It’s past time that the U.S. recognized the true sources of security: internal social cohesion and responsible cooperation with the rest of the world, rather than the illusion of hegemony, writes Jeffrey D. Sachs.
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous. It is an attempt to manipulate public opinion, not to deal with very real and pressing diplomacy.
The essential narrative of the West is built into U.S. national security strategy. The core U.S. idea is that China and Russia are implacable foes that are “attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” These countries are, according to the U.S., “determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”
The irony is that since 1980 the U.S. has been in at least 15 overseas wars of choice (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Panama, Serbia, Syria and Yemen just to name a few), while China has been in none, and Russia only in one (Syria) beyond the former Soviet Union. The U.S. has military bases in 85 countries, China in three and Russia in one (Syria) beyond the former Soviet Union.
President Joe Biden has promoted this narrative, declaring that the greatest challenge of our time is the competition with the autocracies, which “seek to advance their own power, export and expand their influence around the world, and justify their repressive policies and practices as a more efficient way to address today’s challenges.” U.S. security strategy is not the work of any single U.S. president but of the U.S. security establishment, which is largely autonomous, and operates behind a wall of secrecy.
The overwrought fear of China and Russia is sold to a Western public through manipulation of the facts. A generation earlier George W. Bush, Jr. sold the public on the idea that America’s greatest threat was Islamic fundamentalism, without mentioning that it was the C.I.A., with Saudi Arabia and other countries, that had created, funded, and deployed the jihadists in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere to fight America’s wars.
Or consider the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, which was painted in the Western media as an act of unprovoked perfidy. Years later, we learned that the Soviet invasion was actually preceded by a C.I.A. operation designed to provoke the Soviet invasion!
The same misinformation occurred vis-à-vis Syria. The Western press is filled with recriminations against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military assistance to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad beginning in 2015, without mentioning that the U.S. supported the overthrow of al-Assad beginning in 2011, with the C.I.A. funding a major operation (Timber Sycamore) to overthrow Assad years before Russia arrived.
Or more recently, when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recklessly flew to Taiwan despite China’s warnings, no G7 foreign minister criticized Pelosi’s provocation, yet the G7 ministers together harshly criticized China’s “overreaction” to Pelosi’s trip.
The Western narrative about the Ukraine war is that it is an unprovoked attack by Putin in the quest to recreate the Russian empire. Yet the real history starts with the Western promise to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not enlarge to the East, followed by four waves of NATO aggrandizement: in 1999, incorporating three Central European countries; in 2004, incorporating seven more, including in the Black Sea and Baltic States; in 2008, committing to enlarge to Ukraine and Georgia; and in 2022, inviting four Asia-Pacific leaders to NATO to take aim at China.
Nor do the Western media mention the U.S. role in the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych; the failure of the governments of France and Germany, guarantors of the Minsk II agreement, to press Ukraine to carry out its commitments; the vast U.S. armaments sent to Ukraine during the Trump and Biden Administrations in the lead-up to war; nor the refusal of the U.S. to negotiate with Putin over NATO enlargement to Ukraine.
Of course, NATO says that is purely defensive, so that Putin should have nothing to fear. In other words, Putin should take no notice of the C.I.A. operations in Afghanistan and Syria; the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999; the NATO overthrow of Moammar Qaddafi in 2011; the NATO occupation of Afghanistan for 15 years; nor Biden’s “gaffe” calling for Putin’s ouster (which of course was no gaffe at all); nor U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stating that the U.S. war aim in Ukraine is the weakening of Russia.
At the core of all of this is the U.S. attempt to remain the world’s hegemonic power, by augmenting military alliances around the world to contain or defeat China and Russia. It’s a dangerous, delusional, and outmoded idea. The U.S. has a mere 4.2 percent of the world population, and now a mere 16 percent of world GDP (measured at international prices). In fact, the combined GDP of the G7 is now less than that of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), while the G7 population is just 6 percent of the world compared with 41 percent in the BRICS.
There is only one country whose self-declared fantasy is to be the world’s dominant power: the U.S.. It’s past time that the U.S. recognized the true sources of security: internal social cohesion and responsible cooperation with the rest of the world, rather than the illusion of hegemony. With such a revised foreign policy, the U.S. and its allies would avoid war with China and Russia, and enable the world to face its myriad environment, energy, food and social crises.
Above all, at this time of extreme danger, European leaders should pursue the true source of European security: not U.S. hegemony, but European security arrangements that respect the legitimate security interests of all European nations, certainly including Ukraine, but also including Russia, which continues to resist NATO enlargements into the Black Sea. Europe should reflect on the fact that the non-enlargement of NATO and the implementation of the Minsk II agreements would have averted this awful war in Ukraine. At this stage, diplomacy, not military escalation, is the true path to European and global security.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor and the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development. He has been adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, and currently serves as an SDG advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author, most recently, of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). Other books include: Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable (2017) and The Age of Sustainable Development, (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.
This article is from Common Dreams.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
“It’s past time that the U.S. recognized the true sources of security: internal social cohesion and responsible cooperation with the rest of the world, rather than the illusion of hegemony,”
FOR The WIN, “What a Multi-Polar world w/ “multiple centers of power & influence” looks like?
‘The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of,” Biden-Harris, US/NATO, Hate & War. Basically, the “narrative,” is H A T E of cultures, People, Countries, hundreds of miles away! The currency is WAR. Concluding,, No One Is Safe.”
“The essential narrative of the West is built into U.S. national security strategy,” aka M.I.C., kaye eee why, National Intere$ts, Corporations.
“The core U.S. idea is that China and Russia are implacable foes that are “attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” These countries are, according to the U.S., “determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”
Who is Jeffrey D. Sachs?
Everybody, PEPE ESCOBAR, MAY 6, 2019, (TWENTY-NINETEEN), “The Eagle, the Bear and the Dragon”
“As the eagle got more and more threatening, the bear and the dragon got closer and closer in their strategic partnership. Now both bear and dragon have too many strategic links across the planet to be intimidated by the eagle’s massive Empire of Bases or those periodic coalitions of the (somewhat reluctant) willing.”
“The eagle made a series of moves that amount to inciting nations bordering the South China Sea to antagonize the dragon, while repositioning an array of toys – nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, fighter jets – closer and closer to the dragon’s territory.”
“The dragon is firmly assured that, if cornered to the point of resorting to a nuclear option, it holds the power to make the eagle’s staggering deficit explode, degrade its credit rating to junk, and wreak havoc in the global financial system.
No wonder the eagle, under an all-enveloping paranoid cloud of cognitive dissonance,
– feeding state propaganda 24/7 to its subjects and minions,
– keeps spewing out lava like a raging volcano –
– dispensing sanctions to a great deal of the planet,
– entertaining regime change wet dreams, launching a total energy embargo against the Persians,
– resurrecting the “war on terra;” AND,
– aiming to punish like a Bat Out Of Intel Hell any journalist, publisher or whistleblower revealing its inner machinations.
It hurts, so bad, to admit that the political/economic center of a new multipolar world will be Asia – actually Eurasia.
This is where we stand now. And once again, we reach the end – though not the endgame. There’s still no moral to this revamped fable. We continue to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Our only, slim hope is that a bunch of Hollow Men obsessed by the Second Coming won’t turn Cold War 2.0 into Armageddon.” PEPE ESCOBAR
In sum, PUTIN rocks the Queen. Ukraine is the Pawn. Et tu, Biden?
“Europe should reflect on the fact that the non-enlargement of NATO and the implementation of the Minsk II agreements would have averted this awful war in Ukraine.”
As correct as the statement in this sentence is- please be precise about ‘Europe’ and the ‘European Union’ E.U, which is probably meant here. and there especially the administrations and their (often “influenced”) individual decision makers.
In far too many cases anyway not reflecting the interests of their people, not even talking about Europe and the rest of the world.
Thank you for a good article. Unfortunately, it seems that only here you can read the truth about international problems. Last phrase “At this stage, diplomacy, not military escalation, is the true path to European and global security.”
But none of the leaders of Europe and America even made an attempt to avoid escalation? On the contrary, everyone screams with foam at the mouth about the threats from Russia, inflated the threat from China to enormous proportions. Everyone is in a frenzy for saving democratic values, which for some reason can only be saved by escalation. Liz Truss is looking forward to hitting the red button. The world is rolling into the abyss from undereducated politicians.
It doesn’t seem to take a long time or lots of complicated idea or fancy words to lay out the history what is and has been going on in Ukraine and with NATO in relatively recent history. I wonder why the mainstream media has not only NOT taken the time and made the effort to report it, but has actively refused and even censored this more honest narrative?
But not only has the corporate mainstream media, and our government pushed a false narrative, but they have the social networking sites working with them to complete the Orwellian noose around our necks.
I’ve really admired and appreciate Consortium News for reporting and articles like this. Thank you.
I read Prof. Sachs’s article as a real contribution to potential progress. Then I read the comments of Drew Hunkins.
I was also drawn to Prof. Sachs’s final view that “At this stage, diplomacy, not military escalation, is the true path to European and global security”.
As an adviser to the UN Sec Gen, he must be aware that the latter has taken the US side from long before the conflict’s outset. Russia tried to negotiate (through diplomacy) a non-threatening arrangement on its borders. Biden and Blinken worked the system to prevent this.
“At this stage there is either diplomacy or escalation.” Some wars end in one side being utterly defeated and being forced to surrender unconditionally (e.g. Germany and Japan). Is it possible to conceptualize this type of ending in this war? NATO at the gates of Moscow? I don’t think so. Russia rolling into Lviv and then what happens? I’m fairly sure the Russians will accept terms short of that. Minsk could still be a frame work but the Donbas won’t be be in Ukraine or Mariupol and probably not Odessa and probably not any other place with a significant Russian ethnic or speaking population liberated, I mean conquered, by Russia. So the parties you’ve named and their Congressional puppets and EU and British cohorts keep pumping in weapons/money and telling us Ukraine must and is winning. Can we say or conceptual regime change and which regime(s)? It may be that we don’t have much of a chance to get to diplomacy until EU governments start falling. The notion that we(U.S.) will fight to the last Ukraine is based in fact.
Thanks for that brief but full bodied summary of the way global politics should be playing out.
Great piece. One can only agree, especially with the last sentance.
J’aimerais savoir où Monsieur Sachs a pris sa référence pour le nombre de bases militaires de la Chine et de la Russie à l’extérieur de leur pays. Pour la Chine, j’avais comme information seulement 1, à Djibouti; pour la Russie, j’avais 6 bases. Est-ce que quelqu’un pourrait me fournir l’information?
This makes perfect sense to me, and doubtless to the great majority of readers of Consortium News. But why does the Mainstream Media not “get” it? It takes a bit of courage, it’s true, to place the good of humanity above the easy path, but hey, isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do?
Addiction to hatred is easy and comforting. Hate-the-other-team, hate-the-other tribe, hate-the-other religion… But addictions can be cured. It takes guidance. Wise enlighteners. Where are they?
Julie, corporate MSM pays million $$$ salaries at least on TV to their journalists and pundits to support the official corporate narrative, the print media maybe a little less.
But the key question is really “security for whom?”
America, the west over all, is ruled by oligarchs. These are governments of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, and for the oligarchs. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that when such a government talks of security, it is talking only about the security of the oligarchs.
They don’t give a bleep about whether we live or die or starve or freeze or anything else. Funeral parlors work overtime burning the corpses they leave behind them. They only care if we a) do our slave labor for their businesses, b) pay our taxes, and c) provide cannon fodder for the military and police. But strangely enough, we keep giving our consent to this government that in no way effects safety and happiness for anyone who is not an oligarch.
Vrry good summary. High time Western leaders start to think rationally. They are not only irrational about hegemony, diplomacy and military actions but economics as well. There is vastly more profit to be made through cooperation and trade than war. 2021 globl GDP is estimated at $104T of which about one trillion is military with about $500B going to US defense contractors. At the typical profit of 15% that is $75B in war profits. Potential profits from peasful commerce are in the range of 5 to 10 trillion dollars. Only a fool would choose war over peace and cooperation.
Unfortunately, that is a small piece of the pie. The economic incentives for an aggresive foreign policy are far higher. It’s not just the profits from weapons sales, a strong military helps secure advantageous deals in extractive industries, and imposing the dollar as reserve currency is very lucrative and allows extortionary sanctions. It’s just business, and it’s very hatd to give up power. A fair, just international arrangement would impoverish the US considerably.
“And the band played on….”
Unseen and as incessant as a repugnant earworm, the CIA’s ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ reigns supreme from the shadows.
Most U.S. American citizens remain largely clueless in the media bubble large caliber weaponry that is aimed and firing away at them from the cover of 2016’s “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Misinformation Act” that removed the restraints placed upon the CIA and other governmental agencies, it made them free to bombard us with the narrative THEY want us to heed. And respond to obediently as “patriotic” citizens.
And with the commiseration of the major media outlets—who likely collect substantial black budget monies for acceding to the CIA’s playbook—they have free rein on a wide open range… to herd their cattle charges right into the box canyon corral from whence they have constructed a ramp to the stockyards… and from there to the steppes beyond.
Oh, and “Thanks, Obama.”
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” as is this plea for negotiation. The US and its allies in the west continue to
provide billions of dollars in advanced weaponry and sanctions in the belief that any response is evil. Of course, if there
had been good intentions at many points along the line (such as the Minsk Accords) there would have been a different outcome.
In fact there has been a constant anti-Russian or anti-foreign feelings throughout American history just as in other histories.
The rise of Hitler is just one example of many. In the US there were “alien registration laws” and more. My grandfather with his
loveable but thick German accent was forced to hire someone else (with no accent) to run his business during WWI. During
WW II the knowledge of the Stalinist trials of the thirties never prohibited the allies from begging for cooperation from Russia
and its red army.
Certainly factual words from Jeffrey D. Sachs and so appropriate for the time we are in .It would be fair to say that the United States is feeling it’s fate as it thrashes about in order to maintain it”s hegemony .The writing is on the proverbial wall . A new world order is being born and it has nothing to do with the new world order announced by George H.W Bush many years ago nor the Schwabian /WEF wet dream of “you will own nothing and be happy”
“U.S. security strategy is not the work of any single U.S. president but of the U.S. security establishment, which is largely autonomous, and operates behind a wall of secrecy.”
It’s the Ziocon-neocon militarists (See the works by James Petras, Paul Craig Roberts, Phil Giraldi and few others I’m forgetting at the moment). Today these neocon-Ziocons take the human form of President Klain, Nuland, Sullivan, Blinken, and Sherman. Also throw in the CEOs of Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics.
Start with the above ghoulish cretins when empaneling the war crimes tribunals. (Yes, many others also need to be in the docket, but start there.)
Drew: Petras, Roberts and Giraldi have been accurate in their commentaries and radio and television interviews over the years, but unfortunately few people have heeded their warnings, so now, we are wasting more money and resources in the Ukraine. I guess the two trillion of tax dollars wasted in trying to conquer Afghanistan wasn’t enough. Same thing in Vietnam. Another country we invaded and occupied until the freedom fighters or Vietnamese Resistance, aka the Viet Cong and the PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam) kicked us out, as they did the French colonialists before Uncle Sam’s “intervention.”
I would add Dr. Michael Parenti to your list of Truth Tellers, the Saker, and the late Andre Vlitchek, and Vijay Prashad.
And of course the international bankers on Wall Street can be added to your list of corporations profiting from war.
Excellent additions all around Mr. Lambert. Parenti was my idol and mentor (informal, from a distance, unknown to him :-)) since 1992.
It is such a pleasure to read this column after a few days of listening to CNN TV news as they continue to report about Russia’s “unprovoked” attack in Ukraine. Didn’t the rest of America see those videos of John McCain and Victoria Nuland and others consulting with Ukrainian Nazis in actually staging a coup over the past years to 2014 like I did? Did Americans not know about the deal made at the end of the Cold War with Michael Gorbachov that NATO would not advance after the agreement? Where does this hubris come from?
Everything is true! Except this: “Nor do the Western media mention the U.S. role in the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych” Yanukovych was not pro-Russian president!
The rest is great! Thank you for telling us the truth! CNN will never tell it!
Jeffrey seems sincere.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that he was a major architect of the 1990s international finance’s plunder and pillage of Russia. Turning it into a basket case where poverty, unemployment, inflation, and deaths of despair skyrocketed. He was instrumental in causing that carnage.
Now it seems he’s coming around.
It is my understanding he was not making the policies that he executed, he had disagreements but no power. He was much younger and relatively inexperienced. It would be nice if he would elaborate on the experience. Maybe he will someday. He has been very consistent on the Ukraine issue.
Largely, I agree with you. Only one thing. The Soviets didn’t invade Afghanistan. They were invited in by the then Afghan government which was itself illegitimate as it had overthrown the king of Afghanistan to seize power but, unlike all the coups, revolutions, and other chicanery that the US has perpetrated (can you say Guiado?), the Soviets had nothing to do with the Afghan politics that overthrew the old king. But Z-big sure as hell used it (as well as Charlie Parker) to advance their hegemonic agenda.
Charlie Parker was used to advance a hegemonic agenda? Was Dizzy Gillespie in on it too ;)
An excellent article yet it paints a depressing picture, the G7 and other ‘vassal states’ are too weak and / or constrained by the US to see the bigger picture, nothing, not even the potential of a financial inflationary crisis and inevitable deaths of fuel – food poverty will sway their blind allegiance to their US overlords.
The only good thing that would come out of a nuclear finale is that this warmongering evil would perish.
… ” the warmongering evil would perish…”, Perhaps. But then so would the rest of us, probobly.
They see the big picture but they know they have to toe the line. Or else…
It is all about resources. China and Russia along with the nations that they help empower are increasing their consumption exponentially. That is the threat they pose to the US.
The US invasions, coupes, wars of choice, sanctions have been done to secure the lions share of resources and make certain that other nations don’t grow their economies and increase their consumption. This has been US foreign policy for a 100 years or more.
Now that its over, resource constraints are becoming oppressive and the biosphere is unable to survive the waste stream, only now are we talking about playing fair and sharing?
Unfortunately, it’s not just about resources. Top Dog status comes with great perks. You can easily purchase anything, bribe or coerce foreign Leaders or International institutions to turn them into comprador elites doing your bidding… it’s a ruthless game and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that power.
Many thanks to Prof. Sachs, and special respect to him for his honesty and his courage to tell the truth.
The US hegemon is now in the process of de-industrializing Germany and with it the EU. No economist even mentions the damage to the global economy caused by sanctions. It was the USA BLOCKING Russian energy to Europe, not Putin. The huge military budgets eating up the nation. Germany like Japan was a US competitor, what happened to Japan is now happening to the EU. Paul Krugman blames the German reliance on Russian energy and bad German economic decision. Russia has never ever used energy as a weapon, only the US is doing that, and Prof. Krugman does know it, but he is on the Biden propaganda bandwagon. He did sell his professional reputation IMHO, as so many have.
The USA is the real enemy of Europe, always was from the start, Europe was the designated battleground in the fight against Russia
Many, many thanks to Prof. Sachs.
Excellent comments. It feels to me we are witnessing the degradation and suppression of EU, British and US economies and sovereignty, along with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Will we, the people of these nations be forced into a single Western block, forced to stand apart from the 80%(?) of the rest of the world’s nations who seek to maintain their national sovereignties as they form win-win trade and development partnerships in the South and East?
The debt-driven economies of the West crashed in 2008 and by all accounts were headed for another cliff in 2019. Covid policies took care of that for our masters, though only temporarily. The next phase of self-rescue seems to be a complete consolidation of Western economies and resources, as well as continued suppression of labor. I fear we will soon find ourselves quite impoverished. The signs are already there in Europe, as you say.
But don’t worry! I hear ze bugs are delicious.
After Zelensky was elected with >70% of the vote, he immediately reneged on his campaign promises (no doubt due to the Fascists controlling the Puppet Ukrainian Government, vowing to fight to the last Ukrainian). No country, much less Russia, will negotiate with such blatant liars. What would be the point?
While Ukraine would have obviously been better served to honor Minsk and reach agreement with the breakaway republics of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea BEFORE the Russian SMO, it is far too late for diplomacy now. Thucydides said it well:
“For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Lacedaemonians, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
“True source of security: internal social cohesion and responsible cooperation with the rest of the world.” Sachs also states that U.S. security strategy rests with the U.S. security establishment and is largely autonomous from the president (also congress and therefore is not under democratic control) and operates behind a wall of secrecy. I believe internal social cohesion is predicated on 1) guaranteed adequate income/employment, 2) national healthcare 3) retirement with full or adequate income, all securities denied Americans as a nation or birthright and all programs supported by overwhelming majorities in spite of “official” explanations as to non feasibility. This article an excellent and concise statement of our national predicament and I would like to hear more from Mr. Sachs on the subject of national cohesion.
Finally! An editorial written with intelligent common sense and decency.
Exactly so, Jeffrey. The hypocrisy and stupidity of US “leaders” is supremely dangerous.
Excellent summary. “Responsible cooperation with the rest of the world.” Exactly. Instead, we have neocon/neodem fever dreams. Does anyone not realize that the policies and actions that the US is and has been pursuing for decades were dreamed up and fomented by people who are insane (Brzezinski/Wolfowitz doctrines), and carried out by people like Cheney, Bolton, Nuland, Blinken, et al, and their associated “think tanks”, true sociopaths, who at the very moment of existential crisis for the entire world are seemingly deliberately making the situation even worse? And for what?
These people who have now accumulated in the Biden administration and State department, shadows of HRC, are willing, seemingly anxious to destroy life on this planet in order to prove that they are ideologically superior. They are simply in it for themselves (all the while wrapping themselves in the flag) and their own egoism. They are not even arranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks, they are energetically destroying the life-rafts and putting more holes in the hull to sink faster. Stop these little people and their pathetic ideological nonsense or they will succeed.