Will America’s anti-China verbal overkill continue? Will China come clean and disclose facts?
For the last few months humankind has had only one item on its agenda, coronavirus. It is global and deadly. Hospitals, doctors and nurses, the media and governments have given almost all their time to this pandemic. Patients with heart, kidney, liver, cancer and other fatal diseases have not received the attention and care they do. To some extent this is understandable, but is no comfort or consolation to non Covid-19 patients. So far the priority has been to cope with coronavirus. Now that governments and institutions have concluded that Covid-19 is not going away, the world now must turn to major international problems which can no longer be set aside.
I shall name five.
One. In which direction will US and China relations proceed? Will existing tensions continue, ease, or increase? Will America’s anti-China verbal overkill continue? Secondly, will China come clean and disclose facts? The two sides must resort to diplomacy. Also, China shall not bend. It is a great nation and will never bow. It is used to coping with crises. The real worry is that in the White House a steady hand is not visible.
Two. The growing rift between the United States and Iran. Sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the US and there is the UN. Embargo under which countries are prevented from selling advanced weapons to Iran. Iran’s economic situation is dire. The US President threatening Iran will be counterproductive. Its European allies are not with the US, when it comes to Iran. Regardless of the arms embargo, Iran has not changed its regional policies. Russia will be only too willing to supply arms to Tehran. One reality that is costing Iran dear is the dramatic fall in the price of oil.
Three. The Israel-Palestine problem continues to simmer. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not win the recent national election. He did not even scrape through. His hold over power is tenacious. Yet, he wants to annex the West Bank permanently. What will keep Prime Minister Netanyahu in office is his warm friendship with President Trump. The two-state solution is all but dead.
Four. What about Britain and the European Union? The UK cannot do without the European Union and the EU needs the UK. Brexit has not disappeared. The real tragedy for the UK and the European Union is weak and uninspiring leadership on both sides of the channel. Additionally, coronavirus has caused havoc in the UK. The transition period following the UK leaving the European Union expires on 31 December. The future of UK-EU relations remains cloudy. This is worrying.
Five. Climate change. This is the greatest problem facing the world. Yet, the most powerful country’s President takes no interest in this issue. This is not only abdication of duty, it is utterly irresponsible. He walked out of the Paris climate change conference. Such indifference to so vital an issue is unfortunate. The US has always led in times of crisis. It is now left to former President Barack Obama to give the people hope and succour.
President Trump’s priority now is to get re-elected in November. His calling his Democratic opponents names shows the President in poor light and shows a lack in manners. His initial reaction to the pandemic was not serious. Even now he is blaming doctors working for him in the White House. What an extraordinary way to function. His chances of getting re-elected have apparently decreased mainly due to his erratic handling of the crisis produced by the virus.
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The Narendra Modi government needs to be commended for the efficient and caring manner in which he has kept the Chief Ministers and public at large of the progress that has been made in checking the spread of the virus. Exceptions are four states. The worst-hit are Gujarat and Maharashtra. In these states there is no let up. However, there is no room for complacency.
Serious concerns are being expressed that in a few months a second wave may be coming to hit the US and the UK. Deaths are on the rise.
The worst sufferers are pregnant mothers and their newborn babies. This is painful beyond words. Let me quote the English poet Tennyson:
“I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel
For words like nature
Half reveal and half
Conceal the soul within.”