United Kingdom Presses for “Economic NATO” at UN General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly this year was largely overshadowed by the NATO-Russia conflict in Ukraine and the growing danger of a wider war. However, the developing nations did not go along with the Russia-bashing and secondarily the China-bashing tirades of a number of transatlantic leaders and their defense of the use of economic sanctions.

U.S. President Biden delivered his standard line of defending democracy against autocracy, and blaming all the world’s woes on Russia. And while claiming to care about the development of poorer countries, he strongly criticized the Belt and Road Initiative carried out by China, the one nation that has been the most successful in lifting people out of poverty over the past decades.

The U.S. President, however, was outdone in rhetoric by the United Kingdom’s new PM, Liz Truss. She discredited herself quite effectively in the beginning by claiming that “her late Majesty” Queen Elizabeth II “symbolized the post-war values” on which the UN was founded. She too pressed for systematic action to be taken against “authoritarian regimes”, not only with “sanctions, diplomatic action, and rapid military support”, but also on the economic front. “The G7 and our like-minded partners should act as an economic NATO, collectively defending our prosperity. If the economy of a partner is being targeted by an aggressive regime we should act to support them. All for one and one for all,” she proclaimed.

She added, presumably to the amusement of anyone listening, that the “might of the City of London” would help provide funding for countries that need it.

In contrast to such speeches, contributions from the Global South raised issues of real concern for their citizens. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Pandor, stressed the importance for the UN to fully attend to “the needs of the marginalized and forgotten. Our greatest global challenges are poverty, inequality, joblessness, and feeling excluded. South Africa, like many other developing countries, faces huge developmental challenges, including in our energy sector.” Kenya’s President Ruto, and numerous other speakers, deplored the “undemocratic and unrepresentative” nature of the UN Security Council, called for long overdue reforms and argued for multilateralism.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez Fernandez addressed the stark inequality of the current world financial system, pointing in particular to the Coronavirus pandemic, which caused immense suffering in the developing sector. It brought to light, he said, the incredible inequality of the global system, where wealth is concentrated in a few hands, while the poor are left to die in poverty. “We had to beg” for vaccines, he recalled. Fernandez also described the Ukraine/Russia conflict as a war between “NATO and Russia”, whose victims are largely in the Global South.

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