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Insights into Editorial: A new NAM for the new norm

Insights into Editorial: A new NAM for the new norm


A renewed state of political and military tension between opposing geopolitical power-blocs, in the form of Cold War, is breaking out with one bloc led by Russia and China and the other led by the United StatesEuropean Union and NATO

At the same time, the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Venezuela’s Margarita Island proved to be a failure because only 12 heads of states attended from the 120-member group. India was also represented by its Vice president instead of Head of the government.

However, the current changing global politics and major global problems like terrorism makes NAM platform highly relevant.

Background: Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral.

It identifies the right of independent judgment, the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism, and the use of moderation in relations with all big powers as the three basic elements that have influenced its approach. 

How the term “Cold War II” gained currency and relevance?

The ‘Cold War II’ term has been used to describe on-going renewed tensions between Western nations and Russia& China.

Cold War II” gained currency and relevance as tensions between Russia and the West escalated throughout the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine followed by the Russian military intervention .

The United States has identified both China and Russia as adversaries. Whereas, leaders of China and Russia are strong and determined to stand up to US President Doctrines of ultra-nationalism and nuclear hegemony.

Russia announced that it has invincible doomsday machines like an underwater drone armed with a nuclear warhead powerful enough to sweep away coastal facilities, aircraft carriers and a hypersonic vehicle.

Cuban “axis of evil” has emerged once again under Iran’s leadership. This time it is a three-cornered Cold War, without any corner having committed countries to act together as military allies.

Some observers judged the Syrian Civil War to be a proxy war between Russia and the United States.

However, current tensions and ideologies of both sides are not similar to those of the original Cold War. Also, today Russia is far more integrated with the outside world which may constrain Russian actions.

Why is NAM needed?

NAM establishes itself as a deliberative and coordinating platform for the developing countries as it deals with newly emerging problems from global warming, debt-affected low income countries to UN reforms.

The world is more violent and big power rivalries from Middle East and North Africa to the South China Sea have increased in recent times.

NAM provides an alternative medium to tackle these issues in fresh and innovative ways.

NAM declaration has several elements which developing nations need to take note of. These included—to decisively addressing the challenges posed in the areas of peace, economic and social development, human rights and international cooperation, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.

What is objective behind Nonalignment 2.0?

NAM is anathema today even to those who helped shape it and partied in it for years. It can be observed in 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in 2016 which was attended by only 12 Heads of the states from the 120 member group.

India was one of its leaders. India had a stake in its integrity and India worked tirelessly to keep it on the middle road. India fought to keep Egypt within it when every Arab country wanted it to be ousted.

Even while building alliances with others, we availed of the NAM umbrella to promote our national strategies when it suited us.

NAM was effectively used for UN Reform, where we blocked an effort by the U.S. and others to add Germany and Japan as permanent members and close the doors for further expansion.

An effort was made in 2012 to craft a ‘Nonalignment 2.0’ in the context of the new global situation, India’s growing importance and the rivalry between the U.S. and China.

The report moved the concept of nonalignment away from its origins.

It reiterated that India needed to move quickly to extend its global role and influence and India must remain true to its aspiration of creating a new and alternative universality.

In a situation where the world is no longer bifurcated between two dominant powers, nonalignment today will require managing complicated coalitions and opportunities in an environment that is not structurally settled.

Where does India stand today?

India recently has become a defence partner of the U.S. and a member of the “Quadrilateral”.

Both China and Russia, which have been identified as adversaries in the U.S. world view, have their problems with India.

Doklam and the Maldives have shown that China is in no mood for a compromise.

In fact, China has attributed the increase of its defence budget to the formation of the Quadrilateral, which is being seen as a direct threat to China.

Way Forward

An obvious way is to revive NAM by breathing new life into it and making it fit to deal with the new norm to suit current multipolar world.

A partnership of near equals like IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) with similar interests without any ideological conflict is probably the best model to follow.

Something on the lines of the G-15 organised by India and like-minded countries some years ago could be put together with the objective of dealing with the issues like climate change, terrorism and protectionism.

The members may have links with the U.S., China and Russia, but should be able to work together without the undue influence of the three.