This transcript appears in the October 20, 2023 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche Webcast
Stop the Slaughter in Southwest Asia! Human Survival Depends on Courage To Change!
This is an edited transcript. Subheads and embedded links have been added. The video is available here.
Harley Schlanger: Hello and welcome to our weekly dialogue with Schiller Institute founder and chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche. It’s Wednesday, October 11, 2023. I’m Harley Schlanger and I will be your host today. If you have questions or comments for Helga, you can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helga, last week you warned of the growing danger facing the world, with the commitment of advocates of the U.S./NATO unipolar order to escalate the war against Russia in Ukraine. Following the ouster of Speaker McCarthy in the House, which put in jeopardy some of the Ukraine funding, there are some who are now calling for as much as $100 billion in additional funds for Ukraine.
And now we have a potentially worsening crisis in Southwest Asia, with Israel committed to what they are calling a “complete siege” against Hamas in Gaza, which will also affect the Palestinian population there. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has called for “mighty vengeance,” and the U.S. has sent the carrier strike group [of] the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Eastern Mediterranean; and Defense Secretary [Lloyd] Austin announced that they may send another one, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier group, later on in the situation. And Biden is calling for full support for Israel in this.
Now, in this context, the Schiller Institute has issued a call to action: “No More Money for Arms in Ukraine! No World War with Russia or China!” Given the conjuncture, it’s obvious that the opposition to the war-hawks must become more visible and more vocal. What’s your assessment of how close we are now to a full-scale World War III?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: The developments in Southwest Asia since last Saturday clearly have added one full dimension to this danger. What is unfolding in the so-called Middle East is a complete tragedy. Developments from 75 years ago, have continued ever since, one step after the other, on top of each other; injustices have been committed. The situation which has now erupted in Gaza has been going on for a very long time, and there are many questions which are completely unanswered. There are those who say it is impossible that Israel, with its absolutely impeccable intelligence service, should not have noticed the preparation by the Hamas—I cannot judge that. So many factors need to be evaluated very carefully. But it is very clearly the case that you have now an eruption of a very complicated, very complex situation, which does have the potential, alone, even without the Ukraine situation, to lead to World War III.
The accusation coming from The Wall Street Journal, for example, and others, that Iran would have backed Hamas, other people who are very knowledgeable about the situation on the ground, clearly defy that, and say this is absolutely not the case. But Netanyahu has made statements in this direction. If it would come to an escalation involving all the different groupings, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Yemen, eventually Iran and Israel would get involved in a war in which the unthinkable could happen. That would unquestionably be the path to World War III.
The plight of the people, now, is unbelievable, I mean, on both sides obviously: But what is happening now with the population in the Gaza, the spokesman for the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has called on people to leave for Egypt via the only open gate in the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. But that is being bombarded! So, what should people do?
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [Volker Türk] has said that the idea of completely making a blockade, cutting off the population in the Gaza Strip, from electricity, water, food, and other life-urgent necessities, is a clear violation of international law. It is collective punishment, which is illegal because it punishes civilians. Once you get into a long, long situation of injustice, cruelties happen on all sides, and the danger now is that a very bloody conflict will play out with the potential of going beyond the region, leading to world war. If it involves Iran, I think we are off the charts.
I can only say, it’s a complete tragedy. It must be stopped right away. It is very important to differentiate now between those people who say there must be an immediate stop to the fighting: Whatever the terrible situation is, it must be solved through diplomacy. And those who say, no, we stand by the side of Israel, no matter what.
In the first category, that’s emphatically Russia and China, which have called for calm, to return to the negotiation table; and naturally [in the second] it’s all the leaders of the so-called West, including U.S. President Biden, German Chancellor Scholz, French President Macron, Italian Prime Minister Meloni, others, who are saying, no, there must be unilateral support for Israel. But that’s not so self-evident: You can be for Israel, but what is Israel? If you look at all the leading papers, today, they all call for the resignation of Netanyahu, they basically call for the opposition to rise. Netanyahu is calling for an emergency government of all parties, but it is extremely dubious that all the parties want to do that, given that the record of Netanyahu in the recent period has been one of incredible internal strife. So “being for Israel” does not necessarily mean that you are for the present government, which may be ousted in a short period of time. It’s very, very difficult to say.
If you look at the situation as such, there will be proposed solutions from people who are experts in the Middle East. However, when you look at the strategic situation as a totality, you see what’s going on inside the United States, what’s going on with Ukraine, the proxy war between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Now, the new situation in Southwest Asia, and the tensions in other places, for example, the pending crisis between the United States and Global NATO on the one hand, and China, over Taiwan can not be overlooked.
We are sitting on such a powder keg, internationally, that I think the only reasonable approach must be that all forces that are for peace agree that we need a completely new paradigm of international relations, that within this old order, which is terrible and many things have gone wrong for decades, there is no solution. That is why my call of, now, more than a year ago for a new international security and development architecture, which takes into account the interest of every single country on the planet—and that really means every single country, and not just some—and it means that there can only be peace through development.
Only if you change this present system which increases the gap between rich and poor, and replace it with a new credit system which allows for the development of every single state to overcome the terrible conditions in which many peoples of the world are living, only then do you have a chance to have peace.
There must be a discussion about a new security and development architecture. I think a reference point can be the Peace of Westphalia, which developed the principle that peace must always take into account the interest of the other. This is the most important principle, and if somebody says, “I only take care of the interest of the one side,” you preclude the possibility of peace! All the people who are now so self-righteously claiming that they know what to do, should reflect upon that principle. Because if you don’t take the interest of the other into account, there will never be peace.
I think that there is some hope, so I’m not saying the situation is all bleak, even though it is very, very dangerous. I think the hope is, for example, reflected in the new White Paper, “The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future,” which China just published on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Belt and Road Initiative.
I’m sure this will be more prominently discussed at the Belt and Road Forum, which will start next week. That forum will be discussing the tremendous potential which lies in the idea of a community of a shared future of all of mankind, based on development. So, there is a framework for resolving all of this. It will require, however, that unilateralism stops, that bloc building stops, and that we accept the idea that the so-called West must cooperate with the countries of the Global South and completely change the axioms of their thinking.
I don’t know if that’s possible. You see, the problem is that the Western elites have demonstrated in the recent period such an absolute inability to reflect on their mistakes, that it is a big question of whether they are capable and willing to do so. That makes all the more urgent the need to build an international peace movement which is strong enough that it can be heard, especially by the vast majority of people, who, in part, hate the mainstream media, and whose disgust against the mainstream media is growing. But many people feel that they have no other source of information, and many people also feel that there is absolutely nothing they can do. That is not true! One can do something. We are right now trying to unite the peace movement internationally to become stronger, and move to a completely different order of things, where the interest of humanity, of all of us, is put first, and only then comes national interests. These are some of my reflections on a very grave and very dangerous situation.
The Hamas-Israel Crisis
Schlanger: You have just heard the opening statement from Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder and chairwoman of the Schiller Institute. The call to action from the Schiller Institute is up on the website now: “No More Money for Arms in Ukraine! No World War with Russia or China!”
Now, we have a number of questions that come from this deepening of the crisis. I spoke to a journalist from Southwest Asia today, who said that the Israeli strikes on Gaza threaten to create a deeper humanitarian crisis—which you mentioned, the cutting off of water, food, and medication—and he mentioned that Egypt is calling for a settlement; so are some of the other countries in the region. But there are pressures being put on them, especially since Egypt and Saudi Arabia have both become new members of the BRICS, and so he said: “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but doesn’t this crisis put the BRICS under pressure to realign with the West?”
Zepp-LaRouche: That is not possible under the present conditions, because the West is insisting on what they call the “rules-based order” which is basically the idea that they are right and the others are wrong, and that they’re superior and that their rules are good, and everybody else has wrong ideas. That arrogance and supremacy claim will not work.
Think about what happened in the last several months. The spectacular intervention by China, bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia together, and they started to exchange diplomats, they started to talk to each other, and this was on the road of solving the conflict between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis in the region, which had effects in many other countries.
Then, a little bit later came the idea of Iran and Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and Egypt becoming parts of the BRICS. This is supposed to start on the first of next year. That would lay the foundation to solve all problems because if you have a rapprochement among the major strains of religion, and then economic development as it can only come through the joint cooperation on the projects of the Belt and Road Initiative, the situation looked extremely bright.
But then, there was very clearly an effort to keep the so-called “democracies” building an alliance against the so-called “dictatorships,” which is a construct completely, because who is a dictatorship and who is a democracy remains to be debated, because if you look at the actual conditions it gives you a very different picture.
There was a clear effort by the Biden administration, in particular, to forge a rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and there are several voices basically saying that for the Hamas, this was getting unacceptable, because it left the Palestinians completely out of the picture. But that was only maybe the last, final trigger of a long, long-endured situation for those who characterized the Gaza Strip as an open-air prison, and that was what it was.
So, what triggered this eruption? That requires some more investigation and so forth, but it was definitely something which had to happen. It’s like what the U.S. Declaration of Independence says: a country, a people can endure an unjust situation for a very long time, but there comes a point where it becomes unbearable.
Was it because of this Israeli-Saudi rapprochement that it became unbearable? Or, was there some other reason triggering it now, where it was clearly for months, if not longer, in preparation? These are all questions I cannot answer, but there is a path to solution, to get out of danger. I’m afraid this will play out for some, hopefully, only a short time, in which time many more people will die. It must be settled as quickly as possible; there must be intervention from outside to stop the killing. Anybody who has any influence there, for example, [Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, and others, must absolutely bring their weight in, to stop this bloodshed, because it kills too many people, and it is absolutely intolerable. Once you get into a spiral of such things, it becomes worse, because then, there is another revenge, and another revenge. That vicious cycle must be interrupted, and real economic development must be put in its place.
Is there hope to change it? Well, I would think so, but I think the solution can only come from the Global South. The BRICS and the other countries of the Global South are becoming stronger; they are the majority of the world. The people in the West must change their government policies! It is not the Global South which has been wrong, it has been the Global North and the Global West that failed the world situation, actually for 600 years, since the beginning of colonialism.
For All Cultures To Develop According to Their Own Traditions
Schlanger: I’m going to give you two questions together. Someone wrote:
“Putin gave an interesting picture of the strategic situation in his address to the Valdai Club. Did you read it? And if so, can you comment on what he said?”
In another comment, someone wrote:
“I heard that Putin denounced neocolonialism, corporate oligarchy, and Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum. What does that say about those conspiracy theorists who say that Putin and Russia and China are all in on the Great Reset and new globalist world order?”
Zepp-LaRouche: The idea that Putin is in with the World Economic Forum is just absurd! I would really advise everybody to read the speech by Putin, which is very long, but it gives you a very differentiated picture. Unlike all the anti-Russian bias and propaganda, what comes across is an extremely rational, calm person, who is very clear-sighted and who has a very clear perspective for the world, and where it should go.
He again gave the true history of how the war in Ukraine developed, quite detailed—so people should really read that. Because the war did not start on Feb. 24, 2022. That part was extremely important.
But what impressed me the most was his discussion about the absolute right of all cultures to develop on the basis of their own tradition and identity; the multipolarity of the world system; that it is completely illegitimate and not permissible that one country or a group of countries imposes its ideas of how the world should be on another group of people, but that the tradition of cultures as they have grown have the right to unfold in their own way.
That’s a very important principle. Think about the different cultures around the world. Think about India, think about Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Russia, the Balkan countries, Italy, France, Africa, Ibero-America: All of these countries are so different, and they bring in so much—each country has at one point or another contributed something important to universal history. All in their diversity have contributed to the progress of universal history as a totality. To have respect for the differences, while recognizing what is universal, is the basis for peace. Putin expressed that in a very profound way. So, I can only encourage—don’t just listen to the media: Read the whole speech! That’s an old principle of the [classical] humanists, by the way, who always said, “go to the sources.” And in that case, Putin should be such a source.
Schlanger: That’s what your husband used to say a lot, also.
RFK Jr.’s Independent Presidential Candidacy
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., announced Oct. 9 that he will run as an independent candidate for President. Of course, we’ve had our own experience with the corruption of the Democratic Party national leadership and the DNC [Democratic National Committee]. A questioner asks: “What do you think about the Kennedy campaign?”
Zepp-LaRouche: It’s a lining of hope on the horizon, for sure. While I would probably not agree with every particular viewpoint he has said, I think it’s such a breath of fresh air in the political scene in the United States, because he clearly evokes the spirit of his uncle, John F. Kennedy, his idea of peace, and clearly reflects also some of the views of his father; and he was also close to Martin Luther King.
When Biden and the DNC made the rules for the primaries, it became clear to Kennedy that no matter how many votes he would receive, they would not be counted on the basis that the Democratic Party says, “Oh, we can make the rules of the club, because after all, the Democratic Party is a private club,” which is how they argued the stealing of many delegates of my husband, in Arkansas, during his presidential campaign [in 2000], and that clearly was a violation of the Voting Rights Act, and the Democratic Party now clearly indicated that they were willing to go that road as well.
But I think Biden now has a big problem. Look at the percentage of Democratic voters who have said in polls that they would vote for Kennedy as an independent. One poll I saw reported 63% of Democrats voting for Kennedy. I think this is a reason for Biden to get quite a bit more reasonable on many points.
And one can only hope that the [physical] security of Kennedy is very good, given the history of his family. But the blame, if it now happened to him, what happened to his uncle and his father, that would be such a nightmare, that I think nobody in the United States in their right mind would wish to travel that road, because it would tear the country apart, in a way which probably would not be concealable.
I think it’s very hopeful, and I think the United States can come back to its tradition as a republic. I know that that is a very difficult proposition right now, given that the powers-that-be seem so strong, but I think that the spirit of the American republic, the American Constitution, the American Revolution, which after all was the first war of independence against the colonial system, against the British Empire, I think that tradition can be evoked. And that would change the world for the better so dramatically that I think everything would fall into line, because it would meet a demand by the majority of the countries of the world, that the world should be brought into a more just system.
It’s a very exciting period, and I can only say: Don’t sit on the sidelines, become active with us, to make sure the world is going in the direction of peace, and a new order.
The Method of the Coincidentia Oppositorum
Schlanger: Diane Sare, the LaRouche candidate for U.S. Senate from New York, issued a very good statement Oct. 8 on the importance of the Kennedy campaign. I would point out that the polls show that two-thirds of Democrats wish that Biden wouldn’t run. So, what you’re saying is definitely the case.
I have a couple of questions, Helga, that get right at the heart of some philosophical thoughts that I know reflect your thinking: One is from Thomas, who often sends in a question. He asks about Nicholas of Cusa’s notion, coincidentia oppositorum:
“What you’re calling for is a higher philosophical approach to solving problems. There’s a problem with the present degeneration of culture. Can using such a philosophical principle work, given its complexity, and the generally poor quality of thinking in the people?”
And I want to connect that with a comment from Tony Magliano from Pax Christi, who raises a question of Catholic social teaching, emphasizing love, social justice and peace, respect for all life, asking if this would be useful in addressing the crisis?
Zepp-LaRouche: Absolutely! The present Western culture is absolutely degenerate. We have a deep cultural crisis, probably worse than at the end of the Roman Empire. The liberal system has gone in the direction of “everything goes, everything is allowed,” for such a long period of time, that we have a real morass of degeneracy. I do not overlook that for one second.
Fortunately, around the world are cultures which have rejected that. I know that many people have not the right understanding, but the Chinese idea of a harmonious development of all nations, based on the long Confucian tradition, has a similar approach. You find similar ideas in many other cultures and religions, and especially, I fully agree with the Augustinian tradition of the Christian faith. I think the idea of agapē, of love, is the absolute, indispensable ingredient, because only if people return to a love of mankind do we have any hope of solving the many problems we have touched upon today.
If all the parties that have a “C” in their name, like the Christian Democrats in Germany and the Christian Social Union, would follow the demand of the social teachings of the Church, or the Encyclicals of the Popes, we would not be in this crisis. The problem is that they give lip service to these values, but they don’t act on that.
I can only say that I have a big hope that in the present crisis, all the religions would step forward, and not be part of this “divide and conquer” game, but actually step beyond the present situation and unite around the question for peace—absolutely!
And since Thomas mentioned the coincidentia oppositorum: It is a difficult concept, I admit that. But I think it is one of the most worthwhile efforts to try to understand it. Nicolaus of Cusa came to the idea through his theological discussions and reflections, thinking about the multitude of the Creation, the diversity of everything material around us, and the need to look for the One which unites that diversity. And he came to the conclusion that the One, the higher One, is, naturally, God. And that only if you think about the idea that man is the living image of God, the imago viva Dei; not just the image of God, imago Dei, but the imago viva Dei, the living image of God; which, when man is trying to be like that, he replicates the most noble aspects of the Divine, that is, the creativity for the common good.
When you think through all of these things, you come to the conclusion that once you have this vis creativa [creative power] working within you, you can conceptualize always, the higher One, that higher level where all the contradictions fall into one. And that is a method, by thinking about God this way, this in part negative theology that you don’t want to give God a name, like even the name “the Almighty,” or the “All-Knowing,” these are already limitations because when you say something concrete like that about God, you already exclude certain things, and you project your own human viewpoints. And that is why Nicolaus of Cusa made a big effort to come to a definition of God which was not limited by human projections.
For example, two other extremely important writings of Nicholas of Cusa are De Visione Dei [On the Vision of God] and De Non Aliud [God as Not-Other], which is a very challenging paper! If you read these things, the good thing is that it prevents you from attaching your thoughts to any fixed object. So, to read Cusa and to try to understand him is the best weapon against Aristotelianism, because it prevents you from latching onto some easy explanation, and it forces the mind to think at this higher level, which is the source of creativity. Any composer of Classical music will immediately explain to you that that is required to come up with a composition like a Beethoven symphony, for example, or the great dramas. Because you have to have this idea of the higher One in your mind before you start to even play the first note, or write the first word in a drama.
It’s a method of thinking. I agree it is difficult, but I’m also optimistic that you can conquer it. What we need is sort of a council of the wise, worldwide, of people who are willing to entertain such a method of thinking, to overcome the present contradictions. Some people are showing this already as a quality.
Schlanger: Helga, thank you for that answer, and for joining us again today, we’ll be back next week, we hope. Any final words?
Zepp-LaRouche: Yes, you should contact us, because we are in the process of forming an International Peace Coalition, which is already joined by, I would say, around 100 organizations and individuals from many parts of the world; and we are trying to build that to become an ever stronger coalition of people who oppose the escalation into World War III. Contact us, and then we will include you in this fight. Don’t sit on the sidelines: Become active with us!
Schlanger: OK, well, thanks Helga, and we’ll see you next week.
Zepp-LaRouche: Till next week.