Letter: Foreign policy in the time of apocalypse

Published: 12/7/2020 8:19:01 AM

We grasp three existential threats: global warming; human population over-running the planet, causing massive species extinction, destroying biodiversity, creating unmanageable pollution; increasing threat of nuclear conflict.

The World Health Organization experts visited Wuhan, China, where the virus was contained by 2,000 five-person epidemiological teams that conducted contact tracing. For success, WHO advised national coordination with public acquiescence and rigorous contact tracing. We didn’t do either – and failed.

The United Nations has been instrumental in global dialogue, agreement, and action on environmental crises since 1985 with a multi-national treaty to limit chemical emissions causing a dangerous hole in the ozone layer. Since then, inter-governmental teams working under the U.N. secretariat have reached climate agreements and have set sustainability goals to address the first two threats.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – the first to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal being total elimination – has been voted on, and will come into force on Jan. 22, 2021. The world is addressing the third threat.

U.S. foreign policy, not alone, is without bounds – like the mafia: threats, sanctions, assassinations, interference with elections – if needed.

The U.N. Charter is a moral and legal framework. It asserts the right to defend one’s territory against aggression; commits to non-violence and diplomacy otherwise; and forbids threats and unilateral sanctions.

We need our best diplomacy to reach agreements to survive.

NICHOLAS OURUSOFF

New London


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