After critically examining the role Asean, Professor Dr Johan Saravanamutthu shares his observations on the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in a world where the United States is said to be unilateralist and other powers like Europe, China and India are believed to be capable of playing the role of counterweight.
Malaysiakini: Malaysia is now the chair of NAM. The organisation was a product or relic of the Cold War when the world was politically, economically, socially and militarily divided into two camps and small countries could band together in NAM and play balancing games. How relevant and effective is NAM now that the world has entered into a unipolar moment?
Johan: Nonalignment can still be relevant in specific contexts as I stated above. Also, there is no reason for the movement not to evolve. Next year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bandung conference, a progenitor of Third World movements. Nonalignment needs to re-invent itself and defined itself as a countervailing force against US unilateralism and other forms of unilateralism. For me, it's not truly a "unipolar moment" as you put it but a push by neo-conservatives in the US to re-establish a New American Century after Henry Luce who at the end of the Second World War called for an "American Century".
While the US is clearly the sole superpower and world hegemon, the instituting of a world empire remains elusive and will meet up with resistance. Europe, Asean, China and India can play countervailing roles to the US.
For Malaysia to be an effective chair of NAM, it must take cognisance of all the above.