EDITORIAL: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has clearly invoked the right spirit behind Hollywood’s immortalization of the ‘father of the atom bomb’ in the award-winning film Oppenheimer, warning against a “sequel”. Indeed, these are times when “geopolitical tensions and mistrust have escalated the risk of nuclear warfare to its highest point in decades”, he rightly reminded everybody at a Security Council session called by Japan the other day.

His stint at the top of the UN, which began in 2017, has been mired in wars and conflict, but it’s the Nato-Russia standoff, more specifically how the Ukraine war might escalate, that’s suddenly got him worried about the mushroom cloud. And – though he only made veiled references to Russia, of course – it’s very unfortunate that the world’s leading, most powerful, and richest countries are recklessly pushing the entire world towards that prospect.

Cold wars have been turning hot and hot ones hotter for some years now. But it was the unnecessary push to expand Nato right to Russia’s borders, long after even the remnants of the ‘Soviet threat’ had ceased to exist, that provoked Moscow into the madness of invasion and now has European leaders talking about “boots on the ground” and “war economy”.

President Putin’s serious warning about the nuclear option came when Washington turned its focus, money, and military hardware towards enabling Israel’s genocide in Gaza, leaving the Europeans to foot most of the bill for Ukraine and reopening wounds, about how much the continent should throw into the Alliance, that go back to the Trump days. That’s a smart, but also a very dangerous move; one which puts the safety of people and nations far beyond Russia and Ukraine at very grave risk.

Ukraine is clearly unable to take back any lost land – without active participation of Nato. And that’s the new western dilemma. Accepting the status quo means blunting Nato as well as a humiliating defeat at the hands of the strongman they love to hate. But victory will not come, unless there’s a miracle, without putting Nato fighters in Ukraine and calling Putin’s bluff.

And the UN secretary general, like so many others, believes that this game of who blinks first might lead to nuclear war before either side does. Yet for all its good, it’s at such points that the UN is truly toothless. On the odd occasion that it has not toed the superpower’s line and instead tried to talk some sense into it, it has never succeeded.

Already, the Ukraine war has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced many more, and sunk war chests of a dozen countries, but it still gets incrementally volatile. And now the stakes are higher than the world has known them at any point since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sadly, all the UN’s impotence allows it to do is raise the alarm. No doubt the secretary general should be given credit for that much and more.

But is the rest of the world – countries that are not directly engaged in the war yet suffering its shocks and spill overs – capable of giving so-called global leaders a reality check? Or is the dreaded “sequel” already inevitable?

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Mar 31, 2024 08:07pm
A good sequel is never predictable, we may witness something on these lines. Bankrupt countries are prime grounds for this event, mainly because of corrupt rich leadership who have West's support.
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