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Views on the News – 16 Oct 2020

Headlines:

  • A Critical Turning Point for the UN at 75
  • G-20 Suspends Poor Nations’ Debt Payments for Six More Months
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping Tells Troops to Focus on Preparing for War
  • The US Doesn’t Plan to Leave Afghanistan
  • Taiwan: America’s Insurance Policy
  • The Rich Get Richer in the US


A Critical Turning Point for the UN at 75

We cannot address multilateralism without mentioning the United Nations, which marked its 75th anniversary just this past September. Seven decades have passed since a Charter signed by Britain, China and the United States established the United Nations in June of 1945. The United Nations rose from the ashes of the Second World War to establish world peace and security as its guiding principles. Today, with 193 member nations taking part in this global organisation, it has achieved its purpose in stopping war and preventing other world powers from pounding the war drum. However, in the face of the swift-moving COVID-19 virus, the United Nations must reinvent itself, adjusting its purpose and principles to be relevant in a post-pandemic world. It must aspire to both establish global security and find new ways to protect the environment, an unequivocal necessity and a burgeoning interest of many world leaders. World leaders expressed their concerns at the 75th General Assembly high-level meeting, which was unique as all convened via pre-recorded videos addressing the wider international community as well as domestic audiences. One of the more profound remarks was made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed “The United Nations can be only as effective as its members are united.” She urged renewed efforts on the part of leaders “to do everything in our power” to find common responses. Another call to action was made by the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, who highlighted alarming issues such as climate change that know no borders. He elaborated “I assure you that the smallest, poorest and weakest of nations can contribute ideas as innovative … as the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful countries.” The United Nations has 75 years of robust experience dealing with global challenges such as poverty, hunger, and environmental disaster, all while navigating conflicts across regions from Africa to Asia, to the Middle East. The United Nations is at a critical turning point and will likely face a shortage of breath when it comes times to blowing out its 76 candles. [Source: The Gulf News]

The UN is an instrument of great power politics and it was established by America to preserve the status quo of the post war years. The 5 permanent members of the security engage in vetocracy, which over the years has paralyzed the ability of the UN to deal with issues. Instead, political problems fester, unless it is in the interest of the P5 to take action. The UN’s record against the Muslim world is criminal to say the least. The UN implemented the food for sanctions regime in Iraq, which led to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children, and it stood by as Bashar slaughtered his Syrian people. The world does not need a UN, it needs the return of Islam under the authority of the Khilafah (Caliphate) upon the method of Prophethood to solve international problems.

 

G-20 Suspends Poor Nations’ Debt Payments for Six More Months

The G20 has decided to extend its debt relief to help poor countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic by another six months. Originally approved in May 2020, the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) was supposed to run till December 2020. Pakistan was approved under the initiative and $1.8 billion of its external debt service payments falling due till December were rescheduled under it. With the new announcement made on Wednesday, all debt service payments owed to bilateral creditors from December to June 2021 will also be rescheduled. “In light of the continued liquidity pressure, while progressively addressing debt vulnerabilities, we agreed to extend the DSSI by six months, and to examine by the time of the 2021 IMF/WBG Spring Meetings if the economic and financial situation requires to extend further the DSSI by another 6 months,” said the communique issued by the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors after the meeting on Wednesday. The group said they find that the initiative is “significantly facilitating higher pandemic-related spending” in those countries that have availed it. More than 70 countries participated in the initiative since it was launched in May. According to data on the DSSI page of the World Bank website, Pakistan is estimated to have saved $2.706bn in debt service payments under the initiative. The data is updated till Oct 6, 2020 and “based on monthly projections for May-December 2020, based on end-2018 public and publicly guaranteed debt outstanding and disbursed”. Estimates are not available for the savings that the extension till June 2021 will bring. The money saved this year from the debt service payments will be repaid later in a few years once the initiative expires. [Source: Dawn]

The G20 in their benevolence have decided to suspended debt repayments from the poor for a period of 6 months. What a despicable decision—living off other nation’s misery is the hall mark of the global capitalist system, which solely benefits a small elite!

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping Tells Troops to Focus on Preparing for War

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on troops to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war” in a visit to a military base in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday, according to state news agency Xinhua. During an inspection of the People’s Liberation Army Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Xinhua said Xi told the soldiers to “maintain a state of high alert” and called on them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable.” The main purpose of Xi’s visit to Guangdong was to deliver a speech Wednesday commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which was established in 1980 to attract foreign capital and played a vital role in helping China’s economy become the second-largest in the world. But the military visit comes as tensions between China and the United States remain at their highest point in decades, with disagreements over Taiwan and the coronavirus pandemic creating sharp divisions between Washington and Beijing. The White House notified US Congress Monday that it was planning to move ahead with the sale of three advanced weapon systems to Taiwan, according to a congressional aide, including the advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). In a stern response from Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on Washington to “immediately cancel any arms sales plans to Taiwan” and cut all “US-Taiwan military ties.” Even though Taiwan has never been controlled by China’s ruling Communist Party, authorities in Beijing insist the democratic, self-governing island is an integral part of their territory, with Xi himself refusing to rule out military force to capture it if necessary. Despite the Chinese government’s disapproval, relations between Washington and Taipei have grown closer under the Trump administration. In August, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-level US official to visit Taiwan in decades, when he traveled to the island ostensibly to discuss the pandemic. [Source: CNN]

If China really wants to prepare for war it must seize Taiwan and end American primacy in the Asian Pacific. But Beijing seems reluctant, perhaps it needs some words of encouragement from the future Khilafah.

 

The US Doesn’t Plan to Leave Afghanistan

Since President Trump said all US troops in Afghanistan would be home by Christmas, the military has kept quiet on the possible deadline. In an interview with NPR recently, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley avoided endorsing or rejecting Trump’s Christmas deadline and insisted withdrawal is “conditions-based.” When asked about Trump’s comment and an earlier statement from National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who said there will be 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan by early 2021, Milley refused to disclose information on possible future numbers. “We have a plan, a series of responsible drawdown options that has been briefed to the president. I’m not going to go into specific numbers for the future,” he said. Milley further elaborated: “The whole agreement and all of the drawdown plans are conditions-based, and I expect that we’ll have further discussions on the conditions and ensure that they warrant,” Some of those conditions, Milley explained, include a reduction of violence, a commitment from the Taliban to prevent groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan, and progress with intra-Afghan peace talks. Talks between the Taliban and the US-backed government are ongoing in Doha.

For the US, Afghanistan was always a means to an end. It has taken longer, cost more and used up much US resources to have the country to act as a forward base for Central Asia, South Asia and China, but the US controls the nation’s foreign policy and ante the domestic situation brought to some semblance of stability. The US plans a permanent presence in Afghanistan to achieve this, the size and type will change based on resources. The only way to change this is for a nation to engage in political struggle with the US and develop political plans to weaken, erode and counter US plans. China and Russia have no such agenda or capabilities, despite their rhetoric. Anew nation based on another ideology would undertake such a mission

 

Taiwan: America’s Insurance Policy

The White House is going forward with the sale of three weapons packages to Taiwan, according to a report from Reuters. Sources said that the Trump administration recently notified Congress about the deal. The weapons being sold include a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin, long-range missiles made by Boeing, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets. The three sales could be the first of many. In September, sources told Reuters that the Trump administration was preparing for a massive arms sale to Taiwan that could include up to seven types of weapons systems. The news of the arms sale comes a week after US officials encouraged Taiwan to spend more money on defense. At an event last week, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned China against an invasion of Taiwan and urged Taipei to increase its military budget. Since the US severed ties with Taipei in 1979, Washington has sold arms to the island to discourage China from invading. Those sales are lucrative for US weapons makers, and Taiwan is a leading customer. In the 2019 fiscal year, Taiwan requested more weapons from the US than any other country.

The US backed the nationalists to rule over China during WW2. They were however driven out by the communists led by Mao and settled on the Taiwan island across mainland China. Despite the warming of ties between the US and China during the 1970s, Taiwan always represented an insurance policy against China. It has become even more important now as China looks to dominate its region.

 

The Rich Get Richer in the US

50 Americans now have a combined net worth nearly equal to 50% of America’s population – some 165 million people. Whilst many Americans have been struggling with the COVID pandemic, the virus has exacerbated inequality in the US, with job losses falling heavily on low-wage service workers and the virus disproportionately infecting and killing people of colour. The 50 richest people in the country are worth almost $2 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, up $339 billion from the beginning of 2020. At the same time, the poorest 50% of Americans collectively hold just $2.08 trillion. Meanwhile, the top one percent of Americans have a combined net worth of $34.2 trillion. They hold 30% of all US household wealth and more than half of the equity in corporations and in mutual fund shares. Whilst many have been trying to survive the COVID outbreak some have done fantastically well out of everyone else’s misery.

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