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The Economist: The new world disorder - No.25 - 20th Jun 20

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The Economist: The new world disorder 

 

Britain has the wrong government for the covid crisis

There was a lot going on in Britain in early March. London staged an England-Wales rugby match on March 7th, which the prime minister attended along with a crowd of 81,000; on March 11th Liverpool played Atletico Madrid, in front of a crowd of 52,000 fans, including 3,000 from Spain; 252,000 punters went to the Cheltenham Festival, one of the country’s poshest steeplechase meetings, which ended on March 13th.

 

As Britons were getting together to amuse themselves and infect each other, Europe was shutting down. Borders were closing, public gatherings being banned. Italy went into full lockdown on March 9th, Denmark on March 11th, Spain on March 14th and France on March 17th. Britain followed only on March 23rd.

 

The new world disorder

Seventy-five years ago in San Francisco 50 countries signed the charter that created the United Nations—they left a blank space for Poland, which became the 51st founding member a few months later. In some ways the un has exceeded expectations. Unlike the League of Nations, set up after the first world war, it has survived. Thanks largely to decolonisation, its membership has grown to 193. There has been no third world war.

 

And yet the un is struggling, as are many of the structures, like the World Trade Organisation (wto) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (npt), designed to help create order out of chaos. This system, with the un at its apex, is beset by internal problems, by the global struggle to cope with the rise of China, and most of all by the neglect—antipathy even—of the country that was its chief architect and sponsor, the United States.

 

How to end the perilous Indo-Chinese border spat

In the ancient Chinese game of Go, clever players ignore little battles in favour of strategic plays. Leaving local disputes unresolved means that later, when the game tightens and the enemy is off-guard, you can snatch prizes at lower cost. In the 69 years since China truly became India’s neighbour by grabbing Tibet, the world’s two most populous countries have played a similar game. Even as their leaders summited and trade thrived, the Asian giants left a mess of territorial disputes to fester.

 

Mostly these claims, over some 130,000 square kilometres on either side of their 3,488km-long border, have not mattered much. Despite a Chinese “lesson-teaching” invasion in 1962, rare armed skirmishes and less rare fisticuffs between patrols, the border zone has remained relatively calm. Much of it is too rugged and empty to fight over. So long as neither side shifts the status quo, what difference does it make if there are no proper markers on long stretches of border, but instead just a fuzzy “Line of Actual Control”?

 

Check out more at: https://www.economist.com/weeklyedition/2020-06-20

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