There was a time when it seemed that the Non-Aligned Movement would certainly crumble with the collapse of the Soviet Union. After all, there was no need for neutrality in the confrontation between the two superpowers anymore: only one remained in the world arena, neutrality was the last thing on anyone’s mind, and it was important to build the right relationship with that superpower.
But as it turned out, this conclusion was premature. The question of choosing sides arises again today. And with it, the question of whether it is worth making this choice, whether it would not be better to distance oneself from the conflict between the West and Russia. But then how to avoid external pressure when, as in the old and already forgotten days of the Cold War, both sides, Washington and Moscow, literally extort an answer: “Who are you with in this conflict? Whose side are you on? How can you prove your allegiance to the White House or the Kremlin?”
Meanwhile, the Non-Aligned Movement also emerged because the then “third world” countries, now called the “Global South”, had learned one of the main lessons of the twentieth century: getting involved in a conflict of world powers on either side has no benefits. More than that, it ultimately leads to great tragedies.
What did the involvement in the confrontation between the two superpowers do for Nicaragua and El Salvador, for Mozambique and Angola, for Afghanistan and Yemen? They were needed only for a short time. Once they were no longer needed, they were left on their own, with a shattered economy, wasted lives, plundered resources, and a broken society. Decades are not long enough to heal these wounds.
Little has changed since then. “The role of France is not to solve all the problems in Africa,” Emmanuel Macron said the other day. The problem is that he is not the only one who thinks this way: so do other heads of states claiming world leadership and the right to decide the world order. For them, the rest of the world is no more than a chessboard, and with this vision, who will be interested in the opinion of pawns, of mere bargaining chips? Just as during the Cold War, in today’s world there is no shortage of examples of how this situation persists; indeed, there are more and more examples of how foreign aid has backfired, causing enormous problems.
Interestingly, for all their grand pronouncements, the world powers have yet to resolve a single serious conflict of the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement. Azerbaijan, the current chair of this organization, is a vivid example. The conflict over the occupation of Karabakh was simply frozen. Everyone only shrugged, convening for useless summits, making statements, but nothing was done to restore justice. Until Baku, in alliance with Ankara, took the matter into its own hands—and resolved it brilliantly. To the great annoyance of the foreign “major players”, who still let it show from time to time today. Moreover, the actions of these “major players” are motivated with the desire to change the situation, to reverse it in order to become important and indispensable in the South Caucasus again, to manipulate the situation.
This is how it was, and this is how it continues to be. If there is economic aid, there is no way to pay the bill afterwards and one has to give up one’s natural resources for next to nothing. If the aid is political or military, it spells disaster, and there is no guarantee that the country will survive.
Therefore, non-alignment, distancing oneself from conflicts between world powers, striving to solve one’s problems together, without relying on the help of “major players”, was, is and will be the most correct policy for the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement. And the political philosophy of Azerbaijan’s “non-alignment”, as well as that of a number of other countries, such as Algeria, confirms the validity of this conclusion.
A competent implementation of this policy does not mean isolation from the rest of the world. Moreover, there is much to be gained by skillfully taking advantage of the contradictions between the world powers. As long as one does not cross the line, does not get carried away, and never forgets about one’s own national interests, which must be above some nebulous “higher geopolitical considerations” at all times. Non-alignment, emphasized sovereignty, and a healthy national selfishness are, in our times, the best policy in the name of the people…
Translated from Haqqin.az