Today I resume presenting the testimony of Jeffrey Sachs on the untold story of American foreign policy, which was the topic of a recent interview he gave to the American talk show Democracy Now. Last Sunday, I presented part of that interview; I wrote that American foreign policy today governs and controls world affairs and affects our lives in direct ways, hence the importance of reviewing the testimonies of pundits. Mr Sachs is an American economist and public policy analyst, he is also Professor at Columbia University. Democracy Now, which this year celebrates 27 years on its first broadcast, is aired by several satellite channels, and produces a daily global independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González.
Mr Sachs started by explaining what people around the world should understand regarding the current crisis with Russia, Russia-Ukraine, and China.
Democracy Now asked Mr Sachs to explain the insistence of the United States, dragging Europe along as well, in maintaining hegemony throughout the world at a time when the economic power of the West is declining. Especially, Democracy Now said, that Mr Sachs had mentioned that the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — represent more than 40% of the world population and have a greater GDP than the G7 nations, yet their interests and concerns are pretty much dismissed or, in the case of Russia and China, portrayed to the American people as the aggressors, as the authoritarians, as the ones that are creating turmoil in the world. Mr Sachs replied that the G7 and the European Union together represent maybe 12.5 per cent of the world population, yet their mindset is “We run the world.” And that was the way it was for 200 years in this Industrial Age. But they refuse to admit that the changes that have engulfed the world no longer allow that a small sliver of the world runs the world or has monopoly on wisdom or knowledge or science or technology. “The knowledge and possibility of decent lives is spreading throughout the whole world,” Mr Sachs said. “But in the United States, there is a resentment to this. I think there’s also a tremendous historical ignorance, because I think a lot of US leaders have no clue as to modern history. But they resent China’s rise; they say: ‘How dare China rise! This is our world! This is our century!’” The United States recast China not as a country that was recovering from a century and a half of great difficulty, Mr Sachs pointed out, but rather as an enemy that needed to be contained. But the basic point, Mr Sachs said, is that the West has led the world for a brief period, 250 years, but feel, “That’s our right. This is a Western world. We are the G7. We get to determine who writes the rules of the game.” The Obama administration decided, Mr Sachs pointed out, “Let’s write the rules of trade for Asia, but not have China write any of those rules. The US will write the rules.”
Democracy Now addressed the following question to Mr Sachs: “Going back into the 1990s, the enormous financial collapse that occurred in Mexico, where the Clinton administration authorised USD50 billion in a bailout to Mexico. At the time, the post-Soviet Russian government, also had deep financial problems but was unable to get any significant Western assistance, can you talk about the differences on how the US responded to the Mexico crisis versus the Russian financial crisis?”
To which Mr Sachs answered: “At the time, I was economic advisor both to Poland and to the Soviet Union in the last year of President Gorbachev and to President Yeltsin in the first two years of Russian independence, 1992, ’93. My job was to actually help Russia find a way to address a massive financial crisis. And my basic recommendation in Poland, and then in Soviet Union and in Russia, was: To avoid a societal crisis and a geopolitical crisis, the rich Western world should help to tamp down this extraordinary financial crisis that was taking place with the breakdown of the former Soviet Union.” Interestingly, Mr Sachs remarked, in the case of Poland, the US government accepted the recommendations I made. Yet in the case of Russia, Mr Sachs explained, everything I recommended, which was on the same basis of economic dynamics, was rejected flat out by the White House. And it took me quite a while to understand the underlying geopolitics, that the American administration had no intention to accept Russia as the newcomer in the global arena, which could threaten the US hegemony.
“Those were exactly the days of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld and what became the Project for the New American Century, meaning for the continuation of American hegemony. The unipolar politics was taking shape, and it was devastating,” Mr Sachs said. He proceeded: “But even more than that, what these people were planning, early on, despite explicit promises to Gorbachev and Yeltsin, was the expansion of NATO. And Clinton started the expansion of NATO with the three countries of Central Europe: Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic. And then George W. Bush Jr. added seven countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic States. And then, in 2008, the coup de grâce, which was the US insistence, announced by Bush that NATO will expand to Ukraine and to Georgia. The explicit goal was to surround Russia in the Black Sea.
“So, what these neo-cons were doing in the early 1990s was building the US unipolar world. And they were already contemplating lots of wars: wars to overthrow Saddam, wars to overthrow Assad, wars to overthrow Gaddafi. And that neoconservative plan is in its heyday right now on two fronts: in the Ukraine front and on the Taiwan Strait front. And it’s extraordinarily dangerous, what these people are doing to American foreign policy, which hardly is, you know, a policy of democracy. It’s a policy of a small group that has the idea that a unipolar world and US hegemony is the way that we need to go.”
That was what Mr Sachs said. It is obvious that American foreign policy does not care what threat it poses to global peace, nor does it care for the ensuing ruin and devastation. All this to ensure that the US stays on top as the sole superpower, and to prevent any new partners from leading the world.
3 March 2023
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