Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Non-Aligned Movement (a.k.a. "Them")

Need any more evidence that the US is not universally recognized as the "beacon of freedom" its current leaders claim it to be? The 14th Annual Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement ended in Havana last weeked. NAM was originally founded in 1961 as a group of nations asserting their independence for both the US and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. What nations are members of this group? Venezuela, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, North Korea... among others.

"Yes", you say, "but those nations are our enemies! Who cares what they say?" Well... what about India, Jamaica, South Africa, Kuwait, the Bahamas, Pakistan, Malaysia, Chile, and Peru? These are all countries that have nominally positive relations with the US, are listed in the NAM membership rolls, and presumably were also represented at the Cuba summit. In fact there are over one hundred countries in the group... almost 2/3rds of the total UN membership (and 55% of the world's population). The countries excluded from the group include any nation involved in a global defense pact (related to "Great Power conflicts").

Now that the Soviet Union is extinct, and the Cold War has drawn to a close, shouldn't NAM be obsolete? Not according to its member states. It is still dedicated to the right of "independent judgement", the struggle against imperialism, and the "use of moderation in relations with all big powers" (this presumably refers to the United States). What are some of its resolves, as expressed at this year's summit? To support Tehran's development of nuclear technology for peaceful ends. To reject the Bush administration's characterization of the "Axis of Evil". To critize global poverty and unfair trade practices. To condemn terrorism "in all of its forms". Indeed many of its members consider its existence as relevant now as it ever was.

Now having identified the parties involved and their mission, we must consider the Bush Administration's admonishment that all the world's nations are either "with us" or "against us" in some nebulous "War on Terrorism". Presumably, the raison d'etre of NAM is to stand neutral in regard to the affairs of the sole remaining world superpower. Given Dubya and friends' logic, one might assume that these states are in league with terrorists. Does that sound ridiculous? Sure, but so does a lot of the bluster coming from our current leadership. Some folks apparently consider this group to be dedicated to the opposition of the United States. Apparently there are still quite a few in this country (besides the president) who have difficulty understanding the concept of non-alignment. I suggest that such people leave well enough alone, and resist making the entire world decide what side it's on.

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