RFK, Jr. interviews Jeffrey Sachs about the New York Times, Ukraine, and China

In the video RFK, Jr. Interviews Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine and China, Jeffrey Sachs recalls his fruitless efforts to publish an opinion piece about Ukraine in the New York Times. He says that he had spoken with the editors and they had finalized a version of his piece that incorporated some edits that he was OK with.  The piece was ready to be published. But at the last minute they told him they couldn’t go ahead with it. Sachs asked why. They said that someone else’s piece was in the pipeline that would cover the same material. Sachs read the Times for days afterwards but all he saw were pieces calling for escalation (“give them F-16s”, etc).

Sachs says he was an advisor to Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma, the first president of an independent Ukraine after the breakup of the USSR, and Sachs was a friend and advisor to the third president of Ukraine. But the New York Times adamantly refuses to present his views, “because they don’t want any public debate.”

In this interview with Glenn Greenwald, Jeffrey Sachs describes the history of U.S. provocations in Ukraine and all the stuff the media hides (like Nuland’s role). Sachs was involved closely with the historical events and people. Sachs said that when he went to Ukraine in 2014 (at the behest of the Ukrainian leader) to help with economics advising, the leader of an NGO told him about how the U.S./NED provoked the coup. Sachs was disgusted with what he heard.

The NY Times struggles to explain away the prevalence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

It’s disgusting how the NY Times is a mere mouthpiece for the government, and not a watchdog.

In a June 10th New Yorker interview A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, discusses the need for independent journalism. He says that complete objectivity is impossible to achieve but that journalists should pursue the evidence wherever it leads.   So I was shocked by his claim that it is “objectively true” that the war in Ukraine was unprovoked.

Let me just give a very specific example. Since the war in Ukraine started, we have had at least a dozen journalists on the ground every single day of the conflict. There is no “both sides” equivalency of what’s happened in Ukraine. Russia invaded in an unprovoked act of aggression and has committed a shocking string of atrocities. That is just objectively true. I’m not sure there’s another news organization in the U.S. that’s done more to expose those atrocities. One of the things that’s misunderstood about independence is that it doesn’t require you not to have a theory of the case, right? My great-grandfather had a line that he often quoted: “I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”

Interestingly, the sentences in bold font do not appear, apparently, in the recorded version of the interview. Perhaps they were added later, as the written version was “edited for length and clarity.”  At the very least, the question whether the U.S. provoked Russia in Ukraine — surely that’s a matter of degree — is something open to debate. It’s not “objectively true.”

The U.S. government almost always lies about wars….. It’s part of the battle plan. And obsessive secrecy (harshly enforced) guarantees the public is in the dark about the facts.

Sachs says. “A president has one main job in foreign policy, and that is to keep the foot on the brakes, because this war machine is always revving. The military industrial complex is always cooking up new things. The intelligence agencies and their covert operations are always cooking up new things.”

….which is why, I say, the government is so obsessive about maintaining secrecy: to hide all its wrongdoings and provocations.

Sachs said that President Obama had his foot on the brakes for some foreign policy, but was talked into the disasters in Syria and Libya, “engulfing that country into ten years of civil war that’s not over yet. And he presided over the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Ukrainian president.”

“We’ve got a war machine here, and war machines want to be used. They want to bulk up, they want to try new weapons, they want to buy new armaments, they want to open new bases, and a smart president knows to say ‘No! Stop! You’re gonna get us into a lot of trouble.'”

JFK at first went along with anti-Cuban activities, but after the Bay of Pigs fiasco he wanted to break up the CIA, and he fired CIA director Alan Dulles, as David Talbot describes in his excellent The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the C.I.A., and the rise of America’s secret government.

Obama was smart enough, Sachs says, not to escalate more in Ukraine, but Biden doesn’t get it and keeps climbing the escalatory ladder in Ukraine.

Poor Ukraine! Caught between the U.S. and Russia, and being used as a pawn.

Too often, the U.S. news media act as stenographers for the government, rather than as the watchdogs they should be,, as this AI-generated image suggests:

On China, RFK, Jr. says that high tech companies such as Microsoft are economically in bed with Chinese industry and so oppose war-mongering towards China. Sachs says the U.S. should compete with China economically, not militarily. (Duh!) I say: the U.S. is like a big, dumb bully who is losing out to the nerdy kids academically and so picks fights to try maintain dominance. The Chinese did a lot of correct things: hard work, emphasis on education, savings, smart central planning, rapid industrialization, etc. “There’s no reason for conflict, none whatsoever. And in the last forty years when the U.S. has been in nonstop wars, I’m sorry to say, China has not been involved in one war, and they had one brief war that was around the Khemer Rouge/Vietnam issue in the late 1970s. Otherwise they’ve been a victim of wars for 200 years and have launched none.” We accuse China of being belligerent and we’re surrounding them with bases. “We outspend them three to one on the military.”

Sachs says that from the start of his administration, President Biden has opposed friendly dialog with China. Some of Sachs’ (former) friends and students work in the Biden administration. When the U.S. met in Anchorage, Alaska with the Chinese, the U.S. accused them of wrongdoing in Hong Kong, with the Uyghurs, and about Taiwan. In other words, the U.S. came out swinging, provoking them, denouncing them publicly. The Chinese want respect. (And the U.S. lacks the moral stature to be talking down to them.)  “What’s Nancy Pelosi doing flying to Taiwan? Don’t provoke! .. We will walk into a war, the way we are going, just like we did with Ukraine.”  Our diplomats predicted that NATO expansion would result in the war in Ukraine, and Sachs predicts a war in China, if we continue along the current path.

The Chinese want peace worldwide, so they can have economic development. The U.S. views that as aggressive, but it’s just smart policy and what the U.S. used to do. Most of the world realizes that China’s approach is better and less militarized.   A majority of world population is skeptical of U.S. leadership.  The U.S. should compete economically. We complain that China is building up its military – gosh, I wonder why — but they still spend a third of what we do.

South American leaders oppose the U.S. approach to Ukraine. Sachs says the U.S. actively attempted to overthrow Venezuela. Leaders of other South American nations complained about U.S. punishment if they didn’t go along with U.S. sanctions. “There’s an arrogance [to U.S. foreign policy] that really is bad” and that causes blowback. The 1966 book “The Arrogance of Power” by William J. Fulbright says, according to Sachs, that “We keep getting into trouble because we don’t listen to the other side.” The book is as relevant now as it was in the 60s, Sachs says.

Fulbright discusses Austria as a model for how the U.S. should treat countries. Allow them to be neutral. Austria became very successful because both the U..S. and the USSR gave them some space. “Give them some space, so were not putting our face right up to the other guy.”