Webcast: A New Paradigm in the New Year
Weekly Dialogue with Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Wednesday, December 27, 2023
HARLEY SCHLANGER: Welcome to our weekly dialogue with Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and chairwoman of the Schiller Institute. I’m Harley Schlanger and I’ll be your host this week. You can send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In spite of significant diplomatic activity, there was no truce over the Christmas period, no ceasefire, no respite from the ongoing bombardment of the Palestinian people in Gaza. You, Helga, put out a statement, “Turn Swords into Plowshares,” which is posted to the Schiller Institute website, and over the Christmas weekend, there were calls from a number of religious leaders, including Pope Francis, demanding a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution. Let me start by asking you, what is the significance of these calls, and what now will it take to bring an end to this ongoing conflict?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: The significance is a general spreading awareness that, unless we do something about the growing power of the military-industrial complex, even if we stop the war in Gaza or the war in Ukraine, that they will find another war, as they have found many wars before—Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and about 55 wars around the globe, in which the military-industrial complex is involved in making lots of profit by selling lots of weapons; and while I’m not reducing the whole economic theory of the financial system and the neoliberal system to the idea of the military-industrial complex, nevertheless, I think it’s correct to say that it’s the final stage of the money-making, profit maximization, neoliberal model. I had once a very dear friend in India, J.C. Kapur, who used to call this the “armored consumerism.” And if you remember, I think it was Bush Sr. who on the occasion of one of the Iraq wars, I think the second Iraq War, said the United States had to do this in order to protect (quote) “the American lifestyle,” meaning that the United States belongs to what they call in Russia “the Golden Billion.” And that the continued poverty of many billions of people in the world is being perpetuated by simply having a system whereby only some nations in the past were allowed to process raw materials, to have value-added production, and that in that way, a system was perpetuated which kept colonialism in place for hundreds of years, and even after the so-called independence of the former colonial states, colonialism did continue to exist.
Now, in order to maintain that system, which only allows the wellbeing and profit of a relatively small portion of the population, namely the speculators, those who are either directly involved in the military-industrial complex or in the related financial corporations which run these military firms on Wall Street and in the City of London, that is the system which generates these wars and increases the killing for profit’s sake. So the more you look at that, the more you think about it, it is very clear that the old demand from the Bible, from Isaiah 2:4 that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” That that is very, very relevant, because all of this military production is the pure destruction of physical wealth. And even President Eisenhower, in his April 16, 1953 address, “The Chance for Peace,” to the American Society of Newspaper Editors said, that every plane produced, every bomb produced, takes something away from the people in terms of hospitals, kindergartens, and other useful things.
So, I think it has come to a point where we really have to demand in earnest that the military-industrial complex be retooled, that these firms which in part have extremely high-technology capacities can produce something useful! All you have to do is make the political decision to do it, then take some design engineers, tell them “here are the capacities, how long does it take to retool these and produce, instead of F‑35, F-15, F-16 bombers or missiles or other military goods, what does it take to retool these industries to produce fast train systems which can go 350 kph, soon 600 kph as the Chinese are doing, or other useful things, including really high technologies in the nuclear field? In other words, you could use all this productive capacity to produce what is so urgently needed in the world.
This however, does need a political mobilization because that’s not going to be a voluntary act by the owners of the military-industrial complex to do this, but given the fact that society is falling apart, I think there will be a growing demand. And therefore, I wrote my Christmas message, just thinking about it, and then I was extremely encouraged when I listened to the Angelus prayer, the “Urbi et Orbi” message by the Pope for Christmas, in which he made exactly the same point: He said that people have to know who makes the profit from these military productions, because it takes away from their wellbeing. So he had exactly the demand to name the names of the military-industrial complex and to turn swords into plowshares. So I was very encouraged, and there are obviously many Christian groups, like Pax Christi in America who already for quite some time have been making that argument very strongly. But I think we are now reaching the point where the connection between the terrible destruction going on in Gaza, which is unbelievable to even think that this should happen in this day and age, or even the situation in Ukraine which becomes more terrible by the day, as well, and that has to stop. And we have to make a worldwide mobilization along these lines, what I said in my Christmas Message, and what obviously very independently Pope Francis chose to make his topic as well.
So I would ask you to take these three, my Christmas Message; our short leaflet in which we say who is running the military-industrial complex from Wall Street and what has to be done to retool it; and the slightly longer fact sheet, so you can take these three pieces of information and help to spread it as far as you can, and join our mobilization to have this kind of change.
SCHLANGER: That statement is available on the website: It’s “The Military-Financial Complex Is Bloated on Blood Money from Wars”; and your “Christmas Message from Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Turn Swords into Plowshares!” is also on the Schiller Institute website.
Now, continuing on the same topic, we have a note from a viewer in Ohio, who referred to the statement from the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, who said the war will continue for many months, this in spite of the UN Security Council resolution, in spite of the U.S. telling the Israelis they should wrap it up soon. He asked the question, “Does the UN Security Council have any enforcement power?”
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, not as such. We have seen in the past, that the United States vetoed, repeatedly, the resolutions for a ceasefire, and unless there is massive political pressure coming from the United States primarily, but also around the world, I don’t think the UN Security Council unfortunately does have such powers.
However, I have my doubts that this will continue for many months, first of all because the situation on the ground is so absolutely dire, the calling to UN organizations like the World Health Organization, the world Food and Agriculture Organization, they’re saying that there are hundreds of thousands of people, if not 2 million, who are affected by an acute famine! In other words, these are people who have nothing to eat tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, maybe some little something on the third day; then nothing again, up to the point of starvation. Now, this cannot go on for months: Either there is a change, or it is a complete elimination of all Palestinians living in Gaza—that’s what we are looking at! And that has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world. Just think about all the Islamic countries of the world, all the Arab countries, and not only that, but the entire Global South is looking at that, and what do they see? Well, they see on the one side what the IDF is doing, but everybody who is thinking about it a little bit, realizes that nothing of this would happen unless the United States would provide the financial, military and political support.
And I think what has happened already, is—I don’t know what the right word is—image, damage, those are the mildest possible things I can say. You know, this is a stain which will not go away. And there are many articles in many parts of the world already which say that this is a sign of the demise of the United States. And if there is no change coming from the inside of the United States, it could very well be that. and then naturally—there are so many other factors: There is the immediate danger of the enlargement of the war; the attacks by Yemen on ships in the Red Sea; squalls and skirmishes between Israelis and Hezbollah in the north; then the U.S. strikes into Iraq, which found a big protest by the Iraqi government. So this whole thing is a powder keg, and therefore, the proposals for peaceful negotiations to bring this to an end, which fortunately are also circulating, like Egypt has made a proposal; then, there seems to be a proposal which was published only by a remote Palestinian website, and then picked up by an Israeli website, but it includes a whole series of demands—a pause, an exchange of prisoners, and there, very importantly, is mentioned the leader of the PFLP Ahmed Saadat and the Palestinian leader who has now been in jail for 20 years, Marwan Barghouti, who is recognized by the entire international community, but especially all the Palestinian factions, that he should be released in the next prisoner exchange as the one person who could unify the Palestinians and have an agreement leading to a peaceful solution.
So, we should definitely all discuss this question of released Barghouti, the need to have him released, as a sign, a symbol of hope that a diplomatic solution is possible. So I would ask all of you to join in our campaign to demand his release, because he is a person who is definitely respected and that that would be a sign that a solution can be found.
SCHLANGER: We did have a couple of people who wrote in and asked about Marwan Barghouti, and you just answered that. But it’s also noteworthy that as early as 2004, when he was first put in prison, your husband had said that his release would be urgently needed, to have a partner in peace from the Palestinian side. And that’s probably why he’s been kept in prison.
You mentioned earlier the problem of colonialism. We have a question that just came in: “Do you consider the U.S. to be functioning as colonialist superpower?”
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think it is something of that sort, because the U.S. right now controls, to a very large extent NATO; they control the European Union. The European Union has lost all sovereignty (if it ever had any). And naturally, it is the role of the United States which is being recognized as enforcer of the IMF, the World Bank, and similar things.
Now, let me just say this: This is now Dec. 27, that means in four or five days, on Jan. 1, there will be a complete change in the strategic situation. That is the day when Russia will assume the presidency of the BRICS-Plus: It will be the BRICS-10, including Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. That means a major change. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that the new BRICS is not going to be a formal organization with a secretariat and a bureaucracy, but it will be for a long time, an association whereby every nation can maintain their own identity, their own sovereignty, their own way of doing things, they’re own path to development: But they will work together on a new paradigm for development of all. And at the Aug. 22-24 BRICS summit, already 40 countries of the Global South had expressed an interest to become a member soon, and it’s just a question of the speed and the modalities of the integration, but this is happening.
And I think there is a tectonic shift going on, and I think people in the West who still are used to Euro-centric arrogance, that includes the United States, which after all is sort of an extension of European civilization, this Euro-centric view is completely outdated. That doesn’t mean that all the proponents have realized that, but the rest of the world is moving very, very rapidly in a different direction: They want to have a just world economic order, and for example, there is right now, since Monday, the visit of the Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Moscow, and he met with many people from many walks of life, including a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And they emphasized the extreme importance of the Russian-Indian relations, that it is a very important cornerstone of the future new paradigm. And this despite the fact that there was tremendous effort by the so-called Western democracies to bring India into the camp of the democracies. But that has not worked: India is an independent country, very obviously acting in the tradition of the Non-Aligned Movement, and they have a deep friendship with Russia.
And many, many African nations also say that they have a deep friendship with Russia, which is going to be as deep, and is becoming as deep again, as it was during the time of the Soviet Union, because these countries realize who are their friends, and who is giving something in reality, and who is just talking and make Sunday sermons.
So, I think this coming year, while I do not discount the danger—as a matter of fact, the dangers are incredible—nevertheless, there is all the reason for hope, because when the majority of the world population is moving in a concerted way, in a different direction, saying they want to build a just new world system which allows for the development of everybody, I think that is unstoppable. The only thing which could stop it is World War III, but the possible instigator of such a war, should think twice, because they would not survive it, either—so that may not be such a good idea.