The West’s False Narrative about Russia and China — Jeffrey D. Sachs

…The US has a mere 4.2% of the world population, and now a mere 16% of world GDP (measured at international prices). In fact, the combined GDP of the G7 is now less than that of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), while the G7 population is just 6 percent of the world compared with 41 percent in the BRICS.

There is only one country whose self-declared fantasy is to be the world’s dominant power: the US.


Link to video on DemocracyNow website

Jeffrey Sachs: “Dangerous” U.S. Policy & “West’s False Narrative” Stoking Tensions with Russia, China | Democracy Now!


Wow, I couldn’t get past the first paragraph of that. He seems totally clueless. Did you think he made any good points?


I think the quote I added above was a good one.

I’m looking forward to hearing some rebuttals.


Having painfully made it through the article it’s not even worth bothering to rebut, it’s nonsense and the “evidence” provided has bizarre caveats to try to make them work. Just one example of untruth and twist of truth;


Fair enough - here is what I found on Wikipedia about China’s overseas conflicts since 1980

Of this List of wars involving Russia - Wikipedia, only 2 are not in the former Soviet Union


Wow that was the most out-of-touch-with-reality sharing I have read/heard in a while. I don’t know if I should be shocked that Democracy Now is even offering him a platform to regurgitate years of the same old CCP Talking Points. This guy must have been in a basement for the last 70 years, holy moly.

Sachs is a typical desk-jockey who has made an entire career out of handing out high-level advice based on stuff he found out from reading books (or more recently, I suppose, from Google). One would not expect much sophistication from him.

OTOH I think there is something to be said for his point of view. Modern China and Russia were both born from 50 years of trauma, and they now react much as you would expect. The West has done itself no favours in its relations with them and policies towards them - it has made little attempt to help these countries heal themselves, and has indeed pursued a narrative of complete cultural superiority (a narrative fast unravelling, as of today, so that any pretense of a moral high ground must look completely laughable to outsiders).

China and Russia are not really similar - apart from their common status as pariahs - and different policies should have been applied to each. The West should have made some effort, I believe, to make Russia feel secure with its post-USSR borders, and the interference in their economic reform (IIRC Sachs had a big role in that) was misguided in all sorts of ways. The West in general and the UK in particular should have offered a formal apology to China at the start of Deng’s leadership for the humiliations and harm inflicted on the country 100 years prior; this would have gone a long way to defusing China’s current obsession with world domination and revenge. In retrospect, it could have all played out differently, and we didn’t need to end up in the place we’re in now.


Sachs has been well known and respected in the field of economics/development economics for decades.

But on this point he’s full of shit and fails to consider how the rules would change if we let Russia and China change them.

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Looks like China and Russia don’t like the rules as they exist at present and will work with BRICS to create an alternate rules based system.

How do you suggest we not let them?

Multi-lateral containment and economic engagement with the B and I of BRICs. Counter China’s influence in Africa and Latin America through FDI and free trade agreements.

I read his book about The End of Poverty. He clearly knows absolutely buggerall about the problems that keep poverty going, or about the cost of reversing those structural problems. Russia’s problems today are, to a certain extent, the direct result of misguided Western interference when the USSR imploded.

My point was that “you can’t get there from here”. We already blew it. Opportunities were missed. The West is now, IMO, circling the drain, and I don’t see any obvious way out of the hole that we’ve dug ourselves into. We certainly don’t have the wherewithal to “contain” China or Russia, and I’m not sure it would do any good to even try.

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Isn’t it interesting to hear what other people’s perspective are though? Some outsiders say that America’s left and right play musical chairs in the frequent elections and no one can really do anything.


I don’t agree that the West is circling the drain and out of time.

The US as the defacto leader of the rules based order has economic, technological, demographic and resource advantages all in their favor.

Economic - the Dollar is still the world’s reserve currency and despite efforts to supplant the USD, there is no other meaningful alternative. China does not have a free floating currency, has restrictions on repatriations of fund so the RMB is not a viable alternative.

China is also potentially over leveraged with it’s belt and road investments. If any number of developing countries default on Chinese loans, this will only add to their current economic struggles.

Resources - The US is the largest oil producer in the world whereas China is a net oil importer. In fact the only thing China has an abundance of is coal. Their economy is heavily dependent on imports.

Demographic - China is going through a demographic collapse and is expected to have their population cut in half by something like 2050. This means lower productivity, unsustainable growth, and a burgeoning welfare state. The US, demographically, is much better off than most developed countries and China.

Technological - the US still maintains technological superiority in many areas of science, military, etc. China may be catching up in some areas, but much of that is overstated and not at a meaningful scale.

I can see that argument made about Europe but the US is doing just fine.

The dollar has been debased by roughly a factor of 10 since 2007, and the US economy certainly hasn’t expanded by a factor of 10; logically, then, the USD is a lot more precarious as a useful currency than it used to be. That doesn’t mean the Ruble or the RMB is any better, but it does mean the US has squandered its financial advantages.

Can’t really disagree with that. To be clear, I’m not arguing that China is inevitably going to take over the world - it’s equally possible that they disappear down the same sinkhole that the Western world is heading towards - but I don’t see that either the US or Europe has any means to influence its trajectory.

US and European energy management are in a hopeless mess right now. ROI/EROI for US oil is fast approaching 1.0. Again, China might be facing a similar problem, but this means that the US and the EU are going to have their own domestic problems to worry about in the medium and long term.

Possibly true. However that’s going to exacerbate China’s political tantrums and their expansionist plans.

Also true, but that in itself isn’t going to guarantee success/dominance on the world stage. Unless Americans (and Europeans) can stop obsessing over how many genders there are, how many people have or haven’t taken this week’s magic potion, or how much of their own problems are Putin’s fault, technology won’t save them. They need to get their feet a little more firmly on solid ground.

I suppose it comes down to who you want calling the shots. Flawed western democracies, or Putin/Xi types.


He used PPP which is horseshit. The combined GDP of G7 accounts for 50% of global GDP (~45 trillion; America alone accounts for 25), the combined GDP of BRICS accounts for roughly 30% (~27 trillion; China alone accounts for 20).

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That’s any country’s right, fair enough. But “The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous?” No, they’re evil.


:grinning: I think the point is they don’t leave much room for nuance or discussion, "We are the goodies and they are the baddies’ is not a very mature way to frame the discussion.

In many ways they are bad, I agree or evil as you put it, in many ways there is much more good than is bad to say about the West.

The problem when such a framework is put in place (and they do it for many topics, not just China and Russia) any suggestion towards a pro Russian narrative or criticism of the West has the knee jerk reaction of “Are you a Russian?”, “Putin Lover” and so on.

You simply are not allowed to criticize the West in this context and you are not allowed to put forward pro Russian talking points, no matter they are 100% factually true.


I agree with you 100% there. As far as the article, it just seems like a bad start though.

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