I dealt with many of these ideologues â David Petraeus, Elliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland â as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. Once you strip away their chest full of medals or fancy degrees, you find shallow men and women, craven careerists who obsequiously serve the war industry that ensures their promotions, pays the budgets of their think tanks and showers them with money as board members of military contractors.
They are the pimps of war. If you reported on them, as I did, you would not sleep well at night. They are vain enough and stupid enough to blow up the world long before we go extinct because of the climate crisis, which they have also dutifully accelerated.
Sachs is good value. His op-ed piece reads a bit like "The Emperor has No Clothes".
I recall that a long time ago, Sachs promoted the idea that the former Soviet Union, in effect Russia, should move from a command and control economy to a freemarket economy by figuratively speaking "taking all the wheels off at once". I have often wondered after the fact if that was good advice and ultimately encouraged some of the looting of the Russian economy that took place. Hard to say.
Note that Sachs is using the term 'hegemony' as if it were a bad thing. I would argue the opposite. Hegemony is a good thing if it means getting things done and taking care of security at a very low cost. The problem with the way the USA acts as described by Sachs, effectively the 'Man of Great Stature' on the international stage schtick, is that divine moral intervention will blowback and ultimately reduce the hegemony of the USA at a faster clip than might have otherwise occurred.
The frequently heard charge that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine violates ostensibly sacred international “norms” holds no water. No such norms exist — at least none that a great power will recognize as inhibiting its own freedom of action. For proof, we need look no further than the recent behavior of the United States which has routinely demonstrated a willingness to write its own norms while employing violence on a scale far exceeding anything that Russia has done or is likely to do.
All very much true, unfortunately. The way the US managed to fall into the oh-so seductive post-WWII destructive logic - first with the red scare and then multiple international indiscretions/violations of its own values because "whatever we do is ok, because we are the good guys" is probably the biggest factor inhibiting real international progress to a rules-based order. The US has basically given Russia and China carte blanche to do whatever they want in their own (self-defined) sphere of influence. All three of them are a huge impediment to progress.
That said, I still believe in the inherent values of the Enlightenment on which the US constitution is founded. If only the US had lived by them in its foreign policy post WWII we would be in a lot better state to counter autocratic regimes right now.
Since WWII at the very latest, we should have been living with the understanding that we are a global village. The completely autark nation state has long been made redundant, except in the minds of its rulers, it seems.
In Friedmanâs âhot, flat and crowdedâ world governed by tech-driven globalization, superpower land-grabs should have no place. The United States would enjoy unchallenged preeminence.
That Vladimir Putin has somehow not received the memo or has chosen to ignore its dictates is beyond flabbergasting. When it comes to audacity, Putin has demonstrated the sort of chutzpah that has long been a Friedman signature. But the sense of dismay akin to betrayal expressed by Friedman and other commentators is entirely manufactured.
In fact, Putin has acted in accordance with geopolitical imperatives that predate the modern era. Nation-states compete against one another to advance their own interests. Pursuant to that competition, they employ various means, with suasion typically the preferred option. Given the uncertainty inherent in war, along with the likelihood of unintended consequences and higher than expected costs, violence tends to be a last resort. But last resort does not mean never. In international politics, these are the enduring facts of life.
The frequently heard charge that Putinâs invasion of Ukraine violates ostensibly sacred international ânormsâ holds no water. No such norms exist â at least none that a great power will recognize as inhibiting its own freedom of action. For proof, we need look no further than the recent behavior of the United States which has routinely demonstrated a willingness to write its own norms while employing violence on a scale far exceeding anything that Russia has done or is likely to do.
So much propaganda we've lived with without questions and now it's turned sideways
As in the colonizing narratives of old, the invasion was presented as necessary, not connected to any strategic interests of the United States, but of a larger benevolent project (âOperation Iraqi Freedomâ in the second Gulf War) of bringing freedom and democracy to foreign lands. In the American imagination, they were not really aggressors, bombing another sovereign nation into the stone age, but magnanimous do-gooders trying to rid another a diseased foreign land from its affliction.
Now the hegemon is Russia. It does not occur to any American pundit dissecting the Russian assault on Ukraine that those American actions appeared just as cruel and even befuddling as Russian actions seem today. Why would the Russians bomb a kindergarten, someone on Twitter asked the other day? Well, why did the American military bomb innocent civilians, including seven children, on the outskirts of Kabul just a few months ago? Just as Americans eagerly gobbled up the fictions of their own benevolent intentions, so, too, must Russians believe the line that is told to them. Theirs is a âpeacekeepingâ mission in Ukraine, one that is geared toward preventing the genocide of ethnic Russians in the Donbas and Luhansk region. Putinâs propaganda isnât close to reality because the war propaganda of a hegemon never is.