The US should move forward in the world with the kind of multilateral approach built on peaceful cooperation that China pursues, a prominent economics professor said.
“We need very extensive discussions and communications to understand each other”s point of view, to solve complicated problems, whether it’s COVID, or climate change, or economic development and infrastructure. You can’t just guess what the other counterparty is doing,” Jeffrey Sachs, an economics professor at Columbia University, said in a speech given during a virtual event recently held by China Daily.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the People’s Republic of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. And over the years, China has repeatedly pledged that “it will always take the path of peaceful development and stay committed to promoting common prosperity for all countries”, Sachs said.
“I think we should take these 50 years as really a guidepost that we need another 50 years of strong cooperation and strong multilateralism.”
Sachs, known for his work in the economics of sustainable development, said the US has spent trillions of dollars in wars that created “terrible damage” and didn’t result in any good.
“When China has committed to a peaceful approach to the world and to multilateralism, that’s been a very smart strategy, good for China, good for the world. I want the US to do the same,” Sachs said.
He said the US got mired in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and got involved in secret operations in Syria. The US and NATO also engaged in a conflict in Libya.
In 2003, the UN Security Council called on the US to stop the aggression and demanded the withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi territory.
“And the United States said, ‘No, don’t tell us what to do’. But China was giving good advice. It wasn’t trying to stop something that was good for the US who was telling us this is a big mistake,” Sachs said.
The academic said starting wars is a type of intellectual error because of the notion that the US can solve political, social, ethnic, economic or terrorism problems with a military approach. That doesn’t work and, predictably, was going to fail, he said.
“I pleaded with the American people in things I wrote before the Iraq War: Don’t do this; you don’t know this will not succeed,” he said. “And I think that is the mistake. I don’t know whether the US has learned the lessons because there’s something in the culture that continues to promote military approaches.”
Sachs said the administration of US President Joe Biden and the Chinese government should have an intensive discussion about many complicated issues.
“A lot of our politicians don’t have passports. They’ve never been to China. They just think they know something, but they don’t really know,” he told the forum. “So we absolutely want the interchanges, the conferences, the discussions, the joint programs, and so forth.”
Sachs, who is also a senior adviser to the United Nations and has visited China many times over the past 40 years, also called for cooperation in academic research.
In a recent interview with Massachusetts Peace Action, a grassroots organization, Sachs highlighted the “absurdity” of US politicians saying they want to cooperate with China on climate change while simultaneously waging a relentless propaganda war and ramping up military tensions.
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