Lifting the Curse of GeopoliticsBy Marcia Merry Baker
Nov. 15—Today was a day of new horrors perpetrated in Gaza, and also a day of new, if limited, initiatives toward stopping the evil dynamic behind this and other zones of terrible crisis. These initiatives, though welcome, are painfully insufficient, and pose the necessity for every individual to activate for the major shift needed to end, what Schiller Institute leader Helga Zepp-LaRouche spoke of today as, “the curse of geopolitics.” She said this in the context of hope—on principle—of what could be gained if the leaders of the two largest economies in the world, China and the United States, could this week reach any decent working relationship, from their meeting today in California, and related events at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.
In the early hours this morning, the Israeli Defense Forces’ special units invaded the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the largest hospital in Gaza, and one of the few still in operation. The scene was terrifying. Tanks rolled in. Physicians were interrogated and arrested. Staff could not move from one location to another. The hospital supplies store room was bombed. Staff tried to rush babies to wherever there was the least threat. Already yesterday, a pit had been dug in the hospital complex yard to serve as a mass grave for dozens of dead, whose bodies can no longer be decently cared for, with no power, transport and logistics. The stench of death hangs in the air.
All of Gaza has been turned into a death camp. Fully 70% of the population now lack safe and sufficient water. Dehydration and waterborne microbes are sickening and killing people. The alternative? Ship people out, is the proposal made in a guest column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Two Knesset members co-authored the column, reporting that Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich supports the plan. “We simply need a handful of the world’s nations to share the responsibility of hosting Gazan residents. Even if countries took in as few as 10,000 people each, it would help alleviate the crisis,” the duo wrote.
The green light for the hospital invasion came yesterday from top U.S. spokesmen, mouthing the narrative that Hamas has command centers throughout social institutions in Gaza—hospitals, schools, universities, and so, therefore, these are fair targets. This was elaborated by Administration National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, traveling with media to the APEC conference, and Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.
“The U.S. is complicit in genocide,” in Gaza, as veteran U.S. diplomat Chas Freeman said today on CGTN, expressing a view now shared by millions the world over. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced today during his state visit to Qatar that his government has submitted a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel’s unprecedented and appalling military actions in Gaza, which constitute war crimes. He called repeatedly for the whole world to put pressure on the Israeli government to answer the “desperate need” for a ceasefire to save innocent lives.
There are several more diplomatic initiatives of note. Today, three nations formally requested a special session of the UN General Assembly, on the topic of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. A meeting was held between UNGA President Dennis Francis and diplomats from Qatar, Mauritania, and Libya. This request comes in a follow-on to the Nov. 11 Riyadh summit of the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, where a joint resolution was issued calling for an international peace conference. On Nov. 13 Islamic ambassadors in Brussels held a press conference, calling for the European Union to intervene withor Israel to halt its “barbaric military assaults,” and to implement an “immediate, full and unconditional” ceasefire in Gaza. Egyptian Ambassador to the EU Badr Ahmed Mohamed Abdelatty said, “This is the most urgent message” to the EU.
At the same time as the initiative for the UN General Assembly session, the UN Security Council, on its fifth try in recent weeks, did manage to pass a very restrained resolution today, sponsored by Malta, calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip.” The vote was 12-0, with abstentions by the United States, U.K. and Russia.
What can constitute successful strategic action for the world crisis is motion on the standing call by China for an international conference toward resolving the immediate crisis in Palestine-Israel, but there are no updates as yet this week. Chinese Special Envoy for the Middle East Zhai Jun has been in active consultation with regional leaders. On Nov. 13, he was in Ankara, conferring with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, and by video in a three-way meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. These follow Zhai’s trips at the end of October to Jordan and to Saudi Arabia.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche, in her weekly Schiller Institute webcast today, summarized strategic prospects, speaking on the eve of the Xi-Biden talks:
“Well, in an ocean of horrors, I think there are tiny signs of hope. Because, as you say, the welcome [to Xi in San Francisco] was very nice, American and Chinese flags were along the streets, a lot of preparation went into this, a lot of meetings took place on all kinds of levels of government, before trade, economic, other forms of cooperation. And naturally, from the Chinese side, they have an enormous expectation that this meeting will lead to an improvement of the two most important economies of the world. And I think also from the American side, there are also some careful signs that they want stability. So, in an ocean of instability and horrors, this is at least something of guarded optimism one can have.
“Obviously, one would wish that the historic opportunity would be taken, by especially President Biden, because if I would be Biden, what I would do with this meeting, I would take up the offer of President Xi Jinping, who has offered to Presidents of the United States before, the special relations between great powers. Now, that offer still exists. I think the offer that the United States could cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative also still exists, and if the United States, President Biden would go that extra step, and make any kind of statement saying that they could cooperate, this would open up such tremendous opportunities for both sides, but especially for the United States to cooperate and participate in the many, many projects of the Global Majority.
“I don’t think it will come out at this summit, because this was too much of a difficulty in the past—the spy balloon and all kinds of issues around Taiwan, the South China Sea—so I do not expect that this particular summit will lead to a gigantic breakthrough. But if the relations of all levels of government can be stabilized in such a way that the dialogue can now proceed in a more normal way, as the world demands that all these big problems are addressed—primarily, naturally, the war in Southwest Asia, the war in Ukraine; concerning Southwest Asia, China has made a major proposal for a peace conference for the Middle East. The Chinese special envoy is travelling around the region: He was in Türkiye, he will go to Egypt, he was before in Saudi Arabia, and I think that if the United States would work with China on the initiative for a Southwest Asia conference, this could maybe stop the horror show around Gaza, and could lead to a resolution of the situation.
“Now, these are all very, very big issues, and obviously, that the two presidents—I mean, the good thing is they will talk for hours together; I think there will be a meeting first, and then there will be a one-to-one meeting with interpreters only—so maybe one can only hope and really hope for the fate of humanity that something major comes out of this summit, or at least the foundations are laid that in follow-up meetings this can evolve in a more positive direction.
“So, as I say, in the world of terrible dangers, if these two countries, the strongest economic powers—still, the United States and the rising power, China—if they would be able to overcome the curse of geopolitics: I think it’s very important to study what China is doing, because I think anybody who studies carefully what their policies are, there is no indication that China wants to replace the United States as a dominant power in the world. They want to have a multilateral relation, they want to have a multilateral order, and if the United States would agree to that, I think that all problems of the world could be attacked and managed.
“So a lot hangs on this summit, because we are really at a moment in history where either we go into an escalation which could end up in World War III, or, if reason prevails and we all cooperate in a new paradigm, that is really the branching point at which this meeting is taking place.”