Jeffrey Sachs: Beyond the Neocon Debacle in Ukraine

Four events have shattered NATO’s drive for enlargement eastward. Now, decisions by the U.S. and Russia will matter enormously for the entire world’s peace, security and wellbeing.

French soldiers observe a live-fire NATO multinational battlegroup exercise in Cincu, Romania, April 27, 2022. (NATO, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Jeffrey D. Sachs
Common Dreams

We are entering the end stage of the 30-year U.S. neoconservative debacle in Ukraine. The neocon plan to surround Russia in the Black Sea region by NATO has failed. Decisions now by the U.S. and Russia will matter enormously for peace, security, and wellbeing for the entire world.

Four events have shattered the neocon hopes for NATO enlargement eastward, to Ukraine, Georgia, and onward. 

The first is straightforward. Ukraine has been devastated on the battlefield, with tragic and appalling losses. Russia is winning the war of attrition, an outcome that was predictable from the start but which the neocons and mainstream media continue to deny. 

The second is the collapsing support in Europe for the U.S. neocon strategy. Poland no longer speaks with Ukraine. Hungary has long opposed the neocons. Slovakia has elected an anti-neocon government. E.U. leaders — including French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and others — have disapproval ratings far higher than approvals. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Spain’s Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez in June 2022 during NATO’s summit in Madrid. (NATO)

The third is the cut in U.S. financial support for Ukraine. The grassroots of the Republican Party, several GOP presidential candidates and a growing number of Republican members of Congress oppose more spending on Ukraine. In the stop-gap bill to keep the government running, Republicans stripped away new financial support for Ukraine. The White House has called for new aid legislation, but this will be an uphill fight. 

Interior of U.S. Capitol rotunda from behind the statue of George Washington, showing a portion of Constantino Brumidi’s “Frieze of American History.” (Matt H. Wade, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The fourth, and most urgent from Ukraine’s point of view, is the likelihood of a Russian offensive. Ukraine’s casualties are in the hundreds of thousands, and Ukraine has burned through its artillery, air defenses, tanks and other heavy weapons. Russia is likely to follow with a massive offensive.

The neocons have created utter disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine. The U.S. political system has not yet held the neocons to account, since foreign policy is carried out with little public or congressional scrutiny to date. Mainstream media have sided with the slogans of the neocons. 

Victoria Nuland, a prominent neoconservative now serving as U.S. acting deputy secretary of state, at the police patrol training site in Kiev on May 16, 2015, when she was assistant secretary of state. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr)

Ukraine is at risk of economic, demographic and military collapse. What should the U.S. government do to face this potential disaster? 

Urgently, it should change course. Britain advises the U.S. to escalate, as Britain is stuck with 19th-century imperial reveries. U.S. neocons are stuck with imperial bravado. Cooler heads urgently need to prevail. 

President Joe Biden should immediately inform President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will end NATO enlargement eastward if the U.S. and Russia reach a new agreement on security arrangements. By ending NATO expansion, the U.S. can still save Ukraine from the policy debacles of the past 30 years. 

Biden should agree to negotiate a security arrangement of the kind, though not precise details, of Putin’s proposals of Dec. 17, 2021. Biden foolishly refused to negotiate with Putin in December 2021. It’s time to negotiate now. 

Dec. 7, 2021: Biden, on screen during video call with Putin. (, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

There are four keys to an agreement. First, as part of an overall deal, Biden should agree that NATO will not enlarge eastward, but not reverse the past NATO enlargement. NATO would of course not tolerate Russian encroachments in existing NATO states. Both Russia and the U.S. would pledge to avoid provocations near Russia’s borders, including provocative missile placement, military exercises and the like. 

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Second, the new U.S.-Russia security agreement should cover nuclear weapons. The U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, followed by the placement of Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania, gravely inflamed tensions, which were further exacerbated by the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement in 2019 and Russia’s suspension of the New Start Treaty in 2023.

Russian leaders have repeatedly pointed to U.S. missiles near Russia, unconstrained by the abandoned ABM Treaty, as a dire threat to Russia’s national security. 

Third, Russia and Ukraine would agree on new borders, in which the overwhelmingly ethnic Russian Crimea and heavily ethnic Russian districts of eastern Ukraine would remain part of Russia. The border changes would be accompanied by security guarantees for Ukraine backed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council and other states such as Germany, Turkey and India. 

Fourth, as part of a settlement, the U.S., Russia, and the E.U. would re-establish trade, finance, cultural exchange and tourist relations. It’s certainly time once again to hear Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky in U.S. and European concert halls. 

U.S. embassy in Kiev, 2015.  (Artemka, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Border changes are a last resort and should be made under the auspices of the U.N. Security Council. They must never be an invitation to further territorial demands, such as by Russia regarding ethnic Russians in other countries. Yet borders change, and the U.S. has recently backed two border changes.

NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 until it relinquished the Albanian-majority region of Kosovo. In 2008, the U.S. recognized Kosovo as a sovereign nation. The U.S. government similarly backed South Sudan’s insurgency to break away from Sudan. 

If Russia, Ukraine, or the U.S. subsequently violated the new agreement, they would be challenging the rest of the world. As President John F. Kennedy once observed, “even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.” 

The U.S. neocons carry much blame for undermining Ukraine’s 1991 borders. Russia did not claim Crimea until after the U.S.-backed overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Nor did Russia annex the Donbass after 2014, instead calling on Ukraine to honor the U.N.-backed Minsk II agreement, based on autonomy for the Donbass. The neocons preferred to arm Ukraine to retake the Donbass by force rather than grant the Donbass autonomy. 

The long-term key to peace in Europe is collective security as called for by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 

According to OSCE agreements, OSCE member states “will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other States.” 

Neocon unilateralism undermined Europe’s collective security by pushing NATO enlargement without regard to third parties, notably Russia. Europe — including the E.U., Russia and Ukraine — needs more OSCE and less neocon unilateralism as key to lasting peace in Europe.

CORRECTION:  In 1999, NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days, not 47 days as originally reported.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and 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.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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67 comments for “Jeffrey Sachs: Beyond the Neocon Debacle in Ukraine

  1. Kauai John
    October 6, 2023 at 10:14

    I don’t see Russia agreeing with any of Sachs’ recommendations.
    There will be no Security Council involvement because the Security Council is dominated by the US and its vassals.
    The OSCE may participate in sponsoring negotiations, but Russia is under no obligation at all to follow their recommendations.

    Sachs’ suggestion that the current membership of NATO remain intact is pretty much a non-starter from my perspective.
    OTOH, there are fissures developing in NATO as the population of Eastern Europe begins to recognize the true nature of the US Oligarchy and realizes that the BRICS are rising. Who wants to identify with the loser?

    Sachs needs to talk to more Russians and see what they might propose. Russia is going to dictate the end of this war. The complete destruction of Ukraine and the Nazis that control it would be a goal Russia would very much like to see come to fruition.

  2. W. R. Knight
    October 5, 2023 at 20:23

    You are absolutely right but you are dreaming if you think Biden would go along with even one single condition.

  3. Jonathan B. Horen
    October 5, 2023 at 14:01

    Another “missing” requirement (not mentioned specifically in “Fourth, as part of a settlement, the U.S., Russia, and the E.U. would re-establish trade, finance, cultural exchange and tourist relations.”, but perhaps included in “trade [and] finance”):

    Admit to the destruction of the Nord Stream I and II pipelines and pay for their immediate repair and/or rebuilding.

  4. Paul Citro
    October 5, 2023 at 09:52

    The US now has a reputation for being underhanded. The Russians can’t take our word for anything. Any deals made must have security guarantees that are real, not gentleman’s agreements. There are no longer any gentlemen in the room.

    • Valerie
      October 6, 2023 at 17:11

      Are there any “security guarantees” that are real? No gentlemen, i agree.

  5. Eric
    October 4, 2023 at 22:05

    “Third, Russia and Ukraine would agree on new borders, in which the overwhelmingly ethnic Russian Crimea
    and heavily ethnic Russian districts of eastern Ukraine would remain part of Russia.”

    No. Eastern Ukraine should decide on its future via an internationally supervised referendum — led by the United Nations,
    with participation by both Ukraine and Russia, but not the United States — among three options.
    a) remain in Ukraine (pre-war status quo)
    b) autonomy within Ukraine
    c) formally become part of Russia

    If no option wins a majority, a run-off referendum should be held between the two leading options.

  6. wildthange
    October 4, 2023 at 21:15

    The republican under Bush also had a hand in this and and is now just playing politics and still has China in mind as an enemy. There is no peaceful party here just partisan war promotions.
    The culture war to dominate world society is distinctly western superiority minded which for centuries fostered all kinds of strategic mischief and economic excess. World civilization is more at risk of collapse from such human behavior problems.

  7. TS
    October 4, 2023 at 15:58

    Prof. Sachs fails to mention an essential component of any such agreement: the repeal of all the US and EU/NATO sanctions and seizures of Russian money (and indeed, of Russian sanctions on the EU).

    • Kevin
      October 4, 2023 at 18:46

      See below:

      “Fourth, as part of a settlement, the U.S., Russia, and the E.U. would re-establish trade, finance, cultural exchange and tourist relations.”

      The above sentence implicitly mentions removal of sanctions, …

      • TS
        October 5, 2023 at 15:58

        > The above sentence implicitly mentions removal of sanctions

        Maybe — or maybe not. There are trade and financial relations despite sanctions. And let me remind you of the official international agreement with Iran, which was supposed to lead to a repeal of the sanctions on that country — but didn’t.

  8. Walter
    October 4, 2023 at 15:26

    The minimum terms for the cessation of military technical means by Russia were published in December 2021. What Biden should do is probably irrelevant. He has little ability to do anything, no options.
    see hxxps://
    see hxxps://

    However, since then the prerequisites may have increased…reparations may be demanded, such as Alaska or parts of the West Coast such as Fort Ross, etc. Much blood spilled may have raised the price. Meantime it seems that nuclear testing will resume. Very jolly.

  9. Drew Hunkins
    October 4, 2023 at 14:41

    ‘The U.S. neocons carry much blame for undermining Ukraine’s 1991 borders.”

    Uh, sorry Jeffrey, but you yourself also carry some blame.

    If you and your apparatchiks hadn’t destroyed Russia’s economy c. 1990, ’91 and ’92 Russia might have had the strength and political ambition ensure the Ukrainian/Russian border was secure.

    • Robert
      October 5, 2023 at 13:48

      Sach’s has stated on many occasions that his advise to Russia in 1990 – 1992 was the same as he gave to other countries that broke away from the Soviet Union in that time period. According to Sachs, and I believe him, the problem was that procedures and policy that the United States said was OK for Poland, etc. to follow suddenly was not okay for Russia. And that rings true to me. The United States government had entirely different goals for Poland than it did for Russia.

      For starters, the entire USG still considered Russia to be our enemy post USSR. Not so with the break away Republics. Washington D.C. was happy as hell with the drunk incompetent Yeltsin running Russia. Putin was hated by NATO/USA from Day One because of his competence. To the USG, Russia was more “valuable” as an enemy rather than an ally. And D.C.’s wish came true and along with it the near complete destruction of a country that, unfortunately for its citizens, was selected by the US to be its proxy in a very dumb, unnecessary war against our “enemy” .

      • Drew Hunkins
        October 5, 2023 at 16:38

        Virtually all those Eastern Euro countries — Poland included — slipped into misery just after the breakup of the USSR. The advice Sachs and his coterie of Harvard Boys gave to Poland was similar to what they doled out to post Soviet Russia — austerity, which resulted in misery: a dramatic decrease in life expectancy and a dramatic rise in unemployment and poverty, inflation was through the roof.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    October 4, 2023 at 13:24

    “The grassroots of the Republican Party, several GOP presidential candidates and a growing number of Republican members of Congress oppose more spending on Ukraine. In the stop-gap bill to keep the government running, Republicans stripped away new financial support for Ukraine.”

    Good on them! Bravo!

    “President Joe Biden should immediately inform President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will end NATO enlargement eastward if the U.S. and Russia reach a new agreement on security arrangements.”

    The big problem here is that Nuland, Blinken, Sullivan, etc. have proven that the Washington hegemon cannot be trusted.

  11. Selina Sweet
    October 4, 2023 at 12:32

    What a relief in reading Sach’s rationale for peacemaking. Biden must let go of his masculine hubris filled dream born of all those Cold War years
    of making Russia cow under the supreme might and infinitely sized moral superiority of the USA’s self inflation. May Biden be guided down to earth and bring his love to and of the miracles of La Vida. And bury once and for all the nihilistic neocon obsession for power at any cost.

  12. October 4, 2023 at 12:16

    Biden and the Democrats will never negotiate, especially in the runup to the ’24 elections, as they view that as capitulation and humiliation.

    Putin knows this. And he won’t be lied to again. The Russians will dictate terms. Period.

  13. October 4, 2023 at 12:11

    Biden cynically inserted the $24 billion demand for new Ukraine funding in the government extension bill. He knew Republicans would reject that. He did that so he can now blame the Republicans for defunding the war effort at a critical time, and thereby “losing” Ukraine.

    Listen closely to the Biden/Blinken/Pentagon spokesperson right now, as they lay the groundwork for this campaign.

    • Raymond Oliver
      October 4, 2023 at 18:38

      I will listen! Thanks for the tip as Ukraine descends into defeat.

      • Missy
        October 6, 2023 at 00:10

        And Blackrock, et al, want that extremely valuable, incredibly rich farmland in Ukraine for themselves, to control the world food market. Beware.

  14. Caliman
    October 4, 2023 at 11:50

    “The neocons have created utter disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and now Ukraine. The U.S. political system has not yet held the neocons to account, since foreign policy is carried out with little public or congressional scrutiny to date. Mainstream media have sided with the slogans of the neocons.”

    If you check, you will see a very significant and long term upward trend in Military and Security corporation earnings and profits since the 2001 war on Afghanistan started the current war rackets … “utter disasters” are apparently very good for business, so why would Congress and the Media be against these actions?

  15. gcw919
    October 4, 2023 at 11:36

    One of the enduring mysteries is how these neo-Cons resurface, one Administration after the other, despite their appalling record of failures (and the destruction of untold numbers of lives).

    • Caliman
      October 4, 2023 at 13:29

      They resurface perennially because the system needs their narrative building function. They provide the right-wing distractions (force, empire, credibility, protection) while similar “lefty” organizations provide the left wing distractions (responsibility to protect, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc.) that get argued ad nauseum by the politicians and Big Media.

      In the meantime, of course, war and chaos produce mucho $$$ and jobs for the right people and the system trundles on.

      • LizB
        October 5, 2023 at 14:25

        AND in the meantime, they’ve distracted the vast majority of the public away from the fact that life only gets worse for the 99%.

    • James White
      October 4, 2023 at 14:39

      The neocons no longer hold any mystery. Even when not employed by the State Department, pompous blobs like Victoria Nuland are well-funded by ‘think’ tanks. They can afford to remain in the pricey D.C. metro area housing market by writing fictional ‘position papers’ on ‘policy’ and appearing on talk shows. Both of these activities contribute to the brainwashing of Americans in support of their endless wars. All of this is funded by defense contractors who also own our President, Congress and Senate, ensuring that the gravy train never goes off the rails. The direct result of all of this money flow, besides the destructive and deadly power of war is a national debt of over $33 trillion. Federal money is wasted on many things but only the DoD gets fully half of each year’s Federal spending allocation.
      Did you catch Matt Gaetz’s floor speech on why he dumped McCarthy? Not to glorify Gaetz as some kind of hero. But his main stated reason for ousting McCarthy was that the former Speaker was doing practically nothing to address the $33 trillion debt. When the members booed, he outed Congress for their duplicity in holding fundraisers paid for by lobbyists. It was a rare moment of absolute truth spoken to absolute power.

      • Missy
        October 6, 2023 at 00:20

        He was absolutely magnificent. Gaetz has a great advisor in his father, who had a long, notable, and wise career in politics. And Matt was a litigator. Smart as hell.

        In Texas, we’d call him a “sh*/ disturber”.

  16. Neil Thomas
    October 4, 2023 at 11:35

    It must be remembered that the autonomy which the Donbass demanded after the 2014 coup did not require that it leave Ukraine. It was autonomy within Ukraine

    • rosemerry
      October 4, 2023 at 15:06

      It seems that they two republics LPR and DPR wanted to join Russia but Putin refused, and they were required to remain part of Ukraine with special conditions (which the Poroschenko government refused). They then fought Ukr forces from 2014 on and still do!

  17. Vera Gottlieb
    October 4, 2023 at 11:16

    I would not trust the US with a ten ft pole. US promises mean absolutely nothing yet the world keeps falling for them.

    • Susan Siens
      October 4, 2023 at 15:23

      Right on, Vera. I’ve lived my nearly 70 years here and I would not trust the U.S. government in any regard.

      I haven’t read all the comments yet, but it seems to me that Sachs is still stuck in the delusional world of Quackademia. None of what he suggests is going to happen, and I’ve not heard from those I trust that Russia is going to engage in a major offensive. Sachs is judging Russia by his own twisted American values, values which seem to consist of kicking someone when they’re down. Let us wait and see rather than engaging in speculation.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 4, 2023 at 19:24

      I agree 100%.

  18. Sam
    October 4, 2023 at 11:03

    Very insightful and common sense, with considerable detail, except of course that it lacks for not explaining to us who the present-day “neocons” are. From Wikipedia:

    “Some neocons are Republicans, like the presidents between from the 1970s to the 2000s. For example, George W. Bush started the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His neocon friends include Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer.” Most these people back then were closely allied to Israel. Is that also the case with the neocons Sachs refers to here?

    • Rich Mynick
      October 4, 2023 at 14:58

      Yes, it’s basically the same people. For instance, Victoria Nuland, now Biden’s deputy Sec of State, used to be an advisor for Dick Cheney. And her husband, Robert Kagan, was one of the original neocon architects of the Iraq War. And I think Bill Kristol is now in effect supporting the Dems, at least insofar as Ukraine policy is concerned.

    • Raymond Oliver
      October 4, 2023 at 18:45


  19. Guenter Kreipe
    October 4, 2023 at 10:59

    Completely reflects my view on the current situation.
    Thank you Prof. Sachs for this clear presentation of the Ukraine debacle.

  20. Tedder
    October 4, 2023 at 10:53

    Mr Sachs proposals do not address the political reality in Kyiv, the fascist government resulting from the Maidan Coup. Nor does it address the rapid turn to fascism that the neocons in Washington represent. These political realities will undermine any European security arrangements. Russia’s only course is to prevail in the war, thus effecting regime change in the Ukraine.
    This must be followed by physical and economic reconstruction and a social program to undo years of fascist indoctrination in the Ukraine, both of which are daunting tasks because key to Ukrainian success is repudiation of the oligarch system it adopted in 1992.

    • Susan Siens
      October 4, 2023 at 15:24

      Mr Sachs’s proposals also do not address the political reality in Washington, DC.

      Daunting tasks, indeed!

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 4, 2023 at 19:25

      Thank you.

  21. Guy St Hilaire
    October 4, 2023 at 10:46

    Jeffrey Sachs is one of the few Americans that speaks so much reason and common sense to a world that has been turned on it’s proverbial head .As an old timer ,following geopolitics since the the days of the assassination of the Kennedy’s , I have watched our world inching it’s way ever closer to a nuclear war in slow motion . I have read prophesy pointing to the present war in Ukraine as the turning point of humanity’s path ,to finally learn how to live together ,among our many different nations ,peacefully and respectfully as the only way forward . I pray that this was inspired by a much higher authority than we mere mortals .

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 4, 2023 at 19:26

      There is no higher authority than us “mere mortals”. As a dedicated Atheist and socialist, I am disgusted by religion. It has been a tool of social control as long as there has been a ruling class.

      • Rafi Simonton
        October 4, 2023 at 23:45

        Atheist Dogma and Disrespect

        Because you personally have have never experienced something like transcendence or mind at large or cosmic love, does that mean your wisdom is so extensive you can absolutely rule it out for the entire universe?!

        Are the vast majority of the world’s peoples who cherish some form of spirituality because it is meaningful to them nothing but idiots and deluded dupes? Hardly a respectful way to build political alliances. Unless you don’t care since you are fine with imposing a top down authoritarian government that would do away with anything even vaguely “religious.” In the name of the people of course; for their own good. That type of “social control” has been tried and the results aren’t particularly encouraging.

        The same attitude of left elitists espousing a “vanguard of the working class.” We actual blue collar workers get it–you all think we’re too stupid to run our own revolution.

        Despite the assertions of dogmatic believers in atheism, socialism is not their sole property. Plenty of people world-wide have found in their religion a demand for political action. Like Eugene V. Debs, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gandhi, MLK. Revolutionary philosophies weren’t creatio ex nihilo. In the Christian New Testament, Acts 4:32-35–“No one claimed any possession as their own; they shared everything in common…There was not a needy person among them, for as many as had houses and lands sold them. They brought the proceeds to the apostles, who gave to each as any had need.” Yep, pure socialism. Similar can be found among indigenous nations, too.

        • J Anthony
          October 5, 2023 at 06:31

          I understand completely. While I am an atheist as well, I don’t think atheists and theists need be enemies. If your spiritual practice is not something you impose onto or preach endlessly to others, if it helps you and isn’t doing any harm, then it certainly doesn’t bother me. I can’t speak for Carolyn of course, but she is correct about organized religion and it’s administrators using faith as a form of social control, which ought to be obvious to people by now. I also agree that the best thing about the “good book” are the messages of Jesus, albeit little else. Please don’t assume that all lefties/socialists look down on the faithful, as it just isn’t so.

          • Rafi Simonton
            October 6, 2023 at 17:31

            I took her on because she’s posted similar before and been excoriated by several commenters for the clunky lack of tact, dogmatic pronouncements, and illogic. To be clear,I was not raised in a religion nor am I a member of any. Yes, I do know “not all lefties” since I am one and I listed some who are both left and religious. The Social Gospel movement or Liberation Theology belong, too. It might be enlightening to consider why religions, including indigenous beliefs, last for millennia. Are we of the anonymous masses so easy to fool? Or do these traditions express meaning and purpose as experienced in the lives of billions?

            As for the blanket condemnation of using it for social control, the same is true for the ideal of democracy. Also labor unions, my personal passion. And just as obviously, socialism–in its USSR and Asian forms. Does that make democracy or or unions or socialism fatally tainted? it’s argued that the Soviets just didn’t do it right. Same is claimed for some versions of Christianity. But who gets to dictate what is correct for everyone else?

            Where did the idea of “from each according to his abilities, to each according his needs” come from? It’s a western conceit that there is a developmental timeline (in Marxist terms “historical forces”) such that the most culturally evolved, Europe of course, invented democracy and then what is known as socialism. The passages from Acts 4 I quoted was an implicit call to actually look at the historical precedents. There is also sound evidence that democratic (and what we think of as socialistic) ideals were learned from the New World–western Europe at the time didn’t think that way. And for that matter, the rise of cities did not necessitate centralized authoritarian government, another assumption of the historical determinists. For overwhelming evidence, see //The Dawn of Everything (A New History of Humanity)// by Graeber and Wengrow.

            That’s no even to bring in the current debates over consciousness. Materialist reductionism can’t account for it–as the atomic physicists have been trying to explain to recalcitrant biologists for a century now. Add to that the massive two vol. work by neuroscientist Iain McGilchrist on the differing functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and how those have affected how the west sees the world.

            A few reasons why I weary of proclamations by people adamant that their political dogma supersedes all other considerations and must be Truth for everyone.

  22. forceOfHabit
    October 4, 2023 at 10:45

    a) “Both Russia and the U.S. would pledge to avoid provocations near Russia’s borders, including provocative missile placement, military exercises and the like.”

    Why should Russia accept that the West will honor any such agreements on future behavior? (See Minsk accords) What has changed in the West to make it “agreement capable”?

    b) “Biden should agree that NATO will not enlarge eastward, but not reverse the past NATO enlargement.”

    I don’t think this anywhere near enough to satisfy Russia. I think that they would ask for a roll back, and maybe settle for the complete withdrawal of Nato forces, and equipment (especially missiles) from more recent Nato members near Russia’s borders. (I gather your proffer includes the non-membership of Sweden and Finland. How is the West going to sell that to their people?)

    c) “the new U.S.-Russia security agreement should cover nuclear weapons.”

    Ludicrous. Tying a cease fire / peace agreement in Ukraine to the immensely thorny issue of nuclear weapons is a recipe for failure. Probably on both issues.

    d) “the U.S., Russia, and the E.U. would re-establish trade, finance, cultural exchange and tourist relations.”

    Only in the completely clueless, woke West would anyone think you could have a political treaty enforcing culture and tourism. On the trade/finance front, what about sanctions, reparations, etc? Who would pay for what and how much? This final, merely aspirational, condition is so broad, and so vague as to be meaningless.

    • rosemerry
      October 4, 2023 at 15:11

      Also the Russians have by now woken up to the fact that their hope to be part of Europe is over and the hatred by so many (especially the UK, it often seems) is really there. They have so many other friends now -probably 80% of the globe- that they are free from the burden of bowing down to “liberal democracies” which follow the US imperial path.

    • Susan Siens
      October 4, 2023 at 15:25

      Thank you for your sensible repudiation of magical thinking!

  23. Bob McDonald
    October 4, 2023 at 10:43

    I also believe all central bank funds seized by the west will have to be returned to Russia as part of any deal.

  24. Jeff Harrison
    October 4, 2023 at 10:39

    Good Luck with that. What you propose is reasonable which is why the US will have nothing to do with it.

    • Horatio
      October 4, 2023 at 11:08

      My sentiments exactly.

    • Eddie S
      October 4, 2023 at 11:41

      Agreed! There are SO many good, rational humanistic solutions to the world’s numerous problems, but they’re not as ‘exciting’ and ‘visceral’ as the neo-cons violent/huberistic policies, especially for a barely interested US public. IF people were truly interested in these types of positive solutions, politically we wouldn’t be anywhere near to where we are now. And it’s so sad that we blew the golden chance for a more peaceful world afforded us by the Soviet Union’s breakup…

    • Dfnslblty
      October 4, 2023 at 12:34

      Thankyou for this levelheaded proposal, JS.

      The entire peace recess is not about luck — rather persistent good faith diplomacy.

      “A diplomat who says ‘yes’ means ‘maybe’,
      a diplomat who says ‘maybe’ means ‘no’,
      and a diplomat who says ‘no’ is no diplomat.”

    • Uncle Doug
      October 4, 2023 at 17:11

      Even if the US somehow became reasonable, its long history of unreasonable behavior and repeated demonstrations that it can’t be trusted to honor agreements with the USSR and Russia mean that Russia isn’t likely to trust it now.

      It appears to me that Russia intends to create facts on the ground to serve what it believes are its security requirements. I don’t think it is going to be willing to rely on promises from the US-UK-NATO-EU anytime in the foreseeable future.

      • LarcoMarco
        October 5, 2023 at 03:35

        Facts on the ground? What if Rishi “Rich “ Sunak follows through on his plan to send military advisors to Ukraine and then UKainia’s personnel discover that they are charged with training rag-tag ne’er-do-wells?

  25. mgr
    October 4, 2023 at 10:38

    Spot on. Thank you for a reasoned and coherent approach to a settlement that necessarily acknowledges the central role of Western neo-anarchists who are particularly concentrated in the US and UK. However, it hinges on the presence of thinking American adults which might very well be a bridge too far. It’s mind blowing to consider that everything depends on thinking, rational people and there are none in sight in the US domain. In fact, someone has commented on HRC’s recent appearances saying that she has “campaign hair.” Just the thought of which has to represent the nadir of the corporate Democratic Party and politics in America.

    Another terrible thought, just look at what it finally took to shake the control of the secret police in Nazi Germany and in the old Soviet Union once the “intelligence agencies” took over. Can the US escape that fate? Jeffrey Sachs offers a way for America to continue intact and possibly reform. There are certainly worse options.

  26. Richard Romano
    October 4, 2023 at 10:00

    A very good idea-NEGOTIATE. It has been suggested but I doubt this will be done.

  27. John
    October 4, 2023 at 09:45

    I am a Western Canadian. There are long standing grievances with the Centralized Canadian Government in Ottawa & my region of Canada. This should not be a surprise as the needs of different parts of a country are different. Central Governments the world over like to have one size fits all solutions, and would like to bring the wealth of their nation to the Center.

    As such, when I look at the desire of Western Ukraine to have a high degree of Autonomy I have great sympathy. Somewhere in the collective minds of those who would rule, is the desire to control that which they should not. As the truism says, Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts absolutely and so does the desire of Centralized Governments the world over to bring all the wealth of a nation & the world to themselves. The human mind being what it is, those who centralize wealth finds all sort of ways to justify their actions.

    • Rafael
      October 5, 2023 at 02:51

      did you really mean Western Ukraine? don’t you mean Eastern?

      • John
        October 5, 2023 at 09:09

        I did, thank you

    • Serj
      October 5, 2023 at 19:42

      Autonomy – yes. Redrawing borders and annexing what is not yours in violation of the UN charter – no. Especially when you do it via military threats and bloodshed.

  28. Lois Gagnon
    October 4, 2023 at 09:35

    I disagree NATO should be allowed to retain the countries that surround Russia that have already joined. I highly doubt given Russia’s upper hand in Ukraine that they would accept that. At this point, I expect them to be determined to demand their security interests include NATO’s retreat from their borders. Who could blame them other than the most indoctrinated neo-liberalcon?

    • Susan Siens
      October 4, 2023 at 15:28

      Right on, Lois!

      I not only have no respect for politicians who don’t know what it’s like to struggle to pay your rent, I have no respect for political commentators of the same stripe. These people live in isolated worlds where they do not have to deal with reality except in highly theoretical pomposity. I want to see Sachs in Kiev telling them what they must do!

    • Drew Hunkins
      October 4, 2023 at 16:26

      Exactly Lois. Great point.

    • Realnyj
      October 5, 2023 at 19:38

      The borders between Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have been quiet and peaceful since 2004.

  29. October 4, 2023 at 09:33

    I feel more comfortable with the phrase “U.S. gaming of the New Start Treaty” than “Russia’s suspension of the New Start Treaty” per Scott Ritter’s explanation of Russia’s decision in his Feb. 28, 2023, Consortium News article “Reimagining Arms Control Under Ukraine” hxxps://

  30. James White
    October 4, 2023 at 09:26

    Jeffrey Sachs, as always speaks the absolute truth about the war in Ukraine that so few Americans and Europeans have any grasp of. The facts are worth repeating until the message gets through. There are signs that it is getting through. All the U.S. has to do to end the war is to stop feeding arms and cash to the irredeemably corrupt Zelensky Regime. Zelensky himself has said so. Both Russia and Ukraine will be relieved to stop the killing and the two neighbors can resolve their disagreements without meddling from the US or NATO.
    Sadly, there is little chance that the Biden Regime will change course. Joe Biden has never been weaker as President than he is today. Biden’s greatest fear is always the same. That people will see through his thin veneer and look upon Biden as the weak, corrupt con-man that he has been for his entire career. Biden’s entire house of cards is collapsing and he lacks the decency to do the right thing. Biden can’t tolerate losing face on the world stage. He never could. Which is why we find ourselves mired in this mess today. With no exit strategy since we never had any achievable objective from the outset.
    Nor can the sniveling sycophants in charge of so many European vassal states afford to back down now. Scholz, Sunak, Macron and Von der Leyen. Notice how Von der Leyen has recently distanced herself from appearances with Zelensky’s non-stop world P.R. tour. Stoltenberg is left to trumpet the rhetoric of the false narrative of Ukraine’s heroic victimhood. But he is a lame duck and even let slip recently the truth that NATO enlargement provoked Russia into this war.
    Americans are waking up from their slumber on this regrettable war that was never necessary. Within a year, the U.S. will eventually do the right thing. But as usual, only after having exhausted all other options.

  31. Ira Weisberg
    October 4, 2023 at 09:05

    It should be obvious to Jefferey Sachs, that the Biden administration has absolutely no intention of a negotiating a settlement to this conflict that in anyway addresses the legitimate security concerns of Russia. Political naivety has never helped to add clarity when analyzing world events.

    • Susan Siens
      October 4, 2023 at 15:29

      And who these days can afford to be politically naive? Those who can afford to ignore reality.

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