EIR LEAD EDITORIAL FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2022
Russian International Affairs Council and Schiller Institute Hold Passionate Dialogue on Humanitarian Disaster in Afghanistan
Feb. 10, 2022 (EIRNS)—“Start with the dignity of actual sacredness of each human life, and there is no difference between an Afghan baby and a baby in the United States or in Germany: It’s the love of the parents, and it’s the hope of the future of the country.” These were the words of Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the Schiller Institute, speaking today at a two-hour seminar co-sponsored by the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Schiller Institute under the theme: “The Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan—Toward a Long Term Solution.” The RIAC is the foremost foreign policy think tank in Russia, and the decision by the RIAC to co-sponsor this event with the Schiller Institute will certainly raise the hackles of the war party in London and Washington.
The RIAC was represented by its Director General Andrey Kortunov, who has spoken at several earlier Schiller Institute conferences. He described the situation in Afghanistan under the Taliban as precarious, as the lack of food, medicine and fuel is threatening millions, and it is likely to get worse. Nonetheless he said that the Afghan people are “resilient,” that the Taliban had consolidated power such that the more radical forces connected to al-Qaeda and ISIS are not able to take over. Unfortunately, he also stressed, the international community is terribly divided, and he believes the hope for action by the major powers is slim.
Zepp-LaRouche, describing Afghanistan as “Hell on Earth,” said she had a different view, that the world could not give in to pessimism, that if the situation is not reversed, where 24 million women and children are facing death by starvation and nearly the entire population has not enough to eat, with an almost complete lack of medical care, then the “Nuremberg” questions become relevant: “What did you know? When did you know it?” She described her Operation Ibn Sina, named after the great Islamic philosopher and physician from 1,000 years ago from that region, to inspire the world to come together to stop the genocide, provide a modern health system for the Afghan people. Ibn Sina was the first to deploy the use of quarantine to squash epidemics. By uniting behind this, the worst humanitarian disaster in the past decades, the cooperation can be a bridge to solving the other crises in the world, including especially the extremely dangerous rush for war with Russia and China. “There is no place on this Earth—and that includes the strategically explosive potential of destabilization operations around Ukraine and Taiwan—where the moral fitness to survive of the human species is more tested than in Afghanistan,” she said.
At the opening of his remarks, former CIA official and Islamic scholar Graham Fuller spoke in Russian, making the point that when he was CIA station chief in Kabul in the 1970s he needed his Russian language skills even more than his knowledge of the Afghan languages—his point being that the actual interests of the people in Afghanistan, and in many nations in the world today, are overridden by the geopolitical interests of the major powers. As human beings, he said, we need to consider the human condition of others. To get the world out of its current moral and economic decline, the U.S. must be able to work with Russia, China and Iran, and yet we treat them as adversaries, or even enemies. The U.S., he said, is going through an identity crisis, not willing to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer able to dictate policies to the world, and must move from narrow minded interests to a humanitarian one for a stable multipolar world.
James Jatras, a former U.S. diplomat and political analyst, called his presentation “Stop the Continuing War on Afghanistan.” Withholding $9 billion of Afghan assets and imposing sanctions on a starving nation are acts of war, he insisted, punishing and killing people out of spite, for the U.S. having lost the war. The same thing is true of U.S. policy in Syria, he explained. We did not start the war in Afghanistan to fight terrorism in the first place, he stated, but to establish a military presence near the Russian and Chinese borders—a continuation of the British Great Game.
Two other Russian speakers, Ivan Safranchuk, Director of the Center for Eurasian Studies at MGIMO University, and Temur Umarov, a Fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, concurred that emergency measures were necessary, but were pessimistic that the major powers would act, calling on the regional countries to take the lead. Safranchuk said that some (unnamed) countries want Afghanistan to collapse, to become a problem for Russia, China and Pakistan. Umarov said that the Taliban is not able to be as compliant with Western demands as many are insisting, since they would then risk the more radical groups gaining power.
Zepp-LaRouche concluded the conference by agreeing that the humanitarian disaster must be met immediately, but that is not enough. Real development is needed—extending the China-Pakistan Development Corridor into Afghanistan and from there into its northern neighbors, bringing in modern technology to provide clean water, electricity and transportation networks. The opium poppy production must be replaced with food crops, as was done in 1999-2000 under the earlier Taliban government with aid and negotiations from the UN. She said that anyone who sees the horrible suffering of the people, without suffering heartbreak, is not human. “Let’s just put our efforts together and really get a whole movement for development. ‘Peace through Development’—I think that must be our slogan.”