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This transcript appears in the October 8, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

The Land of a Thousand Cities

[Print version of this transcript]

Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the founder and President of the Schiller Institute. This is an edited transcript of her prepared opening statement to a virtual conference of the Afghanistan diaspora on September 30, 2021, “The Road from War to Peace,” sponsored by the Grand National Movement of Afghanistan (GNMA) and the Council on Global Relations (CGR). Her presentation, as delivered, was somewhat different due to circumstances at the event.

When President Joe Biden announced that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would signify the “end of an era” of U.S. interventionist wars, an end of attempts to impose the western model of democracy on other cultures, the big concern for many was whether or not this shift simply meant leaving the theater in the Middle East in order to free up forces to concentrate on the containment of China, to refocus on the Indo-Pacific. The creation of the new military alliance of AUKUS (Australia, the U.S., and the UK) has answered that question in the meantime.

But this shows, all the more, that the “ending of the endless wars” must be seen as the chance to draw the obvious conclusion: that these wars, causing the death of over one million people, making 70 million refugees, at the cost of $8 trillion, cannot be won. The urgent reconstruction of Afghanistan presents the unique chance to stop the geopolitical confrontation and instead join hands among all the neighboring countries—the Central Asian Republics, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and India, but also the U.S. and European nations—to build up the economy of Afghanistan in earnest.

In the weeks after the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Kabul, it has become clear how unbelievably huge the humanitarian crisis is in this country. According to the World Food Program, 93% of the population does not have enough to eat, and no money to buy any food, with rapidly rising prices. Of those, more than half have acute hunger. According to the former Acting Minister of Health, Dr. Walid Majrooh, after the donor countries cut off the money flows, more than 90% of the population is now without medical care, among them pregnant women and malnourished children. There are now 664,000 newly internally displaced people since January, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons to 3.5 million. As the Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary General, Jan Egeland, stated on September 27th from Kabul:

Winter is coming. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people need immediate shelter, warm clothes and food to survive. Afghanistan’s economy is on the brink of collapse. Families are surviving on tea, leftovers, and stale bread. Donors must focus on facilitating quick and effective solutions to deliver emergency care to children, women and men, who simply can’t wait any longer.... We are now in a race against the winter, soon it will be minus10 degrees Celsius [14 degrees Fahrenheit].... Teachers, nurses, doctors are not paid.

We therefore need two things: First, there has to be an instant humanitarian emergency mobilization of unprecedented dimensions to save the lives of 16 million people from starvation and freezing in the next weeks. And second, the presently nonexisting economy must be built, starting with basic infratructure.

The neighbor countries are committed to integrate Afghanistan into the projects of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the precursor for which is the detailed program, “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” a program on which the Schiller Institute has been working since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There is already an agreement between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to build a rail connection from Tashkent, via Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul to Peshawar, and a highway between Peshawar, Kabul and Dushanbe—the so-called Khyber Pass Economic Corridor (KPEC)—which can become an extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Other such corridors must be built, with massive investment in energy production—Afghanistan presently has only 600 MW of energy production, the equivalent of the energy used by a medium-to-large firm in the U.S., and there needs to be a massive investment in water projects.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it is indispensible to start with the construction of a modern health system, modern hospitals, the education of doctors, nurses and nursing auxiliaries. If the West is really concerned about women in Afghanistan, that is what women, children and especially pregant women need.

The Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites is mobilizing presently to get the U.S. and European nations to join hands with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to solve both the urgent humanitarian catastrophe as well as begin the real economic development of Afghanistan and the entire region, which was once called “The Land of a Thousand Cities,” which it can become again.

If we succeed in doing that—and I am asking all of you to help in this effort—then the reconstruction of Afghanistan can become the beginning of a new paradigm in international relations and the beginning of a new era of mankind!

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