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Jeffrey Sachs on the End of American Supremacy

Sachs outlines his plan for a new international system of equals, where America shares power and collaborates with former geopolitical rivals to solve today’s global crises

“Sachs is probably the most important economist in the world” – The New York Times

Jeffrey Sachs has some advice for the next U.S. President: ditch both Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ policies and the interventionism of previous presidents. Start building alliances with Russia and China to deal with the myriad threats our world faces today — environmental disaster, mass migration, political upheaval and slack growth. Bring an immediate end to Trump’s aggressive protectionism, which will only accelerate America’s decline and strengthen China’s competitive economic edge. Redirect America’s massive military budget towards increased funding for sustainable development, the United Nations and American diplomatic soft power. And above all, put an end to America’s costly overseas meddling.

Magical thinking? Not so, says Sachs.  The Columbia economics professor came to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his radical new vision for U.S. foreign policy. Instead of a world where America reigns as the sole superpower, Sachs outlined his plan for a new international system of equals, where America shares power and collaborates with former geopolitical rivals to solve today’s global crises.

According to Sachs, this new foreign policy isn’t just desirable from a moral perspective — it also offers a remarkable return on investment in contrast to expensive overseas intervention and needless confrontation with China. Everyone, Sachs claims, stands to gain from this new international order. But others disagree. Isn’t this exactly the kind of American foreign policy that anti-Western authoritarians like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping dream of — a world without robust American leadership? Don’t our cherished freedoms depend on a strong, assertive American presence overseas?

Sachs was in conversation with the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, debate these most vital issues of our times.



Jeffrey Sachs

Renowned professor of economics

Renowned professor of economics, and one of the world’s leading experts in sustainable development and the fight against poverty. He is a bestselling author, and his monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He is the co-recipient of the 2015 Blue Planet Prize, the top global prize for environmental leadership. He is a professor at Columbia University and has advised Pope John Paul II and three UN Secretary-Generals. His latest book is A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism.

Lyse Doucet

The BBC's chief international correspondent

The BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, who played a key role in the BBC's coverage of the wars in Syria and Yemen and has covered all the major stories in the region for the past 20 years.