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The power of non-alignment

There is space to resurrect the old movement as a soft balancing mechanism against powerful states The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and its precursor, the Bandung Afro-Asian conference in 1955, were examples of soft balancing by weaker states towards great powers engaged in intense rivalry and conflict. As they had little material ability to constrain superpower conflict and arms build-ups, the newly emerging states under the leadership of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and Indonesia’s Sukarno, and later joined by Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, adopted a soft balancing strategy aimed at challenging the superpower excesses in a normative manner, hoping for preventing the global order from sliding into war. The founders of the NAM, if alive today, could have taken solace in the fact that in the long run some of their goals were achieved due to a radical change in the policies of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev. China’s wedge strategy and its efforts to tie Afro-Asian states through the Belt and Road Initiative have limited the choices of many developing countries. However, despite the constraints, many have been able to keep China off militarily by refusing base facilities and also smartly bargaining with India and Japan for additional economic support. They thus are already showing some elements of strategic autonomy favoured by the NAM. More concrete initiatives may have to rest with emerging states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping. Engaging China and India more intensely while restraining the U.S. and Russia from aggravating military conflict in Asia-Pacific can be the effort of the developing countries. Norm entrepreneurship has it value, even if it does not show immediate results. The alternative is to leave it to the great powers to engage in mindless arms race and debilitating interventions, which rarely create order in the regions. Restraining the established and rising powers through institutional and normative soft balancing may emerge as an option for developing countries in the years to come. They still need a leader like Jawaharlal Nehru to bring them together.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/the-power-of-non-alignment/article25185555.ece

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