On the 50th anniversary of non-aligned movement, Prof Anuradha Chenoy, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, discusses with Newsclick prospects and options that the movement today has.
Raghunandan (Raghu): Hello and welcome to Newslclick. It is 50 years since the founding of the Non Aligned Movement or NAM. To discuss this we have with us today Prof. Anuradha Chenoy of the School of International Studies of Jawahar Lal Nehru University. Welcome to Newsclick Anu. Let me begin by asking you the perhaps cliched question. Does NAM still have relevance today or does it have a renewed importance on the context of the contemporary assaults on the Global South?
Anuradha Chenoy (Anu): I think it was both relevance and importance depending on how renews itself because the space and the need is very much there for the Non Aligned Countries. They are ultimately the post colonial countries. They are the countries of what is called the Global South. They have large number of common problems. The G8, the G20 have the common interests of sustaining the kind of capitalist advancement that they already have. On that basis, they continue to have a kind of hegemony in international politics and for that inequality in international political system continues to remain and is sustained by this unequal international system. So in that, if the third world countries, the Global South wants to become equal, we have a more equal, want to have a develop more, then they can do so more collectively. Specially, I would say in context of two or three things. Currently, you see international system has four or five different kinds of crisis. One is the crisis of the financial system, the Euro debt crisis, American debt crisis. In this crisis, both America and Europe have repeatedly said this is new Asia Century meaning that the rising powers are from the emerging countries or the new emerging tigers sometime they call. Which are these powers? China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and so on and so forth and they are hoping that by exporting to these countries or by pitching their economies to these countries they can pull their economies they can pull out of their economic crisis. So you can see the potential of these countries which were not the part of the former G8 or imperialist countries what potential they have. So instead of helping the North, they does not require that kind of assistance. Collectively they can help themselves the Global South and can become much more powerful counter hegemonic block.
Raghu: Which precisely brings to me the question that given these continued economic,political cultural, assaults coming from the capitalist globalization on the global south you have new groupings. The BRICS or the IPSA involving India, Brazil, South Africa. Sometimes including Russia and China as well. Are these groupings trying to play or potentially can play a role what NAM used to play?
Anu: Well these are new plurilateral forum which is a kind of multilateralism in which countries not geographicaly linked but have common interest. In the case of BRICS, it was actually a name given by Geoffrey Sax kind of grouping but what has happened is this grouping neither to the G8 or G20 nor to NAM. They have in fact broken out of NAM. Several of them are from the former socialist block Russia and China but they all are the great emerging powers and they have common interests. But at the moment, these are very new groupings. They just had about two years or three years of meeting. They seem to be closer to the G8 than they are to the Global South. Though, because number one, Brazil and China are never part of NAM. China came to the Bandung conference but did not join NAM obviously it was the part of the socialist block. But they have a lot of current common interest. Russia and China, even when they were part of the socialist block, were votaries for NAM. So there is potential for them to get together and work collectively for the Global South and there would be interests, interest in developing new industrial enclaves and all kinds of things and raw materials plus indifferent aspects of economy and politics. These countries need each other in politics specially when there are these in wars or e.g. in Afghanistan or a rising earlier in Iraq and now the Arab Spring. So they have a voice and if they come together like they used to I think they can change the nature of the International System to make it more equivalent.
Raghu: When there is a growing suspicion shall we say that these groupings like BRICS or IPSA are more interested in jockeying for influence economically or politically with the G8 and the advanced capitalist countries rather than resisting their hegemony.
Anu: Absolutely, there is that interest in all these countries now do not want to be completely associated with the poor Global South. They feel that it drags it down. But actually in reality it's reverse. Their interest lie within the region. After all how can a country let's say for e.g. India become a greater power? If it takes a region along with it, if South Asia as a region is trouble and distress free, or G77, Brazil for e.g. how does that become a greater power if it takes along the Latin American Countries and is a power within Latin America, it can't be a power vis a vis America or G8. So it is their interest to take along G77 which is larger now take along new democracies which are developing in West Asia along with it and increase their bargaining capacity vis a vis G8, whether it is the membership of the security council, United Nations reforms or changing the terms of relations within other multilateral for a whether it is a World Bank, WTO etc., which are all here to stay.
Raghu: Clearly, objectively the conditions are right for countries like Brazil, India and other emerging economies of the Global South playing a leading role. But subjectively, do they show themselves inclined or willing to play the role that used to be required them to do?
Anu: See, I think in all these countries you can see the example of India in the strategic realms, strategic thought there is always a discourse and two narratives. One narratives which says we have to go to towards being a great power, we can do that by linking up with United States and therefore, the rest of the NAM is no longer is relevant and have analysts who argue along those lines very strongly. On the other side you have the other narrative which says the India which says you know India of course can be a great power, is a great power, but it has to be stronger internally get rid of some of the internal disparities, link up with the G8, link up with Russia and China and increase it's negotiating position and the government policy makers you will notice go somewhere in between the two shifting from one point to other at some points, not giving up NAM though hardliners are hawks as we call them advocate that NAM is of no use but they still go for NAM meetings, Prime Minister goes, it is a very high level. So I think that kind of narrative which pushes for linking up with NAM needs to be strengthened so that the policy makers ultimately move with this kind of discourse rather than the hawkish discourse which goes with things that interest is with hegemonic powers.
Raghu: Let me close by asking you by finally what do you think the prospects are, what do you think can or need be done to see that there is a revival of the Non Aligned Movement and what it stood for in terms of it's fight against imperialism and neo colonial legacy.
Anu: The international system has changed dramatically since NAM was made. NAM was created in 1950s strengthened in 60s. It has capacity to North South dialogues etc., Now, you don't have those socialist world like Russia and China, the socialist block. You have many new countries. You don't have the cold war. So now, NAM should also change just like G8 has changed to G20 etc., They should ask countries like China and Brazil to become part of NAM which weren't part of NAM. That weill really strength NAM if they do. Earlier it was a front against the colonialism, now it should be a front against war, it should be a front for peace. It should be a front for having equal and democratized international system for UN reforms. So it should be creative and have new members which weren't there earlier and have that old leadership also India, Yugoslavia which is no longer there. They need to have a more structured collective leadership and structure it in a way where meetings are more regular there are events in between meetings and that will really help NAM for e.g. Africa or in Asia. They should play a greater role rather than allowing countries of NATO to take the lead.
Raghu: Thank you Anu.
Anu: Thank you.