Jeffrey Sachs: From Vietnam to Afghanistan, history always repeats itself

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Jeffrey Sachs: From Vietnam to Afghanistan, history always repeats itself

2021-08-23

Source: CGTN    Published: 2021-08-19



From Vietnam to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Syria... the U.S. sent its troops overseas time and again, yet almost every time it failed to change the other country for the better but left it in despair and turmoil. History always repeats itself, but why doesn't the U.S. learn from it? What is driving the U.S. behind all of these?


Jeffrey Sachs is Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He provided an analysis step by step when talking to CGTN host Tian Wei.


He said, "I think the amazing point is, if you spend a trillion dollars in another country, you expect something good to come out of that, some infrastructure, some development, some support of the population for the changes. But the United States spent almost all of that trillion dollars on military approaches. What did the U.S. leave behind in Afghanistan? Where are the hospitals? Where are the schools, where are the roads? Where is the safe child birth? Unfortunately, this is why there was no support for the U.S. -backed government, because the U.S. effort was a military effort, and unfortunately, a military effort is not a developmental effort. A military effort doesn't win the support of people. It ended up having no broad support in the population. And the result is the Taliban were able to wait and then return after $1 trillion. "


He said with emotions, "I look at this from an American point of view, and I say how stupid that policy was, not just for 20 years, but for 40 years."


In the eyes of many Americans, Sachs' view can be largely politically incorrect. He responded by saying, "Because at my age, I've been at this for 41 years working all over the world. I've seen straight up Vietnam, the disaster in Cambodia. I've seen the U.S. intervention in Central America. We've seen two Gulf wars. We've seen what covert operations did to destroy Syria."


"It's enough. I'm so sad for my country," He said almost heartbrokenly.


"There's an old expression in English that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The United States has a powerful military, so everything looks like a solution for a war. And so the United States uses the military as foreign policy. But there is no foreign policy that comes out of a military. And we use the military in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria. We use the military in Central Asia. We use the military in Central America. We use the military in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Not once did this work!" He claimed.


Sachs then pointed out the deeper reason behind the U.S. thinking, "There are interests. There are corrupt contractors. There's the military industrial complex. But I actually don't think that it's that. First, I think it's a lot of the ignorance in the United States. The U.S. does not know the history and geography of the rest of the world, period. I mean period. Second, there is not in all parts of American society, but in certain parts of American society, a deep disdain for other cultures. The result of that is you don't have the ethics or the knowledge to succeed. But you do have a powerful hammer, as I said. I think that these are not interests. Nobody won in the U.S. out of Afghanistan. This has just been a tragedy, but so stupid. And that is because of ignorance. And because the American leaders never cared really about Afghanistan, and the public never cared about Afghanistan. If it's only for you, not for the people involved, it's never going to succeed."


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