By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle. If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these US foreign policy debacles.

The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Cohen, Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).

The main message of the neocons is that the US must predominate in military power in every region of the world, and must confront rising regional powers that could someday challenge US global or regional dominance, most important Russia and China. For this purpose, US military force should be pre-positioned in hundreds of military bases around the world and the US should be prepared to lead wars of choice as necessary. The United Nations is to be used by the US only when useful for US purposes.

This approach was spelled out first by Paul Wolfowitz in his draft Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for extending the US-led security network to the Central and Eastern Europe despite the explicit promise by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by NATO’s eastward enlargement.

Wolfowitz also made the case for American wars of choice, defending America’s right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises of concern to the US. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz already made clear to Clark in May 1991 that the US would lead regime-change operations in Iraq, Syria, and other former Soviet allies.

The neocons championed NATO enlargement to Ukraine even before that became official US policy under George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine’s NATO membership as key to US regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan spelled out the neocon case for NATO enlargement in April 2006:

[T]he Russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the “color revolutions” of the former Soviet Union], only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union — in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony?

Kagan acknowledged the dire implication of NATO enlargement. He quotes one expert as saying, “the Kremlin is getting ready for the ‘battle for Ukraine’ in all seriousness.”  After the fall of the Soviet Union, both the US and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine, as a prudent buffer and safety valve.

Instead, the neocons wanted US “hegemony” while the Russians took up the battle partly in defense and partly out of their own imperial pretentions as well.  Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressures on the Ottoman empire.

Kagan penned the article as a private citizen while his wife Victoria Nuland was the US Ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, Jr.  Nuland has been the neocon operative par excellence.  In addition to serving as Bush’s Ambassador to NATO, Nuland was Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs during 2013-17, where she participated in the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, and now serves as Biden’s Undersecretary of State guiding US policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.

The neocon outlook is based on an overriding false premise: that the US military, financial, technological, and economic superiority enables it to dictate terms in all regions of the world.  It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disdain of evidence.  Since the 1950s, the US has been stymied or defeated in nearly every regional conflict in which it has participated.
Yet in the “battle for Ukraine,” the neocons were ready to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over Russia’s vehement objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by US financial sanctions and NATO weaponry.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a neocon think-tank led by Kimberley Allen Kagan (and backed by a who’s who of defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon), continues to promise a Ukrainian victory. Regarding Russia’s advances, the ISW offered a typical comment: “[R]egardless of which side holds the city [of Sievierodonetsk], the Russian offensive at the operational and strategic levels will probably have culminated, giving Ukraine the chance to restart its operational-level counteroffensives to push Russian forces back.”

The facts on the ground, however, suggest otherwise. The West’s economic sanctions have had little adverse impact on Russia, while their “boomerang” effect on the rest of the world has been large. Moreover, the US capacity to resupply Ukraine with ammunition and weaponry is seriously hamstrung by America’s limited production capacity and broken supply chains. Russia’s industrial capacity of course dwarfs that of Ukraine’s. Russia’s GDP was roughly 10X that of Ukraine before war, and Ukraine has now lost much of its industrial capacity in the war.

The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the US with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The knock-on effects could be devastating, if a right-wing demagogue in the US rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through dangerous escalation.

Instead of risking this disaster, the real solution is to end the neocon fantasies of the past 30 years and for Ukraine and Russia to return to the negotiating table, with NATO committing to end its commitment to the eastward enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia in return for a viable peace that respects and protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is an economics professor; Director of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

SOURCEekathimerini.com

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Is Biden Really mentally fit enough to be given the responsibility of a hotel’s doorkeeper? No. The show is in the hands of those, who if it was not for the convenience, would direct the affairs of the USA from the Capital of the Fake from Tal Abib in Palestine

  2. The article was good up to this paragraph:”The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the US with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The knock-on effects could be devastating, if a right-wing demagogue in the US rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through dangerous escalation.” The old bad orange man 👨 or some other Trump clone is gonna start WW III🤣 Something the MSDNC and their affiliated outlets had been.saying constantly during his term but never happened. No the only reason we’re not involved in WW III is because Hillary wasn’t elected giving Putin time to upgrade his military with advanced weapons like the Sarmat and Poseidon making any direct attack on Russia by NATO and the US suicide meaning that Biden already has us involved in a low intensity version that the North Atlantic Terrorist Organization and the Neocon American Empire will lose just like they lost Afghanistan. Only in this case the loose will probably destroy both the former and the latter making the world a better place.

  3. I always suggest reading Douglas Reed, Antony Sutton and Carroll Quigley’s books. There is one more important book, which details the Heavy Electrical Industry Cartels, and the Oil Cartels. The book is “Webs Of Power-International Cartels And The World Economy” by Kurt Mirow.
    Very interesting are the details on oil pricing, the 1930s and Middle East concessions, and the emergence of Quaddafi in Libya and what happened by 1970. Incredible. Also, the details on Iran, in the post 1954 coup period, and the concessions, percentages. The British greed in Iran was even frowned upon by the 7 Sisters, but, as a Cartel, they “did what they had to do”.
    Insane World, reaching an extreme red line since today Russia announced nuclear weapons going out to sea near NATO colonies-

  4. Of course Mr. Sachs neglects to mention that most of the neocons he mentioned were descendants of [Ashkenazi] refugees from the Russian Pale of Settlement right along with him. Because of this he dances around who were the real perps of 9/11, that it wasn’t 19 Arabs armed with boxcutters led by a dude holed up in Afghanistan.

    William Kristol and Robert Kagan founded Project for the New American Century in 1997 which predicted that the “process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event–like a new Pearl Harbor.” Of course that event was the false-flag attacks on 9/11, the real perps of which were Israel and many of the same US neocons that Mr. Sachs refers to in this article.

    • I wonder if the movie has ever been made that depicted, in allegory, the circumstantial predicament which America has been laboring under, to the point of exhaustion, since 1913, if not probably much, much longer? I would think that, obviously, it hasn’t been done in true depiction, but it would be a classic. People would walk out of the theater saying;
      “what kind of fools would allow their country to be infiltrated and taken over right under their very noses, and be totally passive about it. You can bet your sweet countash, that would never happen in America!”

    • Elvin, even after more than twenty years such a movie will never be made let alone shown in our MSM. Just consider Spike Lee’s documentary, NYC Epicenters 9/11 —> 2021½. According to the Zionist-controlled Guardian, the “public” (New York [Ashkenazim], I can’t even use the right word in VT comments) “reacted in a small uproar, and just like that, 30 minutes featuring conspiracy group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth had vanished from the final edit sent to critics.” I think you would agree that Devine intervention is the only way this will change and hopefully that doesn’t include WWIII.

    • “Mr. Sachs s neglects to mention that most of the neocons he mentioned were descendants of [Ashkenazi] refugees from the Russian Pale of Settlement right along with him. Because of this he dances around who were the real perps of 9/11, that it wasn’t 19 Arabs armed with boxcutters led by a dude holed up i”
      First off Bush Sr. was the first to mention “A New World Order” and Bush Jr. was a main perpetrator (actor -front-man in 911) You don’t have a 911 without the POTUS. There are a lot of German Nazi in “Bush”.

    • And, you don’t have the mini-nukes that brought down the Twin Towers and Building 7 without Israel and their sayanim (helpers) in the USA. Israel nuked us that day and got away with it.

    • “Israel nuked us that day and got away with it.”
      The Bush family ran the security of the Trade Center & Airports.
      Israel had the B-Team Jewish Art Students LOL, in the Trade Center almost a year before the Demolitions. They were the explosives’ experts. You can see their YouTube clips if still up. They paid no rent and allowed access entire center buildings, with zero security, They filmed the “jumper” months in advance from a helicopter and took the windows out and built a scaffold outside. Everybody loves the Jews, mostly the US Gov. Its really not important “How they did it”. The guy that has the entire plan is Paul Bremer iii Cantor Fitzgerald 9/11, Former head of US Counter Terrorism > to Heading and Fireproofing his office floors as Leader of Cantor Fitzgerald all 150 + of his staff died on 911. He missed his ride and showed up at CNN and said Bin Laden must of done it , later named by GWB , Provisional Coalition Administrator of Iraq. Could you make him sing ?

    • Plans went into place while watched our sex addict Bill set up by his wifey and Is reel, outed and impeached. Then she was NY Senator. They promised her the presidency and failed twice….the second of which has taken much sanity. Her fraudulent file was used to war against Trump openly and she enlisted the top of the FBI (Sussman trial proves)…..all four years of Trump we had traitors running the FBI that helped the weaponization of the Hillary file. It’s called Misprision of Treason, 18 USC 3282 and Baker Comey and Schiff helped Hillary weaponize the fake file for the ENTIRE Trump 4years….THE SUSSMAN TRIAL HAS IN EVIDENCE.

    • Evan Laton, there is a book first published in 1982 called “Truth in Money” that is spot on with the math equation of compounding interest, predicts M3 with accuracy…and when projected for 110 years (to 2023) shows the growth of M3 (quantity) becomes exponential and is unstoppable, each year climbing higher on a mountain with an avalanche overhead, ready to let go. It’s a great book for a lay view that exposes the fiat debt money for the for the destruction it does over time. It shifts assets of huge numbers of people to the bankers and has a fatal flaw….the principle of a loan is new money but the interest over it’s lifetime is never “made”….there is no way to “make” the interest portion. The book is great and informative book that should be re-visited.

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