting. You focused on the arrogance and hubris of the West, of being “out of date.” You referred to the UK this way: “It still thinks it is an empire which is long since gone.” I appreciated those sentiments. But you also said that there’s nothing stopping the US and Europe from changing, from joining with the BRICs and the Global South in development instead of the threats and war policies against them. I think there’s a huge irony in the fact that the Chinese are actually, in a very real sense, using the American system approach of economics, the policy of Alexander Hamilton, which focused on government directed credit for basic infrastructure and the general welfare, while the US has given up on the American System altogether in favor of adopting the British model of Hobbesian one against all and unregulated free market anarchy. The Belt and Road infrastructure you focused on — you indicated that the three aspects of the Belt and Road are: infrastructure; energy; and digital, and that China actually leads in all three of those areas. Would you agree that China is using this Hamiltonian approach to economics, perhaps coming from Sun Yat Sen, who was highly influenced by Hamilton?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: China has what I would simply call a mixed economy, which means it’s partly state directed, partly market directed. I think all successful economies are mixed economies and the US, even when it uses free market rhetoric, has a large role of the government, not necessarily an accurate role, but a large role of government in the economy. Different countries come down differently on how they carve up the relative weights and responsibilities of public, private and civil society sectors. It’s true that the UK and  US approach is relatively more on the laissez faire side. I’d say relatively more, with lower taxes, certainly as a share of national income, and much lower social outlays. The UK more than the United States, even though it started with laissez faire in the 19th century, the UK adopted a National Health Service, of course, after World War Two. The United States never did that.

China’s a very pragmatic and economically well-governed country, very impressive during the past 40 years, because they’ve had a planning model with a major role of state finance, combined with a very dynamic and competitive market sector and very entrepreneurial lead in many sectors as well. I was just in China and noted a huge rise of electric vehicles, and there are hundreds of electric vehicle companies right now, start ups. It’s expected that the number will whittle down quickly to perhaps between 5 and 10 such companies, but right now it’s named to be in the hundreds of companies producing electric vehicles, and it’s a fiercely competitive market inside China.

Now, when it comes to the international side, China’s just doing a lot of things that the United States did for a while after World War II, which was to help finance infrastructure abroad, make the way for us multinational companies, in fact. And China right now is doing that. The United States doesn’t do much internationally at all other than war, but it doesn’t do peaceful economic development activities. You could see in the rhetoric of American leaders, politicians, their resentment that China dares to help other countries to build infrastructure. The Belt and Road Initiative, which is a very valid and quite beneficial win-win program of China, together with more than 150 other countries, by the way, is badmouthed every day by the United States, mainly out of resentment and jealousy because the US doesn’t have that kind of spirit to make connections with other countries. China is making massive investments and working with other countries to help them with developing an electric power grid, basic renewable energy sources, fast rail, 5G technologies, paved roads and highways, and many other desirable things that those counterpart countries really need. Now Biden is talking about a road project from India to the Mideast, and he’s so proud of this one road. It doesn’t exist. It’s not financed. It may may be a good idea, but it’s a little pathetic, actually, to to tell you the truth, because China has dozens of projects like this all over the world. The United States has thought about one literally. I guess they took the the “One Belt, One Road” idea, but they took One Road, one! Whereas China is doing dozens of these projects. So the US is kind of looking on.

Mike Billington: I think this IMEC program [the road from India to the Mideast and to Europe] is dead with the war now in Gaza.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Yes, I think that’s right. And we’re so paralyzed, so ineffective, so paralyzed with everything, so war driven that an idea of a road becomes about the best that we can do and a road that perhaps never will be built.. 

Mike Billington: I’ll come back to China. But I also knew that you were at the Valdai Discussion Club in Russia. I was told by Richard Sakwa, whom I interviewed yesterday, whom, you know and who was also speaking at Valdai, he told me that you were speaking there on the question of the discussion for a new currency and a new international trade mechanism that’s taking place within the BRICS. I think you know that Sergei Glazyev, who has been a key economist in this process of formulating these ideas, working with China and with the other BRICS countries, and now really the whole Global South, working on putting together this kind of idea. And you probably know that Glazyev has openly praised Lyndon LaRouche’s economic ideas and especially the article he wrote in the year 2000, which was called “Toward a Basket of Hard Commodities — Trade Without Currency.” So perhaps you can say a bit about where you think that whole plan stands today.. 

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Basically, I noted that having one dominant currency in the world, which has been the US dollar after World War two, and which was the pound sterling before World War One, it has certain advantages because money is just a means of settling transactions for the real economy, for the non-monetary economy. So having a single currency can be efficient. But the US has blown it up by weaponizing the dollar. The US had an advantage because other countries and international businesses use the dollar, and that does give benefits to the US, a so-called seigniorage benefits and other benefits, essentially the ease of borrowing abroad and very high liquidity of your own national currency. But the US started to weaponize the dollar, meaning rather than letting it be used just for transactions purposes, the United States used this special situation of having transactions pass through the dollar banking system and ultimately through the central Bank of the US, the Federal Reserve, to start confiscating the dollars of other countries that the US disagreed with in foreign policy.

This is really obnoxious behavior, by the way, because the idea of money is, again, as a transactions medium, not as a hostage to foreign policy. And because the dollar was so dominant, even after the US confiscated the reserves of Iran or North Korea, then Venezuela, now Russia, now many countries use the dollar, but they don’t like to use it because they’re a little afraid of saying a word that’s crossed to the US and then seeing the US government come down on them, even freezing their money. It’s pretty bad behavior in my view, but basically very ill advised because the BRICS countries now — it started with the original five, with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — but now it’s going to include the the new six, which is Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Iran, is a big group of countries. And they’re saying we don’t want to use the dollar because frankly, we don’t want our money confiscated. And so they’re going to develop an alternative payments system. They will be successful at that because it’s not so hard to make payments in other ways, in renminbi or in rubles or in rupees or in an R-5 currency, so-called because the original BRICS five all have an R currency: the rial, the ruble, the rupee, the renminbi and the rand. So they call it the R-5. And they may just make a basket using those five currencies for denomination, and even for lending and borrowing in a bond denominated in a basket of currencies.

So I expect something interesting and good to come out of this. Again, it’s a little bit regrettable in a way. If having a single medium of exchange, it wouldn’t even have to be one country. Keynes had the idea that it would be the IMF’s currency — the bankcor he called it in a famous writing, would have certain convenience, but if it’s then used monopolistically for militarized or foreign policy or geopolitical purposes, it’s not going to last long, because there are always workarounds when it comes to trade and to financial settlements. And that’s what the BRICS are doing right now. They’re going to do a workaround.

Mike Billington: I sent you just before we got on this link, an article that was published by Glazyev today on this issue, in which he emphasizes that while the basket of currencies and the R5 are definitely being implemented already in various forms, but that eventually the idea of a separate currency, maybe the R5, but some separate currency, which would be also tied to a basket of commodities rather than just currencies, in order  to, in a certain sense, tie it to the actual cost of production in the real economy. He thinks this is something that it can be simple to finish completing it, that he’s hopeful that it can be done by next year when Russia is head of the of BRICS and will be holding the BRICS conference in Kazan, I believe. I’d be interested in your response to his his article.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: I haven’t read it yet. Let me just say that there are several different issues involved in our discussion. One is the privilege of the US to host the international currency. And I’ve explained why the US has misused that privilege and why it’s now going to lose a lot of the business from the settlements in dollars. But a second is the mechanics of the payment systems, and the third is the management of monetary policy. These are all distinct issues. On the payments mechanisms, we can do something that could never have been done before, and that is digital settlements. So we don’t even need a banking system now, and we don’t need cash in circulation or gold bars or gold coins and other mechanisms that were mechanisms of settlement, because now digitally, every transaction can be tracked. We know there are different ways to do it. Blockchain is one, but there are many others, probably more efficient ways to do it with central bank clearing, for example. And that means that even the method of payments, I think will likely be digital and could well be a central bank digital currency in the future.

Then the third question is the management of monetary policy, and this is a long debate. John Maynard Keynes wrote brilliantly about it in the 1920s and the 1930s. Should a currency, whether digital or physical, be convertible into something else, for example, gold or into some commodity basket? Or should it be what economists call a fiat currency, which is that it is only backed by the policies of the central bank or banks, that currency and its value depends on expectations about those policies. We’ve had more than 100 years of debate about that. The advantage of linking a currency to a commodity basket is it can’t be issued for political purposes, especially to finance government payments not backed by a flow of tax revenues, for example. So you can’t get a hyperinflation in a backed currency. And that’s been deemed to be the advantage, that it is a kind of straitjacket and focuses on the real economy, limiting the capacity to issue credit. But on the other hand, it proved to be highly disadvantageous in other circumstances. When the world was on a gold standard or a gold exchange standard. If there were long periods in which major gold deposits were not discovered, that gave, on average, a deflationary weight to the world price trends, and that was deemed to have a distributional and real economy effects that were not highly desirable, although it also had some desirable effects as well. It also made it harder for central banks to be lenders of last resort in financial panics. The Great Depression is a very complicated, fascinating and important subject to understand about central banking, and whether the gold standard was a contributor to the persistence of the Great Depression. Well, I don’t want us to get into long excurses about monetary theory, except to say that there are several questions on the table right now. First, whose currency? Second, the technology of settlement. And third, the organization of monetary policy. They’re all very interesting. I spent many decades studying them, and I think there’s no ideal systems here, which is why we continue to have these discussions decade after decade after decade.

Mike Billington: Well, getting back to China, I did listen to your presentation in Beijing, to the UN headquarters there, to international ambassadors and Chinese officials. You really focused on the Chinese miracle, the transformation of China over a mere 40 years, from one of the poorest to one of the richest in history, and the elimination of poverty and so forth. What I really found interesting was your discussion of the idea that the Chinese model would be the proper approach for dealing with the development of Africa, which of course, is also very much part of China’s policy with the Belt and Road. In particular, you contrasted that directly to the policies of the IMF, which I thought I’d ask you to elaborate on here, because it was a very interesting way of showing the failure of the IMF to bring about real development in Africa or any other part of the developing sector.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: To put it very straightforwardly, the rapid economic growth of China, which was, by traditional measures, around 10% per year growth of the domestic economy persistently between 1980 and nearly the year 2020. So an increase that was more than 30 fold if you accumulate in the size of the Chinese economy, came about by investment. What does investment mean? Investment means building the capital stock of a country. What is a capital stock? A capital stock means the productive assets of an economy. What are those as well? Those are three main categories. First, what we carry in our own bodies and brains, the so-called human capital. That’s the education and the skills and the health of the population. The second is the physical infrastructure, which is the roads, the power grid, the fiber optics grid, the water and sewerage systems and fast rail, highways, all of the networking that the economy depends on. And the third is the business sector, the manufacturing industries, agriculture and so forth.

Well, if you look at China’s growth during 1980 to 2020, the rates of investment were extraordinary. The rate of investment means essentially the share of the national income that is invested each year in new capital. And in the United States, the gross investment rate, which means the amount of investment that we undertake, not recognizing that some of it’s just offsetting depreciation, the gross investment is something on the order of 15 to 20% of the national income. But in China, it was typically 40 to 50% of the national income. So a super charged investment rate. Before our eyes, China built thousands of kilometers of fast rail, thousands of kilometers of a highway system, thousands of kilometers of an electricity distribution system, and on and on and on. Really impressive. And that’s what powered China. That plus the huge investments in education and skills. China started without much infrastructure at all. It started with very poor education levels. By the late 1970s, because China had had so much turmoil over the preceding 150 years. But then China finally, starting in 1978, said, okay, we’re going for it. Deng Xiaoping came to power. He was perhaps a modern history’s single most successful economic reformer. He pointed China in the right direction, said go for growth, open the economy, make a market economy, make a mixed economy, build infrastructure, invest in the people. And lo and behold, that extraordinarily high investment rate led to 40 years of rapid growth.

Now, the problem when it comes to the IMF is that the IMF does not have that vision in mind. The IMF’s vision to a finance minister of a poor country is “don’t bother us with your problems. Don’t get into excessive debt. Don’t get into a financial crisis and don’t bother us about your poverty, Thank you very much.” So nobody thinks very hard about the way for these countries to get out of poverty. But the way is just like China did, which is massive investments.

And then comes the question how to finance those investments. China partly borrowed in the early years, but also had a massively high saving rate internally. So as the income was rising, China wasn’t consuming it in a lot of household consumer spending. Chinese households were saving a lot of their rising income. Chinese businesses were reinvesting a lot of their profits. The government wasn’t running huge deficits on its current transactions and so forth. All of this meant a very high saving rate that could be turned into a high investment rate. Now, Africa right now has a very, very low saving rate. Because people are impoverished, they can’t save more. They have to survive. So they need some help with the financing right now by essentially some international financing, say from the African Development Bank or from the Belt and Road Program, in which China can provide some of the financing to build that infrastructure in Africa.

But that’s the advice that Africa should be getting. Invest, invest strongly, invest heavily, borrow where you need to borrow. Get your kids in school, electrify the economy, build the roads, build the fast rail, and so forth. And I think China can help to give some very good advice in that direction. China shows you can have 40 years of supercharged growth. And that’s what Africa needs.

Mike Billington: 40 years, I agree. You also spoke at Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, which now is a shrine and a museum, I believe. Right, a major site.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: That temple, the Confucian temple, has been there for more than 2000 years, and each emperor has come and added a stone, added an inscription, added calligraphy. Because Confucius has been an intellectual hero and guidepost for China basically for 2500 years. So it’s really impressive to be there at a Confucius birthday party, which I was, because this goes back essentially 2500 years. There’s a large, large complex of buildings because Emperor after Emperor added their own building to it. So you really get the feel of China’s very long, remarkable history.

Mike Billington: Right. And you focus there on, on the idea that we find our common humanity by studying the great philosophers and thinkers of of every culture in particular. You looked at Confucius and Buddha and Aristotle. I think I would differ with you on Aristotle and would would have focused on Plato rather than Aristotle. But that’s that’s a discussion for another time. In any case, this idea of looking at the great cultures and the history, the best moments of the great cultures is the exact opposite of so-called geopolitics, which is what guides the Western leaders today, deriving from ideologues like Halford Mackinder and other ideologues of the British Empire. Their view is that the only way to advance is by putting down the other guy — the opposite of the interest of the other. This, of course, leads to the sanctions policy. You didn’t mention the sanctions when you talked about the theft of reserves. But even the sanctions policy, as I understand it, is based on the fact that people have to use the dollar in trade and that therefore the US thinks they have a right to impose these sanctions on countries. China, of course, is not looking to suppress anybody else. And the massive sanctions against China and Russia and many other countries, indicates a failure of thinking in terms of the great cultures and what can be done with a culture for the future. So how do we restore that process in the West, of looking to the great minds of antiquity?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: I think that there are two philosophical points that we really need to pay attention to that are quite fascinating, quite deep. One is the question of human nature. The philosophers that I referred to — I like Aristotle personally, but also I like the fact that Aristotle, Buddha and Confucius allow us to talk about the ABCs of philosophy. So it’s getting back to the core ABCs and what the ABCs, Aristotle Buddha and Confucius, had in mind about human nature is that it is potentially good, meaning that with proper cultivation, proper education, proper mentoring, living in a decent community, people can learn to be harmonious. People can learn to be fairer. Trustworthy people can learn reciprocity. So this is sometimes called “virtue ethics.” The idea that people can be decent, pretty good.

Now there’s another philosophical strain, which is deeply pessimistic. Augustine in Christian history is the exemplar of that. Man is fallen, and so man is a sinner and there’s no way out except perhaps by God’s grace. But the sinfulness can’t be washed away. And pessimists in history have believed that. And another pessimist like that, that had a huge influence is my second dimension, which is how people behave or how states interact. And Hobbes, in a way, is a follower of Augustine. Hobbes, of course, wrote in the 1600s, whereas Augustine was more than a millennium earlier than that. But Hobbes was a the quintessential British philosopher who said, people are rapacious. They are greedy. They are pushy. They are violent. And the best you can hope for is that someone controls them from killing each other. So he called for a very tight, centralized state for that purpose. But basically, the Hobbesian idea is that you can’t do anything in a state of nature, other than to defend yourself from being killed by someone else. And strangely enough, while British thinkers accepted that there would be a national government that would stop people from killing each other inside Britain, they took the view that internationally it is a Hobbesian war of all against all, that just countries fight with each other. And this is in the current thinking of international relations known as the the “realist school.” And our leading realist thinker in the United States is John Mearsheimer at University of Chicago. He’s a wonderful person and a tremendous gentleman and a great scholar. But he thinks that countries, and especially great powers, are inevitably at each other’s throats. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of empirical evidence that this is often the case. But John Mearsheimer says the implication of this is that the world is tragic. His most famous book is called “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” because he says conflict is just about inevitable between major powers, because nobody trusts each other, you can’t trust each other. It’s a war of all against all. It’s eat or be eaten killer, kill or be killed. And so, yes, life’s tragic. And I debate him.  Again we’re friends and I admire him a lot. I want to be clear, but I say, “John, we can’t accept tragedy as our fate. We have to do better than that.” And so I go back to the philosophers and the philosophers taught, you know, you can have harmony. That was Confucius’s main message, which is it’s possible actually to be decent. It’s possible to observe what was famous for Confucius and in similar terms, for us in the Western culture, as the Golden Rule: “do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” If you’re a Hobbesian, you say, “oh, there goes Sachs moralizing, but that’s not how the world is. I’m going to do what I can to the others, because otherwise they’re going to do something terrible to me, and I’m going to get there first.”

Mike Billington: Because that’s human nature. That’s what they argue.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Because that’s the deep human nature. That’s inevitable. But I don’t believe it. It’s certainly not the case that we’re always at war against each other. We can be better than that. But by the way, China absolutely has a different history and a different mindset. This is also a fascinating point. It’s not just Confucius versus Hobbes, it’s actually history, 2000 years of statecraft. What have we learned? Well, in China, for most of the 2000 years, there was a centralized state. This is very important. For most of the 2000 years, there was the Han dynasty, or the Tang dynasty, or the Song dynasty, or the Yuan dynasty, or the Ming dynasty, or the Qing dynasty, or today the People’s Republic of China. And for most of that 2000 years there was one country, and while there were rebellions and there were a lot of invasions from the north, mainly from the nomadic peoples in the dryland grassland steppe regions, there was one country, big, big population. 

Now in Europe after 476 AD, when the Roman Empire fell in the West, there never again was one dominant power of Western Europe. So there was war nonstop. Think of Britain and France, for example. How many years were they at war during the past 1000 years? An incredible amount across the channel. Now compare that with China and Japan. How many years were China and Japan at war between, you could take it back before 1000 AD, but say from 1000 AD to. 1890. The answer is two years. I think it’s 1274 and 1281, if I remember correctly. And there was actually one incursion a third year. Now, two of those were when the Mongols ruled China, and they tried to invade Japan and failed on two occasions. Once was when a shogun, military commander of Japan, ridiculously tried to tried to invade China and was terribly defeated in the Korean Peninsula.

But my point is not that. My point is they didn’t fight for a thousand years. Barely a skirmish. By the way, when Japan industrialized, and was the first industrializing nation of Asia. Japan followed the realist approach, sadly, Japan said, “okay, now we’re part of the Imperial Club. Now we’re going to go invade China.” And the Chinese diplomats said, “what are you doing? We’re Asians.” And Japan said, “no, no, no. Now we’re part of the Western club.” This was back in the 1890s. So Japan really behaved badly by becoming an imperialist power for some period. But China never did in that way. And if we understand the different philosophical roots, this is crucial. If we understand the different experience of Europe and China, we can come to appreciate that our mindset in the West that, well, “it’s war all the time. So China is an enemy, so we better go at it,” is nothing like the way that China thinks. And when I said to John Mearsheimer, again, I want to stress a friend and, you know, and a brilliant scholar, when I said all this war mongering against China is going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of war. He said “yes.” I said, “John, self-fulfilling. We don’t need to have that war.” He said “yes, but that’s how it is.” And I said, “no, we don’t need to have it that way. We can do better than that.” So that’s the debate.

Mike Billington: Helga Zepp-LaRouche issued what she calls the ten principles of for an architecture of security and development for the world as a whole. And most of them are sort of self-evident, that you need education, you need cultural training, you need health, so forth. But the 10th principle is exactly what you just brought up, that the nature of man is good, and this is the one that’s most difficult for people to accept or understand. But it’s the fundamental one. It’s really the issue as as I think you correctly just located this is what distinguishes the idea of being committed to global development rather than global war. And of course, as you said, also the Confucian concept of harmony and the concentration on education is really the center of the Chinese development of their own country over the last 40 years, and what’s now being taken out to the rest of the world through the Belt and Road. As you know, we just had the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing with 150 countries represented, which certainly demonstrates that the West has failed miserably in the isolation of China in the world, the idea that they could get countries to “decouple” from China has just forced most countries to say, “you’re crazy. This is where development is, rather than war and sanctions.”

The headline of our EIR this week is going to be on the fact that Xi Jinping offered $100 billion in new investments through the Belt and Road. At the same time that Mr. Biden was offering a $100 billion investment in wars, naming specifically Russia, meaning Ukraine, Israel, the genocide being carried out against the Palestinians and China. They included Taiwan as one of the places where this $100 billion is going. So it’s pretty clear that they’re talking about a global war. And the only question is, how can this madness be stopped and reversed?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs: Well, it is so unacceptable, American foreign policy, and what I hope people are coming to understand is that the arrogance and the militarization of the United States that has been demonstrated time and again now over the past 30 years, is not bringing security to the US. It has busted the budget. We’ve spent trillions of dollars on these horrible wars that have accomplished nothing except violence and destruction and rising debt. And they’re not making America safer at all. They’re more and more wars that are a reflection of this arrogance, because the arrogance has meant that America, American policy makers, have thought “we can do what we want, and we don’t have to talk with anybody about it. We don’t need diplomacy. We just need our military.” And the military can’t solve political problems. We’re finding out again and again that the military approach  doesn’t work to solve the deeper problems of humanity. And can’t settle political issues. For that, you need politics. You need diplomacy, and I mean politics in the positive sense of getting together to work out arrangements for people to live peacefully together. So I think the failures of American foreign policy are on full display. Also the ignorance of it, because I would cite our National Security Advisor statement, Jake Sullivan, about a week before the violence blew up in Israel and Gaza with the Hamas attack and now the bombing of Gaza, Jake Sullivan said “the Middle East is the quietest that it’s been in two decades,” It shows they don’t know anything except what their own imagination is, and they don’t understand what’s happening around the world, and what’s happening around the world is that people want a different approach. They want development. They want social justice. They want the chance for decent lives. They don’t want the militarized approach.  

Webcast: Stopping the Horror in Southwest Asia

The horror unfolding in Southwest Asia today is the Bernard Lewis Plan in action: the deliberate promotion of religious strife and bloodshed throughout the region to produce the most bestial on both sides.

One is reminded of the anguished opening sentence of Nicholas of Cusa ‘s 1453 work De Pace Fidei (Peace in Faith) , an important philosophical study of the principles of the coming Golden Renaissance:

News of the atrocities, which have recently been perpetrated by the Turkish king in Constantinople and have now been divulged, has so inflamed a man who once saw that region, with zeal for God, that amongst many sighs he asked the Creator of all things if in His kindness He might moderate the persecution, which raged more than usual on account of diverse religious rites

But let’s also recall Cusa’s next sentence:

Then it occurred that after several days—indeed on account of lengthy, continuous meditation—a vision was manifested to the zealous man, from which he concluded that it would be possible, through the experience of a few wise men who are well acquainted with all the diverse practices which are observed in religions across the world, to find a unique and propitious concordance, and through this to constitute a perpetual peace in religion upon the appropriate and true course.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute and a leading Cusanus researcher, is convinced that Cusa’s method of “Coincidence of Opposites” is the only way out of the current civilizational crisis.

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