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Schiller Institute Conference
After Thirty Years:
The Need for the Principle of the SDI Today!

Sterling, Virginia
March 23, 2013

Introduction: The Definition of the Common Aims of Mankind

by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

This transcript appears in the March 29, 2013 issue of Executive Intelligence Review and is reprinted with permission.

[PDF version of this transcript]

Helga Zepp-LaRouche moderated the first panel of the conference, titled, "The Strategic Defense of Earth: How To Overcome the Planetary Dangers, from Thermonuclear War, to Threats from Outer Space." Here are her introductory remarks.

I welcome you to this Schiller Institute conference, which could not take place at a more appropriate moment, because we are presently confronted with the possibility of the disintegration of the global financial system. As the subject of this conference is also the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the implementation of the SDI, or the announcement of the intention to implement it, by President Reagan, on the 23rd of March, 1983, we are confronted with an existential danger to civilization. And therefore, I would emphasize that the continued existence of civilization depends on two preconditions: One is the immediate—and I really mean immediate, that is, in the next days, or at maximum, weeks—implementation of Glass-Steagall. And the second condition is to finally implement the Strategic Defense of the Earth, in the tradition of the SDI.

Now, both subjects will be featured in this conference: the first, the SDI question, in the morning panel; and we will deal with fight to get Glass-Steagall through in the United States in the afternoon.

But let me speak to the first point. In the American media—and I glanced through the Internet headlines this morning—the Cyprus issue is not as prominently featured as it should be (see Economics). But I can assure you, that the international financial/banking community right now, is at a state of total panic. We could have a collapse of the system by Monday; we could have a run on the banks, starting, maybe not in Cyprus, but maybe in the neighboring countries, and this could spread to the global financial system.

Because what has happened is that the worst possible accident took place: Namely, that by a loss of nerve, or by design to bring down the system—I really don't know—but Mrs. Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, did something which is about to trigger, or has already, triggered a confidence crisis in the banking system; namely, she agreed, and her government agreed, together with the Troika of the European Commission, the ECB [European Central Bank], and the IMF, to commit theft against the small depositors of Cyprus. Now, this is a crime, because not only is it thievery, but this is threatening the confidence in the banking system.

Remember that, in 2008, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the collapse of AIG, for a certain period, everybody thought the system was coming down; there was a willingness to talk about the need to have the implementation of the New Bretton Woods, and the only reason why a banking run at that time could be prevented, is because Chancellor Merkel made a bold statement, saying that she and her government would guarantee small depositors' deposits up to a level of EU100,000. And that sort of helped to reinstitute confidence; people believed that, and so forth.

Then, the Cyprus Crisis Broke

And that was true until this Cyprus crisis broke. And for reasons which we have to leave to the historians to figure out, why this actually happened—they insisted on imposing a "haircut" on the small depositors of [a tax of] 6.75%, and on the large depositors, over EU100,000, of 9.9%. So people now know that the money they bring to the bank is not safe there, but it can be taken by governments.

Now, the banking system is based on trust. If people bring money to the bank, they have to be confident that it is safe. But if they have to fear that the government can take it, then naturally, people think "How do I get my money as quickly out of the bank as I can." And that then leads to a run on the bank. And given the fact that no bank has as much actual capital as they have deposits in them, everybody thinks, "If I don't get there first, then I will lose my money." And that could happen on Monday.

Maybe not in Cyprus, because there they will try to put in capital controls; but it could happen in Italy, it could happen in Greece, in other countries which are in a not very different situation. And what then could happen, is, you get a taste of what happened in 1997, when the pyramid scheme collapsed, and all the grocery stores closed, all the banks closed, people were storming food stores, but they also were storming weapons depots, and you could see little boys of six years old running around with Kalashnikovs. And the Army robbed, too, because they wanted to eat too. It took weeks to reinstate order, and this is now possibly threatening the whole trans-Atlantic region. Because if it spreads, don't think that American banks will be not affected.

Now, this is a breaking point, because the reach of this is gigantic. The euro is about to collapse. Remember that the head of the ECB, Mario Draghi, had promised he would do everything to save the euro, meaning buying bonds without limit, and now, Cyprus is such a case where this applies. Now, obviously Cyprus is a very delicate question, because a lot of the foreign investors are Russian, and a lot of geopolitics obviously went into the decision to do it this way. In any case, Prime Minister Medvedev basically said, this is like the Soviet Politburo, which also did not care about the savings of the people.

This is now a situation where the mobilization many of you have been involved in the last weeks, and especially coming here to Washington, trying to impress on the Congress, that they have a historical responsibility to implement Glass-Steagall. You have a sense of what it takes, and I can only say, the historic mission you are engaged in right now, is of world historic importance to save civilization. Because for a variety of reasons, I don't think that the European countries will be able to solve this problem on their own. Because the ECB will try to impose a banking union, a political union which will not function, because the people of Europe, especially of southern Europe, have already emotionally and psychologically exited the euro a long time ago. So the danger is chaos.

Now, the historical responsibility lies in the United States, because the tradition of Glass-Steagall, of the example of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ending the deregulated banking that led to the Great Depression in 1933 with Glass-Steagall, means that the United States is the one place where the change can occur. And I think we have to go into an absolutely unprecedented mobilization following this conference, to get the U.S. Congress to implement Glass-Steagall.

Threats from Space

Now, this is not the only danger. Because, as we have all experienced, on Feb. 15 of this year, when the coincidence occurred of the asteroid flying by, and a meteor shower over the Urals, which nobody had anticipated—this brought home very, very clearly the danger our planet is confronted with. Namely, that objects from near space could hit the planet, and presently our civilization is not prepared to deal with that. And with the present budget cuts, and sequestration, and austerity programs, we will never be in a position to develop the kinds of technologies which are needed for that.

So, Glass-Steagall has everything to do with the SDE/SDI question, because if we don't get a new financial system and a new credit system, the means will not be there to defend the Earth against this danger.

Now, the reason why we chose this date for this conference, is that it is the date, on which President Reagan, 30 years ago, declared in a TV address, the SDI to be the official American policy. Now, this was an historic opportunity which was unbelievably great, and it came as a result of my husband, Lyndon LaRouche, and some others, having responded to the fact that the world was in the middle of the middle-range missile crisis, where the warning from launch was so short, that the danger existed to have an accidental launch, and the world was sitting minutes away from the danger of thermonuclear extinction.

Now, when my husband proposed the SDI, we had been involved for one year in negotiations with the Russians, with agreement from the Reagan Administration, and there was the possibility to change the paradigm of the world completely. This was then rejected, because the Russian government, after a change in the government, rejected it. But still, what Lyn proposed in the form of a new protocol for the superpowers, which was the idea that you would completely overcome nuclear weapons by implementing technologies based on new physical principles, and that would become a science-driver, not only in the military field, but in the civilian area. And Lyn, at that point, had proposed practically an overcoming of the military blocks, and to use a science-driver impact on the productivity of the civilian economy to launch a gigantic technology-transfer program, for overcoming the underdevelopment of the developing sector.

Now, if that would have been done, we would have moved the world from a completely irrational, geopolitically oriented system, to a new paradigm which would have focused on what Dr. Edward Teller, at that time, called "the common aims of mankind."

Now, we have a situation 30 years after the Soviet Union did collapse, as Lyn predicted in 1984, where he said, if the Soviet Union continues to refuse this, they will collapse in five years. At that point, nobody believed that, but the Soviet Union did disintegrate, starting with 1989, and finally in '91. And then, rather than using this historic moment where an opponent no longer existed, to develop a new peace order for the 21st Century, the neo-cons at that point decided to build an Anglo-American empire, and eliminate every government in opposition, through regime-change.

And that policy has continued to the present day. And unfortunately, the present NATO strategy is what was revealed in a recent article in the Quarterly Review journal, basically, the idea that it would be possible to take out the nuclear forces of an opponent by disarming and destroying their nuclear weapons; that supposing nuclear weapons would have been modernized in such a way, and there would have been such a change in military technology, and a revolution in accuracy, that with very accurate delivery systems, and a renaissance in technologies, one could take out the nuclear weapons of an opponent without radioactive fallout.

Now, this is the kind of thinking which will lead to World War III in the short term, if it's not replaced.

So therefore, what we have to think about, is, we need a completely different way of thinking, where all nations of this world, especially the major nations of this world, have to put their forces together for a joint defense of the planet. Because the technologies we need to defend against asteroids and other objects coming from space, are principally the same technologies we need for a joint missile defense.

A Renaissance of Thinking

Now, the possibility that we can pull the world together, is absolutely there. We have been campaigning for Glass-Steagall in the last years in Europe. Just now, a very important group in Russia has put out a paper, demanding for Russia, a change to a Glass-Steagall-type credit system, like Roosevelt did it in 1933 (see Economics). There are various proposals by the Russians for joint missile defense.

And while there is a perceptiveness, the world is literally hanging by a thread. So the option is there, that we can have a new paradigm, but it's very far from certain. What we need is a renaissance of thinking: We need people to agree that only a new paradigm, which is in coherence with the dignity and the true identity of mankind, namely that mankind is the creative species, the only one so far known in this universe. And that we have to completely revolutionize our thinking, in the way that Nicholas of Cusa proposed that in the 15th Century, when he said that we need a completely new thinking. And indeed, his writings then, marked the difference between the Middle Ages, and what became to be known as modern times.

So we have to make that shift, we have to make the shift from a world which is thinking in terms of conflict resolution through war and other means; if we don't get beyond that, we will not make it as a species. So, we are at a moment which is totally pregnant with tension, but I think this tension must be brought to a new age of civilization. And I want to tell you, that all of you here in this room, and those participating in other ways in this conference: You are the ones on whom it largely depends.