|This article appears in the Februuary 5, 2016 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Only a Scientific and Cultural Renaissance
Now, let me start with a point which should be of the biggest concern of anybody who wants to live out his lifespan; and that is that we are on the verge of thermonuclear war. And contrary to the height of the Cold War, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or at other high points of the Cold War where people were concerned about the possible extinction of mankind, even though we are much closer to it, there is no public concern, there is no public debate about it. And only rare individuals, such as former Defense Secretary William Perry, or nuclear specialist Hans Kristensen, are warning of the possibility that the world could go to war.
Now, if you want to take it on the light side, the danger of accidental war is extremely high, simply because the normal kind of code of behavior, which existed even between Kennedy and Khrushchov is presently not there. After the Ukraine crisis exploded, the NATO-Russian consultations—an institution which was created to be there in times of crisis—were cancelled and abandoned.
However, I would take it a step further to say that the evolution of military doctrines in NATO, going from Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) to the idea of a winnable first strike posture is based on a series of global war doctrines and capabilities which all point in the direction of such a possibility. Key features of the winnable first-strike nuclear war strategy include:
In the face of these developments, Russia and China have drawn their conclusions and they are basically also gearing up their arsenals. William Perry warned just a couple of days ago in the Boston Globe, that we are far advanced into a new arms race with nuclear weapons. $1 trillion will be spent on the nuclear buildup over the next 30 years, according to President Obama. Given the condition of the world financial system, this sounds a little bit ludicrous, but this bears out the danger.
And if it comes to a war, by intention because some people have the illusion that you can win a nuclear war, or by accident; I think civilization very well may not exist within minutes, hours, or at the latest weeks. A nuclear winter would evolve, and that would possibly be the end of civilization. And all the beautiful things mankind has accomplished so far would be in vain: There would be nobody to even comment on it. No historian, nobody making an archive on it; not even a museum. So that is the one danger.
The other danger which is in direct correlation with the war danger is the fact that the trans-Atlantic financial system is about to blow up in much bigger ways than the crisis of 2007-2008. As you know, the World Economic Forum in just took place in Davos, where people officially went through the usual kind of eclectic series of entertainment on different subjects; but behind closed doors or among themselves privately there was an absolute panic.
And publicly it was expressed by the former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, William White, who gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph, in which he said that since nothing has been done to re-regulate the banking system since 2008, the world indebtedness today is so large that this debt can neither be repaid nor serviced. He added that people who think they own a lot of money in this virtual world of finance may wake up to very unpleasant surprises: Namely, that it could evaporate in one minute.
What were the measures, the so-called “tool box,” which the financial institutions came up with after the 2008 Lehman Brothers/AIG crisis? It was quantitative easing, it was bail-outs, it was various kinds of measures to basically turn private gambling debt into public state debt. Therefore, you now have a state debt crisis. The recent developments which came in with Dodd-Frank and the legislation in the EU Commission are to go for bail-in solutions, which they call the Cyprus model.
This happened three years ago in Cyprus, where banks basically went bankrupt and then the banks confiscated the amounts of money in the accounts of either people who had their savings there, or had shares of the banks, or were holding bonds. And these holdings were basically expropriated by 50%.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Finance Minister of Holland, who is also the head of the Eurogroup, at that time said this Cyprus model is the blueprint for the entire Eurozone; and legislation was enacted. As I said, Dodd-Frank, Article II in the United States has that provision; all the European governments made legislation in the meantime to go for that. But the problem is—and this was just noted by Thomas Hoenig, who is the vice chairman of the FDIC in the United States, and similarly an unnamed EU official gave an interview to Reuters just three days ago—saying the problem is, this bail-in does not function; the banks have not been recapitalized enough to do it, and so they are not prepared. And furthermore, the amount which you could generate if you bailed in all the accounts—business, private people—and go for additional bail-out measures, you would get approximately $18-20 trillion; the problem is, the outstanding derivative debt is about $2 quadrillion.
William White says this debt will never be paid, and we have to have what he calls a Jubilee, pointing to the fact that in all great religions over the last 5,000 years, you had periodic debt write-offs when it became clear it was not payable. So, Mr. White is now a high-ranking member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD), as well as the former chief economist for the Bank for International Settlements, and you can call it a Jubilee, you can call it a debt conference to write down this debt, or you can call it Glass-Steagall.
Now, that’s just two of the situations on the financial front. But we are now reaching a breaking point in trans-Atlantic civilization. Let me emphasize two other aspects of why we are in a decaying, collapsing, destructive society both in the United States and in Europe.
In the United States, apart from the abysmal collapse of real production, you have a drug epidemic which was highlighted by several articles in the New York Times in the last several weeks, based on a study from Princeton, and another one from the CDC.
These studies show that shockingly, the death rate in the United States for white males in all age groups is increasing to such an extent that it outweighs and erases the progress in medicine. In the age group of white Americans—not black, not Hispanic, but white Americans—between 24 and 35, the death rates from suicide, alcoholism, or drug overdose has increased 500%. There is presently in all 3007 counties of the United States, an increase, a doubling or quadrupling of the suicide rate; there are 125 people per day committing suicide or dying from drug overdoses. That is five people per hour; so, since we have been here, five people have died. It’s one every 12 minutes, and it is a sign of a dying society. This increase has happened since 2001, and you can think for yourself which Presidencies have been in charge since then. And just from that figure, you can conclude that you do not have good government in the United States.
In Europe, on the other hand, we have a slightly different problem. We have a refugee crisis, which is detonating the EU. As you know, last year there were almost one million refugees who arrived primarily from Syria and from Iraq. But now, the arrivals include many people from Afghanistan and from Northern Africa. And at the Davos conference, the director of Davos, Kurt Schwab, said that he thinks that if the present oil price collapse is not stopped, there will soon be 1 billion people coming to the shores of Europe; and I think that that is not an exaggeration at all.
Of course, the causes of this refugee crisis are the failed policies of the British and of the United States: The failed wars based on:
And has any of this served the interest of the United States? I don’t think so; I think it has damaged the United States and the reputation of the United States around the world.
Now, as you know, Chancellor Merkel has done something right: she said we welcomed these people. And she’s being criticized a lot for it. But at the moment when she said that, there was no other way, because you had thousands and tens of thousands of people being stuck in the Balkans between Macedonia, Croatia, and Hungary, because Hungary began to build a wall around its borders. So, it was a humanitarian crisis of unbelievable dimensions; and there is such a thing as an asylum right guaranteed by the Geneva Convention, and by the UN Charter. So Merkel did the right thing, she did the right thing concerning the refugees; but obviously you have to change policy if you want to accommodate these refugees.
The result of the non-solidarity of the EU, is that all of Eastern Europe refuses to take one single refugee; the foreign minister of Austria just yesterday blasted Greece for not enforcing the security of the outer border of the EU. And the Greek government very correctly said, “What do they want us to do? Do they want us to shoot the refugees in their boats and drive them back into the ocean?”
And you all have seen these horrendous pictures where small children are caught between soldiers and barbed wire, razor wire. If this is not resolved in a human way, this is the moral end of Europe; and anybody who is any good has understood that perfectly well.
However, fortunately, this is not the totality of the picture. Because you have right now, two universes: You have the trans-Atlantic world which is collapsing, and you have a completely different kind of political system emerging, coming primarily from China. And don’t believe any China-bashing which you have read in the Washington Post or the New York Times.
I have been monitoring developments in China for the better part of 45 years or so, and I can assure you that China right now is not only an economic miracle; the purported news about the so-called Chinese stock exchange collapse triggering all these problems in the Atlantic world is complete nonsense, because the real economy of China is doing excellently, and you will see in the second half of 2016, that all the many, many investments in real economy—Xi Jinping was just on a trip to the Middle East; he went to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt. The total volume of investments is between 55 and 100 billion, only including these three countries. And if you look at the large amount of Chinese investments in many, many countries, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, in Eastern Europe,— you will see that that will be an economic engine which will remain there for the next several years.
However, even more important, China, a little bit more than two years ago, offered a fundamentally new policy: the New Silk Road. Now, the New Silk Road is the idea, in the tradition of the ancient Silk Road of the Han Dynasty of 2,000 years ago, to further economic cooperation, scientific exchange of ideas, cultural exchange, and to promote a new infrastructure integration of the whole planet. I think that this has affected the policy of the BRICS; it is right now moving forward very quickly, and you have a strategic partnership of China, Russia, India, and many countries cooperating closely. Such as, for example, now between China and Iran. You have an increased activity along these lines among many countries, including China and Greece; China and East European countries that turned to China to have fast train systems built by China; and many investments in Africa and in other areas of the world.
Now, should that be regarded as a threat by the United States? Only if you believe that the maintenance of a unipolar world is the only way to go, at a point when a multipolar world is already a reality. The idea that there has to be a unipolar world and that you have to eliminate, through regime change, every country in the world which does not submit to such an order,— is the guarantee that we will blow ourselves up as a civilization. What China has offered—Xi Jinping offered that to President Obama at the APEC meeting in 2014, in Beijing; he offered to cooperate with the United States and other major powers in a “win-win” cooperation, to transform the world economy.
Now, to my knowledge Obama has not answered that. But this is now becoming a realistic possibility, because we have published this report, “”: Because we have been working on this New Silk Road policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was our answer to the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, to the end of the Iron Curtain. We proposed in ’91, to connect Europe and Asia through so-called “infrastructure corridors.” And we have campaigned for this policy for 25 years, and therefore, we were naturally extremely happy when Xi Jinping in 2013 said the New Silk Road is now the Chinese policy. As a matter of fact, we said that is exactly how we will get out of this mess.
And then, we started to make our report. This is a map of all the corridors, bridges, and tunnels which will eventually unite all the continents of the world, and bring unity to all the different development areas of the planet.
So we have said, since 2012 at the latest, that the only way that you will end terrorism in the Middle East and bring peace to this tortured region of the world, is you have to have—I hate to call it a “Marshall Plan,” because “Marshall Plan” always has the connotation of a Cold War dimension to it—but just to use the word so that people get an idea that there have been examples of successful reconstruction of war-torn regions. I would like to call it the extension of the Silk Road to the Middle East, which is already uniting Central Asia. It’s moving into South Asia; a corridor is being built by China through Pakistan to the Persian Gulf. In 2012, we held a conference in Frankfurt proposing a Silk Road Marshall Plan for Southwest Asia, the Middle East, the Near East, and Africa, as the only way that you can end terrorism.
Terrorism has now become a menace: We have seen it in Paris, twice last year; the Charlie Hebdo massacre, then the horrible massacre in Paris later in the year; there have been terrorist events all over the planet, practically in all countries.
Will you be able to stop this horror show by bombing ISIS or al-Qaeda? Well, you have to do something. And I think the best approach right now is what has been negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry together with [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov in the Vienna conference, which was very successful in getting Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and other parties of the Middle East at one table. The resumption of this conference was delayed because there were still some tensions, because Saudi Arabia didn’t want certain opposition groups from Syria; the Turks didn’t want the Kurds; but, I think that Russia, the United States, China, and the other major powers of the Middle East must sit together and say “we will militarily eliminate ISIS, but then you need something else.”
creative commons/James Grellier
You need a reconstruction program which gives real hope to the people in the Middle East of drying up the environment from which al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, and ISIS have been recruiting. And it will work only if you put a Marshall Plan, a Silk Road Marshall Plan into the region, where all these countries,— Russia, China, India, Iran, Egypt, Germany, Italy, France, the United States,— work together and say: We will take the entire region from the Caucasus to the Persian Gulf, from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, as one region, and we will put in real development. We declare a war on the desert; we will create new water! If you have ever flown over that region, this is all desert. There is not one little oasis—nothing!
So you need to have large amounts of ocean water desalinated, which is only possible through nuclear energy; you need to tap into the moisture in the atmosphere, which you can do through ionization. You can use aquifers and other methods. And then you can develop agriculture. You can develop forestry.
You have to put in infrastructure; infrastructure as dense as it is, for example, in Germany. Germany is a perfect example of a very well-developed infrastructural country. Then you can put in new cities, you can build industries.
And then you will give the people of the region a new hope. A hope that they can have a future, that they can become engineers, that they can become scientists, that it’s worthwhile to have a family. And that is how you bring peace to the Middle East and to Africa.
I have said this in many speeches, and people have said this is completely utopian. Who should pay for this? I believe that if you have a breakdown of an old paradigm and if you have a good plan, I believe that then you can be successful, simply because you are the only one who has the right idea. And I am totally flabbergasted and surprised, but I have to announce that one of the persons in Germany, who is not—and I emphasize not—on my favorite list, Wolfgang Schäuble, is now coming out for a Marshall Plan in the Middle East! He did that in a very surprising speech in Davos, where, to the surprise of everybody, he said, “well, it should be obvious that we have to invest many billions in the region, that we have to form a ‘coalition of the willing’ to do so,” in a beautiful reversal of the coalition of the willing of Bush, you know, who wanted it to make war; so Schäuble, of all people, now wants to have a “coalition of the willing” to reconstruct the Middle East. And this is now being picked up by newspapers in Germany.
And you know, I always said, when there is no reason you can appeal to, the only thing which causes political change, is what I call the “policy of the burning shirt.” That when people realize that their shirt is getting a little bit hot on their behind, they start to move. And I can assure you, this refugee crisis right now, is exactly that, because the EU is about to detonate. If they build, again, borders around each country, then the Schengen Agreement is out of the window, and everybody is now saying openly that if there is no Schengen Agreement, then the European Monetary Union doesn’t make any sense; the Eurozone will collapse; and very likely also the EU. Because then you will have no raison d’être any longer for this alliance, as it developed from Maastricht to Lisbon.
So I think we now have a tremendous situation. I think we need to have a change in paradigm. I think people have to recognize,— and you may not believe what I’m saying, but I want you to think about it,— that if we stay in the old paradigm of geopolitical confrontation, with Russia, with China, the likelihood that we will not exist as a civilization is very high.
If, however, we look at the longer arc of the evolution of mankind,— mankind has been only around for a short time, a few million years. The record in terms of writing and other readable artifacts is, maybe 10,000 years. And just think what a tremendous development mankind has made in the last 10,000 years, from the Stone Age, where you would use a stone to kill your neighbor; now you have a smart phone of the same size; you can have international conferences, you see the people you’re talking to around the globe. And in 10,000 years, people will say, “Oh, these people with their ’smart phones,’ they thought that was already a big accomplishment,” because they will be communicating from one galaxy to the other, and look back at our period as the “Stone Age.”
So you have to have a tremendous sense of optimism in mankind. Mankind is the only species which can, again and again, change the knowledge about the physical universe, making discoveries, and I believe that there is a limitless ability for mankind to improve, both intellectually and morally. I don’t think that people have to be as mean as they are right now. I don’t think that the drug culture, with all the ugliness that goes along with it, is what should be the worthiness of man.
I think that if we combine an economic reconstruction program with a cultural Renaissance, that we will go into a completely new era of civilization where man will be truly man! Truly beautiful! We have written an addendum to this report which is called “.”
It advances the idea that the Silk Road should not only be built in China and Africa, but the United States urgently needs a Silk Road-style development. Has the United States a fast train system? I don’t think so. Has the United States a functioning airplane system? I think it’s getting a little bit shabby and old.
So why not build 50,000 km, or 35,000 miles of maglev train or other high-speed train systems, connecting the East Coast, the West Coast, the North and the South; reconstruct some of the cities which are falling apart; build some new cities!—some beautiful cities in the South; inspire people to go back to the Moon, rebuild NASA to go to Mars just to find out why the universe is built the way it is!
This problem of the Sun is very urgent, because in 2 billion years the Sun will not make it so comfortable on the planet Earth,— so we have think how we as a species can live on as a species in the Galaxy and beyond.
So I think what we need to do, is we have to have an honest, fearless discussion about the change of a paradigm. And I think we have to recognize that good government also means to have a beautiful culture which uplifts people. I named the Schiller Institute, “Schiller Institute,” because I believe that the image of man of Friedrich Schiller is the most beautiful I have found on the planet. And he basically said, Art is only art if it is beautiful and if it ennobles people.
So we need to combine this economic reconstruction with a Classical Renaissance of Classical culture, and then start a dialogue of the high phases of all cultures: Confucianism in China, which fortunately has a Renaissance right now, which has the whole country excited; people in China are completely optimistic. They believe in the government—can you imagine that? They have trust in the government? So, they’re in a good shape. China has produced beautiful poetry, painting, as well as Mencius and other great neo-Confucian thinkers.
India has produced many high points: The Gupta period. The Arab world was once in much better shape during the Abbasid Dynasty, when Baghdad was the cultural capital of the world. You had the Italian Renaissance, you had the Andalusian Renaissance. If we revive all of these high points of cultures, I’m absolutely certain that we can create a new Renaissance of human civilization, this time on a completely different set of axioms than those of the present decaying trans-Atlantic world.
But I think, if you think about it, we are on the verge of calamity beyond belief. But we can turn it around if we go back to FDR policies, Glass-Steagall, shut down Wall Street, make a new credit system, get production going. And it will be easy.