Sensational Testimony at UN Security Council: US Economist Jeffrey Sachs on ending the Wars

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By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

During a brief testimony that was given November 20th by the well- known US economist and public policy analyst Prof. Jeffrey Sachs in front of the UN Security Council, Sachs spoke about the underlying causes that have thrown the world into several bloody wars right now. He essentially spoke about 4 wars: the almost two-year long-lasting devastating war in Ukraine, the Israel- Palestine war, an unfinished war in Syria and the Sahel zone wars in Africa.  According to Sachs “all 4 wars could be quickly ended.” What counts right now is above all “diplomacy rather than wars”. He particularly singled out the UN Security Council as representing an adequate platform to work out solutions and establish conditions for peace.

Ukraine-Russia conflict

In terms of the underlying political causes for the ongoing war in Ukraine which followed the Russian aggression, Sachs pointed to the political aspects concerning the war – one being the strive for NATO expansion, but he also pointed to the “ethnic/ linguistic division” within Ukraine and the failure not to have implemented the Minsk II resolution that was to guarantee ethnic, autonomous rights for the people in Eastern Ukraine. Hence Minsk II, even if it had been voted upon by the UN, according to Sachs, got sabotaged. He also spoke about the underlying “economic cause” in respect to Ukraine, that in 2013 rejected to work together with Russia a n d the EU, as Russia had desired. As Sachs stated, the Russians at that time wanted to see all three –Ukraine, Russia and the EU- come to terms, which the EU however flatly rejected. According to Sachs the UNSC could end the Ukraine conflict immediately by using the P5 (permanent members of UNSC – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) countries to extend security guarantees to Ukraine and by agreeing not to have NATO expansion. A policy could be implemented where the joining of the EU would be an element as well as relations with Russia and where Ukraine would function as a bridge between East and West.

Israel/ Palestine: Calling for two states solution

In terms of the ongoing Israel -Palestine war, Sachs underlined that the UNSC should force through “a two states resolution” along the lines of all previous UN resolutions that had called for the realization of an “independent Palestinian state.”  Yet he also underlined that a push is needed against some of the “frustrated hardliners” in the Israeli government. He recommended that the UNSC should recognize “the two States solution” with Palestine becoming an independent state and getting an immediate seat in the United Nations General Assembly, while at the same time a peacekeeping force from the Arab countries should get deployed there. Economically the state should be given a viable economic perspective.

We could “similarly end the war in Syria,” Sachs stated, and that way we could overcome the “deeply misguided regime change attempt,” that was imposed by the West (US and NATO) against Syria’s president Al Assad. Also here the P5 of the UNSC and other neighboring countries of Syria should offer guarantees and cooperation.

The war in the Sahel zone which was the result of the attempt by NATO to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi in Libya, “a NATO led regime change, which then spread into the neighboring Sahel zone” could be brought to an end. Sachs suggested that these countries should become a base for aggregate investments, involving road and railway construction. He concluded his testimony by stating that “it is in the interest of the UNSC to bring “all wars” to an end. The UNSC could provide security guarantees and should proceed along the idea to create a “fund for peace and development.” This would imply that a certain portion of weaponry spending should be devoted by the countries in the UNSC for a “peace and development fund” where for example 10% would be switched off, which would mean 160 bn $ a year that could be spent for regional integration, in partnership with for example the Belt and Road initiative as well as other such initiatives. And that there should be increased lending to the region by a group of international and regional banks.

UN official Craig Mokhiber resigned in protest

The above-mentioned testimony is only one striking example among many statements that have been made recently by a series of US- as well as leading UN representatives – statements, which however do not get adequately reflected by the European mainstream press. The US independent TV News Channel “Democracy now” (directed by Amy Goodman) is regularly airing interviews and testimonies given by high level UN officials like for example one interview with Craig Mokhiber, director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for human rights, who on October 31 left his post, protesting, according to the British newspaper “Guardian” , that after the massacre perpetrated by the terrorist organization Hamas, the UN is  “failing” in its duty to prevent the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians that die as result of Israeli bombardment. The former UN official called the US, UK and much of Europe “wholly complicit in the horrific assault” and added that in a letter written which he had written to the UN High Commissioner in Geneva, Volker Türk, he had stressed that we serve an organization which “appears powerless” to stop it.

Senator Sanders: End the Israel/Palestine war

There was also a very impressive testimony given by US Senator Bernie Sanders (Democrat) in front of the US Senate, who in his passionate speech called on US President Biden to end the war by a ceasefire and end the brutal occupation of Gaza that has killed already more than 11.000  Palestinians, including 5000 children. Equally striking is the frequency with which US citizens of Jewish origin as well as citizens with Muslim background are going onto the streets in several US cities, in order to  demonstrate against the US government policy vis a vis Israel, urging that the US should do everything possible to end the atrocious and barbaric war in Gaza.  This type of open and uncensored debate in the US represents a “counterpoint” to the usual “one sided press accounts given by the European, in particular the German press. One should add that up to now dozens of US government employees have resigned in order to protest against the US Foreign Policy in the Mideast.  The open debate in the US thus gives a foretaste of things to come in the US presidential election campaign in 2024. It is also clear that if any solution to the different conflicts in Ukraine or Mideast were to emerge, it will depend on the US, to make the decisive steps in the direction of dialogue that also includes Russia as a mediator in the Mideast.

In order to complete the picture, it should be added that the Vatican and Pope Francis personally called for a ceasefire and an end to the flow of weapon deliveries to Ukraine and Israel, while an extraordinary BRICS summit (21.11.)  on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, to which also leading Arab representatives from Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia got invited –  came out urging for ceasefire, peace and a two states solution.

General Kujat reflecting von Clausewitz

In Germany, the former chairman of the NATO military commission as well as former head of the planning staff in the German Defense ministry, General Harald Kujat had  an interesting interview on November 5th with HKCM (Philip Hopf) , in which the General reiterated what he had also outlined in a previous call for peace, namely that President Selensky can’t win the war in Ukraine.

Kujat was very adamant in characterizing various people in politics, who “out of a lack of competence and ignorance enter into politics.” The decision to send “weapons for peace” is quite shocking, he said. Listening to German ministers who say that Ukraine “will win because they must win”, these are “fantasy games”, Kujat commented. It is disappointing to see how “we throw overboard what we had learned as lessons frorm history.”  Being asked whether the war in Ukraine could have been avoided, Kujat pointed out that in December 2021 an official paper had been sent by the Russian government to the USA and NATO. The document essentially developed the argument that Russia wanted by way of dialogue come to some agreements with the US and NATO that would include specific “Security Guarantees.” This paper and Russia’s proposals were at the time arrogantly rejected by the US government. From Russia’s point of view world peace would be in danger with an entry of Ukraine into NATO.  According to Kujat, the US government was however not ready to talk about this. “There was no serious attempt to do this.”

 

As much as the Russian attack Febr 24th was a real breach of International Law, Kujat emphasized in the interview that “we didn’t do anything to prevent the attack! “ and that “the war could have been finished 6 weeks after its start in Istanbul, when both sides met in March 2022 and obtained very good results. But given the pressure from the West, no agreement got signed. Britain’s PM Boris Johnson represented the pressure of the entire collective West, “ Kujat underlined.  “It is regrettable to see how many dead people were counted on the Ukrainian side and how much damage was made. What happened could all have been prevented.”  Kujat spoke again about the opportunity for peace right now.  But he also underlined that “the decision must be taken in Washington.” He added that unlike the usual press line “President Putin made many gestures. When on 17th of June the African delegates gathered in St Petersburg for a summit, he signaled that he was ready any time to negotiate about peace, which should be based on the principle that “international security must be guaranteed”. President Selensky then made an appeal in October in which he “prohibited by decree any negotiations.”

 

General Kujat warning on sending Taurus cruise missiles

 

Being asked about this year’s Ukraine spring and summer military counteroffensive which resulted in some small territorial gains, Kujat stated, that the aim of Ukraine was to interrupt the territory between Crimea and Russia – a logistical hub – with the idea to dry out the Russian Armed forces. “That did not happen and will not happen!” He pointed out that what we are seeing is an “asymmetric operational procedure” and stated that the Ukrainian General chief of staff Salushny, according to the Washington Post had said, that every square meter conquered demands a high blood toll and that the losses are exorbitant.  Russian forces decided for a defensive posture with the aim not to have territory by all means, but follow the Clausewitz doctrine, which means to make the enemy defenseless, Kujat stated. He again reiterated that Russia like NATO does not want escalation, given the enormous risks that this implies. Being asked about Selensky who repeatedly stated that they will win back Crimea and the core territories, Kujat answered categorically: “No, this is not realistic; the Ukraine offensive has failed.”  He warned of critical developments like the potential sending of German Taurus missile that would bring the war on a qualitative new level and open a new phase of the war with the risk of further escalation.

 

General Kujat pointed out that the losses on the Ukraine side are colossal and that the line peddled by the press in Europe, whereby the Russian Armed Forces are third rate quality with low morality,  was  wrong , that they are very combative, also having air superiority. He even mentioned at one point the bizarre fact that there are Ukrainians fleeing from duty in the armed forces, by paying $ 10.000 so as not to have to join the army. That there were many people sacked in the defense ministry and that “this war is also an information war and an economic war.”  What is terrifying is that we live in an open society, we are proud of democracy; “but we totally ignore the offer for peace as was enshrined in our constitution and the freedom of opinion. To suppress opinions never did us any good.”  In respect to the situation in the Mideast the General urged that the situation should be “deescalated”.  There must be reasonable political aims and Russia should be included in the finding of a solution. Russia has influence in Syria. “My hope is that there is a solution of the Palestinian question and a stabile order brought into being. It is regrettable to see the US and Russia are in such rivalry as we see now.”  He ended b stating in  Germany we need to have a “new thinking, which should start in the media.”

 

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