Sometimes fate has a cold sense of irony. Like the meeting of the 120 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran, Iran. The summit will be hosted from August 26th to the 31st, and one can be assured that the “Non-Aligned Movement” will certainly become more “aligned” against the North-Western governments in a country that has been internationally isolated on account of Israeli fears of Iran building nuclear weapons. The leaders, primarily from the Southern or the Eastern states, will convene to discuss the latest Northern-Western aggressions and atrocities.
Irony is in the wind, as if Allah came down from heaven in a sign to the Supreme Leader. The time of the NAM meeting is precisely when in the midst of saber rattling, nuclear suspicions, economic sanctions, threats of immanent attacks, computer viruses, assassination plots, war games, the US Fifth Fleet build-up in the Persian Gulf and US military drones flying overhead.
This is at a time when Iran could use any and all support against a potential military strike by Israel and NATO that it can get, so they are not going to be picky. They are not going to be too religious. They need secular allies too, as well as Sunni Muslim states to resist Israel’s group.
What does hosting the NAM offer Iran?
One Tehran Times article reads: “NAM Summit Signifies Good Ties With the World: Pakistan Ambassador.” Yet this is more than a photo-op with the UN Secretary-General and the more than one hundred states. And this is not a one time thing—Iran will gain the chairmanship and lead the NAM for the next three years to come. If something were to happen to Iran—say, if it were attacked for its self-determination and independence from the West—how would all of these states react? So this is another subtle message that NAM brings to the Middle East puzzle.
How will Iran, in its new position with these other members of NAM, display themselves so that they can appear innocent, friendly, and part of this new team-building program? To a large extent, they will have their work cut-out for them. They have already fired the opening salvo against Israel and the West, displaying what they claim are bombed cars of nuclear scientists and blasting them away with open hostility.
First, with all of the pressure of Iran and lack of evidence, and with US officials claiming that Iran is “not developing nuclear weapons,” while at the same time treating them aggressively with an embargo, they already have the appearance of the victim state before the others. Second, Iran does not have to win all of the one hundred states’ sympathy or support—just a few dozen to make a significant impact. Third, unlike the US , the EU and Israel, Iran does not have to “prove” anything, they are that independent struggling paragon that many in the NAM are looking for. And they can take their time and build on any success in this first round as chairman.
What’s to be expected at the meetings?
While the US makes feeble jabs at certain figures for attending or not addressing this and that issue, Iran will be making real headway through dialogue and statesmanship. They will try to demonstrate at the summit that the “big powers” are bullying them and going against everything that NAM stands for since the days of the Cold War. They will reemphasize that these powers are harmful, unpredictable, selfish, and belligerent. The goal of Tehran will be to reach a greater common ground and any potential “alignments.”
The NAM will most likely not be discussing Iran’s great harm to the region and the world if it decides to develop nuclear weapons. It is already a nuclear powered state, with its first reactor operation in Busher, in 2011.
Now for the moment of truth: we should expect a greater solidarity and union with other outcasts. Already Iran and Venezuela have moved past overtures of friendship. The focus for them will be friendship, trade and energy resources. They will play the “let’s make a deal” game in foreign relations. Iran has the second largest natural gas reserves and the third highest oil reserves.
How will the NAM summit be viewed by the US and EU?
The NAM originated in 1961 by Josip Broz Tito, who was the communist dictator of Yugoslavia and held his state together with an “iron fist.” The idea of NAM was to be independent from the US and the Soviet Union global power struggle. After Tito’s falling out with Premier Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, he needed numbers but the plan was neutrality, not a united front. Of course, neutrality was for defensive purposes, preventing the two superpowers dominion over Yugoslavia, interfering with Tito’s dictatorial powers over his people, and others that find themselves caught in the middle.
Interestingly, in Tito’s Yugoslavia, where the NAM began and now in Iran, where it officiates of late, we witness the opposite of a preached ideology. Far removed from the concept of communism, underneath it was about the power of the few over the many—and the mistreatment of the many for the well-being of the few. Far removed from the religion of Islam, underneath the Iranian rulers, it is all about the power of the few and the control of the social soul.
Few North-Westerners understand the significance of such a large gathering and fewer still are making terse bitter comments against it. They are unlikely to perceive the NAM as an ideological rampart against liberalism. The summit will likely be more significant than the world expects or predicts. What was for decades little more than a marginalized group of states with low political influence has the potential of becoming a third wedge between most NATO members and Russia and China. But even Russia and China became observers, so the movement has gone from being stuck in the middle to moving away from the West.
After the meeting is finished, the North-Westerners will likely continue to ignore and play down the growing resistance, like they did with the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Beijing, China, June 6, 7, 2012. Among other things of discussion, the SCO covered regional security and economic cooperation, they spoke out against NATO actions and on how they were going to “aid” Afghanistan after NATO leaves in 2014. Iran was there in attendance as an observer member to the SCO.
That meeting was followed by security exercises of the biggest regional powers like China, Russia, and some steppe countries. What was the NATO response? Diplomacy? No, just ignore them until they become a physical threat to our on-going military operations.
Shifting Political Reality
The Poles of the Earth are shifting. The New World Order in the shadow of the North-West is now being blocked by the storms from the South-East. The NAM summit adds to this front and it should be clear to see why. When they needed America to help them with their burgeoning democracies and republics, the US was unable or unmoved in compassion to fully commit. The statesmen cast off their allegiance to the flag and the military tore off their uniforms and they all replaced them with business-suits and chased the almighty dollar. Instead of using the greatest political ideological force on the planet since the great religions, the US gave up its political and ideological authority.
In the South-East states, since blind free trade and foundational Western driven globalism, there has been a massive economic backlash—pouring over into the next century—they are now starting to take charge of their own affairs. They are some of the most critical players of the UN, and a majority of the General Assembly. They are highly critical of the World Bank, and the IMF. For anyone willing to read the history and success of international financial institutions and third world or developing countries, their anger is quite understandable, considering the fact that the West has to often taken advantage of these countries. However, it would be far out of place to suggest that the same “West” which is become the “North-West” has not given much in the way of humanitarian aid. Many African nations praise the US for their financial assistance to combat poverty and AIDS, and other ills. The good comes with the bad and they are both outcomes.
Within NAM there are the extreme examples like Cuba and Venezuela. A simplification of their rhetoric will chant something like this: “Down with the US.” But there are a score of others that will not have very many nice things to say about the US. Some will ask, “What have you done for me lately?” Others will say, “The US was a great nation that has lost its way,” or even, “The US are not to be trusted.”
Implications for the Weary North-West Climate Change
The North-West must come up with something other than power-balancing realist and military strategy to combat the sets of ideological threats that are spawning within the NAM. These will lean against liberty and human rights, whether for life or for property. The NAM is a growing leftist resistance movement, increasing less in membership as in relevance.
The North-West must wake up and smell the opium of oppression. What could be the end of liberalism for many global citizens may be near by—decades, if that. And rather than responding with fading threats and waning military commitment, the US and others could actually invest their money in sound statecraft and revolutionary benign foreign policy.