This transcript appears in the September 17, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
SCHILLER INSTITUTE CONFERENCE ON 9/11
Peaceful Coexistence: No Other Option
Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the founder and President of the Schiller Institute. This is an edited transcription of her keynote address to the Schiller Institute’s conference, “The Path Forward from September 11, Afghanistan, and the Surveillance State.” Subheads have been added.
Hello. I greet all of you. It is quite interesting that this interview which Jack Stockwell [see following statement by Jack Stockwell]—and I say hello to you, also with great friendship and very heartily—is obviously so much on the mind of relevant circles, that the largest French radio station, France Info, felt it necessary this morning to pick up on this statement, saying Lyndon LaRouche practically invented the conspiracy school surrounding 9/11. [See following article by Jacques Cheminade.] Which is, they’re so afraid that the truth may come out, that they still feel obliged to slander Lyn in this way.
Now, look at the result of this. I remember 9/11 very, very vividly, like practically all people who either were in the United States, or watched TV at the time. Following this incredible event, the next days, and actually, weeks, the U.S. population was hyped into a frenzy by the media, playing these attacks into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, over and over, almost like a brainwashing. So that people were running around with yellow ribbons, they had American flags in their garden to show their patriotism. And this was the situation in which the Afghanistan war was prepared. After three weeks, the war against Afghanistan was declared, based on Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. It was the defense case, so all the NATO member countries had to come to the defense of the United States and participate in the campaign in Afghanistan.
Two Responses to the 9/11 Attacks
And if you now review what happened since 9/11 and 20 years of war in Afghanistan: If you look at the totality of this process, it is without any question the largest disaster, it has caused an incredible amount of damage, both of human lives and material losses. All these wars which followed cost over $8 trillion, $8 trillion which was not invested in infrastructure, schools, factories and so forth. It cost more than 1 million peoples’ lives; it contributed to almost 70 million people becoming refugees, and the end result of this is an unmitigated disaster of the largest military power on Earth, the United States, in combination with NATO, demonstrating that they were unable to defeat 65,000 Taliban fighters.
Now, that is not just an “event”: This has incredible strategic implications. And since power is not just a question of military strength, but also of perception, I think this is a very serious point, and very urgently requires us to reflect.
There are two ways of responding to this: One would be to continue, to escalate the revenge. The revenge against the Taliban, the revenge against everybody who could possibly be allied with them. And Biden, on the one side, said he would end the “endless wars,” and that this would be the end of an era of “endless wars,” which was a very promising statement. But I think that the habit of 20 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, other countries around the world, has done something with the public discourse. So, when the suicide attack at the Kabul airport happened [August 26], which killed around 200 people, among them 13 American troops, Biden said, “To those who carried out this attack, I tell you, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
That is language which unfortunately reminds one of what was said by Madeleine Albright. I’m not equating now what Biden said, but I’m just referring to the tone. But what Madeleine Albright said, in 1996, in an interview with “60 Minutes” with Leslie Stahl, when asked about the 500,000 children who had been killed in the Iraq War in the ’90s, was, “Well, that was worth the price.” And then, you all remember, when Hillary Clinton was briefed about the very brutal killing of Muammar Qaddafi, she said: “We came. We saw. He died.”
And this is something which we have to reflect on, because this is barbarism.
So, there is another way to go, which would be to really analyze what went wrong and what method of politics contributed to this defeat and this disaster. Well, I think at least one of the major elements would be the role of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Because the escalation of that kind of international terrorism, as it developed in the last 40 years, definitely had to do with Brzezinski’s bright idea to play the “Islamic card” against the Soviet Union. This was a proposal which he made in 1975, already, at a meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Tokyo, where he proposed to arm and train Islamists for the fight against the Soviet Union. So that was being done, and then, after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, those armed Islamists played a very important role in the fight for ten years, and the Soviets could not win that fight, either. And that lost fight for the Soviets contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union, at large.
But when the Soviet Union disintegrated, these mujahideen did not just dissolve. You know, they had been trained, they had been equipped with modern weapons, with a lot of money. So, they dispersed to Pakistan, to the former republics of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, they went into China, into Xinjiang. A lot of what China is being accused of now, what China supposedly did against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, really has its origin there, that this was being promoted actually by the United States and by the British.
These forces then basically organized secret units, assassination teams and paramilitary squads for operations around the world, and they boosted the opium production and heroin trade, so that is what contributed to the mess in this region.
Now that the War in Afghanistan�Is Over
The Afghanistan war is finished, hopefully forever. But what’s the situation? The UN Development Program put out a 17-page [“Economic Instability and Uncertainty in Afghanistan after August 15”] about the absolutely horrendous situation in Afghanistan now, which is escalated by the financial warfare going on by the trans-Atlantic institutions.
This report says that there are presently ten million Afghanistan children who need urgent humanitarian assistance to survive; one million suffer from acute malnutrition; and just think about the report which was made about the children in Yemen suffering malnutrition which was published by the UN World Food Program and its Executive Director, David Beasley, and you can imagine what these Afghan children look like. Over 4 million are out of school. Out of the entire population, there are 72% living below the poverty line, and with the financial warfare, there is the danger that another 25% of the people will fall below the poverty line, which would mean near universal extreme poverty, with 97% of the Afghanistan population in poverty; 18 million of them are food insecure, and 4 million are in danger of dying of hunger this winter.
In light of all that, the U.S. Federal Reserve is withholding $9 billion—which belongs to the Afghan people—on the grounds that they don’t recognize the Taliban government; then the IMF is withholding access to $450 million in Special Drawing Rights. The World Bank has stopped all financial supports.
The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, briefed the UN Security Council on September 9, and said if the sanctions against Afghanistan are not lifted immediately, there is the danger of a severe economic breakdown. “Many more millions will completely fall into severe poverty and hunger, and Afghanistan will be thrown back by generations.”
Now think about all this talk that these 20 years of being there, helping women to have access to education, to work: Well, if they are saying Afghanistan will be thrown back by generations, you can imagine what that will mean, and Deborah Lyons warns that this will cause waves and waves of more refugees. Because of all this, the currency has already plummeted, and therefore the prices for food, fuel, medicine and so forth have skyrocketed. The private banks are completely out of cash, and therefore they cannot even distribute money, even to people who have small assets in the banks. And therefore, there is a complete inability to import any food, medicine, fuel, electricity, and other needed goods.
One of the most urgent things, is we have to absolutely appeal to the Federal Reserve and to the Biden administration to release the $9 billion and to unfreeze any other assets and humanitarian aid, and other monies that are withheld, to avoid a total breakdown and a collapse of the social order.
Also, as Ms. Lyons is demanding, one has to give the Taliban the chance to demonstrate that they have changed. They have made a whole variety of promises, which they must have the chance to prove.
Now, this is all extremely urgent, because during the hour we are talking here, children are dying and the country is in utmost danger. They have a gigantic humanitarian crisis. There will be in two days, on September 13, in Geneva, a conference on Afghanistan organized by the United Nations, and shortly thereafter there will be the heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on September 16-17, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and, obviously, immediate aid and development programs must be put up there.
An Immediate Aid Program for Afghanistan
There must be an immediate aid program for Afghanistan. There is an absolute need: If we fail to do that as a human species, then we don’t have the moral fitness to survive in general. This is a test case for our ability to live as human beings. But the more fundamental question is that, obviously, the whole policy which was the basis for the Afghanistan war, quite independently of 9/11, or the Iraq war, the attack against the Syrian government, the total destruction of Libya, and many other such so-called “humanitarian intervention” wars, that has to stop!
There has to be a completely different policy and one has to reflect that—“the sleep of reason gives birth to monsters.” And that sleep of reason was already around 9/11. But if you think the Afghanistan War—in one sense, that was one thing with some relation to 9/11, and even so, the circumstances were such that they need to come to the surface, as my husband said already at the moment it happened. But the wars which came after that—I mean, the war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein—did not even have a shred of evidence! First of all, it was known to anybody who knows the region even somewhat, that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were enemies! He put many of these people in jail. And then, to blame him, saying that he had instigated or participated in 9/11, was a lie, which was known to everybody.
Nancy Pelosi, in her eternal wisdom, was so kind as to reveal this about a year ago, in an answer to a question from a student, when she said, basically, that in her capacity as then ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in the House, she knew, like everybody else, that there were no weapons of mass destruction; and it’s also known that Colin Powell knew that, before he gave his infamous February 5, 2003 speech before the United Nations.
And Tony Blair, who has instigated all of these policies, is still hyping that such wars must continue. All these people, at some point, must be held accountable for the consequences of what they have done. But that is for some other time. What is important right now is that we really change the approach. If you have a cycle of violence, if you have an “I kill you, because you killed my brother,” and then this goes on among nations forever, there is no good end. War is not a means of conflict resolution, and in this time, in the presence of thermonuclear weapons, it should be clear that if we continue this game, we will lead to our own self-destruction.
What many experts fear, is that if the withdrawal from Afghanistan only means to redirect forces to have more elbow-room for the confrontation with Russia and China, leading to conflict and confrontation over Taiwan, Ukraine, this can only lead to a catastrophe. We absolutely, fundamentally must change our ways.
A Health System in Every Country
There is a highly guaranteed and proven, very effective and human way of dealing with conflicts: I want to cite, at this point, the role of Mahatma Gandhi, who defeated the British Empire with the method of nonviolence, and who also was instrumental in developing what was later known as the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the famous Panchsheel, which also went into the Non-Aligned Movement conference (the Bandung Conference), and which was one of the key philosophical elements which went into the United Nations Charter and International Law as we know it.
This is what we absolutely have to return to: We cannot have a world ruled by the rules of a few, who then enforce these rules with the methods we have seen in the last 20 years. These methods have failed, and they absolutely must be replaced by diplomacy, by negotiation, by a dialogue; and all conflicts—all conflicts—must be resolved through such methods of diplomacy and dialogue, and the question of nonviolence.
I think one of the biggest heroes of American history, Martin Luther King—who was by far not just a civil rights leader, but was one of the people who should have been President—he developed the idea that you have to find a way of reconciling and finding unity even among complete adversaries, by addressing pressing problems and finding solutions to them. And that is exactly what we have tried in the recent period, especially after the assassination of George Floyd, in the creation of the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, which is the idea that among conflicting groups, you have to find the higher idea, that which unites them, which gives them a mission to solve crucial problems together.
And emphatically, this was meant around the pandemic, that we need to have a world health system, a modern health system in every single country, because the pandemic will not vanish until every country has a modern hospital system, modern educated doctors and nurses, and vaccination for everybody; and therefore, this is the immediate purpose of this Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, to fight for such a world health system.
The Primacy of the One Over the Many
That is an approach which comes from Nicholas of Cusa, a thinker of the 15th century from Germany, who had the idea that there is a higher One, which has a higher magnitude than the Many, and that if the mind elevates itself to that level of reason, that higher level of creativity, you can find solutions to all problems which have arisen on the lower levels of conflict.
That principle has to be applied also for the relations among nations—in other words, there is not one nation which has the right to be better, or think they are better than other nations; there is not the idea that a unipolar world can function, but there has to be cooperation among equals; there has to be respect for the sovereignty of the other. But all of this is only possible if you think of one humanity first, the common aims of mankind, those problems which affect us all have to be what unites us in terms of finding the solution. And then, national interests find their place in a subordinated way, and no nation can ever have an interest which goes against the interest of humanity as a whole, but….
[technical break in the broadcast]
Well, I was pretty much coming to the end of my remarks. I just said that the entire paradigm over the last—probably longer than 20 years, but let’s take 9/11 as a starting point—has led only to catastrophe, and I think that, for any person in their life, or any nation in history, when you reach such a point, the big question is, can you correct those things, or are you condemned to repeat those errors, until the total disaster has been arrived at?
I agree with Bill Binney: to go back to the Constitution, to go back to the world’s “constitution”—or sort of a world constitution—which is the United Nations Charter. This is a very precious good, because international law was developed through a very difficult process. It came out of the Peace of Westphalia, the recognition that if you continue with the Thirty Years’ War, which was the end phase of a 150-year religious war, if you would continue that, nobody would be left to enjoy victory, because all would be dead. And that was really the point, when the warring parties were sitting together at one table, and they developed the Peace of Westphalia. The principles of that treaty evolved into international law, which found its manifestation in the UN Charter.
So, I think we have to go back to the U.S. Constitution, the UN Charter, and to the constitutions of other countries.