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Anewtypeofworlddisorder

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Anewtypeofworlddisorder

Today's disorder stems not so much from conflicts between the big powers as from other problems all say they want to solve: failed states, terrorism, proliferation and the chaotic Middle East. Their priorities and tactics differ, but that still leaves room to co-operate. For example, it has taken an age to sign up Russia and China for action against Iran's nuclear programme. But now they have signed: the Security Council is imposing sanctions on Iran for enriching uranium. If Iran carries on regardless, the council may once again divide between those who will and those who won't take military action. But an Iraq-entangled America shows little appetite for new battles. And although the superpower is often the UN's
harshest critic, it has come again to see the point of turning to the UN for help with problemsbe they keeping the peace in Lebanon or saving lives in Darfurit finds hard to solve alone.
If everything in the UN's garden is lovely, what is the case for reforming it? Part of the answer is that the organisation needs to run faster just to stay in the same place. At present it enjoys a good deal of egitimacy. But at some point that will fade unless the Security Council takes at least Japan, India, Brazil, Germany and an African country into permanent membership, so that it reflects today's world rather than the one of 1945. It also needs some military resources of its own if it is to cope with the ever-growing demand for peacekeeping. Right now a small battle-ready force, raised by the UN itself and not by any Western or neighbouring government, is exactly what is needed in war-torn Somalia (see article).
In the meantime, the permanent five could make the world safer and more orderly by showing a greater willingness to work together using the existing structure. They are not going to turn the UN into a world government, as some Utopians would like. America in particular will not consent to being tied down like Gulliver, especially where it thinks its security is at issue. But at a moment when their rivalries are small, yet most are anxious about the same range of transnational threats, all the big powers ought to see the benefit of making better use of the potential for joint, lawful international action that the UN uniquely provides. If not now, when?      



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