It’s time to restart the non-aligned movement
The world seems to be heading for a new cold war whether we like it or not, with forecasts of a conflagration starting in Asia-Pacific becoming more certain day by day. In March, former US Admiral James Stavridis published a novel based on his theory that China and the United States could find themselves in a nuclear war by 2034. Mr. Stavridis is a former Supreme Allied Commander of the United States. NATO in Europe. His opinion counts, as does that of Admiral Philip Davidson, the outgoing commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, who warned the same month that China could attempt to occupy Taiwan within the next six years.
Mr Davidson’s designated successor, Admiral John Aquilino, contradicted him – but only by saying that he thought the “problem” of “military force against Taiwan” was “much closer to us than most. don’t think so ”. China’s Xi Jinping said Beijing had “no intention of waging a cold war or a hot war with any country,” but tensions continue to rise.
Now Michael Vatikiotis, author of Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia, writes that the struggle between China and the United States is slowly dividing East and Southeast Asia, and that “it is only a matter of time before the guns start to blaze and let the region suffer another in a long series of conflicts in which it has no interest. but pay a price for the blood “.
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This is a stern warning to the hundreds of millions of people who live in this part of Asia, but who apparently have little say in the formulation of policies that could lead to such a catastrophe. And so, if a new cold war is forced upon us, I say it is time to revive and revitalize another feature of the post-war great power confrontation: the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Because those who do not want to risk war, who do not want to be drawn into the Sino-American rivalry and who want friendly and constructive relations with everyone deserve to be heard.
The original NAM had its roots in the Bandung Conference of 1955 and was officially established in 1961 through the efforts of five leaders: India Jawaharlal Nehru, Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Sukarno in Indonesia, Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia. Opposed to colonialism, imperialism and foreign aggression against its member states, NAM promoted the security and sovereignty of its members, mostly from the Global South, who did not wish to be coerced into or enter into the Soviet bloc nor to accept American hegemony.
If its general orientation was towards the left, this was understandable when many of these countries (which eventually numbered 120 in total) had only recently obtained independence from the colonial masters who had sometimes reluctantly left, and who often barely concealed their condescension towards their old possessions. The governments of the Non-Aligned Movement were politically diverse, but were easily able to unite to oppose apartheid in South Africa, for example.
While his intentions were undoubtedly noble, the NAM was generally regarded as a failure. He could not prevent outside powers from intervening, such as when the CIA supported a coup against Mr. Sukarno in 1965 or when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Nor could he prevent member states to go to war with each other, such as India and Pakistan and Iran and Iraq.
NAM still exists, but with the end of the First Cold War, its very purpose seemed to have disappeared. After his 2016 summit, King’s College London professor Harsh V Pant wrote: “The 55-year-old Non-Aligned Movement, a once powerful bloc of independent nations, is dying and no one send flowers. Interest has reached a new low with just eight heads of state showing up on Margarita Island in Venezuela for this year’s summit. It had become, he said, “a dying organization in need of a decent burial.”
NAM is still active – especially as a convening bloc at the United Nations General Assembly – and if, as Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged at an online summit this month, the group plays an active role in ensuring access to Covid-19 vaccines. , he would have proved that he is still worth it.
But if it is to be taken seriously, it must either be completely reformulated to NAM 2.0 or replaced. NAM has tried to do too much, but to little effect; not surprisingly, since it had neither a secretariat nor permanent resources.
A new NAM would avoid these errors by organizing itself mainly around the principle of neutrality. Because, wouldn’t it be a strong signal if a large group of countries met to denounce the very notion of a new cold war and declare that they did not want to participate? This is precisely what many countries are saying, but by doing so individually rather than collectively, their calls can mostly be ignored.
NAM has tried to do too much, but to little effect; not surprising, because it had no permanent secretariat or resources
The nature of this neutrality should be broad. It should encompass countries that might seek international recognition of this status, just as Ireland, Switzerland, and Spain achieved and were respected during WWII. It would include countries that were able to magnify their previous declarations of neutrality through the new group.
It would be a tent large enough to accommodate the idea of neutrality to which the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed in 1971 with the declaration of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (Zopfan), although two of the member states, Thailand and the Philippines, were allies of the US treaties.
The group could offer observer status to countries like Germany. Although the country is a member of NATO, key figures in the Christian Democratic leadership clearly do not wish to escalate tensions with China or Russia and are likely to be in favor of the group’s goals. They are not alone in Europe or the Americas.
The bottom line would be that it provide a forum and a voice on the world stage for all those countries – and there are many – that do not want an apocalypse, not now, not in 2035 or 2050. Forget the failures of the former NAM. If there is to be a Cold War 2.0, then a NAM 2.0 is surely an idea whose time is right and urgently needed.
Sholto Byrnes is an East Asian Affairs Columnist for The National