New York, September 20 (BNA): The head of the United Nations warned of the possibility of a new Cold War, and appealed to China and the United States to repair their “totally dysfunctional” relationship before problems break out between the two large and powerful countries. Even in the rest of the planet.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to the Associated Press this weekend ahead of this week’s annual UN meeting of world leaders – a meeting marred by the coronavirus, climate concerns and controversy across the planet.
Guterres said the world’s two major economic powers should cooperate on climate and negotiate more vigorously on trade and technology even as political divisions persist over human rights, the economy, online security and sovereignty in the South China Sea.
“Unfortunately, today we only have a confrontation,” Guterres said Saturday in an interview with the Associated Press.
“We need to re-establish a functional relationship between the two powers,” he said, calling for “the necessity of addressing vaccination problems, climate change problems and many other global challenges that cannot be resolved without constructive relations within the international community.” society, especially among the great powers.
Two years ago, Guterres warned world leaders of the danger of splitting the world in two, with the United States and China creating rival domestic, currency, trade and financial bases and their “zero geopolitical and military strategies”.
He repeated that warning in an interview with the Associated Press, adding that competing geopolitical and military strategies would pose “risks” and divide the world. Thus, he said, the deteriorating relationship must be fixed — and soon.
“We need to avoid a Cold War at all costs that is different from the previous one, and potentially more dangerous and more difficult to manage,” Guterres said.
The so-called Cold War between the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies and the United States and its Western allies began immediately after World War II and ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was a clash between two nuclear-armed states. Great powers with competing ideologies – communism and authoritarianism on the one hand, and capitalism and democracy on the other, according to the Associated Press.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations said that the new Cold War could be more dangerous because of the Soviet Union.s. Hatred created clear rules, and both sides were aware of the danger of nuclear destruction. This, he said, has spawned backchannels and forums “to ensure things don’t get out of hand.”
“Now, today, everything is much more resilient, and even the experience that existed in the past for managing the crisis no longer exists,” Guterres said.
He said the agreement between the US and Britain to give Australia nuclear-powered submarines so it could operate undetected in Asia “is but a small piece of a much more complex puzzle…this totally dysfunctional relationship between China and the US”.
The secretly negotiated deal infuriated China and France, which have signed a contract with Australia worth at least $66 billion for dozens of French conventional diesel-electric submarines.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press, the secretary-general also addressed three major issues that world leaders will face this week: the worsening climate crisis, the still-spreading pandemic, and the uncertain future of Afghanistan under the new Taliban. They seized power on August 15 without a fight from the US-trained government army as US forces were in the final stage of withdrawing from the country after 20 years.
What role will the United Nations play in the new Afghanistan? Guterres called it a “fantasy” to think that a UN intervention “would suddenly be able to form an inclusive government, to ensure that all human rights were respected, that there were no terrorists in Afghanistan at all, and that drug smuggling would stop.”
After all, he said, the United States and many other countries have thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan and have spent trillions of dollars and haven’t been able to solve the country’s problems — and some say it made them worse.
Although the United Nations “has limited capacity and limited influence,” he said, it plays a key role in spearheading efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Afghans. He said the United Nations is drawing the Taliban’s attention to the importance of an inclusive government that respects human rights, especially for women and girls.
It is clear that there is a power struggle within the different groups in the Taliban leadership. He said the situation was not yet clear.
While former US President Donald Trump has been sticking to an “America First” policy, President Joe Biden – who will make his first appearance as CEO at Tuesday’s high-level meeting of the General Assembly – underscored the US commitment to multilateral institutions.
Guterres said Biden’s commitment to global action on climate, including rejoining the 2015 Paris climate agreement that Trump withdrew from, “may be the most important of them all.”
He said there was a “totally different environment in the relationship” between the United Nations and the United States under Biden. But Guterres said, “I did everything – and I am proud of it – to make sure that we would maintain a functional relationship with the United States in the previous administration.”
Guterres also lamented the failure of countries to work together to tackle global warming and ensure that people in every country were vaccinated.
In the past year of the struggle against COVID-19, he said, “we have not been able to make any real progress in terms of effective coordination of global efforts.”
And on the climate: A year ago, we were seeing a more visible movement in the right direction, and that movement has slowed in the recent past. So we need to rev up again if we’re not in a disaster.”
Guterres described it as “totally unacceptable” that 80% of the population in his native Portugal is vaccinated, while in many African countries less than 2% of the population is vaccinated.
“It’s totally stupid from the point of view of defeating the virus, but if the virus continues to spread like wildfire in the global south, there will be more mutations,” he said. And we know that mutations make it more transmissible and more dangerous.
He once again urged the world’s 20 major economic powers in the G20, which failed to take united action against COVID-19 in early 2020, to create the conditions for a global vaccination plan. He said that such a plan should bring together vaccine-producing countries, international financial institutions and pharmaceutical companies to double production and ensure fair distribution.
“I think it’s possible,” Guterres said. “It depends on the political will.”
The Secretary-General said that the rich and developed countries spend about 20% of their GDP on recovery problems, middle-income countries spend about 6% and the least developed countries spend about 2% of their small GDP. This, he says, has led to frustration and distrust in parts of the developing world that have not received vaccines or help to recover.
Guterres said the division between developed nations in the north and developing nations in the south is “extremely dangerous to global security, and too dangerous for the ability to bring the world together to fight climate change.”